Following Marathon Hearing Featuring Opponents of SB6, Texas Senate Committee Advances Anti-LGBT BillBy Adam Polaski • March 8, 2017 • 10:04 am
Lawmakers on Texas’ Senate Committee on State Affairs voted 7-1 to advance SB 6, a terrible anti-LGBT bill that would knock down local LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and restrict restroom access for transgender people, early this morning, following a nearly 21-hour hearing that saw hundreds of Texans turn out to voice their opposition to the discriminatory bill.
According to reports from the Austin American-Statesman and others in attendance, more than 250 Texans offered public testimony against SB 6, while just 29 spoke out in favor. The bill now heads to the floor of the full Senate – the chamber headed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who has made advancing anti-transgender discrimination his top priority despite widespread opposition.
Matt McTighe, Executive Director of Freedom for All Americans, said today:
“There is unprecedented opposition to SB 6 from all corners of Texas and from stakeholders across the nation. Hundreds of Texans came to Austin and spoke out against a bill that they know promotes discrimination and threatens their state’s economy. It’s simply irresponsible that lawmakers could listen to such overwhelming opposition in a hearing that lasted for nearly 21 hours, with the business community, educators, parents of transgender kids and so many others speaking out against the bill – and still vote to advance such a dangerous measure. We thank all of the Texans who committed so much time and energy to speaking out against SB 6 yesterday, and our resolve to continue fighting with them to defeat this discriminatory bill is stronger than ever before.”
SB 6 is strikingly similar to North Carolina’s disastrous HB 2, which has cost the state nearly a billion dollars in lost economic investment since it became law nearly one year ago. The two proposals are so similar, in fact, that North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest was stumping for SB 6 in Texas this week.
The opposition to SB 6 is staggering, and extends well beyond the hundreds of Texans who showed up at the State Capitol this week:
- Nearly 70 businesses sent a letter to top Texas lawmakers warning them to reject SB 6. The businesses, all of whom are members of the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition, include Alamo Drafthouse, IBM, Salesforce, Amazon, Intel, Dell, InterContinental Hotels, American Airlines, Dow Chemical, Apple, SXSW, Facebook, TechNet, Ben & Jerry’s, Google, Microsoft, Under Armour, Capital One, United Airlines, and Hilton.
- The state’s two largest organizations representing law enforcement – the Texas Municipal Police Association and the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) – say SB 6 is unnecessary. In fact, CLEAT’s executive director told the Dallas Morning News: “Texas has been governing illegal bathroom behavior for a while now. I’m not sure what the problem is that we’re trying to address.”
- House Speaker Joe Straus is warning fellow lawmakers that, like HB 2 in North Carolina, SB 6 would hurt Texas’ economy. Straus has said of SB 6: “Many people where I come from get concerned about anything that can slow down our overall job-creating machine. They are also watching what happened in North Carolina, and they are not enthusiastic about getting that type of attention.”
- Texas’ travel and tourism leaders reject SB 6 and are warning that it will cause harm to the state’s $68 billion travel industry. Members of the Texas Welcomes All coalition include the convention and tourism bureaus in Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving and San Antonio.
- Both the NFL and the NBA have warned that passing SB 6 into law would jeopardize future championship events from taking place in Texas – like the Super Bowl or the All-Star Game.
- A group of more than 30 global investors representing $11 trillion in assets signed a letter stating their opposition to SB 6. In the letter, the investors noted: “As investors in companies that employ hundreds of thousands of people across your state, we (as well as our respective beneficiaries and investors) want Texas to continue to thrive as a successful business environment and to be a financial leader in our country. However, discriminatory legislation that undermines these opportunities may hinder public and private investment, as well as the ability to raise capital, throughout your state.”
- The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault says the legislation puts transgender people in danger. The organization encouraged lawmakers claiming to care about public safety to invest in urgently needed resources: “We strongly encourage lawmakers concerned about public safety to concentrate time and resources on evidence-based supports for survivors, especially those among our most vulnerable populations.”
- Texas’ educators are concerned about SB 6. The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers quickly weighed in against the bill: “This bill isn’t about providing safety or privacy. It’s an attempt to foment divisiveness, stigmatize vulnerable students and distract us from what really needs our attention — more resources for our schools and educators.”
- More than 140 artists spoke out against SB 6 in a letter released by Equality Texas, GLAAD and the Ally Coalition. Signers included Sting, Connie Britton, Wilco, Whoopi Goldberg, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Emma Stone, Carly Rae Jepsen, Britney Spears, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Catch up on all of the news about SB6 here.