The Texas House Speaker who consistently stood in the way of efforts to protect the privacy and safety of women in restrooms, locker rooms and showers, now says he will not seek re-election.
Dubbed a “moderate Republican” by the news media, Joe Straus was out of step with the people of the reliably conservative state. As well as stopping the bathroom bill, he also put the brakes on a school-choice plan to help families provide their children a better education through a private or Christian school.
Jonathan Saenz, president of our ally Texas Values, said a key committee chairman, Byron Cook, also announced he was stepping down.
“After 50-plus county Republican parties have censored or issued statements criticizing Speaker Straus and Chairman Cook, it seemed only a matter of time before the mounting grassroots and electoral pressure was too great for them to continue in office,” Saenz said. “Straus and Cook were the main opponents who held back the priority bills of a majority of Republicans in the House, including the Texas Privacy Act.”
In a win for families and small businesses, the Parkersburg, West Virginia, City Council rejected an ordinance that would have violated the privacy rights of moms and daughters. The ordinance would have created special rights to four new classes, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
If passed, the privacy and safety of Parkersburg’s women and girls would no longer have been protected, as any male willing to assert that he “identifies as female” would have had free access to girls’ restrooms, locker rooms and showers. In addition, Christian employers would have been open to lawsuits over hiring practices.
But families and business owners arrived four hours early and filled the chamber. Then they boldly shared their concerns with the council. Allen Whitt with our ally Family Policy Council of West Virginia was actively engaged in helping city leaders understand the issue.
“The message: Our third biggest city is on to you,” he explained. “We know the truth about SOGIs, and we courageously move to protect privacy, and defend businesses against the intentionally vague ordinance.”
After the vote, he heard an activist yell “I hope you die early!” at a Democrat council member who voted for women’s safety.
While the defeat of the ordinance is good news for the people of Parkersburg, the vote reminds us that people in cities large and small are wrestling with such laws and ordinances. State battles have garnered much attention, like in South Carolina and Texas, making it easy to forget city-councils are often at the front-lines of promoting a nation where God is honored.
Scottsdale, Arizona, is another city where a stand for truth is taking place at city hall. A small group of activists are trying to stop the city from partnering with a charter school to build a park and athletic facilities that would be open to the public. The reason: The school maintains that boys are boys and girls are girls.
The local level is where we can be most effective in protecting our families, schools, and small businesses. Let’s continue to stand together for liberty and truth both in the state house and city hall.
Ask Me First is a place to hear the stories of women and girls who have been affected by these misguided ordinances. And we invite you to share your own story.
The bathroom issue will be front and center in many states this year, and Texas is no exception.
Right now, the state Senate is considering SB 6, the Texas Privacy Act, that would stop men from getting access to women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas.
“Texans overwhelmingly oppose these attacks on women’s privacy and safety,” said Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values. “Our Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst are to be commended for introducing this legislation.”
A recent Texas voter survey found a majority of Texans agreeing that public restrooms should be restricted by gender.
“This bill is written not to bring a controversy,” Kolkhorst said. “The Texas Privacy Act is a thoughtful solution to a sensitive issue. It preserves an expected level of privacy for our public schools and buildings. At the same time, it also allows for schools and universities to make personal accommodations for those requesting an alternate setting. The responsibility falls on all of us to protect citizens and ensure that their personal and private rights are secured.”
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives could vote as early as Tuesday on a “bathroom bill.” HB 1510 would open women’s restrooms, locker rooms, showers and changing areas to everyone, regardless of their biological sex. The measure would also force Christian business owners to violate their conscience when it comes to hiring practices.
State Reps. Dan Frankel and Brian Sims have touted their bill as “anti-discrimination” legislation. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has called the bill “dangerous.”
“I was surprised that [Frankel and Sims] are trying to mislead the public with the language of their bill,” Metcalfe told PennLive, pointing out that the bill would offer protection to individuals who prefer to use a restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Michael Geer, president of Pennsylvania Family Council, said they’re working hard to defeat the bill.
“Well-funded special interests are hard at work at the Capitol in Harrisburg,” he said, “trying to do an end-run to force the Bathroom Bill on Pennsylvania — despite what the people want. It is critical that every Pennsylvanian that cares about personal privacy and safety contact their lawmakers in Harrisburg — and say no to HB 1510.”
God’s Not Dead 2 takes on one of the most pressing issues of our time – religious freedom.
In the sequel, a school teacher (played by Melissa Joan Hart), is challenged because she mentioned Jesus in answer to a student’s question. The story unfolds as she heads to court to defend her faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley defended a case in real life that served as the inspiration for one of the subplots of the film.
“The movie really illustrates the ongoing attack on Christianity in the public square, in the schools and on university campuses,” Stanley said. “And we see that every day in the number of cases that we deal with on this issue.”
In a secondary plot, pastors face pressure to turn over their sermons as part of the case. It mirrors a case he worked on involving Texas pastors who opposed a bathroom bill that allowed men access to women’s locker rooms.
“All that these pastors did was to stand up and speak out against an ordinance that they felt was immoral,” Stanley said, “and in return the city of Houston subpoenaed their sermons, their communications with their members about issues such as homosexuality — really as a message to these pastors that you better be quiet, you better not speak out.”
Grace, the main character in God’s Not Dead 2, stands firm despite intense pressure. It’s a lesson Stanley says more American Christians may have to learn.
“People might think this is sensationalized,” Stanley explained. “but Christians will have a decision to make in the coming days. Do you stand and do you fight, or do you sit down and take it? We know that more often than not, when Christians stand and fight, we win.”
The movie opens in theaters April 1.