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In 4:30am Vote, Texas Lawmakers Advance Bathroom Bill To Full Senate

“It communicates to transgender people that they don’t belong.”

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has said the state’s proposed “bathroom bill” is a major priority, and Republican lawmakers are following suit: After more than 20 hours of emotional testimony that stretched till 4:30am, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to advance the measure to a full Senate vote. (The sole dissenter was Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat.)

Modeled after North Carolina’s HB2, SB6—a.k.a. “the Texas Privacy Act” would bar transgender women from using bathrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity. (Patrick has infamously said trans men weren’t included in the bill because “men can take care of themselves.”) It would also nullify local LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

Jonathan Saenz of the conservative group Texas Values said the vote brings Texas “one step closer to making sure that men and boys will not be entering girl’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms in public schools and other government buildings.”

More than 230 people testified about the measure, mostly transgender people and their families trying to explain the damage it would do.

“It communicates to transgender people that they don’t belong,” testified Colt Keo-Meier, a therapist who transitioned more than a decade ago. “Quite literally, this bill is killing my patients.”

Next week, SB6 will be taken up in the Senate, where it’s likely to find support—a majority of conservatives and one Democrat have already signaled their support. But House Speaker Joe Straus reiterated that he’s “not a fan of the bill,” leaving its ultimate fate in the air.

Governor Greg Abbott has listed the measure as an “emergency item” for the Legislature to address.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.