Texas 'bathroom bill' dies in special
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[August 16, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas measures
criticized as being discriminatory for limiting transgender people's
access to bathrooms in schools and public buildings died on Tuesday, as
the House adjourned and ended its special legislative session.
Business leaders and civil rights groups had battled to defeat the
bills, saying they advanced bigotry, would tarnish the state's image and
damage its economy. The measures were blocked by moderate House
Adoption by Texas, the most populous Republican-dominated state, could
have fed momentum in other socially conservative states on the issue, a
flashpoint in the U.S. culture wars.
"Finally, Texans can breathe a temporary sigh of relief," said JoDee
Winterhof, an official of the Human Rights Campaign that lobbied against
"Texans donít want harmful, anti-transgender legislation," Winterhof,
the campaign's senior vice president for policy and political affairs,
said in a statement.
Momentum for so-called bathroom bills stalled this year when North
Carolina partially repealed a similar law in March. The original law
prompted boycotts by athletic bodies and businesses that are estimated
to have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
Texas could have lost about $5.6 billion through 2026 if it had enacted
such a measure, said the Texas Association of Business, the state's
leading employer grouping.
The House wound up its duties without taking action on any of the bills
and adjourned "sine die," a day ahead of the official end of the 30-day
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A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California,
Irvine in Irvine, California, U.S., September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy
House Speaker Joe Straus, a pro-business Republican who controls the
agenda in the chamber, said the issue was not a priority.
Straus' position was reinforced by a well-financed campaign by major
corporations, including Texas-based energy companies Halliburton and
ExxonMobil Global Services, which have said the bills would make it
hard for them to recruit top talent.
The measure that advanced the farthest was Senate Bill 3, which
passed easily on a party-line vote in the Republican-controlled
Senate and then died in the House.
It would have required people to use restrooms, showers and locker
rooms in public schools and other state and local government
facilities that match the sex on their birth certificate, as opposed
to their gender identity.
Supporters, including Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a
staunch social conservative, say the proposed curbs promote public
safety and protect vulnerable women and children.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Clarence
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