Fourteen Dallas-area CEOs and the Dallas Regional Chamber sent letters to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Monday urging they reconsider "bathroom bill" legislation they say would hamper their ability to retain the best employees.
Proposed legislation before the Texas legislature, which begins a special session Tuesday, would limit which restrooms transgender people can use to the gender listed on their birth certificate and not the one they identify with.
Industry leaders from American Airlines, AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, and others, said Texas has long been a magnet for big business because of a "pro-growth" environment that encouraged diversity.
"As CEOs of Dallas-based businesses, we’re writing to express our concern that the so-called 'bathroom bill' that the Texas legislature is considering would seriously hurt the state’s ability to attract new businesses, investment and jobs. Our companies are competing every day to bring the best and brightest talent to Dallas. To that end, we strongly support diversity and inclusion. This legislation threatens our ability to attract and retain the best talent in Texas, as well as the greatest sporting and cultural attractions in the world," the letter said.
The Dallas Regional Chamber also sent Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick a letter Thursday showing its opposition to the legislation.
In their letter, they highlighted that more than 75 companies have relocated headquarters to the region from other states and said that the success did not happen by accident or overnight.
"We are deeply committed to maintaining and enhancing our state’s pro-business environment, which includes being welcoming and diverse. We want Texas to remains a beacon for companies and workers from around the country and the world," the Dallas Regional Chamber wrote.
The letters arrived in Austin a day before New York-based IBM planned to take out full-page advertisements in Texas newspapers opposing the proposed legislation. The company's ad war against the legislation said it discriminates against transgender Texans, The Dallas Morning News reported.
"As one of the largest technology employers in Texas, IBM firmly opposes any measure that would harm the state's LGBT+ community and make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented Texans," the ads read.
IBM also planned to send 20 employees, including top executives, to express their opposition to the bill Tuesday at the Texas Capitol, when state lawmakers will reconvene for a special legislative session.
IBM, which employs more than 10,000 people in Texas, is one of several companies outside of DFW, including Apple and Facebook, to oppose the bill.