The bathroom bill may be dead, but the fight over transgender rights in Texas is just beginning.
A top priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other far-right Republicans, the issue will likely re-emerge as a conservative litmus test during next year’s GOP primary elections, and the legislation itself could be resurrected during the next legislative session in 2019. Patrick and the proposal’s other supporters will likely continue to frame the push as the only way to guarantee the privacy and dignity for , and children, to keep “men out of women’s restrooms” and boys off girls’ sports teams.
Carrollton Republican Ron Simmons, the House author of the legislation, said the bathroom bill will continue to be a source of debate in Texas until a statewide policy is set.
“The legislation might be dead but the issue is still very much alive until it is solved at the state or federal level,” Simmons said. “A patchwork of local ordinances or policies is never best for all Texans.”
He acknowledged the courts are expected to get involved as well, as some Texas cities and school districts fight to keep in place anti-discrimination rules that allow them to accommodate the needs of trans men, women and children.
The bathroom bill, which could have restricted the restrooms, showers and locker rooms available for use to transgender Texans, was the most divisive issue debated in Texas this year. It split the Republican Party and pitted the Texas House against the Texas Senate.
It brought thousands of people to the state Capitol, the majority of whom rejected the bill as a thinly veiled attempt to marginalize and demonize the transgender community.
Businesses, including 51 Fortune 500 companies, also opposed the legislation, as did state and national educator groups and law enforcement from the largest cities. All called the bills discriminatory and unnecessary.
These opponents rejoiced when the legislation failed during the regular session. But just weeks later, Gov. Greg Abbott called lawmakers back to Austin and included the issue on a list of 20 priorities to tackle during a month of legislative overtime. There’s an outside chance Abbott could call a second special session to tackle the issue, but several lawmakers, including Kolkhorst, said they did not expect Abbott to do so.
Ultimately, it was opposition from big business that was the nail in the coffin.