Editorials

In Texas, not learning from NC’s HB2 mistake

Texas business and tourism representatives gathered on the south steps of the state capitol on Monday July 17, 2017 to urge lawmakers not to approve bills to regulate transgender bathroom access. They contend such laws would be discriminatory and have a negative impact on the state's economy.
Texas business and tourism representatives gathered on the south steps of the state capitol on Monday July 17, 2017 to urge lawmakers not to approve bills to regulate transgender bathroom access. They contend such laws would be discriminatory and have a negative impact on the state's economy. AP

Most states, even those of the deepest red, learned from the monumental mistake of North Carolina’s Republicans, who passed the now-infamous House Bill 2 transgender bathroom bill, which flew by many descriptions. It denied transgender people the right to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, though transgender people had been doing so for generations.

The story now is well-known: Bill passes, business vanishes, national disgrace ensues, Republicans stumble through an amateur hour of near repeal and finally, thanks to intervention from business people, a settlement is reached that unfortunately allows Republicans to save a little face by limiting local governments’ rights to pass anti-discrimination ordinances for a period of time. But North Carolina did enough to bounce back and start landing business again.

Ah, but in Texas, pardners, the HB2 lesson has gone unlearned, as Republicans in the Texas legislature prove themselves to be – using a Lone Star expression – “all hat and no cattle.” They’re actually pushing their own version of HB2, even after many Republican states backed away when they witnessed what happened in North Carolina.

Opponents thought they had it beaten, and business leaders from Apple and the National Football League have been vehemently fighting it, but Texas Republicans are showing their stubbornness and their ignorance by pushing ahead to try to become the only state in the country with such a law.

In this age of Republicans driven by the hard-right, or whatever it is, ideology of the “base” that elected Donald Trump, the Texas debate proves that anything (crazy) is absolutely possible. What’s astonishing is that Texas lawmakers had a perfectly clear view of the economic catastrophe that came to North Carolina after HB2 — tens of millions of dollars lost, including $100 million economic impact for Charlotte with loss of the NBA All-Star Game, and thousands of jobs gone, with companies deciding against establishing offices or expanding the ones they had.

It’s as if, pardon the Texas-sized metaphor, Texas lawmakers stood and watched North Carolina Republicans run full-face forward into a cactus, and then turned to one another and said, “Hey, that looks like fun.”

It’s OK, Texas. North Carolina will be happy to have whatever Apple businesses are there, and what the heck, we’ll bring the Cowboys up here and merge them with the Carolina Panthers. You guys keep the dust and the Rio Grande (we have the Broad, after all), but we’ll find a nice place for President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

Oh, and we have a nice ranch in Rutherford County picked out for Willie Nelson. If this proposal passes, we have a feeling he’ll be looking right away.

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