March 28, 2017
For the people of Houston, the battle over SB 6 is personal. They spent almost two years trying to purge the city of the former mayor's ordinance opening up the city's bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers to both sexes. Thanks to a huge grassroots campaign led by Houston's churches, voters didn't just repeal the ordinance -- they flushed it in a 61-39 percent landslide. Now, two years later, those same pastors are reenlisting in the fight to save every city from an attack like theirs.
This week, the Houston 5 who were named in Mayor Annise Parker's lawsuit in 2015 were back in the pulpit rallying the state to action on the Texas Privacy Act. African-American Pastor F.N. Williams kicked things the event off, saying,
"I have fought for civil rights and equal justice for many years. I never thought in my lifetime that I would have to stand up and speak out and even become a plaintiff in a lawsuit against our mayor to protect women and girls when they are using their restroom, locker rooms, or shower. It seems as if common decency and common sense has been replaced by nonsense. Who would have thought that at the highest level of our government we would have to debate whether biological males should be allowed into a women's restrooms, locker rooms, and showers?"
Pastor Dave Welch reminded voters that the work now would pay off later. "Houston stood and protected our women and children. SB 6 would ensure that Texas cities would not have to fight city by city and school district by school district across the state to protect our women and children."
After members of the Houston 5 spoke, Pastor Steve Riggle unveiled a special distinction for the 10 senators who refused to stand up to protect women and girls in the vote this month: the Texas Toilet Seat Award. "Shame on you," he said. "We're standing here today to say that we and those we represent are done with those who can't even get issues of common decency and protection of women right. This is not about your political party. This is Texas. Texans do not want men in women's restrooms, locker rooms, and showers."
To the 149 members of the House who are next up to vote on the bill, the Texas Pastors Council Action warns that this same award awaits anyone who doesn't do the right thing for the state's women and children. Speaking directly to them, Pastor Riggle asked if they [agree with Speaker Joe Straus] that this is a 'sticky, difficult issue' or if you consider SB 6 a common sense bill that protects the privacy of women and girls?" If Straus lives up to his promise to hold a vote, we'll soon see. In the meantime, the Houston 5 had a message for their state: call your leaders. "This bill will settle this issue for the entire state of Texas and ensure that you won't have to deal with this in your community as we had to do in Houston."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.