Two days after the March 6, 1836, anniversary of one of the most historic, yet valiant, defeats in Texas’ military history, the Battle of the Alamo, supporters of SB 6, the Texas Privacy Act, scored a victory.
“This vote passing SB 6 in committee is a reflection of the broad and comprehensive support for privacy and safety by business leaders, women’s groups, lawyers, parents, pastors and faith leaders, and education leaders including key superintendents for public schools,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values.
“We look forward to seeing SB 6 pass the full Senate and get one step closer to making sure that men and boys will not be entering girl’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms in public schools and other government buildings,” Saenz added in a statement released shortly after the vote.
Two days before the committee vote, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) urged Christian pastors from across the Lone Star State to help him campaign for SB 6, legislation similar to North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill.”
“Pray for all your legislators to be bold and courageous, do the right thing, pray for their protection and then go out and win this fight for America because America is watching Texas,” the Christian Post reported Patrick told the pastors at the briefing.
“The world depends on a strong America and America depends on a strong Texas and a strong Texas depends on a church and our synagogues. That’s what it stands for — Texas values. That’s who we are,” he also said.
The Texas Pastor Council, a group that played a large role in the defeat of Houston’s ordinance that let people use the bathroom of their gender choice, quickly leapt to Patrick’s side.
“SB 6 simply assures that no city, county or Independent School District may adopt policies that allow a person to use the restroom, shower, locker room or changing facility of the opposite biological sex in government-owned and operated buildings, or force businesses or contractors to do so. That is not only reasonable, it has become necessary,” TXPC spokesman Rev. David Welch said in a statement.
However, not every pastor in Texas is on board.
“We believe in the separation of church and state,” Dr. Rev. Neil Casares-Thomas, senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope of Dallas, told reporters. “But more than that we believe in the separation of church and hate.”
And then there was the Rev. S. David Wynn of the Agape Metropolitan Community Church of Fort Worth. The Huffington Post reported he told hundreds of protesters outside the state Capitol in Austin that God was on their side because God must have been transgender.
“In the beginning, God created humankind in God’s image… so God is transgender, ” Wynn said, to which the crowd roared approval. “We’re all created in the image of what is holy and divine and sacred, and we should all be treated that way.”
Just as in North Carolina, the Texas legislation would mandate that people use the restrooms, showers, and changing areas in public buildings that match their birth gender.
Patrick said SB 6 would also protect Texas businesses from being forced by local governments to change their bathroom policies.
Patrick added that the Texas Privacy Act would ensure “that public schools continue to designate separate restrooms, locker rooms and showers for boys and girls as well as allowing schools to continue to determine how they will accommodate students with individual needs, as they have always done.”
“SB 6 does not discriminate against anyone. It is a common sense, privacy and public safety policy for everyone,” Patrick said.
PJM reported in September that Texas Democrats and leaders of the state’s largest business groups were already warning of a North Carolina-style economic armageddon if SB 6, the Texas Privacy Act, is passed.
But despite being blamed for the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in his state, Reuters reported North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) told journalists at the same press conference in Austin that the impact has not been as bad as the national media would like America to believe.
That is just what Patrick wanted his supporters to hear.
“North Carolina was the tip of the spear. We will be next to pass a bill that focuses on privacy, a person’s privacy, and public safety,” Patrick said.
Speaking for the “tip of the spear,” the News-Observer reported Forest admitted there had been an economic backlash against North Carolina because of HB 1. But he also said that the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars hardly dented America’s 10th-largest state economy, which is valued at $510 billion annually.
“If you look at the most extreme instances of economic impact, by the media and by the universities and the people who come out and say ‘this is the impact,’ that most extreme impact equates to one-tenth of 1 percent of our annual GDP,” Forest said.
“We are growing jobs,” he added. “Our economy is growing.”
So now SB 6 goes to the full Texas Senate. Political observers expect it to be approved. But it might die of neglect in House.
Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Straus (R) admitted he is not “a fan of the bill” and told reporters he has other priorities.
“They have their agenda; we have ours,” the Texas Tribune reported Straus said. “We’ll worry about our agenda and making progress on some issues that I think are important to every Texan.”