The New Hampshire House rejected a bill
Thursday to protect transgender people from discrimination after
members were swayed by a “public safety” argument, reports the
Members voted 172 to 157 and mostly
along party lines to kill House Bill 415. Openly gay Rep. Edward
Butler introduced the legislation on January 8. It moved out of
committee on March 19 with no recommendation.
The bill defines gender identity and
expression and “adds it to the list of classes of people protected
from discrimination” in the areas of employment, housing and public
“This is an invitation, it seems to
me, for people with predatory tendencies to come and hide behind the
fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep.
Peyton Hinkle, a Republican from Merrimack, said on the floor.
Republicans called it the “bathroom
bill” and asked it be flushed down the drain.
A similar argument is being echoed
throughout the U.S. as municipalities and states look to protect
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a
On Tuesday, voters in the college town
of Gainesville, Florida rejected a proposed initiative to eliminate
all gay protections after city leaders added “gender identity” to
the list of classes protected from discrimination. Members of the
Citizens for Good Public Policy argued that the gender clause allows
men to enter women's restrooms, endangering women and children.
Voters disagreed by an overwhelming majority (58%).
Butler, an innkeeper by trade, viewed
the bill differently than his Republican colleagues.
“I thought we'd introduce a simple
little non-discrimination bill,” the Democrat told the House. “You
fear that my co-sponsors and I have lost our marbles and that we have
introduced a bill that threatens the safety of our citizens. Nothing
could be further from the truth.”
“Law enforcement still has all the
tools it needs to protect people from being approached in bathrooms,
in parks, Main Street or anywhere else,” Rep. Lucy Weber, a
Democrat from Walpole, said.
Debate on the issue outside the Capitol
was also heated. Family Research Council, the Tony Perkins-led
social conservative group, ran an advertisement in the local media
threatening lawmakers who vote in favor of the legislation.
The ad featured a postit note scribbled
with the words “YOU ARE FIRED,” and urged residents to contact
legislators to vote against gay rights legislation, including a gay
marriage bill and the transgender protections bill.
Legislators say they have been
inundated with vehement opposition to the bill. One anonymous
emailer wrote: “How are we suppose to take our children into public
bathrooms if you pass this indecent legislation? ... or protect them
from the perverted predations of this bill's sponsors? ... [W]e are
not being served by representatives, but being ruled by misfits,
perverts and tyrants.”
The rhetoric got too hot for lawmakers
who opted to leave transgender people unprotected. 19 Democrats
joined Republicans in killing the bill.