If any simmering initiative during the Texas Legislature’s special session best symbolizes the growing rift in American conservatism, it’s the infamous “bathroom bill” restricting what public restrooms transgender individuals can and cannot use. It divides those of us who recognize conservatism as a set of liberty-oriented principles primarily economic in nature and those intent on turning our republic into a Bible-thumping, Leviticus-quoting, fire-and-brimstone theocracy. And the Founders — studied representatives of the Age of Enlightenment — sure never meant for this to be a theocracy.

In this particular hot-button issue, the Trib continues to side with corporate executives, business owners, law enforcement officials, human-rights champions and even wise faith leaders in pressing to scrap any initiative that discriminates against fellow citizens based on sexual orientation. Many fear such a law would not only inhibit the hiring of the best and brightest in Texas but also repel tourists and conventioneers angered by a state law endorsing such discrimination.

As we declared back in March when this issue erupted during the Legislature’s regular session, many of us might not fully understand the transgender world, but we should closely question those who precipitously assign malevolent motives to all transgenders without documented evidence to support such claims. If legions of transgender people seek to assault our women and children in public bathrooms, let us see the evidence if it exists. If no such evidence exists, it is time for the demagogues to let this tempest die.

In support of her bill, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst insisted this was all about “privacy, safety and security” in the most vulnerable place a woman finds herself. Yet as testimony proceeded in regular session, it became obvious the sexual predators in accounts offered up for committee consideration were not transgenders at all but heterosexual males seeking out victims. And we have laws for them. Thus, this legislative bid should send up red flags for real conservatives: If credible evidence for legislation doesn’t exist, why then press for yet another law, another regulation, another rule?

Taking a cue from Gov. Greg Abbott’s vow to call out those legislators who defy him, we hereby call out those legislators who represent our area and claim to embrace conservative virtues but in truth represent something else. We praise Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson and Kyle Kacal for declining to have anything to do with the House “bathroom bill” during special session. We cannot say the same of Sen. Brian Birdwell, in this case on the side of discrimination and unnecessary legislation.