As the United States implodes under the guidance of Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Steve Bannon, lawmakers in Texas are continuing to push measures that would restrict bathroom access for transgender people.
Such “bathroom bill” laws are of course nothing more than posturing and promoting the fallacious notion of “religious freedom.” However, despite events last year in North Carolina and other states it would appear Republicans have learned nothing. As Houston readies to host the Super Bowl, many fear the state may be unable to score future major sporting events and could lose championships on its books because of the transphobic law.
While North Carolina lost hundred of millions of dollars after the National Basketball Association pulled its showcase 2017 All Star game from Charlotte and the National Collegiate Athletic Association moved seven championship events, is is forecast that Texas’ loss could be significantly higher.
The cost of the so-called “bathroom bill,” which bars transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity, could run as high as $8.5 billion and result in a loss of 185,000 jobs in the first year alone, according to the Texas Association of Business, a conservative group that is the state’s leading employer organization.
“It would be a blot on the reputation of the state of Texas, which many of us have been working to change,” said Annise Parker, who as Houston’s mayor from 2010 to 2016 was the first openly lesbian candidate elected to lead a major U.S. city.
Parker, who served as mayor when Houston won hosting duties for Super Bowl LI to be played on Feb. 5, said by just filing the measure, which opponents decry as discriminatory, there has been damage to the image of the state that serves as headquarters for more than 50 Fortune 500 companies ranging from Exxon Mobil to grocer Whole Foods.
Texas has several upcoming marquee sporting events that could be at risk if the bathroom bill, known as the “Privacy Protection Act” or Senate Bill 6, is approved.
The legislation’s outcome is unlikely to be decided before the NCAA women’s Final Four basketball championship is held in Dallas this spring. But it could affect the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball championship in San Antonio next year. The NCAA declined to comment.
That event’s economic impact in the San Antonio area is estimated to be $135 million, according to economist Steve Nivin at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Other estimates run as high as $234 million. The Super Bowl is expected to bring the Houston area a net economic benefit of around $350 million, according to the Host Committee.
However, Republican Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick ( above) has dismissed concerns and said the bathroom bill is a common-sense measure that protects against sexual predators and is a top legislative priority.
“You have heard predictions of economic doom if we pass this bill,” he said. “It is just more talk from the opponents who have nothing else to say.”
The bill is likely to pass the Republican-controlled Texas Senate, but its fate in the House of Representatives is uncertain.