AUSTIN (AP) — For months, Gov. Greg Abbott stayed silent and Texas’ bathroom bill languished in the Legislature amid mounting criticism from LGBT activists and business groups.
Now Abbott’s all-in, becoming the nation’s first governor to fully embrace the issue. That makes the prospects for Texas blocking its own cities and school districts from instituting transgender-friendly policies on public restrooms suddenly bright — even with barely five weeks left before the legislative session ends May 29.
Abbott promised to cooperate with state lawmakers to “get a bill to my desk that I will sign into law.”
The Senate weeks ago rushed to approve a bill mandating that transgender Texans use public bathrooms corresponding to their birth-certificate gender. But that seemed a tough sell in the House, where Speaker Joe Straus criticized it as bad for business and the governor’s previous failure to weigh in offered no cover for would-be supporters.
Abbott’s blessing only came after the House said it was setting aside the Senate bill and instead advancing one prohibiting policies seeking to protect transgender rights in public bathrooms without specifically addressing birth-certificate gender.
Hundreds of people, including chambers of commerce representatives, decried the House bill as discriminatory during a recent, all-night hearing. But it should nonetheless be approved by committee this week, clearing it for a House floor vote.
North Carolina passed a law similar to the Texas Senate’s bill last year, sparking national outcry and costly boycotts. That state partially repealed the law last month, making it closer to what the Texas House is now considering. What’s likely to emerge in Texas should look more like North Carolina’s rolled-back version.
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