Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, listens to Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, during debate over a "bathroom bill" in the Senate Chamber Tuesday. Eric Gay AP
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, listens to Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, during debate over a "bathroom bill" in the Senate Chamber Tuesday. Eric Gay AP

Bud Kennedy

Who wants a ‘bathroom bill’? Southern Baptists, for one

By Bud Kennedy

bud@star-telegram.com

July 25, 2017 08:00 PM

UPDATED July 26, 2017 01:05 PM

GRAPEVINE

The fracas over Texas bathrooms is nothing new.

At first glance, it’s young Texans vs. old, modernity vs. tradition, openness vs. suspicion.

Deep down, though, it’s another round of faith-and-values conservatives against business groups.

“If your conviction only lasts until it’s going to cost you money, then it’s not conviction,” said Gary Ledbetter of the Grapevine-based Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He was one of several leaders cited by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office Tuesday as backing Senate Bill 3 and other “bathroom bills” in the face of growing business opposition.

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The bills’ strongest booster, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is a Southern Baptist churchgoer in Houston and occasional guest preacher. House bill sponsor Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, and leaders of the House Freedom Caucus are also Southern Baptists.

Ledbetter, a state spokesman for the conservative Southern Baptist organization, accused the Texas Association of Business and other corporate and tourism groups of taking pro-LGBT stands “for the sake of their bottom line.”

The companies are “pandering to the more liberal younger generation that they want to hire,” he said. “They want to be seen as a loving employer.”

It is clearly the witness of Scripture that there is such a thing as biological sex.

Gary Ledbetter, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Look, nobody should be surprised when Texas Republicans vote with the state party platform to require bathrooms sorted by “biologically determined sex.”

In the same way, nobody should be surprised when faith-and-values activists support gender or marriage traditions.

“It is clearly the witness of Scripture that there is such a thing as biological sex,” Ledbetter said, describing gender identity as a recent idea.

Other groups criticize the bill in more extreme language. Some also bash transgender Texans.

It’s fake outrage. [Companies are] pretending to care.

Zeb Pent, Stand for Fort Worth

Influential Houston-area physician and Republican activist Steven Hotze, known for a 2015 speaking tour where he brandished a sword and called for fighting the “homosexual manifesto,” wrote last week that transgender women are “disgraceful, shameful” and should be ostracized.

LGBT rights activists are “promoting wickedness,” he wrote.

Hotze’s website linked to a page promoting Stand for Fort Worth, an activist group opposing a since-revised school district LGBT equality policy.

“When you start to see companies like Dell and IBM — it’s disheartening to see those companies come out against legislation,” Stand for Fort Worth organizer Zeb Pent said Tuesday.

Pent said major companies do business in nations with few LGBT rights.

“Yet they’re spending all this money in Texas where LGBT people are protected,” he said: “… It’s fake outrage. They’re pretending to care.”

Ledbetter cautioned faith-and-values voters against bitterness.

“This is not binary, where you have to either be cruel, or go along,” he said.

“We believe we have to be kind to people and be welcoming in our churches, and compassionate.”

I wish we heard more of that message.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Euless Trinity wrestler Mack Beggs calls out Texas lawmakers for 'bathroom bill'

He told the Star-Telegram earlier this year he doesn't wrestle to carry the transgender torch, but with Texas legislators in a special session, he stepped out with something to say. Courtesy Athlete Ally

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