Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is mobilizing pastors in Texas to be public advocates of a transgender bathroom bill that would require people use state-run bathrooms consistent with their biological sex and prevent local governments from enacting their own transgender bathroom ordinances.
Patrick, an outspoken advocate of Senate Bill 6, held a briefing for pastors on Monday that was organized by the social conservative advocacy organization Family Research Council and held at the headquarters of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The briefing was a held a day before the legislation, which was introduced by Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and would prevent local governments from forcing businesses to allow transgender individuals into bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, received a hearing by the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee.
Considering that pastors and religious leaders played an instrumental role in leading public pushback against a Houston transgender bathroom ordinance struck down by a referendum in 2015, Patrick is hopeful that conservative Christian leaders can have the same impact in leading the effort to pass S.B. 6, which has received pushback from the Left and labeled "anti-LGBT."
"[P]ray for all your legislators to be bold and courageous, do the right thing, pray for their protection and then go out and win this fight for America because America is watching Texas," Patrick told the pastors at the briefing. "The world depends on a strong America and America depends on a strong Texas and a strong Texas depends on a church and our synagogues. That's what it stands for — Texas values. That's who we are."
Considering the briefing was held on the anniversary of the last day of the Battle of the Alamo, Patrick continued by mentioning the sacrifices that were made on that iconic day in 1836.
"Today, on this day, 189 people sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, all died ... because they believed in something," Patrick said. "Without their sacrifice, none of us would be here today in a place called Texas."
"We're not asked to give our lives. We're not asked to grab our guns," he continued. "We're just asked to go cast courageous votes. Go and educate your congregations. Have them call their members."
Patrick concluded by explaining that he thinks the bill will be voted out of the Senate committee but reminded the pastors that the only thing that matters is whether or not the bill makes it to the governor's desk and is signed.
"We are going to need your help in gentle, persuasive and positive ways," Patrick told the pastors. "But always let people know that politicians care about a lot of things and one of the things that they always keep their eye on is 'What are the voters saying back in my district?' We all are held accountable."
Patrick has been quite active in his advocacy for S.B. 6. Last week, Patrick held a press call with reporters to shoot down some misconceptions that people have about the Texas bill.
In particular, Patrick refuted the notion that S.B. 6 is the same as the highly controversial H.B. 2 passed into law in North Carolina last year. While both bills do many of the same things regarding bathrooms and locker rooms, H.B. 2 also set aside class protections for employment and accommodations, which omits gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes.
"[O]ur bill is not the North Carolina bill," Patrick asserted. "Their bill was taking on the city of Charlotte over protected class issues. Our bill does not deal with protected class in the LGBT community regarding employment, housing et cetera."
Tuesday's hearing by the State Affairs Committee featured testimony from FRC President Tony Perkins and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a major player behind H.B. 2.
"This bill responds to a potential threat not just from the federal government, but from local governments and school districts within Texas that might choose to adopt 'non-discrimination' laws or policies that elevate 'gender identity' over biological sex and thereby threatening the security and privacy of Texans," Perkins told the committee, according to prepared remarks shared with The Christian Post. "That's exactly what happened in Houston — until the people placed the issue on the ballot and overturned the action of the City Council and Mayor."
"Let me emphasize that the threat does not primarily come from persons who identify as transgender," Perkins continued. "Rather, it comes from those who might exploit the situation by posing as transgender to gain easier access to (usually) women's bathrooms or changing facilities, where they can engage in voyeurism, indecent exposure, or even sexual assault."