Over the past couple of months, you've found yourself reading and watching the national fallout and negative reactions to North Carolina's ridiculous anti-transgender bathroom laws and thought "Wow. I hope our Oklahoma lawmakers don't hear about all this. There's nothing they love more than embarrassing our state by passing discriminatory, generally unconstitutional laws that demonize and infringe upon the rights of an innocent minority. Although this seems right up there alley, hopefully they focus on more pressing needs like the educational funding crisis and man-made earthquakes."
Well, I guess the word has finally leaked out. According to various news reports and some of our Moles at the State Capitol, it looks like the Derplahoman Caucus is pressing the house GOP leadership to attach some anti-trans legislation to important education funding bills, because you know, telling kids where they can and can't use the restroom at school is just as important as actually funding that school.
Oklahoma lawmakers ponder response to transgender bathroom directive
With the clock ticking on the legislative session and no budget agreement in sight, lawmakers are considering their options in response to a federal directive regarding which restrooms transgender individuals can use.
“Senators are hearing from constituents who are registering their complete frustration and disappointment in the federal government,” Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, said Wednesday.
“The Oklahoma Senate is examining its options in responding to what is arguably the most egregious example of executive overreach to occur during the Obama administration,” Cooper said.
Bingman, R-Sapulpa, did not return a phone call seeking comment, and Cooper had no additional information.
The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a directive last week to help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students. The directive instructed public schools to treat transgender students consistently with their gender identity, including allowing them to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
Wow. People are seriously mad that the federal government is protecting people's civil rights by allowing them to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity? I know I'm not a paranoid wacko religious moralist who wants to suppress the rights and freedoms of other people simple because they may look, behave or act differently than me, but how is this even an issue? If you look like a man, feel like a man, and identify as a man, use the men's room. If you look like a woman, feel like women, and identify as a woman, use the women's restroom. If you have to take a dump and want some extra privacy, use the handicap bathroom. They're basic rules to live by!
Considering the Oklahoma legislature's proud tradition of embracing discrimination and bigotry, the timing of all this seems a bit odd. The gender identity bathroom debate has been dominating cable news and Facebook feeds for months. Obviously our pathetic elected leaders have known about it. Why's it suddenly an issue? Toby Jenkins and Troy Stevenson have an idea:
Toby Jenkins, executive director of Tulsa-based Oklahomans for Equality, said President Barack Obama’s statements on the directive last week were not anything new. Obama was reiterating the policies federal agencies have been following for the last several years, Jenkins said.
“It could not have come at a better time for our legislators, who are notorious for not taking care of the real business of government but meddling and messing and wasting time over silly things that do not move this state forward and do not protect working-class families,” he said.
Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, an Oklahoma City-based group, put out an action alert on the issue.
“I honestly think it is a distraction,” he said. “I think the Legislature is not able to balance the budget, can’t right the ship and can’t even pass revenue bills sitting in front of them to fund mental health, yet they want to use little kids using the bathroom as a distraction,” he said.
That's a good point, but I'm not 100% sure I want to give our lawmakers that much credit. Yes, the issue does serve as a distraction (I am writing about it), but don't forget that we have a bunch of people in this state who would love nothing more than to see Mary Fallin sign some anti-trans laws. As opposed to a distraction, I think the GOP is doing this in the name of survival. Remember, the number one priority of an elected official is to be reelected, and in Oklahoma, there's not a better way to do that than to pander to the fear, hate and bigotry of the religious moralist crowd. It's Politics 101.