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Texas Bathroom Bill Author Ron Simmons Goes Down in Flames

He is one of several anti-LGBTQ Republicans who lost state legislative races Tuesday.

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Texas state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, the author of anti-transgender bathroom legislation in 2017, was defeated by Democrat Michelle Beckley in a major upset Tuesday night.

“As an Aggie, I might know a thing or two about cow manure and this ‘bathroom bill’ authored by my opponent is the biggest load of cow manure to come out of the state House in 2017,” Beckley wrote in response to a Dallas Morning News candidate questionnaire earlier this year. “The amount of tax dollars that were wasted debating this could have been spent on common sense legislation like funding our public schools, taking the Medicaid expansion, or improving our roads & infrastructure. Instead, our Republican legislators attempted to create a problem where one didn’t exist, and targeted an already at-risk population which has one of the highest suicide rates. No one walks around with their birth certificate and who is going to enforce this? At the end of the day this was just a publicity stunt that my opponent used to get attention, instead of actually doing his job and legislating.”

The Senate author of the bathroom bill, Republican Lois Kolkhorst, was not on the ballot Tuesday, but will be up for re-election in 2020.

Overall, Democrats picked up 12 seats in the Texas House, and two in the Senate. Several of those seats had been held by rabidly anti-LGBTQ Republicans, including Simmons, Rep. Matt Rinaldi, and Sens. Don Huffines and Konni Burton.

The Democratic pickups will be key as the House prepares to elect a new speaker, following the retirement of Joe Straus. Straus, a moderate Republican from San Antonio, was credited with blocking anti-LGBTQ legislation, including Simmons’ bathroom bill, in previous sessions.

While Republicans retained control of all statewide offices, Democrats now occupy 67 of the 150 seats in the House, meaning they would need support from only nine GOP members to determine the speaker. Right-wing lawmakers have vowed to again push bathroom bills and other anti-LGBTQ legislation in the session that begins in January.

“Candidates up and down the ballot who ran on pro-equality messages had unprecedented success, and openly LGBTQ candidates across the state made history,” Equality Texas said in an email Wednesday. “With these results, we are closer than ever before to our goal of ensuring that every LGBTQ Texan has full legal and lived equality.”

 

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.
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