The Texas Privacy Act, Senate Bill 6, received support from every Republican and one Democrat in the Texas Senate, yet despite it being a priority item of the Lt. Gov., it has stalled in the House. To urge movement on the legislation, the Houston Five – a group of pastors whose communications were subpoenaed under former Mayor Parker– along with other area pastors, came together to give out the “Toilet Seat Awards” to those legislators that may need a little push to act on the bill.

Opening up the press conference-style award ceremony was Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Pastor F.N. Williams, who said, “I never thought in my lifetime, that I would have to stand up, speak out, and even become the plaintiff in a lawsuit against our mayor to protect women and girls when they are using their restrooms, locker rooms, or shower.”

Regarding the discredited claims by the Texas Association of Business that SB 6 would be costly to the Texas economy, another member of the Houston Five, Pastor Herman Castaño, said, “we ask every Texas business owner who believes in protecting women and girls to sever any ties with the Texas Association of Business as a matter of principle and conviction.” Castaño also called for a boycott of businesses who oppose SB 6.

The Texas Toilet Seat awards were given to the ten senators who voted against SB 6: Sens. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio), Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), Borris Miles (D-Houston), Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), John Whitmire (D-Houston), Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), José Rodríguez (D-El Paso), Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), and Royce West (D-Dallas).

The council of pastors sent each representative an email last week asking whether or not they would support SB 6 and, as of today, less than one-third of the Texas House has responded.

Grace Community Church Pastor Steve Riggle took his turn during the ceremony to direct attention to House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), saying, “Mr. Speaker, you said [in a CBS News Interview] that you would not block the bill from a floor vote by the full house, and yet we’ve been told that your staff informed legislators that you would kill the proposed legislation of anyone who signed on to a letter supporting SB 6.” Noting that in the interview, Straus expressed his opposition to the bill, Riggle and the rest of the council awarded Straus the first Toilet Seat Award in the House.

Riggle challenged the other 149 members of the Texas House to show whether Speaker Straus is speaking for them on SB 6, or if they will speak for the rest of Texas in supporting the bill. “We’re urging every state representative, both Republican and Democrat, to immediately and publicly voice their support for this bill, and call for a vote on the House floor.”

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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