US: Texas Senate votes again to advance "bathroom bill"

The Republican-controlled Texas Senate gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a bill that restricts bathroom access for transgender people, endorsing a piece of legislation denounced by civil liberties advocates as discriminatory.

As part of Republican efforts to revive the controversial "bathroom bill," the Texas Senate on Tuesday gave approval to another version of the legislation directly affecting transgender Texans.

The 21-10 vote came after an eight-hour debate during which Republicans once again espoused the need to pass the legislation for the sake of privacy in bathrooms, while Democrats objected to its passage because of its discriminatory effect on an already vulnerable population. (Update July 26: At just after midnight on Wednesday, the Senate voted 21-10 to formally pass the bill. It now goes to the House for consideration.)

Senate Bill 3 by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would regulate bathroom use in schools and buildings overseen by local governments, including cities and counties, based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate or other IDs issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"I offer SB 3 … as a solution for Texas,” Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said in presenting her bill to the upper chamber, arguing it would set a statewide policy on bathrooms and offer guidance to school districts.

“It will hit the reset button and provide the privacy and safety that Texans expect,” she added.

Democrats suggested the bill’s language was actually a relic of the past. They described wording in the original bill that prohibited the creation of policies to protect “a class of person from discrimination” as language the Legislature hasn’t considered since the Jim Crow era.

“The bill you filed affirmatively allows discrimination. It says you can’t protect from discrimination,” state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, told Kolkhorst.

Read more via Texas Tribune