Less than a week after it sailed through a Texas Senate Committee at 3:30 in the morning, that controversial 'bathroom bill' is set to be debated and approved by the full State Senate chamber later today, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The bill, which is being strongly pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would restrict the use of public restrooms and school locker rooms to the gender on the user's birth certificate.
Jonathan Saenz, who heads the group 'Texas Values,' says its fast pace through the Senate is no surprise.
“It’s common sense that men should not be allowed in the little girls’ restroom and showers with men, and we are grateful the Senate State Affairs committee agreed," he said. "We now look forward to a wide victory in the full Senate, and by doing so set the stage for passage in the Texas House of Representatives.”
The bill is also backed by evangelical churches, who have vowed to turn out 'a million voices' in support of the measure, which is technically called S.B. 6.
But strong opposition has emerged to the measure from several groups.
Businesses say it could cost the state billions of dollars in lost revenue and income. Both the NFL and the NBA have indicated that they may reconsider holding major events in the state because the measure might 'make some people feel unwelcome,' and LGBT groups have blasted the measure as 'discrimination against transgender individuals.'
The measure is meant to counter 'Non Discrimination Ordinances' in San Antonio and elsewhere which allow individuals to use the public rest room that 'matches their gender identity.'
Supporters say those local laws would allow sexual predagtors to gain access to women's rest rooms by falsely claiming to be transgender, so they could sexually assault women and girls.
Patrick and other supporters of the bill have fought back hard against opponents, pointing out that Houston repealed its Non Discrimination Ordinance a year ago, and it has hosted several major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, since then, and has a vibrant, growing economy with several new employers locating in the city.
Patrick also points out that the bill includes language allowing the NFL, NBA, or any other organization that leases a public arena to use whatever bathroom policies they choose, and has chided the NBA and NFL for 'not having open bathroom policies in their own offices.' He says if the NFL were really concerned about transgender bathroom use, it holds an ownership stake in every major NFL stadium in the country, and could have, on its own initiative, opened all bathrooms in all of those facilities to transgender individuals, but it has chosen not to do that.
SB 6 is expected to sail through the State Senate, but its fate in the House is much less certain. There is much less social conservative fervor in the House, and House Speaker Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights) is clearly cold to the bill.
Supporters plan to hold a rally on Thursday at the Capitol featuring the Rev. Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz,' to try to drum up support for the bill in the Senate.
Gov. Abbott has not indicated whether he would sign S.B. 6 if it makes it to his desk.