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Dallas CEOs Express Concerns Over 'Bathroom Bill'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - As members of the Texas Legislature continue to debate the so-called 'bathroom bill' during a 30-day special session in Austin, a collection of Dallas business leaders on Monday have sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus to express their concerns about the measure.

The letter reads, "For decades, Texas has been a magnet for business investment, job creation and a strong, diverse workforce because of the pro-growth environment created by state policy makers." But the letter quickly reverses course, saying that the 'bathroom bill' could threaten this prosperity.

The proposed bill targets members of the transgender community, requiring them to use the public restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. A similar law in North Carolina last year sparked national outrage -- and boycotts that cost the state billions of dollars in lost revenue.

"As CEOs of Dallas-based businesses," the letter continues, "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."

The letter is signed by American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, Kimberly-Clark CEO Thomas J. Falk, Atmos Energy CEO Kim Cocklin, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Celanese CEO Mark Rohr, BNSF CEO Matthew K. Rose, The Beck Group CEO Fred Perpall, Crow Holdings CEO Harlan Crow, DFW International Airport CEO Sean Donohue, Fluor CEO David T. Seaton, Texas Instruments CEO Richard K. Templeton, Tenet Healthcare CEO Trevor Fetter, along with former Dallas Cowboys running back and E.J. Smith Enterprises CEO Emmitt Smith.

"Our companies are competing every day to bring the best and brightest talent to Dallas," the letter explains. "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."

A similar letter was sent to Abbott back in May from the CEOs of several tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Dell. That letter read, "We are writing to express our steadfast opposition to the introduction and passage of any discriminatory legislation in Texas. Such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business."

The Texas Senate had previously approved the measure, but the Texas House changed it to only apply for public schools. That new version was then rejected by the Texas Senate, creating the current stalemate. Abbott called lawmakers back for a special session, with the 'bathroom bill' being one of the issues on the agenda.

In a story published in The New Yorker earlier this month, Straus was quoted as saying that he did not want a suicide on his hands due to the 'bathroom bill' issue. LGBT rights groups and other opponents of the measure praised his comments, saying that they showed moral reasoning alongside his repeated condemnation of the bill as a bad business move.

"I'm not a lawyer, but I am a Texan," Straus told the magazine. "I'm disgusted by all this."

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