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Out of Order: A Timeline of How The Bathroom Bill Crashed The Session

A timeline of the issue that clogged up the Legislative session.

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John Erler protests as the Senate State Affairs Committee begin hearings about Senate Bill 6 at the Texas Capitol, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Austin, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

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.

NOVEMBER 3, 2015

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.”

MARCH 3, 2016

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.”

MAY 12, 2016

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.”

JANUARY 5, 2017

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.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, with other legislators and supporters of Senate Bill 6, talks to the media at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

JANUARY 18, 2017

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.”

FEBRUARY 29, 2017

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.”

MARCH 6, 2017

Patrick recruits fundamentalist Christians to help pass the bill.
He launches Operation One Million Voices.

Patrick: “North Carolina was the tip of the spear.”

MARCH 14, 2017

Texas Senate approves bathroom bill.
Democrats call it a solution in search of a problem.

Kolkhorst: “The people of Texas expect boundaries between gender.”

Members of the transgender community and others who oppose Senate Bill 6 protest in the exterior rotunda at the Texas state Capitol as the Senate State Affairs Committee holds hearings on the bill, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

MARCH 27, 2017

Straus again speaks against the bathroom bill.
He calls the issue “manufactured and unnecessary.”

Straus: “Count me as a No.”

MARCH 30, 2017

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.”

MAY 17, 2017

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.”

MAY 22, 2017

House begins debate on bathroom bill.
This version only applies to public schools and is voluntary.

Patrick and Abbott say it is not enough.

MAY 26, 2017

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.”

MAY 29, 2017

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.

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    Patrick probably could have bought the limit to public and charter schools…..but what he really wants is the ban on local ordinances that grant any recognition of the rights of transgenders or others. I don’t see him surrendering on that since he and the good doctor Hotze are so committed to keeping locally elected officials from having any power in the area. I wonder If they would change their position if Straus were to offer to resolve Hotze’s fight with the Texas Medical Board in Hotze’s favor in the Sunset provision for the board? Something like the language in Parker’s HB 661 from the regular session might do the trick.

  • Mary Leal Ramirez

    Stop wasting time on the idiotic bill.

    • WUSRPH

      Tell that to Lt. Gov. Patrick and to all the GOP state senators…….

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  • Mark Coopers

    I used to think that the Texas Constitution’s limit of 140 days every other year was TOO restrictive since the Lege has plenty of things to solve for a burgeoning population. Given that they spend too much time on idiot bills like this, I think we may have too many days to cause mischief.
    Maybe we should limit them to 30 days every other year. Get real work done for real problems: who uses which bathroom is not in my top 100 problems for the state to solve.

    • WUSRPH

      With Patrick in office, one day every 140 years is probably too many.

      • BCinBCS


  • enp1955

    I’ve come to believe that this has nothing to do with transgender, bathrooms, women, safety, or any of the other words spewed by Patrick. It has to do with power. Patrick has decided that this is where he will make his power play. Why? Simple – it has emotional appeal that he can use to gin up controversy. It stands as a symbol of his far right credentials. And it has absolutely zero real-world impact to the health and wealth of the average citizen of the state of Texas, so it carries no real negatives – from his perspective. When making a power grab, it is critical to do nothing that actually could carry a positive impact on the real-world problems facing the state. Texas has a long history of politicians using irrelevant social issues to advance their stature and visibility. Patrick is simply the latest in this long, sad line.

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    • WUSRPH

      Control over other’s behavior and beliefs has always been about power…….


    Texas Tribune’s report on how the Senate/Patrick war on higher education fizzled.



    Rep. Dukes is probably praying for as many special sessions as possible to give her more legislative continuances to avoid her trial.


    Does Trump have the ….. to pull an “executive privilege” to keep Comey from testifying?

  • Texas Publius

    Has anyone actually ever met someone (politicians don’t count) who’s alleged this is a problem needing a legislative solution, let alone being an urgent, legislative priority? I never have. Nor do I know anyone who has. 45 rescinded 44’s exec order. Move along.

    Abbott can finally demonstrate leadership and the power of his office by simply ignoring the Lt Gov’s attempt to manipulate him on this issue. If the Gov submits, he will become weaker than he’s ever been.

    • José

      The following BB post sort of deals with your question. Basically it’s not a problem for anyone until someone makes a fuss just for the sake of making a fuss.
      It reminds me so much of the marriage equality hubbub. The anti-gays ran around yelling their heads off that the mere fact of allowing a same sex couple to get married was going to cause the end of civilization as we know it. And of course it didn’t.

  • Asher B. Garber

    Dan Patrick: Toilet Czar

    • WUSRPH

      Wait and see if they pass it…and, if they do, join me in a campaign to post a picture of Dan with the slogan “Remember, Dan is watching!” in every public bathroom in Texas.

  • vjmassey

    There’s a reason one bathroom says men and the other says women.