The parade of Texas businesses lining up against the so-called bathroom bill seems to grow daily. From the chambers of commerce to the tech industry to the state’s oil and gas corporations, businesses say the bill to limit transgender people’s access to restrooms in public buildings is nothing less than discrimination that will harm the state’s economy.
After California barred state-paid travel to Texas over a new law to allow foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” there is little wonder that the travel industry would weigh in on the bathroom bill. In a letter to the governor released on Tuesday, the Texas Travel Industry Association outlined economics studies that showed the bathroom bill could cost the state $3.3 billion in gross domestic product and 35,600 full time jobs. “We appreciate your leadership and urge you to avoid any actions, including the passage of any ‘bathroom bill’ that would threaten the growth and prosperity of an industry so vital to our state’s economy,” the letter said.
Of the 51 groups that signed the letter, the one that really caught my eye was the Sixth Floor at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The museum is situated in the former Texas School Book Depository building, where Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have set up a sniper’s post in 1963 to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
It’s not surprising that the bulk of the other groups were based in big cities, but the letter was also signed by the Abilene Convention and Tourist Bureau, the Boerne Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Dumas Chamber of Commerce and three hotels in the town north of Amarillo.
“The travel industry is the curator of the Texas hospitality brand,” the letter said. “Consequently, the Texas Travel Industry Association will oppose any ‘bathroom bill’ under consideration during this special session that will have a detrimental effect on our industry by degrading the attractiveness of the Texas image to event planners and other potential visitors to our state.”
According to KVUE, tourism officials testified during a public hearing in July that Texas has already lost $66 million over the bathroom bill, though it has yet to pass. The Senate voted on July 25 to advance the legislation, but the House has refused to take the bill up so far.