The Texas Senate approved a bill that would deny transgender people the right to use public restrooms that correspond to their preferred gender status, marking another legislative fight against transgender equality by Republican politicians, as well as some Democrats.
"This is not about transgender rights, it is about preventing a free pass to sexual predators who are not transgender from walking into any bathroom at any time," said Republican Lieutenant Gov. Patrick at a State Capitol press conference, reported the Houston Chronicle. "We make accommodations for those who need accommodations ... This is the right thing to do."
Although SB 6, known as the "bathroom bill," passed the Senate with the support of Democratic State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Reuters reported that it is unlikely to pass the state's House of Representatives, where there is more concern about the bill's economic impact than the concerns about safety stated by Patrick.
A coalition of 70 businesses, including Apple and American Airlines and dubbed "Keep Texas Open for Business," sent an open letter to Texas lawmakers urging them to "understand the profoundly negative impact discriminatory legislation could pose to Texas."
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"By passing SB 6 ... and other discriminatory legislation, Texas could lose billions of dollars in GDP, a critical loss of revenue that would profoundly threaten the state’s ability to fund education, transportation and other essential services," the Keep Texas Open for Business letter states. "And thousands of jobs could be lost, according to the Texas Association of Business’ economic impact study."
Keep Texas Open for Business also warns that SB 6 and other "discriminatory legislation" could have a harrowing impact on the state's tourism industry.
"Texas receives $68.7 billion in travel spending, which generates $6.2 billion in state and local taxes," the group said. "Over 1 million jobs are supported by travel, 648,000 direct and 488,000 indirect. This vibrant industry, the second largest in our state, would suffer declines similar to those experienced by other states if Texas loses its reputation as a welcoming destination for all visitors."
Reactions by big companies have already had real impacts in North Carolina, where lawmakers approved a similar bathroom bill in 2016.
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After passage of the bill, the state suffered as large businesses, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, canceled plans to move jobs there, according to the Advocate.
Estimates of the total economic impact on North Carolina vary, but the decision by CoStar Group to cancel plans to create 730 jobs in Charlotte alone resulted in a potential loss of $230 million to the local economy, reported McClatchy.