breaking news

Police say Waffle House shooting victim was from Texas, had family in Austin area

Artists, stars urge Texas leaders to reject transgender bathroom bill


Highlights

Almost 140 entertainers say transgender bathroom bill is mean-spirited, unnecessary and misguided.

As debate heats up, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will take part in conservative Christian group’s forum in Washington.

Adding their voices to one of the most hotly debated issues before the Legislature, almost 140 entertainers signed an open letter urging Texas leaders to reject legislation that would strike down transgender-friendly bathroom policies in public schools, government buildings and city ordinances.

The letter, released Tuesday, said the artists and musical groups had a responsibility to do “everything within our power to make sure all of our fans, crews and fellow artists feel safe and welcome, wherever we go.”

“Artistic expression has always been a political act, and some of the most venerated artists in our history have put themselves on the line to take a stand against injustice. We humbly add our names to that proud tradition today, in asking you to end the needless targeting of LGBTQ people in Texas,” the letter said.

“It is up to you whether these bills will become law, and we are watching,” said the letter, signed by musicians including Lady Gaga, Sting, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Cyndi Lauper, Wilco, Bon Iver and Kesha, as well as actors Amy Poehler, Emma Stone, Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Lawrence, Whoopi Goldberg and Julianne Moore, and comedian Amy Schumer, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel and novelist Michael Chabon.

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

Meantime, the Family Research Council announced that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a leading proponent of efforts to crack down on transgender-friendly bathroom policies, will address the conservative Christian organization’s “Privacy & Freedom” forum Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The forum will offer updates and advice on countering transgender bathrooms and other policies by “radical LGBT activists” that threaten religious freedom and violate the safety and privacy of women and children, according to the Family Research Council, which believes that biological sex is identifiable at birth and immutable. The group also classifies homosexuality as harmful to society, unnatural and associated with physical and psychological health problems.

The forum also will include Dan Forest, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, where entertainers and sports leagues canceled events after last year’s passage of House Bill 2, which banned transgender bathrooms in schools and government buildings and overturned local ordinances that extended anti-discrimination protection to gay, lesbian and transgender people.

In Texas, the fight over similar bills has been heating steadily.

Clergy members gathered last week in Austin to attend competing forums to support and oppose the legislation.

Leading Texas businesses have held multiple Capitol events to argue that passage would tarnish the state’s welcoming climate for businesses — prompting boycotts from entertainers, sports leagues and travelers while discouraging some corporations from relocating or expanding in the state.

Patrick and other supporters dismiss fears of an economic backlash as overblown and insist that action is required to protect privacy and promote safety in bathrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms — places where people are at their most vulnerable.

Jumping into the debate, the entertainers who signed Tuesday’s open letter to lawmakers said such concerns are misguided because transgender people are most at risk.

“Transgender and gender-nonconforming young people are already subjected to bullying and harassment,” the letter said. “Can you imagine the message these bills send to children — the message of ‘that child is unwelcome, that child is dangerous’?”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Young transgender people already face high rates of family rejection, homelessness and suicide, the entertainers wrote. “How much more can you punish them for living honestly and openly?”

The Legislature hasn’t yet acted on two transgender bathroom bills that have been filed thus far.

Senate Bill 6 and a similar measure, House Bill 1362, would prohibit public schools from letting transgender children use multistall bathrooms that conform with their gender identity. State government buildings also would be barred from creating transgender-friendly bathrooms, and cities and counties would be prohibited from requiring bathrooms that accommodate transgender individuals.

Patrick named SB 6, which has 15 of 20 Republican senators as co-authors, a priority for passage. HB 1362 was filed two weeks ago by Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

NEW INFO: Police say Waffle House shooting victim was from Texas, had family in Austin area
NEW INFO: Police say Waffle House shooting victim was from Texas, had family in Austin area

Metropolitan Nashville police have confirmed that 20-year-old Joe Perez Jr., one of four victims who were killed in a shooting at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday, was from Texas and had family in the Austin area. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Trisha Perez, who media reports have identified as Joe Perez’s mother, asked for prayers for...
Round Rock driver hit motorcyclist he knew, left scene, police say
Round Rock driver hit motorcyclist he knew, left scene, police say

A Round Rock driver is accused of hitting a motorcyclist he knew while driving on Interstate 35 in Georgetown and leaving the scene, according to an arrest affidavit. Logan Vance, 27, was charged with accident involving injury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Police were notified at about 3 p.m. Thursday about a collision...
Austin 7-year-old becomes youngest girl to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro
Austin 7-year-old becomes youngest girl to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro

When 7-year-old Montannah Kenney told her mom she wanted to climb to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, her wish was to be on the pinnacle of the volcano pointing toward heaven and close to her dad, who died five years ago. Last month, Montannah, who lives in Austin, became the youngest girl ever to ascend the 19,341-foot mountain, the tallest in Africa...
TRAFFIC UPDATE: All I-35 lanes now closed after Round Rock crash
TRAFFIC UPDATE: All I-35 lanes now closed after Round Rock crash

Both directions of traffic on Interstate 35 in Round Rock are closed near Westinghouse Road after a multi-vehicle wreck involving a dump truck, Round Rock police said. The dump truck crashed around 2 p.m., and two motorcyclists crashed from the subsequent spill, police said.  No one was hospitalized after the crash, police said. 
She asked The Rock to the prom. His response amazed her
She asked The Rock to the prom. His response amazed her

An awesome high school senior invited Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to her senior prom by posting a video of herself in an outfit paying homage to The Rock’s famously dorky 80s look and showcasing her superb collection of Rock gear. “Will you ‘Rock’ it at prom with me?” Katie Kelzenberg asked. Check it...
More Stories