A new bill in Tennessee would prevent local municipalities from extending their nondiscrimination statements to include sexual orientation and gender identity (PDF). To rally support for it, a conservative group has recycled an anti-trans commercial used in a similar (failed) campaign in Florida. The Family Action Council of Tennessee rehashes the “bathroom meme,” claiming that protections for transgender people would allow child predators into public restrooms:
Do gender difference matter to you? They won’t if Memphis or Shelby County mandates “gender expression” policies on private employers. …
Is that the kind of Tennessee you want?
Not only has there never been a reported case of this bathroom fear coming to fruition, there is also nothing that currently prevents a child predator from entering a bathroom as it is.
A recent groundbreaking study found that discrimination against transgender people is exorbitant, including in housing, healthcare, and treatment by law enforcement.
A similar bill preventing local non-discrimination ordinances failed in Montana last week.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) today led a House Armed Services subcommittee oversight hearing on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Defense Department has said they expect training to be completed by August, clearing the way for the ban to be officially ended. During the hearing, Undersecretary of Personnel Readiness Clifford Stanley and Vice Admiral William Gortney responded to a volley of questions from Republican representatives still arguing against repeal.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) began a line of questions attempting to demonstrate that being gay and violating the standard of conduct are synonymous and was caught off guard when Gortney explained that they are not:
SCOTT: Did you discharge him from the service because he was gay? Or because he violated his standard of conduct?
GORTNEY: Because he was gay.
SCOTT: He did not violate his standard of conduct before he was dismissed?
GORTNEY: He did not.
SCOTT: (pause) That… that’s not the answer I thought you would give, to be honest with you, Admiral.
Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), described the hearing as a “shameless and transparent attempt by a few repeal opponents to delay, defund, and derail the timely certification and full repeal” of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also told the Washington Post that the training “should be done in 30 days. We should have full certification by May 1.”
Last night, Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee failed to advance Senate Bill-172, which would have allowed residents to enter into civil unions and provided same-sex couples with critical legal protections. The bill passed the Senate last week, but a motion to move the measure onto the Committee on Appropriations did not garner a majority and fell in a 5-6 party line vote. As the Denver Post reported, “it was clear that the vote was painful for some Republicans, including Rep. Brian DelGrosso of Loveland, whose uncle is gay. He bowed his head when voting “no.” “It was tough,” DelGrosso said afterward.”
Douglas Napier of the Alliance Defense Fund led the formal opposition against the bill and maintained that civil unions would likely lead to same-sex marriage, despite a 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The debate quickly disintegrated from there, as witnesses began quoting the Bible, regurgitating thoroughly debunked claims about ex-gay therapy and even predicting the end of times. The Family Research Institute’s Dr. Paul Cameron — whose so-called ‘research’ on homosexuality has been condemned and refuted by most major medical organizations in the United States and Canada — provided the most colorful testimony. Some highlights from the hearing:
- “If you take all your clothes off and stand in front of a mirror, and your plumbing is on the outside, you’re a male.”
- “Every Coloradoan now has basically a $112 AIDS tax from gays in the United States…if we as a society allow it to be accepted, we will get more of it…when gays are partnered they are more apt to get sexually transmitted diseases.”
- “They found Sodom and Gomorrah two years ago buried underneath the ash heap so that proves right there by archaeology that any society that allowed homosexuality, including the Jewish society, disintegrated completely.”
- “If you vote otherwise, you are going to help end — not tomorrow, the sun will come up — but you will help to end this most successful civilization.
Meanwhile, Napier argued that SB-172 used all of the “buzz words” of marriage equality and warned the committee that a federal court could seize on the legislation to establish same-sex marriage in the state. At one point in his testimony, Napier maintained that gay and lesbian relationships should be denied recognition because heterosexual couples would be able to exploit civil unions to avoid some of the responsibilities of marriage, including child rearing. Rep. Daniel Kagan (D) challenged Napier’s logic, pointing out that under current law, same-sex partners have no legal obligation to rear children. “[Y]ou seem to prefer that there be no obligation toward children on behalf of the parents who are not the legal parents of children under this current status quo but would become legally obligated as a parent,” Kagan said. “I just have tremendous trouble understanding why no protection for children is preferable to you than the protections of children that would be afforded by this bill.” [Listen to the full exchange here]
“Today’s vote was out of touch with everyday Colorado voters. With 72% of Coloradans in support of civil unions, House Republicans are out of the mainstream,” Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, said in a statement following the vote. “Once again, they have turned their backs on Colorado families and kids.” The committee also defeated an amendment to the bill that would have put the question of civil unions to a voter referendum in 2014.