ASAE Joins Business, Hospitality Groups to Oppose Texas ‘Bathroom Bill’

Saying that a bill introduced in Austin last week would discriminate against the LGBT community and hurt business in Texas, ASAE and others in the hospitality, meetings, and association industries announced a joint campaign to oppose it.

A group of business organizations, convention and visitors bureaus, and associations, including ASAE, yesterday jointly denounced a measure introduced in the Texas Senate last week that would require transgender individuals to use the restroom corresponding to their gender at birth and prevent local governments from passing contrary legislation.

“ASAE opposes any legislation that permits or even gives the appearance of tolerating discrimination,” ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, said in a statement [DOC] released Wednesday by the “Texas Welcomes All” campaign. “Similar to other bills of this type that we have seen proliferate across the country, Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory in that it is squarely aimed at denying public accommodations to members of the LGBTQ community.”

ASAE opposes any legislation that permits or even gives the appearance of tolerating discrimination.

Groups participating in the campaign, spearheaded by Visit Dallas, are attending meetings with key Texas legislators and held a Wednesday press conference on the Texas Capitol steps, featuring representatives from the hospitality, meetings and conventions, and association industries who were in Austin for the Professional Convention Management Association Convening Leaders Conference this week.

SB6, or the Texas Privacy Protection Act, was introduced last week by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) with the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Like North Carolina’s HB2, the bill would require people to use restrooms or changing areas in government buildings, public schools, and public universities that correspond to their “biological sex.” The bill would also nullify existing local antidiscrimination laws around the state and prohibit local governments from enacting measures that would prevent private businesses from creating their own restroom policies.

“Discrimination of any kind is wrong. If passed, this legislation will have devastating consequences on our economy and would result in our local government losing its control over ensuring Dallas is a welcoming city to all,” Visit Dallas President and CEO Phillip Jones said in the statement. “Rather than keep the status quo and let each Texas city determine its own community values, this legislation would essentially preempt Texas from doing business by bypassing every city’s own social values to conform to one state standard.”

The Texas Association of Business estimates that the passage of the legislation could result in the loss of $8.5 billion in GDP and more than 185,000 jobs in the first year.

“The so-called Texas Privacy Act won’t make restrooms any safer for men, women, and children, and it will do far more harm to them than good,” TAB President Chris Wallace said in a press release. “This legislation will needlessly jeopardize jobs, investment, innovation, and tax revenue for our state, and it sullies our reputation as an open, inclusive, and welcoming state. It is also wholly unenforceable and unsupported by any public safety evidence, and will create situations that invade the privacy of Texans from all walks of life.”

“Associations make decisions on where to hold their major conventions and meetings every day, and such laws [like SB6] would prohibit them from having them in Texas,” ASAE Executive Vice President Susan Robertson, CAE, said at the press conference. “An unwelcoming environment created by a state makes meeting planners and their attendees also unwelcome. We need open doors and access for all, and any other practice is discriminatory.”

No action on the bill is currently scheduled.

The Texas capitol building. (That Other Paper/Flickr)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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