'Bathroom bill' advances to full Senate

AUSTIN - One of the most controversial and discussed bills of this Texas legislative session -- the so-called "bathroom bill" -- advanced out of committee following a marathon hearing.

The Senate Committee on State Affairs' hearing on Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) lasted well into the early hours of Wednesday. The bill advanced by an 8-1 vote, with Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) voting aye while absent.

If passed by both the Senate and House and signed into law, SB 6 would require people go by the sex on their current birth certificate when using bathrooms, locker rooms and showers in state buildings and public schools and universities.

Supporters of the legislation -- most notably Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick -- have said it's about security, not discrimination. On Monday, he announced he was working with the One Million Voices Campaign, a group of Texas pastors and congregations throwing their support behind SB 6.

"... Your children will have privacy in their schools as we focus on the needs of every student, but protecting all students and all adults in the most private of all situations in the showers, the locker rooms and the bathrooms," Patrick said.

And in a move of preemptive defense, Patrick brought in North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest to try and dispel economic concerns over the bill. North Carolina's HB 2 cost the state concerts and sporting events, but Forest asserted in total, it only impacted the state's economy by one-tenth of 1 percent. But in Texas, economic leaders are not convinced.

"Event organizers that we've spoken to have told us 'We're not going to deal with that. That's too much of a hassle. We don't want any of our attendees to feel unwelcome or unsafe and so we're just going to bypass your city or your state if this legislation were to pass,'" said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention Center and Visitors Bureau. "And that's why we're so opposed to it."

Tuesday morning's hearing was expected to begin at 8 a.m. Hundreds of speakers have lined up to share their thoughts with lawmakers on the proposal.

Follow reporter Ashley Goudeau for updates from the hearing:

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