On the eve of a committee hearing on his anti-transgender bathroom bill, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick compared the fight for passage of the measure to the Battle of the Alamo.
Patrick made the comments during a Monday briefing for pastors hosted by the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group, at the headquarters of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a corporate-funded right-wing think tank.
Addressing the bathroom bill, Senate Bill 6, Patrick called on pastors to “go out and win this fight for America.” He added that “a strong America depends on a strong Texas,” and said SB 6 is about “Texas values.”
“Today, on this day, 189 people sacrificed their lives at the Alamo because they believed in something,” Patrick said, referring to the pivotal battle that ended on this day, March 6, in 1836.
“We’re not asked to give our lives. We’re not asked to grab our guns. We’re just asked to go cast courageous votes,” Patrick said. “And in the Senate, thank God, I think we have the votes to get out of committee and get off the Senate floor, but we have to get it all the way to the governor’s desk.”
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Senate Committee on State Affairs will hold the first hearing on SB 6. Though SB 6 is widely expected to pass the Senate, its fate is uncertain in the House.
Patrick addressed the pastors shortly after speaking at a news conference on SB 6, where he unveiled “Operation One Million Voices” — a campaign in support of the measure that he said will rely on churches across the state.
The news conference and pastors’ briefing also coincided with Transgender Lobby Day, which drew hundreds of SB 6 opponents to the Capitol.
Lou Weaver of Equality Texas said 350 people registered for the lobby day, up from about 75 two years ago, and many participants were expected to testify against the bill on Tuesday.
“There’s a huge effort to make sure stories are being told, human and real-life stories,” Weaver said.
Meanwhile, organizers of the pastors’ briefing, which will continue Tuesday, encouraged the hundreds of attendees to testify in support of SB 6.
Patrick was joined at the pastors’ briefing by Senator Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the author of the bill. Kolkhorst told pastors that Patrick asked her to carry SB 6 on either August 31 or September 1.
— John Wright (@lsqnews) March 6, 2017
“Without praying, I just said yes,’” Kolkhorst said. “And then later on I said, ‘Oh Lord, did I just take it and I didn’t pray?’ But it was so spiritual, it was just like, so yes.”
As the legislative session approached, Kolkhorst said she began to “feel the pushback” and “feel the battle” from SB 6 opponents.
“I just didn’t know if I was prepared for it,” Kolkhorst said, crediting three pastor friends with helping her through the struggle.
“They came over to my house, and I’m telling you that we prayed, and we brought the holy spirit so strong into that room,” Kolkhorst said. “I’ve passed big bills before, and I’ve always asked the Lord to help me, because I believe that this country is founded on Judeo-Christian values. We will only remain this kind of country with God.”
Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, asked the pastors to pray for Kolkhorst, which they later did before she spoke.
“She has been taking a lot of slings and arrows from a lot of liberal media,” said Bettencourt, a co-author of SB 6.
“Senator Kolkhorst is one of our pure warriors, one of our best spear-carriers, but she has endured quite a bit in the last month or two,” he added.
Also present were Senator Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, Senator Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. Hughes and Lucio are members of the State Affairs Committee, and during Monday’s news conference, Lucio became the first Democrat to endorse SB 6.
Forest called the controversy over House Bill 2, a similar law in North Carolina, “by far the toughest spiritual battle of my life.”
“You have some brave warriors up on stage,” Forest said, referring to Patrick and Kolkhorst. “There’s no way that anybody in this audience can understand the dark days that they go through, that they will be going through.”
Forest said he told Kolkhorst earlier in the day that he prays for joy for her, since they are both “on the side of the God of the universe.”
“Right now in America, really what we see is a battle for western civilization,” Forest said, calling the legalization of same-sex marriage “a starting point for what’s going on.”
“Now we’re attacking, ‘Did God really create us male and female?’” Forest said. “It’s blurring the lines of God’s most basic creation.”
Read more Observer coverage on the controversial bathroom bill and transgender rights in Texas:
- Collin County Mayor Becomes Texas’ First Transgender Elected Official
- Texas Town Comes Together to Fight Transgender Bathroom Regulations
- 5 Texas families speak about the often-hostile environment for trans kids
- New Data Suggests ‘Bathroom Bill’ Would Burden Nearly All Transgender Texans
- Who Benefits from Dan Patrick’s Potty Politics? (Hint: Dan Patrick)
- Patrick, Kolkhorst Unveil ‘Deeply Divisive’ Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill