82ºF

Texans voice concern over 'bathroom bills' floating around

HOUSTON – As two different versions of the “Bathroom Bill”"bathroom bill" make their way through the Texas Legislature, people for and against the bills continue to speak out across the state.

Tuesday morning members of the Coalition of African-American Pastors made it known that they support Senate Bill 6 and want quicker action from lawmakers.

"It's common sense legislation that should have been passed without any rebuttal because it makes sense, it protects women, it protects our little girls in their most intimate setting,” said Ericka McCrutcheon, Pastorpastor at Joint Heirs Fellowship Church. “I think that this bill should be allowed to go to the floor and I am asking Speaker (Joe) Straus to stop playing politics and do what is right, allow the bill to come to the floor and allow it to be voted on.”

The bill would stop transgendered people from going to public and government building restrooms that they identify with when it comes to gender. In other words, a person could only go the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex.

In March, the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 6, the next step would be for it to go through the House. Members from CAAP believe the Texas house is dragging its feet to move the piece of legislation which has them upset.

"You're a coward that you will not allow a vote to be taken, you're using your position wrong,” said the Rev. William Owens, Presidentpresident of Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) "I would love to meet with you and talk to you and debate this issue but at this point in my book, you're one of the biggest cowards in the state of Texas."

House Speaker Joe Straus has been vocal in the past about not supporting the bill because he thinks it’s unnecessary and is not a priority for lawmakers. He has not referred the bill to a House Committeecommittee yet, which would be the next step to getting the bill to the House floor.

Currently lawmakers in the House State Affairs Committee have looked at an alternative bathroom bill, House Bill 2899 which was written by state Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton.

Simmons' bill is geared toward blocking school districts and municipalities from putting into place or enforcing bathroom policies that would favor transgender people.

"Except in accordance with federal and state law, a political subdivision, including a public school district, may not enforce an order, ordinance or other measure to protect a class of persons from discrimination to the extent that the order, ordinance or other measure regulates access to multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities," explains the bill.

Students at the University of Houston held a “Students Against Hate” rally in protest of anti-LGBTQ legislation including Senate Bill 6.

“One thing we really want to emphasize today is that Senate BiillBill 6 is a horrible bill,” explained Ali Lozano with Texas Freedom Network.

She said the student group wants people to know not only about the bathroom bill, but 24 other bills she believes will hurt the LGBTQ community.

“The biggest obstacle I think we're facing right now is simply education, letting folks know that these bill shavebills have been proposed and moving to the floor and moving to committees

for debates and also that it will definitely impact their lives as well,” said Lozano. "It's not just LGBTQ folks, but come after one group you come after all groups."

CAAP said it's frustrated with people calling the subject a civil rights issue.

"I am angry because they have hijacked what our people did when they died for we came to this country on slave ships,” Saidsaid Owens. "We are angry that our rights as black people who suffered so much has been hijacked for the homosexual agenda."

Kamah Asha, is a first year University of Houston graduate student studying social work. The African-American student said she is a Christian and Lesbianlesbian and disagrees with Owen’sOwens' point of view.

“As an African American-American woman I know people always ask me, 'So in comparison to the Civil Rights movement, what do you think about this?' and I'm like, ‘OK, our goal right now is not to compare these two movements,” explained Asha. "We shouldn't be comparing any civil rights movement to another civil rights movement, because each movement is important. To compare one to another is to invalidate the rights of these different communities. So I think for them to use that as a premise for their support is a little bit hypocritical."

People in the Texas LGBTQ community said they’re concerned about the following bills:

  • HB 2899: Legislation that would prevent local jurisdictions from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances that include provisions on bathroom usage.
  • SB 522: Legally permits county clerks to deny  marriage licenses to LGBTQ Texans
  • SB 892: Permitting child welfare services providers the ability to deny services to LGBTQ Texans