DALLAS (CBS11) – Mary Horn is not only the longest-serving Denton County Commissioners Court Judge, she is also the first woman to hold the job.
So opponents of bathroom privacy bills hope her voice on new radio ads by the Texas Association of Business carries some weight.
The ad is part of a million-dollar campaign by the Texas Association of Business to kill the bills before they are passed during the special legislative session now under way at the state Capitol in Austin.
In one ad, the judge, now in her fourth four-year term, says she’s a born-again Christian, a mother and grandmother and a long-standing conservative Republican who “opposes these bathroom privacy bills.”
Under the bill passed by the state Senate, SB3, people would have to use multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker-rooms in local government buildings and public schools that match what’s on their birth certificate or a DPS-issued ID.
Stadiums and convention centers would be exempt.
The legislation also negates local ordinances that allow people to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Supporters of the bills say they are needed to protect women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms.
But Judge Horn says the state already has laws on the books to protect bathroom privacy.
She says she worries businesses would look to expand in other states instead of Texas. “I think it would give them pause. I really do, and for that reason, I chose to be outspoken about it.”
Convention and Visitors Bureaus across the state have railed against the bills saying the state has already lost more than $66 million in lost conventions and events, and they believe that will rise dramatically if the bills become law.
But the bills’ supporters, including conservative Republican Jonathan Gaspard, reject what they call scare tactics and say the state’s booming economy would face a minimal impact. “When you actually look at the whole picture, you put everything in it, you realize it’s a percentage point of a percentage point that it’s going to be.”
He says the bills are fair to everyone. “This bill actually creates an opportunity for everyone to be respected and not one person’s rights to be elevated over another person’s.”
Asked if she worries about any political ramifications, Judge Horn answered, “No, I really don’t and in actuality, the phone calls and emails I’ve received have been very appreciative of me taking a stance. At this point in time, I’ve received one negative email. They question my Christianity and that’s between God and me, thank you.”
Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick support bathroom privacy legislation.
While the State Senate has passed a bill, it and two other proposed bills aren’t going anywhere yet in the House, where Speaker Joe Straus strongly opposes them.