A North Carolina-style "bathroom bill" is nearing a first vote in Texas despite opposition from big-name companies including Facebook and the NFL warning that the Super Bowl won't return to Dallas or Houston.[[415576353,R]]
The proposal would require transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates.
Hundreds of people packed the Texas Capitol Tuesday to testify on the contentious measure that's expected to easily clear a Senate committee.
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More than 1,000 signed up to offer official testimony either for or against the measure - more than 600 gave written testimony and more than 400 signed up to speak.
Each of those 400 people who planned to give verbal testimony will be offered two minutes to speak, which equates to more than 14 hours of possible testimony. That would mean Tuesday's hearing could carry on until shortly before six a.m. on Wednesday.
Rachel Gonzales, of Dallas, came to the Capitol to testify on behalf of her transgender daughter Libby, 7.
"Libby asked specifically to be a part of this with me because some of her friends are now homeschooled, they were not able to use the bathroom that they need. They had been discriminated against and she knows it and she is worried about them," Gonzales said of her child who often chose to wear girl's clothes long before she asked Santa Claus to turn her into a girl.
"We made a decision to ask her what she wanted to do with her life," Gonzales recalled of her daughter's public transition. "I will never forget the moment that we walked into the store and I said, 'Okay, you can pick up girl's clothes.' And it was, I mean, life changing - like a light opened up and she was ecstatic."
Many of those who testified in Austin on Tuesday were directly opposed to the choices Gonzales described.
"I would say to that mother that what she is doing is playing God. She is taking God out of the picture," said Pastor Conny Moore, of the Bunavista Baptist Church in Borger, TX. "I'm not comfortable with them going to the bathroom with my young girls. I don't think that's right. I think that's an invasion of their privacy."
Senate Bill 6 faces a tough road ahead because the Republican House speaker has slammed the measure as bad for business.
The same committee passed a divisive "sanctuary cities" ban last month after sometimes being interrupted by protesters in the Senate gallery. Lawmakers this time used a smaller hearing room that made for easier crowd control.
NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.