The Delaware Senate on Thursday
approved a bill aimed at prohibiting discrimination against
Senate Bill 97, approved 11-to-7, would
ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the
areas of employment, housing, insurance and public accommodations.
It now heads to the House.
Governor Jack Markell has pledged his
signature and Attorney General Beau Biden has publicly backed passage
of the measure.
“In the end, discrimination is wrong,
it is as simple as that,” Democratic Senator Margaret Rose, the
bill's champion in the chamber, told colleagues.
The bill cleared a Senate committee on
At the hearing, opponents warned that
the bill would invite sex offenders to lurk in public restrooms,
endangering public safety.
“This bill makes no legal distinction
between someone who is transgender and any other person who claims to
be of the other sex, including predators, exhibitionists, peeping
toms,” said Jordan Warfel of the Christian conservative Delaware
Family Policy Council, which is leading the lobbying effort to kill
The group released an online video
which shows a blond girl entering a woman's bathroom. A
scruffy-looking man darts in behind her. “Is this what you want
for Delaware?” a caption rhetorically asks.
The video and the argument that
transgender protections offer shelter to sexual predators has been
used in previous lobbying efforts in other states and municipalities.
Deputy Attorney General Patricia Dailey
Lewis, director of the Department of Justice's family law section,
criticized use of the video, calling it “offensive and exploitative
to children and the people who work to protect them.”
“We do not have one known case, one
reported case, of a transgender individual attacking a child,” she
Nicole Theis, president of the Family
Policy Council, insisted that the law could be used by criminals to
prey on children and young women.
“When you create the environment for
trouble, that's what you're going to get,” she
said. “Just because it hasn't happened yet, it doesn't mean
it's not bad policy.”
Sixteen states and the District of
Columbia have approved similar laws protecting transgender people.