Texas Senate Passes Religious Adoption Bill

The Texas House of Representatives approved legislation Monday that would require transgender schoolchildren to use bathrooms that correspond to their "biological sex", putting the state on the verge of enacting a "bathroom bill" similar to one that drew controversy in North Carolina.

"We have been clear that discriminatory legislation would have a chilling effect on economic development, make recruitment and retention more hard and stifle investment in Texas", Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, said in a statement. If transgender students did not want to use their assigned-gender bathroom, they would have to use single-stall bathrooms under the provisions of this legislation. Schools must have a "single occupancy" facility, for students who do not want to do that.

"I would argue that the amendment that I proposed and put on this bill is to protect [transgender people] as well", said Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Center.

The addition of the amendment sparked fiery debate on the floor.

"The bill is about emergencies and disasters".

Rep. Moody said, "This bill now hurts kids by exclusion and discrimination. That's not just wrong and abusive: it's also begging to be sued", Pizer said. It's about that student as well.

The House approved the bill on the third reading in a 94-51 vote Monday, SB 2078 now moves to the Texas Senate.

"Governor Abbott has said he would demand action on this in a special session, and the House chose to dispose of the issue in this way", said House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

Abbott apparently has not taken a public stand on the bill.

"The NFL embraces inclusiveness". "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", announced National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy. The North Carolina law prompted economic boycotts and the loss of sporting events, and was later revamped in the face of criticism.

Throughout the session, Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus have been at odds over what should be the Legislature's priorities.

Opponents of the bills, who say they target vulnerable children, are outraged. Straus has indicated support for the House amendment, however, stating it "will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact" that would have resulted from the original Senate bill.

As in North Carolina, the business community has been a major part of the backlash to Patrick's efforts.

It cost the state at least $3.67 million in business, and a number of high-profile names and companies - including PayPal and Bruce Springsteen - canceled concerts or business plans in the state.

Burke added that this bill becoming law would mean that if "you say you have a sincerely held religious belief and you are a private adoption agency or private entity that helps place foster children - you can say you will not place that child with gay parents".

And still, despite the Texas amendment's limited scope, not everyone is happy with the compromise.

The measure is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and LGBT advocacy groups. The ACLU has said it is prepared to launch a legal challenge if the bill becomes law.

Democrats have been fighting measures limiting where transgender people can use the restroom in Texas. But the Lone Star State's law would likely only apply to public schools, according to a report from ABC News. President Donald Trump then rescinded the order in February.

  • Larry Hoffman