Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Debuts HB 2-Style Anti-LGBT Legislation

By Adam Polaski • January 5, 2017 • 4:44 pm

Today in Texas, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick unveiled Senate Bill 6, his long-promised measure that threatens Texas’ economic prosperity and singles out transgender Texans for acute discrimination. The legislation is eerily similar to North Carolina’s HB 2. The bill bans transgender people from using restrooms in public schools, universities, and government buildings. The legislation also overrides local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations, and bans local municipalities from considering such protections when awarding contracts for government work. Full text of the bill is available here. The bill is also included in Freedom for All Americans’ Legislative Tracker, available here.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:

“Dan Patrick is ignoring the will of the business community and many of his fellow conservatives who simply don’t want to be anywhere near this blatantly discriminatory bill. SB 6 will undoubtedly hurt Texas’ economy and brand. There are real issues facing Texans that deserve the legislature’s attention, but Dan Patrick has made it clear that he is interested in doing nothing more than advancing a discriminatory and hateful agenda against LGBT people that will hurt his state in the long-run.”

Patrick has made it known in Texas that advancing the economically damaging and discriminatory legislation was his top priority for the 2017 legislative session. Today’s introduction, however, comes amid a growing and irrefutable body of evidence that proposals and laws like Texas’ SB 6 and North Carolina’s HB 2 have clear consequences: HB 2 has cost North Carolina approximately one billion dollars in lost economic investments to date, and cost former Governor Pat McCrory his job. In Texas, the cost for SB 6 looks to be higher: a recent report from the Texas Association of Business’ “Keep Texas Open for Business” campaign found that anti-LGBT legislation could cost the state $8.5 billion and nearly 200,000 jobs.

The Keep Texas Open for Business report found that the travel and tourism industry would be among the first to feel the impact of anti-business, anti-LGBT legislation. That industry employs more than 1.1 million Texans, brings in over $6 billion in local and state tax revenues, and drives more than $69 billion through the state’s economic engines.

Opposition to SB 6 from Texas business leaders and conservatives is strong. Even before Patrick filed his bill, leaders across the state were either openly opposing or subtly warning against taking up the toxic and discriminatory measure:

  • The Keep Texas Open for Business coalition, in addition to highlighting the economic and job loss implications of SB 6, called the legislation “discriminatory, anti-business legislation that is poised to have an immediate and detrimental impact on Texas’ economy.”
  • House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, said the bill shouldn’t be a priority this session and warned of similarities to HB 2: “If it creates a situation like North Carolina went through, my enthusiasm would not be high for that.”
  • Phillip Jones, head of Visit Dallas, emphatically warned lawmakers that pursuing such discriminatory legislation would harm his city’s thriving travel and tourism industry – which last year brought nearly 26 million visitors to town. Jones noted of SB 6: “It’s so important that our hospitality industry and all of our partners understand what’s at risk here and help us fight this bill so that it doesn’t see the light of day because it will have a devastating impact.”
  • More than 200 small business owners across the Lone Star State spoke out against anti-LGBT measures in a letter organized by Equality Texas, noting: “We love Texas and we’re proud to call it home. We want to continue to provide great jobs and great experiences for our employees and our customers. That’s why we oppose any Texas legislation – broad or narrow – that would legalize discrimination against any group. That kind of legislation doesn’t just go against our values to be welcoming to everyone, it jeopardizes the businesses we’ve worked so hard to create, and it threatens the jobs and livelihoods of everyday Texans.”
  • Even Texas’ Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, appears weary of the debate that comes with SB 6. The governor signaled last fall that he would prefer the legislature focus on issues other than Patrick’s anti-LGBT agenda.

“Dan Patrick is knowingly leading Texas down a very dangerous path,” added McTighe. “He’s ignoring the advice of Texas businesses – who make up over 60 percent of the state’s tax base – at his own peril. Dan Patrick is following in the footsteps of Pat McCrory and gambling on the backs of hardworking Texans who will be directly impacted by the economic consequences of SB 6. It’s not only a short-term political gambit, but it’s also just morally reprehensible at this point.”

Freedom for All Americans is working with our partners at Keep Texas Open for Business and Texas Competes to stop discriminatory bills from advancing in the Lone Star State. More than 1,100 businesses big and small have signed the Texas Competes pledge so far, affirming their support for a Texas that remains economically competitive and vibrant.

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