by Melissa Ballard
The Equal Protection Clause is part of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits discrimination by state government institutions. The clause grants all people “equal protection of the laws,” which means that the states must apply the law equally and should not give preference to one person or class of persons over another unless it can meet the burdens established by law.
… Even state constitutions (including Texas’) are subordinate to federal law. These anti-LGBT bills being pushed at the state level are singling out the minority, and trying to say these people are ‘less than’ the hetero-cisgender population.
In November 2015, Mayor Rawlings told Dan Patrick: Dallas’ LGBT protections are not ‘about where people relieve themselves’, but it seems Patrick has an obsession with where people go to the bathroom. EROs are not only about bathrooms but this gets lost in the attention focused on where trans people chose to “go”. The point of the equal protection clause is to force a state to govern impartially—not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective. The equal protection clause could also be implicated when states redraw district lines (racial gerrymandering) and we know the federal court (re: 2017 Perez et al vs. State of Texas) has already decided Texas is guilty of this! And for some reason, even though Obergefell et al. v. Hodges has given federal rights for same sex marriage, Texas is also trying to squash these rights with other bills like SB522 citing religious freedom/refusal to uphold civil liberties. In 1996, Romer v. Evans held that it was simply irrational to discriminate against gay people when it came to access to basic legal protections although Pidgeon Vs. Turner is trying to remove spousal benefits for same sex spouses in Houston.
As of January 28, 2016, at least 255 cities and counties prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for both public and private employees [Per Wikipedia]. Most but not all of these cities and counties are located in states that have a statewide non-discrimination policy for sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There are those that are in states without, like the Dallas ERO which has been in place since 2002 – this is NOT the only city that has a protection against discrimination, as of June 2016, there are 12 Texas cities with populations of more than 100,000 that have some rules or legislation in place to protect residents or city employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Also on the list are Fort Worth and Austin that have had these protections for over a decade and Arlington, Mesquite since 2016, Plano, San Antonio, El Paso since 2003, Waco since 2014, and Brownsville since 2012. Many other cities have some sort of LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance already on the record mostly covering their direct city employees. While Houston’s ERO failed in 2015, the Houston ISD has a protection policy in place that would become voided by this bill (HB2899) becoming law.
“GUESS WHAT, TRANS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN USING THE BATHROOM OF THEIR CHOICE FOR YEARS AND YEARS WITH NO INCIDENT TO THE CISGENDER POPULATION BY ANY TRANS PERSON.”
We were at the Texas Capitol on March 7th, to testify against SB6 and Senator Kolkhorst kept referencing a recent situation where a predator was trying to take a small child from a bathroom stall, but this person was not trans, and was not pretending to be trans as so many for these bills have feared would happen if trans people were allowed to use bathrooms of choice. Guess what, trans people have been using the bathroom of their choice for years and years with NO incident to the cisgender population by any trans person. In this case Kolkhorst was pushing, the man was a criminal, a kidnapper, a stalker, a pedophile possibly – but not even “acting like he were trans.” The focus should be on the actual criminal in my opinion. Just two days later in Amarillo, Chandler Vaden, was arrested for grabbing a boy in a Walmart bathroom (not in the women’s bathroom and he is also NOT trans). Then an OK senator resigned after he had been accused of prostitution of a minor in a cheap hotel, a Hurst Baptist pastor jailed for child pornography, a Carrollton teacher accused of recording his students undressing, a Grand Prairie SPED teacher accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student, a McKinney Martial arts instructor accused of sexually assaulting a child in his class, a McKinney orthopedic surgeon arrested for sexual assault, and 10 high school students in La Vernia for sexual assault of 25+ classmates/athletes. Guess what? None of these accused were trans, or pretending to be trans, and none of this happened in the women’s bathroom as you all have been saying it would.
This is not a trans issue, this is a fear mongering, fear inducing discriminatory action, perpetrated by those we place in office to actually take care of us and do something against the real criminals. Do your jobs! If you really want to see who these predators really look like, go look at the hashtag #stillnottrans on any social media and follow the numerous trails that often times are clergy or elected officials. Please stop targeting our transgender kids and adult friends. They need your protection, not your hate.