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Texas Republicans dismiss business fears over anti-LGBTI legislation

Texas Republicans dismiss business fears over anti-LGBTI legislation

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (right) poses with Donald Trump. Patrick was Chair of the Trump Texas Campaign

As in previous years, LGBTI advocates fear that lawmakers in Texas are lining up a raft of potential legislation to introduce in for consideration in the New Year.

In 2015, the State saw the introduction of over 20 pieces of legislation that would be detrimental to LGBTI equality in the State – all of which ultimately failed.

It’s already known that one piece of legislation being prepared for 2017 is Senate Bill 6 – an anti-trans bathroom bill believed to be very similar to the controversial HB 2 in North Carolina.

A week ago, the Texas Association of Business published an analysis warning that the introduction of such a bill, and others that allow discrimination against LGBTI people, could cost the state $8.5billion (€7.7billion) in lost business and the potential loss of 185,000 jobs.

Despite being a respected Chamber of Commerce for all businesses across the state, that analysis has been criticized by Republicans backing the bill.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who first announced SB 6 in November and has made it clear he regards it a top priority, has released a statement accusing the TAB of ‘fear-mongering’.

‘This report by the Texas Association of Business is misinformation and fear-mongering regarding a bill they haven’t even seen.

‘In fact, the Women’s Privacy and Business Protection Act that the lieutenant governor intends to support will ensure that sexual predators, like those who exploit the internet, will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers and that businesses are not forced by local ordinances to allow men in women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

‘This legislation does not discriminate against any individual or target any group.’

Lt. Gov. Patrick has already stated that SB 6 will make it illegal for transgender women to use public bathrooms in fitting with their gender identity. He told the Houston Chronicle the ban would not extend to women and transgender men using men’s bathrooms ‘because men can defend themselves.’

Patrick’s criticism of TAB was echoed by Republican Senator Paul Bettencourt, who issued his own statement saying, ‘No matter which side you may or may not be on in this public policy debate on SB 6, women’s privacy and religious freedom, this study’s amazing claims of $8.5 billion in economic losses and 185,000 job losses in Texas attributed to legislation that hasn’t even been filed is just flat wrong.

‘Any study that ranges from a $964 million impact up to an $8.5 billion one, almost a 9 to 1 ratio, is just wildly speculative.’

‘While public policy debates can be heated, let’s first read the bill to find out what is in it!’

Full details of SB 6 will be made public when the Texas Legislature convenes on 10 January.

However, advocacy group Equality Texas, which has already begun campaigning against the legislation, fears it will be a ‘near replica’ of North Carolina’s HB 2.

It pointed out in a statement to supporters last week that Governor Pat McCrory’s recent election loss in North Carolina was, ‘a direct consequence of his passage and ongoing support for HB 2—one of the most egregiously discriminatory anti-LGBT pieces of legislation this country has ever seen.’