Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick Are Working with Hate Groups to Pass Discrimination Bills in Texas

Today TFN President Kathy Miller spoke along with representatives of our partner organizations on a national press call about Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick trying to pass a “bathroom bill” and other anti-LGBT discriminatory legislation in the coming special session of the Texas Legislature. The special session begins Tuesday (July 18). Here’s the statement Kathy made during the national press call:

The Governor’s call for a special session is filled with issues that pander to the right-wing base of the Republican Party in Texas. This isn’t a special session aimed at fixing our broken school finance system, or genuinely addressing the drastic rise in maternal mortality rates, or even to rebuild and repair bridges and roads. This is a session specifically geared toward the Republican primary voter. That is why it is no coincidence that we expect Gov. Abbott to announce his reelection plans today, just days ahead of this extremist legislative frenzy of his design.

The inclusion of a so-called “bathroom bill” on the list of the Governor’s demands reflects his close alignment with one of Texas’ most right-wing elected officials, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Despite opposition from civil rights organizations, religious leaders and the business community, and despite not one shred of evidence of the privacy and safety issues Patrick claims make this legislation necessary, the bathroom bill remains his chief priority.

In his obsession with promoting a bathroom bill, Dan Patrick has aligned himself with groups the Southern Poverty Law Center has certified as hate groups – groups like Conservative Republicans of Texas (headed by Steven Hotze) and the Family Research Council.

It is important to understand that these aren’t just typical advocacy organizations with standard positions on public policies. These organizations claim that LGBT people are a danger to children and the rest of society. They attack their very existence, promoting hatred of LGBT people with deeply offensive and vicious rhetoric. They don’t just work on public policy. They denigrate and attack an entire segment of the population – transgender Texans.

It is remarkable that in 2017 we still have statewide elected leaders that stand with hate groups in order to pass legislation. I thought that kind of behavior was long gone – even in the South.

The reality is that discriminatory bathroom legislation failed to pass during the regular session of the Texas Legislature because it is wrong and morally reprehensible. But Dan Patrick and his cronies don’t care. They only care about winning and feeding their right wing base.

Continuing to push bathroom legislation during this special session is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded temper tantrum thrown by a lieutenant governor who acts more like a playground bully than a statesman. And other elected leaders that have joined him are no better.

Instead of a legislative session about public policies to build up Texas, we have a session about political red meat that tears Texans down. If they succeed, real lives will be harmed and our reputation will be ruined. Is this the kind of Texas we want? Texans need to understand that this is the kind of Texas their governor and lieutenant intend for us to become.