BROWNSVILLE — State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and his son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, both of Brownsville, find themselves disagreeing about the “bathroom bill” moving through the Texas Legislature.
According to The Texas Tribune, the senator is the only Democrat among 16 senators on record in support of the bill.
Senate Bill 6 — as it is otherwise known — would require transgender people to use the bathrooms in public schools, public universities and government buildings that match their biological sex. It would also reverse local ordinances that let transgender people use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity.
“Children, youth and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity and respect without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security from other students and parents,” Lucio said at a news conference with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and other bill supporters.
Since the conference, Lucio III began receiving negative feedback about his father’s position.
In a Facebook post, he explained that he “respectfully (disagrees)” with his father.
“I believe this bill to be nothing more than a political ploy to appease certain narrow minded constituencies at the expense of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society,” Lucio III said. “Our office has yet to be provided any evidence demonstrating that the transgender community provides a security risk to others in bathrooms.”
The state representative argues the bill targets people who are just trying to live their lives. He does not feel his father’s position is rooted in hate, but it is “still wrong and will create adversity for many,” he said.
Lucio Jr. has clashed with the Democratic Party before. He has supported legislation tightening restrictions on abortion in Texas, citing his Catholic faith in his decision.
Lucio III said he has learned more of the complexity of the issue within the past 24 hours, and was surprised to see people so divided on the bill. Two members of his family who he considers deeply religious responded in completely different ways.
“One was very emotionally charged and upset at me for what I said, and the other, a very devout Catholic, expressed how proud they were of me,” the state representative said.
At a Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing yesterday afternoon, Lucio Jr. heard witness testimony on the bill and explained his own position.
“I certainly do not want to discriminate against anyone … I want to consider what the public of this state is asking us to do, and not just focus on one particular group of people,” the elder Lucio said.
He said a lot of problems could be eliminated by having a separate facility for the transgender community.
“They’ll feel better and others will feel better. … We want to address the needs of transgender people in this state and we have to make sure no one is hurt along the way, both the transgender people and the non-transgender people of this state. We have to be inclusive in this state,” Lucio Jr. said.
Lucio Jr. does not believe the bill targets the transgender community. He has come out in support of the bill because he wants to respect the “security” and “privacy” of other families.
“I support this bill because as a grandparent the issue is crucial when it affects children, especially when they are trying to understand things about themselves and the world around them,” Lucio Jr. said.
Lucio III called the suggestion a “decent conversation starter.” He does not wish to speak for anyone, but said ideas at least show that the transgender community is being heard.
Father and son agreed to disagree after having a discussion on Monday. Lucio III hopes the general public follows their example.
“Five or six years ago, this conversation would have gone very differently. I sought to be understood before understanding. Now I’m the opposite. I seek to understand before being understood,” Lucio III said.
State Rep. Eddie Lucio III built up a war chest of nearly $280K this election cycle as compared to the nearly $3,000 and $1,175 that his challengers Alex Torres and Nancy Kohl Mishou have raised.