Texas ‘Bathroom Bill’ Dies In State House Again As Special Session Ends

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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The Texas House of Representatives killed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s long-fought-for “bathroom bill,” for a second time Tuesday, with opponents claiming the ban was “harmful” and “anti-transgender.”

The bill, SB 3, would have required transgender Texans to use gendered bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in accordance with the gender on their birth certificate. The House refused to vote on the legislation as the legislature’s special session ended Tuesday, effectively killing the bill, CNN reported. The state Senate and House have ping-ponged versions of the bill for most of 2017, with the Senate twice passing it and the House twice killing it. The House conceded a lighter version in May which only applied to the requirement to schools, but the Senate rejected it as too watered down.

SB 3’s author, Republican Sen. Louis Kolkhorst, said she was disappointed with the result and exhausted from the months-long legislative battle.

“There has not been a more contentious issue this session,” Kolkhorst told Dallas News. “It’s time to take a few breaths and go home. It’s been a long year.”

Kolkhorst and other supporters of the bill faced months of criticism from political and corporate opponents, with Facebook and Amazon publicly condemning the bill, claiming they may have to leave the state if they were forced to use discriminatory bathrooms.

Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus, an opponent of the bill, pointed to potential economic consequences for Texas if it passed the ban. When North Carolina passed its own “bathroom bill” in 2016, the NBA threatened to hold its All-Star game in a different state, and the NCAA banned holding championship events in the state. North Carolina repealed the legislation in March as a result of the pressure.

A group of businesses paid more than $1 million for a televised ad campaign against the bill in July. The ad claimed the NFL could reject Dallas’ bid to host the NFL draft if the legislation passed.

Transgender advocate groups are not taking their repeated victories for granted, however.

“Rest assured, the same eyes that watched Texas lawmakers this year will continue to keep a strong, watchful eye,” JoDee Winterhof, vice president of LGBT group Human Rights Campaign, told Dallas News. “If the legislature attempts to attack our communities again, all of us will come out with the same level of force and strength.”

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