This is hardly a coincidence. The State Affairs Committee of the Texas Senate has scheduled a public hearing for Senate Bill 6, the transgender discrimination bill, on the same day that a parade of prominent anti-LGBT speakers will join Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton at a so-called “Pastors’ Briefing” at the Texas Capitol.
Those speakers include some of the most vitriolic figures on the religious right, especially when it comes to promoting discrimination against LGBT people. The list includes big guns like Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an LGBT hate group. And it includes pop guns, like Jonathan Saenz, the gay-obsessed head of the far-right lobby group Texas Values.
Patrick and SB 6’s sponsor, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, have promoted the bill as protecting privacy and against sexual assault in public restrooms.
Those claims simply aren’t true. Scores of cities and states that protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations have reported no problems with privacy and sexual assault in public restrooms as a result of their anti-discrimination measures.
The truth is that politicians like Abbott, Patrick, Paxton and Kolkhorst think promoting discrimination against LGBT people helps rile up the Republican Party’s far-right base in Texas.
Scheduling the SB 6 hearing on the same day as prominent anti-LGBT speakers will be at the Capitol is just a way to draw more far-right activists in support of the bill.