By Chuck Lindell
Friday, September 07, 2018
With the Legislature set to convene in four months, conservative Republican lawmakers said Friday that the fight is not over on transgender-friendly bathrooms and same-sex marriage.
Speaking at an Austin forum sponsored by Texas Values, a Christian public policy advocacy group that is influential in GOP circles, the lawmakers said the issues were too important to leave unsettled after their favored bills were defeated in the 2017 legislative session.
“The only way that you fail is to not try,” said state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, author of unsuccessful bills to limit transgender-friendly bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools and government buildings last year.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, said the time is ripe to advance legislation to protect people and businesses opposed to gay marriage and other policies because of deeply held religious beliefs.
The rapid pace of conservative judges appointed by President Donald Trump, combined with a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that said governments cannot be hostile to religious practice, should give social and religious conservatives confidence heading into the legislative session that begins in January, Krause said.
The pending retirement of House Speaker Joe Straus, a moderate Republican who has thwarted several conservative priorities, should help as well, he said.
“We should be able to get something signed, and because of the favorable climate in the judiciary, I think it will be upheld as well,” Krause said.
The lawmakers’ comments came at the opening of Texas Values’ first Texas Faith, Family and Freedom Forum, a two-day gathering that is expected to become an annual event intended to inspire conservative Texans to political action. The forum sold out with 200 participants, organizers said.
Requiring bathrooms and locker rooms to be used based on the sex listed on each person’s birth certificate is a 2019 legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas, which sees the issue as a matter of privacy and safety.
The fight over transgender bathrooms, however, was one of the most contentious issues last legislative session, producing several all-night committee hearings, numerous rallies and protests, and vigorous debates on the Senate floor.
It also inflamed a long-simmering feud between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate and made curtailing transgender-friendly bathroom policies a high priority, and Straus, who said the bathroom bill was an unnecessary and mean-spirited distraction.