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LGBTQ Advocates Urge Community to “Stay Active” on Bathroom Bill

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SB 3 clears Senate, heads to House

By Josh Inocéncio

It’s been a difficult week for transgender Texans.

Hours before President Donald Trump announced a ban on trans servicemembers in the U.S. military on Wednesday, the Texas Senate voted to advance the infamous “bathroom bill.”

Despite Friday’s marathon of testimony from trans activists and allies—as well as some impassioned remarks from Democrats on the Senate floor—SB3 is now in the hands of the House. However, given Speaker Joe Straus’ public opposition, the fate of the bill remains in question.

“I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands,” Straus was quoted as saying in the July issue of The New Yorker.

Democratic senators who voiced strong opposition to the bill on the floor Tuesday included Houston’s Sylvia Garcia, Borris Miles and John Whitmire. The Senate approved the bill 21-10, with Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville joining the chamber’s 20 Republicans. 

Now that the bill has cleared the Senate, LGBTQ advocacy groups are urging people to contact their representatives.

“Stay active on this issue,” said José Medina, deputy communications director for the Texas Freedom Network. “We expected the Senate to pass this bill.”

Maintaining optimism after Straus’ comments earlier this month, Medina hopes the House will realize that this is a “distraction, a non-issue” and instead focus on fully funding schools and the high maternal mortality in Texas.

Yesterday, a chorus of law enforcement leaders from across the state also spoke against the bill on the south steps of the Capitol.

“It may be great political theater,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “But it’s bad for public safety.” Acevedo was joined by police chiefs from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, as well as public school officials from all over Texas.

In response to Acevedo’s remarks, the anti-LGBTQ Houston Area Pastor Council issued a statement accusing Acevedo and Mayor Sylvester Turner of going against the wishes of voters and endangering the public.

“The fact that Chief Acevedo is acting as a political surrogate for Sylvester Turner, in direct jeopardy of the trust placed in him to fairly enforce all laws and treat all people equally, is beyond disturbing; it is tragic,” the group wrote.

On Wednesday, Equality Texas sent out a plea from Erika Richie of Houston, who said the bill would put her trans son, Landon, “in serious danger.”

“If they could just meet him, I feel certain they would feel differently,” Richie wrote of Texas lawmakers. “Because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing for our kids. We want to know they’re safe, happy and loved. That’s why I’m writing you to speak out against the discriminatory ‘bathroom bill’ being pushed at the State Capitol. And to urge you to support the organizations working to defeat it.”

To contact Straus’ office, call 512-463-1000. To find your representative, check here.

 

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Josh Inocéncio

Josh Inocéncio is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine, a playwright, and a freelance writer. A Houston-area native, he earned a master’s degree in theatre studies at Florida State University and produced his first play, Purple Eyes, before returning to Texas last May.

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