By Ed Sterling
THE STATE’S lieutenant governor and a leading Texas businessman have taken opposite sides in the emotional battle surrounding North Carolina’s refusal to repeal a law banning transgender individuals from using public bathrooms designated for “the opposite sex”.
Dan Patrick and Texas Association Of Business president Chris Wallace disagreed violently after the politician went on record during the holidays to applaud the law, known as HB 2, which particularly seeks to prevent men who change their sex from using toilet facilities designated for use by women.
Patrick, left, who has made the passage of similar legislation in Texas one of his priorities, said in a December 22 statement: “Legislation like this is essential to protect the safety and privacy of women and girls, and is simple common sense and common decency”.
But Wallace, below left, warned of “dire consequences” for such discrimination, saying: “After months of debate and an unprecedented special session by the North Carolina legislature, it’s unfortunate to see that the state chose not to repeal the discriminatory law created by HB 2”.
He added: “North Carolina and states that embrace discriminatory legislation will continue to suffer dire economic consequences, losing revenue and major events and disrupting job creation and investment.
“That’s why the Texas business community has made clear that discriminatory laws like HB 2 have no place in Texas. We can’t afford to slam the door on the Texas miracle and create an environment hostile to business, unsafe and unwelcoming for citizens and harmful to our larger economy and prosperity.
“Keep Texas Open For Business will continue to press our own Texas lawmakers to roundly reject discriminatory bills, no matter how they’re phrased or what they’re named.”
Patrick, who leads the Texas senate, has made it clear he is unlikely to accept such measures. He insisted the issue was women’s protection and describing legislation to protect women’s privacy and business as essential to 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”.
The filing of legislation proposing new bathroom access laws is certain in the Texas legislature’s upcoming 85th session, which begins on January 10.
Several bills have already been filed by Democratic state lawmakers, all proposing a prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in regard to such things as employment and access to public facilities.