AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for the first time Tuesday endorsed a “bathroom bill” and breathed new life into North Carolina-style efforts that businesses and LGBT rights groups hoped had stalled with time running out to sign them into law.
Abbott’s sudden public support following months of silence is significant. By now calling on the Republican-controlled legislature to send him a bill before the end of May, Texas is thrust closer to joining North Carolina as the only states in the U.S. with so-called “bathroom bills” that critics condemn as discriminatory.
“As the debate on this issue continues, I will work with the House and Senate to ensure we find a solution and ultimately get a bill to my desk that I will sign into law,” Abbott said in a statement.
Similar measures proposed in other conservative states this year have fizzled out. That includes Arkansas, where Republicans control every branch of government but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state didn’t need a bill similar to North Carolina’s original law that caused economic upheaval and boycotts.
North Carolina last month repealed its law — known as HB2 — and replaced it with a compromise forged by the state’s new Democratic governor. Abbott is now getting behind a new measure in the Texas House that supporters say is similar to that compromise but critics argue still discriminates.