Governor of Texas says passing anti-LGBT bathroom bill is ‘top priority’
The Governor of Texas has said that passing a bill to stop transgender people using public bathrooms is his top priority.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott has been a leading voice in backing a frenzy of anti-LGBT legislation in Texas, after the Trump administration ended Obama-era legal resistance from the federal government against discriminatory state laws in North Carolina.
Due to the unique political system in Texas, the state legislature only actually meets once every two years, for a maximum of 140 days.
The 2017 session, which began in January is now nearing its end – putting a time limit on efforts to pass more anti-LGBT legislation.
As the clock runs down, Governor Abbott has urged lawmakers to pass anti-trans law Senate Bill 6.
Speaking to the Dallas Morning News he cited it as one of his “priorities” for the remainder of the session, alongside a bill that would cut taxes for homeowners.
He said: “We are on a pathway where those priorities can be addressed during the regular session. It’s just a matter of getting everybody on the same page.”
According to the newspaper, Abbott said he “wants to see lawmakers approve the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ before they adjourn on May 29”.
The bill, which has already cleared the state senate, threatens institutions with hefty fines if they permit transgender people to use the bathroom of their preferred gender – up to $10,500 for “multiple violations”.
The proposed law would also voids local city-level anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and define “biological sex” under law as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate”.
Despite clearing the state Senate, the bill is not considered a priority in the House – though Abbott holds extensive influence over the GOP-dominated legislature.
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GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said: “Discrimination towards trans Texans is one shameful ‘top priority’.”
Anti-LGBT groups in the state have previously run ads depicting a little girl getting raped in a bathroom in a disgusting anti-trans smear campaign.
After North Carolina faced a crippling economic boycott over a similar law, leaders from the entertainment industry, business world and sport have all this month warned Texas lawmakers that their state will also be shunned if SB 6 passes.
JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “It’s troubling that lawmakers cannot see it for what it truly is: an attack on their transgender neighbors, coworkers and friends who deserve the same dignity and rights as anyone else.
“We hope the House members recognize this and stop SB 6 in its tracks.”
HRC added: “SB 6 is a discriminatory, anti-transgender bill, and one of the many egregious anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in Texas this legislative session. By making it illegal for transgender people in Texas to be afforded access to facilities consistent with their identity, it opens them up to increased discrimination and harassment as they simply live their everyday lives.
“It also exposes Texas to tremendous risk of the kind of financial, legal, and political blowback that North Carolina has continued to reckon with after the passage of HB2.”