Texas Politician Invokes MLK In Announcement Of New Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

The bill only affects trans women, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says, because "men can take care of themselves."

Today Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick officially filed an anti-trans bathroom bill similar to North Carolina’s HB2 with the Texas state legislature.

Patrick opened the press conference announcing the bill’s filing with, of all things, a quote fom Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Martin Luther King said, ’Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter,'” Patrick said. “This legislation, the Texas Privacy Act… is unquestionably one of the things that matters. It’s the right thing to do.” (He later tweeted the MLK quote, too.)

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 07:  Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick watche from the sidelines at Kyle Field on November 7, 2015 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey

Patrick, who infamously tweeted a bible verse saying “A man reaps what he sows” in response to the Orlando Pulse shooting, later stated that critics of the measure have been misinforming voters about its content.

“I hope fake news will stop on this issue,” he said, asserting that under the bill, “no government will tell a business what their bathroom policy, or locker room policy if it applies, or shower policy if it applies—no government will be able to tell businesses what to do.”

Given Patrick’s choice to invoke MLK, it’s ironic how startlingly similar the bill is to the language used by states fighting federal desegration laws in the ’60s and ’70s.

Senate Bill 6, the Privacy Protection Act, specifically bars transgender women from using women’s restrooms. There’s no mention of transgender men in the bill, because, Patrick has previously explained, “men can defend themselves.”

Knowing that North Carolina’s HB2 cost the state nearly $400 million, Texas business leaders have already begun working to defeat SB6. The Texas Association of Business says it could cost the Lone Star State up to $8.5 billion and more than 100,000 jobs—a concern that Patrick waved away during his press conference.

“We have the tenth largest economy in the world and that’s not going to change,” he insisted. “If you look at all the states in the country that have the most robust economies, they are almost without exception states that do not allow men into ladies rooms.”

A similar measure was introduced on Tuesday in Virginia, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he veto the Physical Privacy Act if it reached his desk.

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