Texas Senate Passes Bathroom Bill, Measure Now Moves To House

The bill passed two-to-one.

The Texas Senate voted today to approve SB6, the state's "bathroom bill" that would bar trans people from using facilities that match their gender identity.

Lawmakers voted 21-10 following more than four hours of debate, with supporters claiming the measure would stop predators from attacking women in the restroom. (Something, of course, that is already illegal.) The Senate Committee on State Affairs advanced the bill 8-1 last week.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has declared SB6 a top priority and denies it would impact the state negatively. "But let's say there is some economic impact," he asked in the Texas Tribune. "Are we for sale? Are our values for sale? I don't think so."

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is sponsoring the bill, also called the "Texas Privacy Act," and insists its not about attacking transgender citizens, but about women's safety. "It is very different from the North Carolina bill in that theirs covers a whole list of things that the Texas Privacy Act does not."

But both measures bar use of the bathroom, and both prohibit municipalities from enacting LGBT-rights ordinances. SB6 does allow for single-stall restrooms for use by transgender people, but civil-rights advocates insist that's tantamount to segregation.

Violators would not be charged or fined for using the bathroom, but schools and government services would face $1,000 to $10,5000 in penalties for not complying, depending on the volume of violations. SB6 also empowers individuals to report a violation, and file a complaint with the Attorney General if it isn't addressed within three days.

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: A private women's bathroom is offered at Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

SB6 will go before the state Senate for one more pro forma vote, before being sent to the House, where it will face a much harder fight. House Speaker Joe Straus has indicated several times that he’s “not a fan of the bill,”

Corporations have already indicated they would reconsider business in the state if the measure passes. Earlier this year, the NFL said such a law would jeopardize the Super Bowl's future in Texas.

“We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

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