From start to finish, the dominant issue of the Eighty-fifth Legislature was bathrooms. Specifically, whether to limit access in school and government multi-person bathrooms to the gender on a person’s birth certificate. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community saw it as discrimination. Major corporations saw it as an obstacle to employee recruitment. But social conservatives declared it an issue of public safety and individual comfort. In the end, it was the issue that crashed the session.
Pastors defeat Houston anti-discrimination ordinance in referendum.
Governor Gregg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick back pastors.
Winning slogan: “No men in women’s bathrooms, no boys in girls’ showers.”
North Carolina approves law limiting bathroom access to biological sex.
This triggers boycotts costing $3.7 billion in lost economic activity.
Patrick promises a Texas law: “If it costs me an election, if it costs me a lot of grief, then so be it.”
President Obama orders equal bathroom and shower access for transgender students.
Patrick accuses Obama of using federal funds for Texas schools as “blackmail.”
Obama: “…the desire to accommodate others’ discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students.”
Patrick and Senator Lois Kolkhorst unveil bathroom bill.
The bill limits transgender access in public schools and universities, and government buildings.
Patrick: “We know this is going to be a tough fight.”
Speaker Joe Straus says bathroom bill might harm Texas business.
He warns of a repeat of North Carolina.
Straus: “Now is the time to speak up.”
Trump rescinds Obama’s transgender student rights order.
This negates the main argument for the Texas bill.
Kolkhorst: “The people of Texas must define for ourselves what boundaries are expected in our public facilities.”
Patrick recruits fundamentalist Christians to help pass the bill.
He launches Operation One Million Voices.
Patrick: “North Carolina was the tip of the spear.”
Texas Senate approves bathroom bill.
Democrats call it a solution in search of a problem.
Kolkhorst: “The people of Texas expect boundaries between gender.”
Straus again speaks against the bathroom bill.
He calls the issue “manufactured and unnecessary.”
Straus: “Count me as a No.”
North Carolina governor ends boycotts by overturning transgender bathroom law.
New law also prohibited local ordinances favoring LGBT rights.
LGBT rights group called it a “fake repeal.”
Patrick threatens to force special session on bathrooms.
Straus had not referred Senate bill to committee.
Patrick: “I will ask the governor to call us back again and again and again.”
House begins debate on bathroom bill.
This version only applies to public schools and is voluntary.
Patrick and Abbott say it is not enough.
Straus and Patrick deadlock on bathroom bills.
Patrick takes five state agency renewal bills hostage to force a special session.
Straus: “It’s absurd that bathroom bills have taken on greater urgency than fixing our school finance system.”
Regular session of the Eighty-fifth Legislature adjourns.
No legislation on transgender bathroom use passes.
Abbott: “When it gets to a special session, the time and the topics are solely up to the governor.”
Photographs by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, Bob Levey/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, and Anna Donlan.