Global investors who manage more than $11 trillion in assets, including companies in Texas, urged state leaders to reject a bill cracking down on transgender-friendly bathroom policies, arguing Tuesday that such “discriminatory legislation” is bad for business and the economy.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, however, accused prominent opponents of the transgender bathroom bill of losing their moral compass and predicted that the Texas Senate will debate and approve the legislation “in a few weeks.”
“This is not discriminatory. It’s (about) common sense, common decency and public safety,” Patrick said in a morning interview on KTSA radio in San Antonio. “This is the left gone mad; they’ve gone too far on this issue.”
Known as Senate Bill 6, the transgender bathroom measure has emerged as this session’s lightning-rod issue, stirring almost daily headlines as vocal opponents — led by pro-business organizations, large corporations, entertainers, and civil and gay rights groups — clash with conservative Republicans and social and religious conservative leaders who favor the bill.
The latest volley came from 40 institutional investors who sent a letter Tuesday imploring Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to oppose SB 6.
“Bills that deliberately limit the human rights of LGBT people are not only unjustified and unfair, but may have troubling financial implications for the business and investment climate in states, including in Texas,” the letter said. “Equality, diversity and inclusiveness are fundamental elements of a successful workplace, community and capital markets system.”
Other bills introduced this session would allow people or businesses to decline to serve same-sex couples or would overturn city anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.
The letter warned that passage of SB 6 or other “discriminatory” bills would undermine the strong business environment that Texas has nurtured, diminishing the stable, predictable business climate that helps corporations thrive.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who led the letter-writing effort with Trillium Asset Management chief executive Matthew Patsky, said it was rare to see so many large investors united on an issue.
“Here’s why this matters to investors,” Stringer told reporters in a conference call. “In business, talent is everything. But when states are close-minded, when states embrace backwards legislation, the best and the brightest are driven away. Texas will lose talent, plain and simple.”
SB 6 would require public schools and government buildings to limit public bathroom use to the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, though private businesses would be free to set pro-transgender bathroom policies if desired. The bill also would overturn city and county ordinances that require transgender-friendly bathrooms.
In his radio interview Tuesday morning, Patrick said SB 6 was essential to protect safety and privacy.
“My concern is not the handful of people who are true transgender people,” he said. “My concern is the sexual predators who are on probation, on parole, haven’t been caught yet — the same ones who troll the internet to find children and women and men and little boys. They will walk into bathrooms dressed as a man.
“Once you open up these ordinances, that any man can go in any bathroom at any time, you just open the door for sexual predators to do everything from planting cameras, to exposing themselves and harassing women, to assaulting women,” he said.
Although a public hearing has not yet been scheduled on SB 6, Patrick told radio host Trey Ware that witnesses will include women who were abused or had their privacy violated by men who had placed cameras in restrooms.
“I talk to a lot of women who were abused as children. In fact, we’re going to have a lady who will testify — probably (one of) several on that issue — who is going to say that, you know, I went through enough nightmares as a child; I don’t want to walk into a bathroom and see a grown man,” he said.
Patrick also criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, whose leagues have indicated that passage of SB 6 would probably keep high-profile money-making events, such as the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game, out of Texas.
Patrick said the commissioners have lost their moral compass and were “quaking over political correctness,” adding that the leagues were exempt from SB 6’s requirements because they were private businesses.
“So any team in Texas, if they want to allow men in the ladies room — I don’t think their fans will like it, but they can do it,” Patrick said.