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Watch as Texas Senate debates "bathroom bill"

A week after a marathon hearing, the Texas Senate debated the "bathroom bill" on the floor Tuesday afternoon.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick looks around the Senate Chamber on Feb. 7, 2017 prior to bringing up SB 4 sanctuary city bill for debate.

Following months of public debate over the legislation, the Texas Senate took up the “bathroom bill” Tuesday.

After several hours of debate, the Texas Senate on Tuesday tentatively signed off on the “bathroom bill” on a 21-10 vote.

 Senate Bill 6, a legislative priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and other publicly owned facilities that match their “biological sex” and not gender identity. And it would preempt local anti-discrimination laws meant to allow transgender residents to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The floor debate came a week after a marathon hearing during which senators heard 13-plus hours of public testimony from hundreds of individuals, largely in opposition, on the legislation before advancing it on an 8-1 vote.

The full chamber considered a revised version of the bill submitted by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham that removed a section that would have increased penalties for certain crimes committed in a bathroom or changing facility. It also added a new “legislative findings” section that would write into statute the reasoning behind the legislation. 

Since it was unveiled in January, the legislation has sparked fierce debate in Texas over concerns about unconstitutional discrimination against transgender individuals and the potential economic impact in some of the state’s biggest cities. Proponents of the bill have defended the legislation, saying it will increase privacy and safety and keep men out of women’s bathrooms.

Read related coverage:

  • Hundreds of Texans signed up to testify, largely in opposition, on the so-called bathroom bill during a marathon hearing that lasted for the better part of 24 hours. 
  • The Texas "bathroom bill" has galvanized advocates for transgender Texans. Rachel and Frank Gonzales, who were there on behalf of their daughter Libby, were among the hundreds that gathered at the state Capitol last week to lobby against the legislation. 

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Politics State government Bathroom bill Texas Legislature Texas Senate