Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick defends “bathroom bill”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

One day before the “bathroom bill,” or Senate Bill 6, appears before the Senate State Affairs Committee, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference Monday in support of the bill.

Keeping the discussion centered around the privacy of women and children throughout the state, Patrick said the bill has support from both sides of the aisle. 

Patrick, who has championed this issue and designated it as one of his top priorities for the session, brought in Dan Forest, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, to talk about the effects of a similar bill passed in his state last year.

“Texas leads,” Patrick said. “North Carolina was the tip of the spear. We will be next to pass a bill that focuses on privacy.”

Forest said while there are many false narratives surrounding the bill, the most significant is that regarding its economic impact. Forest said at its most extreme the impact of the bill is 0.1 percent of the state’s annual GDP, and that no businesses have left the state since the law was passed. 

“This is not an economic issue,” Forest said. “There is no price tag you can put on the head of a woman or a child in the place of public accommodation. This is about doing the right thing, and I’m proud to stand with my friends in Texas to do the right thing.”

The author of SB 6, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said under the bill, private business can still decide their own bathroom and changing facility policies. However, facilities in state agencies, institutions of higher education, and public schools and buildings would be governed by the sex on a person’s current birth certificate. 

“In crafting SB 6, we tried to do it in the most non-discriminatory way,” Kolkhorst said.

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, a devout Catholic, pledged his support for SB 6 during the press conference.

“As this bill moves through the legislative process, I plan to leverage my support by contributing in ways that include just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area in order to serve the good of all students and parents as well as the common good of each and every human person,” Lucio said.

Lucio said debate over the bill brings out legitimate concerns, including arguments over rights of transgender individuals, safety and a movement against the moral evolution of the nation. 

Lucio said these concerns are not “mutually exclusive” and deal with “appeals to shared values of equity, compassion and safety.”

Patrick also used the press conference to announce Operation One Million Voices, which will mobilize Christian activists and pastors across the state in support of SB 6. The project, which will be lead by John Graves, the president of Vision America, will hold regional events in cities over the next two months.

Patrick said he is confident the bill will pass out of committee and off the Senate floor. 

“I feel sure that we will have a successful outcome,” Patrick said. “My job is to pass legislation that is supported by the people and is the right thing to do out of the Texas Senate and then One Million voices will take it up from there.”