As state lawmakers return to Austin for legislative overtime, tech giant IBM is stepping up its fight to defeat legislation it says would discriminate against children and harm its Texas recruiting efforts.
In an internal memo sent Monday to thousands of employees around the world, IBM's human resources chief outlined the New York-based company's opposition to what the letter described as discriminatory proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans. IBM sent the letter to employees the same day it dispatched nearly 20 top executives to the Lone Star State to lobby lawmakers at the state Capitol. A day earlier, it took out full-page ads in major Texas newspapers underlining its opposition to legislation that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a cadre of far-right lawmakers have deemed a top priority.
“Why Texas? And why now? On July 18th, the Texas legislature will start a thirty-day special session, where it is likely some will try to advance a discriminatory 'bathroom bill' similar to the one that passed in North Carolina last year,” wrote Diane Gherson, IBM’s senior vice president for human resources. “It is our goal to convince Texas elected officials to abandon these efforts.”
State lawmakers are set to reconvene in Austin on Tuesday as part of a special session forced by Patrick after legislation he deemed as must-pass — including various proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans — failed during the regular session that concluded in late May.
Despite a fervent push by social conservatives, religious groups and some Republicans, the controversial proposals fizzled out in the Texas House where House Speaker Joe Straus made clear he opposed the legislation.
But similar proposals that would nix trans-inclusive bathroom policies enacted in recent years by Texas cities and school boards have already been filed for consideration during the special session that will end in mid-August.
The fate of such policies could once again come down to Straus who has long rooted his opposition to them in economic concerns like those expressed by IBM. But more recently he has framed them as concerning because of the detrimental effect they could have on transgender children who he has acknowledged as especially vulnerable.
Read the full article on the Texas Tribune's website here.