On July 26th, The Texas Senate passed a so-called “bathroom bill”, and now businesses are speaking out against the measure as it works its way through the House. Approximately 50 major corporations sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott, asking him to punt the bill. And this isn’t the first time businesses have banded together to fight anti-LGBT policies. Speaking out against the “bathroom bill” in July, corporations like American Airlines and Southwest Airlines sent a similar missive to Abbott. Google, Facebook and Apple have also given their two cents. Why are businesses dead-set on the ruination of SB 3? Anti-LGBT measures mean decreased profit margins and a reduction in overall economic growth.
So what is the “bathroom bill?” If passed by the House, the measure would require Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds to their assigned sex as indicated on one’s birth certificate. The legislation would apply to public restrooms found in schools, government buildings and other state-funded facilities. Thus, a person with a gender identity differing from their assigned sex would be forced to use a bathroom at odds with their own sense of self.
What’s more, the bill would preempt local ordinances defending LGBT rights. Ordinances that have already been written would be grandfathered in and taken off the books.
North Carolina Debacle
The Texas bill resembles another infamous measure that was recently repealed in North Carolina: House Bill 2. Businesses are worried about SB 3 partially due to the chaos invoked by HB 2, which caused a maelstrom of boycotts and the unseating of Republican Governor Pat McCrory. In fact, the major reason North Carolina repealed the measure on March 30th was because of an explicit threat from the NCAA. The college basketball organization told state officials, unless HB 2 was repealed, the state would be banned from hosting the championship tournament for six years.
It should be noted the repeal bill, HB 142, has been the cause of some controversy, since it essentially leaves the question of gendering restrooms up to the State Assembly and maintains a preemption of pro-LGBT local ordinances for another three years.
In the recent letter sent by BP America, Chevron, Dow Chemical and other Houston-based businesses, the companies expressed their concern that the bathroom bill would inhibit “the state’s economic growth and ability to create new jobs.” Specifically, the business leaders noted the bill’s potential to reduce the talent pool in Texas.
Another letter sent by 14 Dallas-based companies expressed a similar sentiment, while specifically referencing the effect the bill could have on “the greatest sporting and cultural attractions in the world.”
And in a separate but related situation, a coalition of businesses aligned to support LGBT worker protections. Fifty or so companies submitted an amicus brief to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The businesses argued that “[t]he U.S. economy could save as much as $8.9 billion by protecting and welcoming LGBT employees in the workplace—more than any other country.”
How could one argue in favor of the “bathroom bill”? Governor Abbott, who unknowingly took a picture with a trans woman, has contended that SB 3 would be essential in furthering “the privacy of women and children.” As for the preemption of local ordinances? According to Abbott, the state simply needs to sort out the “patchwork quilt of conflicting local regulations.”
As a rejoinder to the economic questions, Republican Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who introduced SB 3, argued the “bathroom bill” puts “daughters over dollars.” And in response to law enforcement’s lack of support, Kolkhorst said the legislation “shuts down the opportunity for predators and voyeurs to assault women by exploiting this proposed lack of gender boundaries.” This argument, similarly employed in the 1950s in relation to gay men, lacks substantial evidence supporting it.
The House will now take up the legislation. By all accounts, there’s a solid chance SB 3 could be defeated in the House.