VIDEO: TX Lege Town Hall Turns Heated Over Bathroom Bill

Well, last night was a first for me.

Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated
Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated

After being allowed to leave work a little early, I decided to meet some fellow Indivisible Group members at a town hall meeting in the city of Coppell, a suburb of Dallas, to hear and talk with some local representatives. The scheduled guests were State Representatives Matt Rinaldi and Ron Simmons, and State Senator Don Huffines. As it turned out, Huffines had a previous commitment and was unable to show.

The reason I wanted to attend was to voice my concern for SB6 (nicknamed the Texas Bathroom Bill). I did this as a citizen of Dallas, Texas who loves his state and not as a paid protester, as some might falsely claim. Before I had a chance to ask my question and give the representatives my views of the bill, several other people had already gone and made solid arguments. My opinion is based on what we have seen happen in North Carolina, that it could easily cost the state hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars annually.

When I had my chance to speak, it became clear that Rinaldi did not share my concerns.

In his introduction speech, Rinaldi said he was there to listen to the questions AND concerns of the citizens but instead, brushed them off as nonsense from the get-go if he disagreed with his constituents. One lady whom I had never met was almost brought to tears at one point when talking passionately about how the School Choice bill would affect her children and family.

The representatives seemed to forget that the meeting (which was held in a public space at Coppell City Hall) was open to the public and that there were no time limits or guidelines given for how the open-mic, question-and-answer portion of the evening would be handled. I watched as one-by-one citizens were cut off early or asked to hurry up or to please sit down when it was clear that the representatives there had no good answer for the people who wanted to voice their concerns for their state.

When I got up, I made sure to mention facts. I pulled stats from a 25-page study by the Texas Association of Business (PDF), including that it could easily cost the state 185,000 jobs and cost the state $8.5 billion annually. Rinaldi responded by starting off, “Well, if you actually read the bill…” As far as I am aware, we were both adults trying to have a productive back-and-forth, but his dismissive response made it clear that he didn’t regard me as an adult at all. Which is concerning to say the least.

During my short time at the mic, I also relayed how this will affect a very close friend of mine, something that was met with very mixed reactions from the crowd and most likely gave me the label of “snowflake.” I guess when life hands you snowflakes, make some snowballs.

Before I was able to finish my full statement and respond to Rinaldi’s mischaracterization of the study and the facts supporting it, the mic was aggressively removed from my hand by one of the event organizers.

I find it highly unfortunate that elected officials are so quick to disregard the concerns of the citizens once they find out that those citizens don’t agree with them.

A friend of mine often says:
“Be kind. Be brave.”

I would add:
Be steadfast.

Oy, here we go with the “bathroom bill!”

We’ve got our own Peegate in Texas, but it has nothing to do with Russians or the CIA.

It likely hasn’t escaped your notice that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is VERY CONCERNED about where the good people of Texas are allowed to pee. To that end, SB 6 is one of his top 25 legislative priorities and part of his radical Tea Party agenda. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, is commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”

As is often typical of lawmaking in Texas, SB 6 is a solution in search of a problem, and one that very cruelly targets transgender people. It also has a very intense focus on school districts, and would fine them up to $10,500 (!) for every day they allow a transgender student to use the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity.

“The only people…who oppose this bill are Anglo liberals, and many of them work in the media.”  – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

If you’re mad as hell about this bill, today might be a good day to call the Lt. Gov.’s office and make your voice heard.

Here’s a sample script you can use:

“Hi, I’m calling to voice my concerns about SB 6. I do not support this bill, which very intentionally discriminates against transgender people, and undermines local control of cities, school districts, and other public entities. The economic repercussions also make this bill an extremely unfavorable one. Thank you.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office: 512-463-0001

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s office: 512-463-0118

UPDATE: Last week Patrick’s office said they were tallying calls for/against, and apparently they still are.

More background

Today in his conversation with the Texas Tribune‘s Evan Smith, Patrick suggested that there isn’t an epidemic of “men in ladies’ bathrooms,” but that liberals picked this fight with Republicans by enacting policies or ordinances that explicitly protect the rights of transgender people. I’ll note that he misspoke more than once, saying “support” instead of “oppose” in several exchanges. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but it happened.

Furthermore, he said, “The only people…who oppose this bill are Anglo liberals, and many of them work in the media.” Today let’s show the Lt. Gov. that’s not true.

You can watch the conversation at the Texas Tribune’s site here. The “bathroom bill” conversation starts at approximately 33:31.

More resources:

Following North Carolina’s lead, Texas GOP unveils so-called “bathroom bill” (Texas Tribune)

Texas Moves to Limit Transgender Bathroom Access (New York Times)

Shortall: Texas will pay for ‘bathroom bill’ (Houston Chronicle, op-ed)

The Economic Impact of Discriminatory Legislation on the State of Texas (Texas Association of Business, PDF)