feature image via the Texas Tribune
Here’s some good news for you: Texas’ anti-trans bathroom bill is dead. The bill, which would have required people to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates at public schools and government buildings, failed to pass the House on Tuesday, a day before the state’s 30-day special legislative session limit was over. The Senate finally adjourned late in the evening officially ending the special legislative session, and killing the long-battled bathroom bill for a second time this year.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Texas Republicans made it their top priority to pass the anti-trans bill this legislative session and kept reiterating that the bill was a “privacy act” to protect women and children from getting assaulted in bathrooms across the state. Much like North Carolina’s HB2, the bathroom bill was actually intended to target and discriminate against transgender people.
Thousands of Texans came out in droves to speak out against the bill, giving hours of public testimony. Transgender Texans said the bill would put them in danger, parents of trans kids were afraid the bill would harm their children and corporations worried it would deter business and top employees away from the state. The Texas Association of Business estimated Texas could have lost $5.6 billion through 2026 if the measure was enacted.
House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, was opposed to the bathroom bill from the very start, deeming it unnecessary and bad for business. The bill found unanimous Republican support in the Senate but was stalled in the House and failed during the regular session. Abbott gave it another shot when he included the bathroom bill on a list of priorities to discuss during a special legislative session. The bill was approved by the Senate Committee on State Affairs earlier in the special session but the House never took a vote on it.
In his first remarks since the special session ended, Abbott told a Lubbock radio station he blames the House for failing to pass his priority measures and directly blames Straus for the failed bathroom bill.
“The speaker made very clear that he opposed this bill and he would never allow a vote to be taken on it,” Abbott said. “He told me that in the regular session. And he told me during the regular session that if this came up during the special session, he would not allow a vote on it, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that he’s going to change his mind on it, and that’s why elections matter.”
The bathroom bill might be dead for now but it’s likely Republicans will continue to push for it in the next 2019 legislative session; Patrick promised he would. “The people will demand it,” he said. “The issue’s not going away.”
For now, LGBT activists can rest assured their hard work paid off.
“We hope that this time, this issue remains settled: Texans don’t want harmful, anti-transgender legislation,” JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “First and foremost, these bills were defeated because of the many voices that came out in opposition, saying, ‘Don’t discriminate in the Lone Star State.’ Luckily for Texas, this chorus of voices was louder than the voices pushing for discrimination.”
In addition to this news, on Tuesday a federal court found two Congressional districts in Texas to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act because it weakened the strength of Latinx and Black voters. After a never-ending cycle of negative news on our feeds, a failed discriminatory anti-trans bill and bringing justice to minority voters in Texas are definitely something to celebrate.