Boosted by a failed effort in North Carolina to topple an anti-transgender “bathroom bill”, conservative lawmakers in other states are redoubling their efforts to make restrooms and locker-rooms the next political and cultural battleground.
In Texas on Thursday, legislators introduced a bill similar to North Carolina’s notorious law and said they were steeling themselves for the challenge of getting it passed amid fears of the possible economic consequences.
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight. The forces of fear and misinformation will pull out all the stops, both in Texas and nationally,” Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said at a press conference in Austin. “You can mark today as the day that Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no’. The privacy and safety of Texans is our first priority, not political correctness.”
Transgender-rights advocates reacted with outrage and contended that the bill is likely to bring the same turmoil that hit North Carolina last year and appeared to contribute to the election defeat of the governor who signed the measure into law, Pat McCrory. The state’s legislators considered repealing House Bill 2 in a special session just before Christmas but kept it on the books.
Despite the controversy, “bathroom bills” have become a favourite cause of conservative Christian lawmakers. Six other states have introduced or pre-filed bills restricting access to facilities based for their 2017 legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.