Thursday, April 30, 2009

NH Gender Protection Bill Fails

Amidst everything else going on in the world with marriage, the battle for simple equal protections is getting shoved under the rug a little these days. So, as we are all excited about the unexpected passage of equal marriage in the NH Senate today, a major step back occurred at the same time: the same body rejected a bill giving equal protections to people based on their gender. (If you read the article, you'll cringe too when you read the words "people with sexual identity issues," but the rest of the piece is interesting.)

The bill had been dubbed "the bathroom bill" after opponents sought to undermine it by insinuating that it would put children in danger of being sexually molested in public bathrooms. Our friends in the NH Senate stood up against the rhetoric, saying that this detracted from the actual purpose, but that, apparently, didn't stop every single one of them from voting against it. That's right... the NH Senate, on the same day it voted for equal marriage and for medical marijuana, unanimously -- 24-0-0 -- voted against protections for gender.
How do they justify the move?
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, a sponsor of the bill, said that those who campaigned against the bill “shamefuly sought to distract us from the real issue, literally bringing the debate to the toilets."

Passing the bill now would only worsen the situation for transsexuals because of the way the bill was portrayed, she said.
Um, k. I'm not sure I get your thinking. If we pass protections now, we'll make the situation worse... hrm. In an idle thought, I wonder if this was voted down to make the marriage bill go forward... a lot of stories have indicated furious lobbying and vote-changing in the last 24 hours, in which case, I ask: was it worth it? But that's just an idle thought and I really hope it was not the case.

Nikki McIntosh, Kentucky Equality Federation Transgender Outreach Director, with the concurrence of KEF's Managing Director (Laura Reed) and President (Jordan Palmer), released this strongly worded statement in response:
Had this happened in Kentucky, Kentucky Equality Federation would have condemned the legislation; you either protect all of us or none of us.....UNITED WE STAND!

Well said, KEF, well said.

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