Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bathroom paranoia coming to New York

A recent article by Charlie Butts, at the inadequately named "OneNewsNow" (it should be named "OneSidedNewsNow") tells us that the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) which has been languishing in a New York State Senate committee, will "soon" be coming up for consideration. I wonder how he knows this, perhaps he has sources unavailable to me, but what I was told is that GENDA wouldn't be considered until after the budget mess was cleaned up. Since the state budget is now more than 40 days overdue, with no progress in evidence, I'd imagine he might be exaggerating just a bit. On the other hand, if one uses the logic that the more overdue something becomes, the more likely it will be settled soon, he may have something.

Of course, being a "religious" right wing pundit, Mr. Butts immediately launched into the favored tactic of fear mongering based on imagined horrors that "could" happen in public restrooms. Like his compatriots in Massachusetts, he called GENDA a "Bathroom Bill" and like his compatriots everywhere, he is making things up to scare people.

Mr Butts mentions Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (whom we can thank for the lovely graphic about GENDA), who maintains that, "It (GENDA) would open all public accommodations, including restrooms and high school locker rooms, to both biological genders if an individual chooses to identify his or herself as the opposite sex. So, your [readers] should think of things like cross-dressers, transvestites or even potential child molesters who are just looking to get access to those facilities."

This would be funny if it weren't so harmfully idiotic. How are people kept out of inappropriate restrooms now? Of course neither Mr McGuire or Mr Butts address this question because it would illuminate the intellectual bankruptcy of their position. Never mind, they seem to ask us, that public restrooms are already open to anyone who wishes to walk into one, no matter which gender they are presenting as. Never mind, they insist, that inappropriate behavior anywhere, especially in public restrooms, is against the law and will remain so after GENDA is passed. Pay no attention, they apparently demand, that similar laws exist in 13 states, Washington DC and over 100 counties, cities and towns - including New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo - with NONE of the doomsday scenarios they are broadly hinting at in evidence at all.

In my previous blog post I noted that this tactic has failed more than once. Yet the supporters of harmful discrimination still use it. I guess the reason they keep resurrecting this failed strategy is that they have nothing else to replace it with, which is indicative of the vacuous nature of their argument.

They got nuthin' and they knows it!

GENDA has passed twice in the State Assembly already. Not one of the assembly members who voted yes on this bill has paid any political price that I know of. This kind of nondiscrimination law has scored majority support in more than one poll of New York's citizens. If the state's legislature can finally get their shit together and pass a budget and if the "HRC-Jr" Empire State Pride Agenda can shut up about marriage equality for a few weeks, this bill can and should be made law.

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