Texas bathroom bill passes despite ten hours of testimony
Transgender people living in Texas have had their rights rolled back as the Senate State Affair Committee has voted to approve Senate Bill 3.
The Bill forces people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender they were assigned at birth.
It also prevents public buildings such as schools and government offices from enforcing rules which would allow trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The committee heard testimonies for ten hours before passing the bill, which will now go to the full Senate for a vote where it expected to pass with ease.
More than 250 LGBT activists, business owners, administrators from schools and teachers all signed up to testify against the Bill.
Many of those testifying explained that the Bill was likely to have a massive negative impact on mental health and that suicide rates may go up among the trans community if their rights were rolled back.
A Republican Senator who supported the bill, Craig Estes, said that the Bill would not be at fault if this were the case.
“I’m hearing that it’s somehow our fault that people are [dying by] suicide. Another explanation could be that people are depressed,” he said.
He added that he is sure that “it would be depressing to be trying to figure out which gender you are,” but that suicide rates could not be solely accounted to that.
However, Estes failed to explain why the government did not take into account discriminating against minorities as a cause of suicide, or why it would not be considered when debating the Bill.
The committee voted in favour of the bill 8-1.
Senate Bill 91 was also being debated. The two pieces of legislature are almost identical.
Activists spoke for 18 hours during testimonies against SB 6, meaning that the Senate set a registration limit for the hearing of SB 3.
Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who authored all three pieces of legislature, said in the opening of the hearing for SB 3 that it was a “Texan tradition” to “take care of these issues”.
Kali Cohn, a staff attorney for ACLU Texas, said that the bathroom bill is in violation of federal law and the US Constitution.
Cohn testified before the senate committee, referencing Supreme Court cases and other legal precedents the ACLU says makes SB 3 and SB 91 illegal.
“They’ve introduced legislation that targets transgender Texans under the guise of privacy and safety,” Cohn said. “That’s not what those bills do — what they in fact do is push transgender people away from being able to participate in public life.”
Business owners in large cities in the state have already expressed fears about the effect the Bill is going to have.
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Phillip Jones, CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau said that Dallas had already seen losses of $40 million, and could expect to lose another $1 billion if the law is passed.
HB2 supporters have said its costs are tiny compared to a state economy worth an estimated $500 billion a year, but more than 2,900 jobs set to go to North Carolina have now gone elsewhere.
The most damaging rejection came from money giant PayPal, which pulled out from a facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion and 400 jobs to North Carolina’s economy.
Adidas, Deutsche Bank, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and former Beatle Ringo Starr are other prominent names who have pulled out from using the state.