You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

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

This Day in Texas History: The Death of Bonnie and Clyde
This Day in Texas History: The Death of Bonnie and Clyde

83 — Years ago today (May 23, 1934) that Texas outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were gunned down on a rural road in Louisiana. 6 — Number of officers that shot them, led by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. 53 — The number of kills credited to Ranger Hamer. Some accounts say it was more . 130 — Number of rounds fired into car...
Texas Senate revives abortion insurance measure
Texas Senate revives abortion insurance measure

Late Monday, the Texas Senate revived a stalled abortion measure by adding it as an amendment to a bill on insurance information for doctors. House Bill 3124 was amended to add language from Senate Bill 20, which would ban abortion coverage in private insurance plans as well as plans offered to state employees and participants in the Affordable Care...
No UT students currently in Manchester through university programs, officials confirm
No UT students currently in Manchester through university programs, officials confirm

No University of Texas students are currently on official university travel in Manchester, England, where an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert killed 19 people and injured about 50 others, university officials confirmed. Still, the school’s international office is in the process of contacting students currently or soon to be...
Judges: Does Supreme Court ruling affect Texas districts?
Judges: Does Supreme Court ruling affect Texas districts?

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down two North Carolina congressional districts because of their effect on African-American voters, the first impact was felt in Texas. Three federal judges, overseeing a legal challenge to Texas districts adopted in 2013, sent an order Monday to lawyers on both sides seeking information about how the ruling...
Texas Digest: Cop shooter gets 50 years

COURTS Cop shooter gets 50 years in prison A man charged with the nonfatal shooting of a Houston-area police officer in the chest and face three years ago during a traffic stop has been sentenced to 50 years in prison. Sergio Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault of a public servant. He’s the last of three men charged...
More Stories