AUSTIN - Religious leaders from varying denominations and faiths gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to host a day of action and to speak out against bills filed to regulate bathrooms.
Four bills have been filed during the Special Session related to restrooms, Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 91, both by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and House Bill 46 and House Bill 50 by Representative Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton).
More than 200 people including Christians, Jews and Muslims traveled to the Capitol for a news conference, advocacy training and to make visits with lawmakers to talk about why they oppose the bills that would regulate the use of restrooms in state owned facilities and schools.
"Bathroom bills at their core are a manifestation of senseless hatred. They target transgender individuals and expose them to increased risk of bullying and other threats," said Rabbi Mara Nathan of Temple Beth-El.
"I call upon the governor of Texas and the legislature, enough is enough. Enough of the transphobia," added Mufti Mohamed-Umer Esmail from Austin.
"We had bathroom bills in the 1960s. They were wrong then and they're wrong now," said Rev. Diane McGehee of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church.
"Excluding any of God's children from basic human dignity in the public square profanes the very name of God. And [transgender Texans] remind us today that our God is bigger than this blasphemous bathroom bill," said Rev. Dan DeLeon of the Friends Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.
When asked about the gathering and day of action, Representative Ron Simmons said his bills aren't discriminatory and he encourages people to read them before they judge them.
Simmons added House Bill 46 does three things.
"[Make] sure our 12 and 13-year-old kids don't shower together, okay, that are biologically different. And it makes sure that we have uniformity around the state so that all of our citizens are treated with dignity and respect all around the state. And then finally it makes sure that if someone wants to use the definition of gender identity but they're not really transgender but want to use it for nefarious purposes, it shuts that off as well," Simmons explained.
His bills prohibit cities and schools from making policies regulating restrooms and don't mention gender or sex.
Simmons' bills have been assigned to House committees but public hearings on them have not been scheduled.
Last week, the Senate approved SB3, which requires people use multiple occupancy restrooms, showers and changing facilities according to the sex on their birth certificate or driver's license in state and city owned facilities and public and charter schools. The bill has been sent to the House but hasn't been assigned to a committee for consideration.
© 2017 KVUE-TV