Utah Republicans caught with their tweets down

Republican Utah lawmakers Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, and Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, decided to act like twelve-year-old boys on twitter last Monday.  And I mean no offense to 12-year-old boys.

At least one intern was blamed for the “embarrassing situation.”  

Anderegg posted that a private men’s room near his office was occupied and went on to add that he was “strongly considering a gender identifying change to use the open women’s.”

Niederhauser’s account was quick to respond, chiding Anderegg for a computer glitch that last week mistakenly listed him as a co-sponsor of a bill that would ban discrimination against GLBT Uthans:

Switching your gender identity?  Just can’t keep up with you!  You’re a new man.  Er … woman.

Within an hour of the exchange, Brandie Balken’s telephone began to ring.  Balken is the executive director of Equality Utah, which advocates on behalf of the GLBT community in Utah.  Many of the phone calls were from staff members of lawmakers.  

They said, ‘We’ve got a problem here.”


Balken went to work arranging a meeting attended by scores of workers in the Senate majority caucus chambers.

It was well attended.  We told the staffers why this was no laughing matter, why it just wasn’t funny to many people in this state and elsewhere.


Several transgender Utahns were invited to and spoke at the meeting, which lasted 90 minutes.

Niederhauser “apologized” later Monday, after posting on Twitter that his message was sent by a female intern and deleting the offensive tweet.

I’m not active on Twitter, except during the session when I have an intern that can help me with that.  Unfortunately, today my intern took some liberties to tweet on my account.  It is an embarrassing situation for me and an embarrassing situation for her.


Balken says that Niederhauser’s intern was quite contrite.

She was very apologetic, disturbed that she had hurt so many people.

The environment among interns is incredibly demanding.  Like most young people, many just want to fit in.


Niederhauser added:

Unfortunately, today my intern took some liberties to tweet on my account.  The tweet does not reflect anything that I believe in, and I have deep respect for the people in the LGBT community and continue to do so.


Anderegg said his tweet was “totally inappropriate”, that he did not mean to insult anyone, saying that he would try to do better and be more respectful with his tweets.

It was inappropriate.  It was an offhand stupid comment and I was trying to be funny.


Balken said that several senators called to ask for a repeat of the meeting.  

Let’s safely say there are thousands of transgender people in Utah.  This Twitter exchange turned out to to be a good way to get out the word out about the difficulty of their lives.


I anticipate that there will be a discussion about what it means to be transgender, knowing that there as been an immense amount of misinformation put out about transgender people.


Utah Rep. Mike Kennedy is sponsoring a bill that would define gender as the phenotype listed on the birth certificate or as specified by a physician and insure students use school restroom consistent with that which is assigned to them.

On the other hand, Sen. Stephen Urquhart is sponsoring a bill which will amend the Utah Antidiscrimination Act and Utah Fair Housing Act to protect LGBT Utahns.

I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to … have the stand-down and not have one side heard and not the other side heard, because if we go down that road, we’re going to open the floodgates of all the religious liberties type of issues.


Last week Niederhauser called the anti-discrimination bill a “sister and companion” to the same-sex marriage issue, while I think saying it was not the time to consider the bill.

I think it highlights the need for us to do as we’re working on, to say this is an emotional time.  Let’s stop and pull our faculties here together and address other issues this session and wait for the process in the appeal to take place, and we’ll come back at another time and address religious liberties and antidiscrimination.


Kennedy believes his bill should not be lumped together with marriage equality and anti-discrimination.

I imagine that might be because it is pro-discrimination.

1 comment

    • Robyn on February 8, 2014 at 12:09 am

    …than slandering transpeople.

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