Texas Pastors Demand Action From Legislators in Support of State’s ‘Bathroom Bill’

Texas pastors supporting the Texas Privacy Act spoke out Monday in a video aimed at lawmakers and citizens.

“We and those we represent are done with elected representatives who can’t even get issues of common decency and protection of women right,” said Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Church in Houston.

The Texas Privacy Act, also known as SB 6 or the “bathroom bill,” currently is in limbo before the House. The bill would direct people in state government buildings, including schools, to use facilities matching the sex on their birth certificate. Private businesses and entities leasing public buildings could set their own rules. Cities would not be allowed to enact contrary ordinances.

“This is not about your political party,” Riggle said in the video. “This is Texas. Texans do not want men in women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers.”

The bill passed the Texas Senate on March 15, but faces an uphill battle in the House.

The “Toilet Seat Awards”

The pastors presented “Toilet Seat Awards” to the 10 Texas senators who voted against SB 6.

“It is disgusting and offensive to women that one-third of the Texas state senate would vote no on SB 6 in providing protection for women and our daughters in our most private settings,” said Becky Riggle of Grace Church.

Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus also earned a “Toilet Seat Award.” He’s fought the bill since early on, claiming it would be bad for business. However, North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest has been assuring Texas lawmakers otherwise. Forest refutes media reports that North Carolina’s economy suffered after passing a similar bill. Pastor Hernan Castaño of Houston’s Iglesia Rios De Aciete also denounced the fear of economic backlash.

“We say shame on any business in Texas that would place the value of a few dollars over the protection of our women and girls,” Castaño said. He also called on “every Texas business owner who believes in protecting women and girls to sever any ties with the Texas Association of Business,” which has opposed SB 6. Castaño further asked Texans to boycott businesses that put in place transgender bathroom policies.

He cited the nationwide boycott against Target over their bathroom policy. “The significant decline in Target stores’ revenue and the sharp drop in their stock says how consumers really feel about this.”

Up to the Representatives

The Texas pastors rebuked Straus and others who have spoken or voted against the Texas Privacy Act. Riggle pointed to recent comments by Straus. Asked by CBS DFW about Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s allegation that he’s out of touch with voters Straus said:

I have other voters too that he doesn’t have. And those are the other 149 members of the Texas House. And I think they have placed their faith in me several times, to guide us through difficult sticky issues like this.

“Is Speaker Straus speaking for you on SB 6?” Riggle challenged House members in the video. “Or are you going to speak for the citizens of Texas who elected you?”

“We also warn you against playing political games and amending this bill until it has no meaning,” Riggle added.

Davis had a message for Houston-area state senators who voted against SB 6 earlier this month. “We will not forget that betrayal in the next election,” Davis said. “You know exactly how the citizens of Houston feel about this because of the way we voted.” In 2015, residents voted against a bathroom policy that allowed biological males in women’s facilities. Voters only got their say because Riggle and several other Houston pastors took former mayor Annise Parker to court and won.

“I have fought for civil rights and legal justice for many years,” said 80-year-old Houston Pastor F.N. Williams of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. “I never thought in my lifetime that I’d have to stand up, speak out and even become a plaintiff in lawsuit against our mayor to protect women and girls when they are using their restroom, locker room or shower.”

Where the Bill Goes Next

The Texas Tribune reported on March 17 that the bill could be assigned to the House State Affairs Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Byron Cook. Although Cook doesn’t support the measure, he said SB 6 would probably receive a hearing if his committee received it.

On Tuesday, an attempt by Rep. Matt Schafer to tack the bill on a piece of railroad legislation failed.