The Texas Senate passed a controversial "bathroom bill" Wednesday targeting transgender people, but the proposal still faces big obstacles before becoming a law.
The 21-10 final vote on Wednesday came over opposition from big business, the NFL and hundreds of people who packed the Texas Capitol last week during 13 hours of public testimony.
The measure, filed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, not their gender identity.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was quick to issue a statement saying the bill is supported by the majority of Texans.
"The people of Texas elected us to stand by our principles and uphold conservative values. The Texas Privacy Act reflects common decency and common sense and is essential to protect public safety. It protects Texas businesses and codifies what has always been common practice in Texas and everywhere else -- that men, women, boys and girls should use separate, designated restrooms, locker rooms and showers in government buildings and public schools," Patrick said. "Though the debate on this legislation has been long and heated, it is important to remember that it is supported by an overwhelming majority of Texans including both Democrats and Republicans, Hispanics, African-Americans and Anglos, men and women."
The hot-button issue was a Senate priority. But Republican House Speaker Joe Straus has publicly and repeatedly denounced the proposal as bad for business. He has stopped short of declaring the bill dead on arrival but his opposition is significant.
The bill is similar in nature to one passed in North Carolina that has been estimated to have cost the state $5 billion in revenue, according to the Charlotte Observer.
KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported March 2 the filing of SB6 has already cost the city $3 million in potential revenue when convention business went elsewhere.
“By approving SB6, the Texas Senate has shown a complete disregard for the health of the state economy and the well-being of the people they represent. This bill would permit open discrimination against the transgender community and is antithetical to both Texan and American values. It is vital that SB6 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," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, in a prepared statement Wednesday.
Now approved by the Senate, the bill goes onto the House where it must also be passed before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has not taken a clear stance on the bill, for approval.