Texas Senate Approves Anti-Transgender Legislation Despite Warnings from Business, Law Enforcement & MoreBy Adam Polaski • July 25, 2017 • 7:41 pm
Today, July 25, the Texas Senate voted to advance SB 3, legislation that bans transgender people from using public restrooms and eradicates existing municipal nondiscrimination measures that protect transgender people from discrimination. The legislation is one of 20 items that Governor Greg Abbott has demanded lawmakers consider during a costly 30-day special legislative session, and is similar in scope to a discriminatory bill that failed to gain traction in the Texas House earlier this year.
The Senate advanced the discriminatory bill at the same time as leading law enforcement officials from across the state also gathered at the Capitol to express their strong opposition to the legislation. Law enforcement officials from Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio joined sexual assault survivors to ask lawmakers not to pass the legislation, calling it a solution in search of a problem that would siphon off resources from real public safety issues.
Kasey Suffredini, Freedom for All Americans’ Acting CEO & President of Strategy, said today:
“Texas Senators are once again ignoring the overwhelming majority of voices from across the state who came together to speak out against this discriminatory legislation. Businesses big and small, the tourism and convention industries, people of faith, and concerned parents have consistently said this legislation is unnecessary, it’s dangerous, and it will hurt Texas’s economy. We’re hopeful that the House will weigh more seriously the very real concerns so many Texans have about this legislation. Passing this bill would be a tremendous setback for the Lone Star State’s economy, but more importantly it would be incredibly harmful to transgender people – particularly transgender youth – all across the state.”
Opposition to the bill was overwhelmingly strong during an all-day committee hearing on the legislation last Friday. Texans opposing SB 3 testified by an overwhelming 13-to-1 ratio compared to those in favor of the legislation. Approximately 736 organizations or individuals came out against the legislation – including at least 15 Fortune 500 companies, 17 major tech companies, and 14 tourism organizations; while only 58 testified in support.
It’s unclear what the timeline for SB 3 is moving forward. Several similarly discriminatory bills have been filled in the House, but Speaker Joe Straus remains opposed to advancing the legislation. Straus has called the proposals absurd, discriminatory, unnecessary, and recently worried that it would threaten the health and well-being of Texans.
The business community is strongly opposed to the legislation, and has consistently urged Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to stop pursuing the anti-business measures. Keep Texas Open for Business and Texas Welcomes All, two business-led coalitions that include major corporations and many of the state’s tourism, convention and visitors’ bureaus, have strenuously warned that discriminatory legislation will harm the state’s economy. In just the last few weeks, businesses have rallied at the Capitol, sent letters to Governor Abbott urging him to abandon the discriminatory proposal, and even taken out a billboard and full-page ads in newspapers across the state.
There’s plenty of economic data to back-up the business concern: A new economic impact study from AngelouEconomics and the Texas Association of Business found that passing any discriminatory proposals could cost the state up to $5.6 billion in losses over the next decade. And according to the Texas Welcomes All coalition, conventions totaling at least $66 million in revenue have already canceled events in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Arlington because of the consideration of discriminatory legislation. Another group of conventions totaling about $205 million in revenue have committed to leaving the state should any discriminatory measures become law.
Freedom for All Americans is committed to working with our partners at the state and national level to protect both LGBT Texans and the state’s economy. We’re partnering with Equality Texas, the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition, and the Texas Association of Business, to ensure these discriminatory measures do not become law.