Ignoring how North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ HB2 cost the state millions in lost revenue and jobs—while tarnishing its reputation nationwide—conservative lawmakers in at least six states are issuing their own salvos against the transgender community with similar “bathroom bills” whose “invidious intent” is to discriminate and deny fundamental rights.
The bill unveiled Thursday in Texas would overturn non-discrimination ordinances currently providing critical protections in several of the state’s major cities and would require all Texas residents to use bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex, rather than their gender identity. Dubbed the “Privacy Protection Act,” SB2 is backed by lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who introduced it at a news conference on Thursday by quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter,'” Patrick said, quoting King. “This legislation…is unquestionably one of the things that matters.”
But Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin had a different interpretation, echoing other advocacy groups in calling the bill “a dangerous, politically-motivated assault on the rights of [Patrick’s] own constituents.”
“Patrick and his anti-LGBTQ friends in the legislature have clearly learned nothing from the self-inflicted damage caused by North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law and want to throw away $8.5 billion in revenue from lost visitors, businesses, sports leagues, and major entertainment groups,” Griffin continued. “If lawmakers vote to discriminate against transgender people, Texas will be closed for business.”
The $8.5 billion figure comes from a 2016 study (pdf) released by the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition and commissioned by the Texas Association of Business, which found the economic impact of enacting a so-called “bathroom bill” and a “religious freedom” bill in the state would amount to $8.5 billion and a loss of 185,000 jobs.
Indeed, Salon notes: “With an economic output of $1.64 trillion in 2015, Texas has far more to lose than North Carolina ever did. Texas has the second largest economy of any state in the nation, while North Carolina’s 2015 GDP was $506 billion.”
In vowing to veto similar legislation should it reach his desk, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) also cited the potential economic fallout. “Governor McAuliffe has been clear that he will veto any bill that restricts the rights of Virginians based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said in a written statement following this week’s introduction of a bill to regulate transgender people’s use of public restrooms. “As we saw in North Carolina, these bills don’t just hamper civil rights—they kill jobs.”
According to the ACLU of Virginia, which “vehemently opposes” the so-called “Physical Privacy Act,” the measure “would require anyone who wants to avoid harassment or an interaction with a government official to carry a copy of their birth certificate on their person anywhere they may need to use a restroom on state property.”
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