It is being reported that back in August of 2016 about two dozen of the country’s leading LGBT advocacy groups held an “invitation-only” phone call to talk about the future of the LGBT movement and work on a disagreement that has divided them namely the transgender bathroom issue that has been the major blocking point in nondiscrimination laws that would protect LGBT citizens in housing and employment.
On the hour-and-a half phone call, one side of the self-appointed leaders argued they could make gains with Conservatives by accepting a compromise much like a bill in Pennsylvania that would ban LGBT discrimination in workplaces and housing — but not in public places, like restaurants and stores. Many on the call believe this could emerge as a model for other swing states where they’ve hit barricades — namely in Ohio, Florida, and Arizona, and North Carolina. But other groups like including the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign (SHOCK), have argued the short-term gain approach for the LGB community in housing and job security could amount to entering a box canyon and take years to pass laws that provide public protections in the future for the transgender community on the bathroom issue— if ever. And leaving them out may even send a message that discrimination in public is acceptable.
The Gill Foundation which gave more than $6.5 million to LGBT causes in 2014, Freedom for All Americans and the National Center for Transgender Equality, contend this sort of compromise may be their only shot of winning civil rights for millions of LGBT people at the state level in the next decade, even if those gains are incomplete. Leaders of those organizations say they can return to these legislatures in the future to finish the job of passing public accommodations.
The ACLU sent a blunt letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers and organizations on June 10 letter detailing their objections to the compromise bill.
“It will not be lost on many in the advocacy and activist communities, as well as the LGBT-media, that dropping public accommodations now, in the midst of the current in-state and national conversation surrounding transgender people and restrooms/locker rooms, is compromising on critical protections because they are controversial,” said an ACLU memo obtained by Buzzfeed.
Surprisingly well known trans-activist Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, says that if they want to help transgender people in Pennsylvania and other Republican controlled states, they need to embrace the protections transgender people can get in housing and employment.
“Incrementalism is how policy gets done while other people are whining about incrementalism,” she said. “We have made it an have made an article faith over the past few years that if a bill lacks public accommodations, it’s useless. That’s not true.”
She said that was exactly the path employed by lawmakers in California, Nevada, and Hawaii — states where legislatures passed bills that lacked public accommodations or gender identity, then patched the holes years later. Those patches were passed between 2005 and 2011, before marriage and before conservatives pressed bathrooms and religious freedom as their most potent arguments.
“I am not timid,” Keisling said of this approach. “This is not timidity. This is about moving the ball as fast as you can.”
Whats your thoughts?
Is it alright to move the trans bathroom issues, an issues that effects just a small percentage of the LGBT community and has been essentially blocking other LGBT issues to the back burner and work on LGBT housing and employment protections which will protect thousands if not millions first and then go back to public accommodation issues?
Sound off in the comments section below.