The battle for equality

In times of trouble federally and at the state level, the battle for equal treatment and access moves to the local level.

In recent times I have written about current attempts to move us forward in South Florida and Northeast Ohio.

Miami-Dade commissioners unanimous in support of transgender protections (preliminary vote)

Transgender Awareness

In September Miami-Dade County commissioners gave unanimous preliminary approval to amending the human rights ordinance to protect on the basis of gender identity and expression.  

Nobody showed up to speak against the amendment.  But the Biblical damnation crowd was out in force at Wednesday’s Public Safety and Animal Services Committee review of the amendment.

After a four-hour meeting, the committee voted 3-1 to bring the legislation to the full board, probably in December.  Voting in favor were bill sponsors Audrey Edmondson and Bruno Barreiro and Commissioner Sally Hayman.  Voting against the measue was Esteban “Steve” Bovo.

We need to show some initiative up here. It is unfortunate that this has been characterized as a public-safety issue when it is really a fairness issue, an issue of equality, an acceptance issue.

An overflow crowd had to be accommodated in the lobby.  More than 200 people signed up to speak.

Much of it was predictable.

It’s Miami, Florida – not Sodom and Gomorrah.  You will give an account to a higher authority if you’re familiar with the Book of Life.

–Joe Davila, a Miami real-estate agent who, like many others, invoked God in criticizing the proposal before commissioners

If given final approval, the legislation would amend the county’s existing human-rights ordinance to include protections for “gender identity” and “gender expression.” The law already prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public services on the base of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, marital status, familial status or sexual orientation.

The decades-long battle to add sexual orientation to the legislation (finally in 2002) was not overlooked.

It has come to bear that it was the right thing to do, that it did not change the way of life for our county.

–Barreiro

I’m not in favor of any kind of form of discrimination.  I do not believe that the transgender community has a claim akin to the suffering of African Americans or women’s rights. … This seems to me to be a carve-out of a minority within a minority that wants a special right.

Pardon me while my eyes roll.  

Protection on the basis of religion?  Now there’s a special right.

Bovo did not believe that there had been any complaints of transgender discrimination.  He was told there had been five to ten in the past three or four years…although it was tough to pin them down…because Miami-Dade has no transgender protections.

We accept them under the umbrella of gender or sexual orientation [discrimination] because at this moment we don’t have any formal protections for those types of complaints, which makes it difficult in terms of our enforcement

–Erin New, legal liaison to the county’s Office of Human Rights and Fair Employment Practices

You have people who are victimized and will never come forward because the protection isn’t laid out yet

–Heyman

Before the meeting Circuit Judge Daryl Trawick dismissed a lawsuit filed to stop the meeting, accusing Council Chairwoman of violating the law in her assignment of the law to this committee.

Sosa, a Cuban-American Republican, has been openly accused of being a Communist.

A recently sirculated email claimed transgender protections are favored by the Revolutionary Communist Party of the United States.

Sosa did not attend the meeting.

I don’t discriminate, and I respect human rights.

–Sosa

In a touch of classic irony, ammendment opponents wore stickers reading Don’t Legalize Discrimination.

They claim that employers would be forced to fire employees who do not allow (for example) transgender men into a men’s dressing room.

They also contended that allowing transgender women to use public women’s restrooms could lend itself to abuse by men posing as transgender to prey on women, and insisted the county build separate transgender bathrooms.

Well of course they do.

We do not hate, we do not discriminate against the transgenders. What if the predators, sexual predators – pedophiles, God forbid – they would dress as women and go into the bathroom?

–Rocio Torres, a resident of Hollywood in neighboring Broward County

They could do so without the amendment, Rocio…accept it would be against the law…which it still will be if the amendment is enacted.

Transgender men and women already use public restrooms, supporters countered, calling the example a scare tactic.  They said cities and counties that have previously adopted transgender protections, including Miami Beach, Key West and Broward, have not reported any trouble.

I go in and close the stall doors. I wash my hands. I go out

— Jessica Lam, a transgender woman, deejay and author of a children’s book about two gender non-conforming children

It affords me dignity – dignity to pee in peace

–S. F. Makalani-MaHee, Fort Lauderdale pastor and trans man, who is protected in Broward County

Victor Lopez, 16, testified that discrimination does exist.

I have been harassed. I have been kicked out of restrooms.  I have been kicked out of many places.

Opponents of similar legislation in Cleveland mounted a misinformation campaign at Wednesday’s City Council Workforce and Community Benefits and Finance Committee meeting.

Cleveland.com claimed the legislation “would require businesses to make their restrooms, showers, and locker rooms available to both sexes.”

[T]he measure merely prohibits businesses from refusing the use of bathrooms or similar facilities based on a customer’s gender identity.

Media Matters

[The ordinance] opens up dangerous territory for girls and women as far as dangerous, predatory males having full access to restrooms and privacy areas where women should be able to feel safe.  She went as far as to say that she “would be hesitant to go to not only the Republic[an] Convention but the Indians’ games or the Browns’ games.

–Mission: America’s Linda Harvey

[the change] “outrageously neglects the safety and physical and emotional health of women and children and opens up real possibilities of predators and incidents of rape, assault, public exposure, and other sexual abuse.

–Citizens for Community Values

The fact that those pressing this activist agenda are willing to sacrifice the vast majority of women’s and children’s’ [sic] rights and dignity to satisfy it speaks volumes about the self-absorption and single-minded intent of that agenda.

Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF has an agenda of claiming that trnsgender people don’t actually exist.

There is no evidence to suggest that gender nondiscrimination protections already extant have endangered women or children.

Gender identity nondiscrimination protections have already been the law in several states around the country for several years.  There is no evidence to suggest that these policies do anything to endanger women in children, largely because transgender people are no more likely to be predators than anybody else.  The laws do, however, protect transgender people from discrimination and harm, such as the way that a trans woman might be treated in a men’s restroom.

Zack Ford, Think Progress

The committee did not vote on the ordinance, saying it “wanted more information” from other Ohio cities which have already enacted such protections.

1 comment

    • Robyn on November 15, 2014 at 12:07 am
      Author

    …are handled along with “animal rights.”

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