Sit-Rep #5 - SB 6 & HB 2899

Over the last few weeks our office has received countless calls about SB6, known as the “Bathroom Bill” or the “Women’s Privacy Act”. Your HD20 staff has received a consistent stream of requests for a response on the issue, so I’m dedicating this week’s Sit-Rep to my thoughts on the issue, and to ask for your feedback.

I’ll make this blatantly clear, I don’t want to have men in women’s bathrooms. The fact that I had to put that sentence in an article is, frankly, absurd. So absurd, in fact, that this entire debate has forced me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

It is an old adage in military circles that” All diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means”, and the same can be said of legislation. We may not come to actual blows, but the same tactics and strategies hold true. This is a cultural war, plain and simple, and to win a war requires taking action with more than just the current battle in mind.  

As well intentioned as SB6 is, the battle over which bathroom a transgendered person should use can, at its best, merely keep us where we were before it started. We spend countless hours of our most precious resource, our time, as well as money, political capital, and space on the legislative calendar, all to just get back to zero.

If we want to stop putting out fires and start making real progress in this cultural battlefield, then we must take steps not only to stop the current assault, but to deprive the left of it’s ability to make war on our culture, and take away their chief weapon, their ability to use their stranglehold on our largest cities to create protected classes on the local level.     

A protected class is a group of people defined by a common trait that is either something they cannot change, or that we all agree needs to be protected. Race, for instance, is a protected class as is Religion.

The last two years have seen repeated examples of attempts by municipalities and other local governments to grant protected class status to various groups on their own. The City of Houston attempted to pass HERO, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which would have added sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status to the list of protected classes, effectively banning businesses, private employers, housing, city employment agencies, and those contracting with the City of Houston from considering those issues in any way.  

Fort Worth ISD established a policy where teachers could not discuss a student’s sexual orientation with parents, and school districts across the state followed then President Obama’s recommendation to treat transgender students as a protected class and allow them to use the bathroom of their choice, effectively creating a protected class.    

The city of Houston’s efforts passed their city council by a 2-1 margin, but lost at the ballot box 60-40. Fort Worth’s policy was met with a flood of parent led opposition, and was ultimately reversed. These are just a few examples of how the left leaning leadership of these local governments have continually tried this, and every time we spend time and effort just to get back to where we were before. The people made clear that they don’t want businesses kept from operating as they wish, and that parents shouldn’t be denied information without direct cause.

It’s time to take the fight to them and stop playing defense, and there is a bill in the house that can do just that. I’m supporting Rep. Simmons’s HB 2899, which overrides all local ordinances and resolutions that create protected classes on their own, and makes it clear that establishing protected classes is the job of the State Legislature.

Local control is important, but it exists because there are situations in, for example, Burnet County that are different than in El Paso, Houston, or Amarillo. Local governments need to be able to adjust policies to make things work for their situation. But, by their very nature, protected classes are about things that don’t change based on where you are.

Establishing a protected class is the job for the highest levels of our government, and deserve the large-scale publicity and debate that comes with a hearing in the legislature, not a late-night vote in a city council chamber.

While I certainly don’t want men in women’s bathrooms, I think it’s even more important that we take this opportunity to turn off the spigot of local governments trying to make statewide law on their own. If we take care of that, the rest will take care of itself.

Before I go I want to thank everyone for the number of constructive responses we received on our last article regarding HB-81 and marijuana penalty adjustment. Hearing from you makes a difference to me and we appreciate every response we receive.