Metro Weekly

Texas small business owners sign letter opposing anti-LGBT legislation

Letter's signatories warn lawmakers, including Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, not to pursue a "bathroom bill" in 2017

Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas (Credit: Daniel Mayer, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas (Credit: Daniel Mayer, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Small business owners in the Lone Star State are issuing a warning to any lawmakers that might want to push through any laws that discriminate against the LGBT community: Not on our turf.

Citing concerns over the possibility of legislation modeled after North Carolina’s HB 2 law, more than 200 business owners have signed an open letter opposing any efforts to pass laws that would single out the LGBT community for disparate treatment, reports the Houston Chronicle.

“[W]e’re watching what’s unfolding in North Carolina with a growing sense of dread,” reads the letter, which was posted on Equality Texas’ website. “Experts put economic damage from the discriminatory HB2 law at $395 million and rising. That damage is coming from the loss of corporate investments, talent, performances, sporting events, and conventions.

“What’s not often talked about is that every single one of these losses impacts countless small businesses. … These economic impact figures aren’t just numbers to us. They represent a direct threat to our ability to do business. …We want to continue to provide great jobs and great experiences for our employees and our customers. That’s why we oppose any Texas legislation – broad or narrow – that would legalize discrimination against any group.”

The business owners’ move comes after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the state Senate, announced that one of his major priorities during the 2017 legislative session was to pass anti-transgender legislation that would mimic North Carolina’s HB 2. Under Patrick’s “bathroom bill” proposal, transgender citizens would be prohibited from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. But the business community says that passing such a bill would be a disaster for the state. 

“We can’t afford the losses seen in North Carolina, Indiana, and elsewhere. We want Texas to stay open for business for everyone,” the letter concludes. “In 2017, we hope our elected officials will remember the small business community when they go to work.”

Currently, Texas is mired in a lawsuit against the federal government over objections to guidance put forth by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice that urges schools to allow transgender public school students to use restrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity. Efforts to enforce that guidance have been temporarily halted after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued a nationwide injunction preventing the Obama administration from pressuring schools to implement its preferred policy.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com