After Senate hearing, Sen. Lee Bright stands behind "bathroom bill"

Published: Apr. 12, 2016 at 10:10 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2016 at 7:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Upstate Sen. Lee Bright stands behind the "bathroom bill" he introduced last week that would repeal local government rules against discrimination based on gender identity.

Following an over two hour hearing where Bright and the committee heard testimony from pro-bill and anti-bill activists, the Republican senator will continue to support the bill despite widespread opposition -- even from Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

"Folks around the state, I believe, are concerned and they believe that men should use the men's room and women should use the women's room and fundamentally, businesses should not be forced to make these accommodations," Bright said.

Bright said even despite dramatic testimony from those against the bill -- especially two teenagers who shared their stories of being transgender -- did not move him to pull his support.

"I am sympathetic," Bright said. "There are situations addressed in the bill that if someone wants to change their sex, they can change it if they want to do that, but I think if a woman and a female child want to use the restroom, then they shouldn't have to deal with the fact that a man has a right to walk in there because he identifies as that gender that day."

Bright's bill is largely mirroring a similar bill that was signed into law in North Carolina in March. However, on Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order to protect "privacy and equality for all the state's citizens" following the backlash against the law.

Back in South Carolina, Bright said he introduced the bill because he's had enough of tolerance if that means "men who claim to be women" going into a bathroom with children.

Former state Democratic Party communications director Zeke Stokes is among those working to kill the bill.

"I think those of us who support equality and acceptance want to make sure that we're able to nip this now than have another North Carolina on our hands where the legislature rammed this through in a very quick period of time and the governor signed it and there really was no time for reaction or to build support against it," Stokes said. "So that's why GLAAD is here on the ground with our partners in South Carolina Equality and others to make sure that we can stop this bill in its tracks."

Most recently, Uphold, an international financial services company with U.S. headquarters in Charleston, announced it would move its offices to Los Angeles to protest the proposal.

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