With final Senate OK, transgender bathroom bill heads to Texas House


Highlights

After final Senate approval, transgender bathroom bill heads to uncertain reception in the Texas House.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says his House counterpart is out of touch with voters on the issue.

After a second day of sharp disagreement and impassioned debate, the Texas Senate gave final approval to the transgender bathroom bill Wednesday, drawing condemnation and praise from across the nation as Senate Bill 6 next heads to the House.

Attention now focuses on House Speaker Joe Straus, who has said he is no fan of SB 6 — a detail that was on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s mind hours before Wednesday’s vote.

In a morning radio interview, Patrick — the bill’s leading advocate — suggested that fellow Republican Straus was playing with political fire.

“I think the speaker is out of touch with the voters,” Patrick said on KLIF in Dallas. “This is an issue that people, supporters, constituents and voters want.”

Wednesday’s 21-10 final vote, identical to Tuesday’s initial vote, included support from all 20 Senate Republicans and one Democrat, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who said: “I cast my vote from a place of faith and devotion.”

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Like Patrick, opponents of SB 6 also turned their focus to the House, where Republicans hold a 95-55 advantage over Democrats but where conservative members of the GOP hold less sway.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a national LGBT advocacy group, said the Senate showed “complete disregard” for the state’s economy and the “well-being of the people they represent.”

“It is vital that SB 6 not become law and that the Texas House heed the call of fair-minded Texans, businesses, organizations, conferences and celebrities who have decried this hateful bill,” Ellis said.

RELATED: Mayors fear impact of transgender bathroom bill

Passions ran equally high during Wednesday’s Senate debate over legislation that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom that conforms with their gender identity in public schools and universities and in government buildings. SB 6 also would overturn city and county regulations requiring transgender-friendly bathrooms.

Her voice cracking at times, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, the bill’s author, said her family “has been through a lot from the so-called tolerant and anti-bullying” opponents of SB 6, which she defended as an attempt to strike a balance between privacy and compassion.

“I believe in my heart it’s an attempt to be as inclusive as we possibly can when we — men and women, but I speak from the women’s perspective — find ourselves in the most intimate situations,” said Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.

“And it’s not a transgender person that would violate that, but open policies allow people, sexual predators and other people, to abuse that moment,” she said.

RELATED: Artists, stars urge Texas leaders to reject transgender bathroom bill

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, disputed GOP arguments that SB 6 was needed to protect the privacy and safety of women and children.

“The people who will be most affected by SB 6 are transgender Texans who are just trying to live their lives and be true to themselves. And this bill does discriminate against them. It harms one group of people under the false pretense of protecting the majority from some amorphous threat,” Watson said.

“We’re allowing fear to guide public policy and justifying discrimination … in the name of public safety,” he said.

State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said nobody has been harmed “by this mythical, mysterious predator” in bathrooms.

“This is, in my view, legislative bullying,” she said.

But state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, insisted that SB 6 was narrowly crafted to “protect the privacy of all Texans.”

“I think for anyone to suggest this is at all political is disingenuous,” Campbell said. “This bill gives protection, dignity, safety. It provides liberty. It provides reasonable access to those who need it.”

RELATED: Religious leaders enter both sides of fight over transgender bathrooms

Also Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — joined by seven states, a religious hospital network and Christian medical associations — asked a federal judge to issue a final judgment overturning an Obama administration regulation designed to protect the health care decisions of transgender people by prohibiting discrimination based on “gender identity.”

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Fort Worth had issued a preliminary injunction in December that blocked enforcement of the rule nationally.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Texas family's Christmas light show pays tribute to Selena
Texas family's Christmas light show pays tribute to Selena

A Texas family is paying tribute to the late singer Selena with a light show set to one of her songs, WFAA reported. Beto Hinojosa of Boerne has been doing light shows in front of his home for four years. This year, he decided to add the Selena song, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Hinojosa, a principal in the Boerne school district, said he...
Sarah Palin's oldest son arrested on domestic violence charges
Sarah Palin's oldest son arrested on domestic violence charges

Track Palin, the oldest son of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was arraigned Sunday on domestic violence charges, according to online court records. Palin was arraigned on charges of felony burglary, assault in the fourth degree and criminal mischief for causing property damage in Wasilla, Alaska, according to court records. The criminal mischief charge...
California father continues Christmas tradition to honor late daughter
California father continues Christmas tradition to honor late daughter

For 19 years, a California man has decorated his home for Christmas and has invited community members to visit. The holiday display is a tribute to a daughter he lost in a plane crash. Bob Taylor oldest daughter died in the plane crash. “She loved Christmas,” Taylor told KRON. ” I mean, that was her favorite time of the year...
Sen. John McCain will miss tax bill vote
Sen. John McCain will miss tax bill vote

Sen. John McCain will not be in Washington when Congress votes on the Republican tax bill this week, CNN reported Sunday. The Arizona Republican returned to his home state Sunday to continue recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy for a brain tumor, two sources confirmed to CNN. The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, confirmed in...
Four-legged 'Santa' a savior during Battle of the Bulge
Four-legged 'Santa' a savior during Battle of the Bulge

Tucked between dollar bills, nestled next to a black-and-white photograph of his wife Gloria, Stan Saltz pulls out a second snapshot, the one of him as a 19-year-old Army private and survivor of the bloodiest battle in the second World War. But the photo isn’t about the Florida resident. It’s about the German shepherd, a four-legged...
More Stories