The bill, proposed last week by S.C. Sen. Lee Bright, R-Greenville, would limit access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms in the state to people of the same biological sex.
Bright said the bill is a common-sense measure.
“Men and women sharing bathrooms in public places is just beyond me,” Bright said on the Senate floor.
But opponents of the bill allege it is specifically designed to discriminate against individuals who do not identify with their biological sex.
“This bill does nothing but single out the transgender community and create discrimination,” said Shaundra Scott, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.
Scott was one of many critics who voiced displeasure yesterday during Senate committee hearings for the bill, saying it particularly targets transgender youth.
Bright defended the bill, calling it the same as the bill that was signed by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory in late March.
“I want to stand with North Carolina; I think you should as well,” Bright said in his introduction of the bill on the Senate floor. “With our neighbors to the North who are showing some common decency and some common sense.”
Conservatives in states like South Carolina are proposing “bathroom bills” because of the N.C. General Assembly’s success with House Bill 2, Scott said. She said the bill was pushed through the S.C. Senate quickly in order to avoid controversy.
“Things are moving in a very quick fashion and very not by the books,” she said. “Very quickly, very under the radar — like while everyone was asleep. And we woke up, and this bill was on the books.”
But after businesses halted expansion plans in North Carolina as a consequence of House Bill 2, many politicians from both parties are wary South Carolina’s bathroom bill could have similar results.
Most notably, PayPal withdrew its plans for a global operations center in Charlotte that would have employed more than 400 people.
“They’re getting so much grief up there,” Bright said in the Senate address. “Apparently PayPal has shown its support for pedophiles by wanting to go into bathrooms.”
Among the critics of the bill is Republican S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who said she felt the bill was unnecessary.
“We are a state where we don’t have to mandate respect and kindness,” Haley said in a press conference.
Bright, who is facing re-election in 2016, has also faced criticism for the bill from rival candidates. Republican candidate David McCraw, a contender for Bright’s Senate seat, said the bill would hurt the state economy.
“What we can’t do is create issues that will cost jobs, cost families money and cost income to the state,” McCraw said in Monday press conference. “And exactly what Mr. Bright is doing is creating an issue that we don’t have.”
On the Senate floor, Bright spoke out against the companies that took their business out of North Carolina after House Bill 2 was signed.
He said he’d had enough of the more than 100 businesses he accused of assaulting North Carolina.
“I just want to say to these 100 companies, ‘Hey, the silent majority is watching.”