VoteBack in July I wrote about the Transgender Ordinance passed by the Gainesville (FL) City Council. The ordinance uses a very broad definition gender identity is based upon the way an individual feels or says they feel. “The bathroom” clause of the ordinance has been very controversial.  According to this ordinance a man may use a woman’s restroom if they “feel” female that day. The supporters of the ordinance have failed to acknowledge the potential for misuse of this clause. Last week a man was caught taking pictures of women in the ladies room. While it may be illegal to have a camera in the ladies room the guy can legally enter the ladies room if “feel female that day”.

Finally the public will get a chance to vote on March 24th for Charter Amendment 1. If passed this will force the city governement to adopt an anti-discrimination policy that is in-line with the Florida Civil Rights Act.

26 thoughts on “Update: What Happens When Those in Charge Lack Common Sense

  1. That’s definitely bad law. While transgender people have been using the restroom facilities of the opposite sex for many years, without anyone even knowing, this law is ripe for abuse. It was inevitable that someone who is not actually transgendered would do something weird, based on the way the law is written.


  2. I’ll just quote something from Hamtramck, Michigan:

    “Hamtramck is following in the footsteps of a number of cities who recognize this is an important issue,” said Kevin McAlpine, the Triangle Foundation’s deputy director. “The majority of people in Hamtramck believe everyone should be treated with fairness and respect.”

    “That’s not so”, said Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center.”

    -Detroit News

    He turned out to be correct- the Thomas More Law Centre mobilised the local Imams as well as the Priests to repeal existing laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity “on religious grounds”.

    I’ll quote their website:

    “Defeat for Radical Homosexual Agenda; Victory for Citizen Effort to Reverse Anti-Religious Law in MI

    ANN ARBOR, MI – “Hamtramck Citizens Voting No to ‘Special Rights’ Discrimination” scored a landslide victory by overturning an ordinance enacted by their City Council in June of this year, which gave special rights to homosexuals and so-called “transgendered” individuals. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represented the citizens group and joined community religious leaders in urging a “No” vote on November 4th.

    The “No” vote carried the day, 55% to 45 %.

    The challenged ordinance had made it legal for men who perceive themselves as women to use women’s bathrooms in any school, business, or public facility. In classic Orwellian doublespeak, the ordinance defines such behavior as “Natural Rights of Hamtramck Residents.” Under the ordinance, any attempt to prevent such activity would have subjected the person to investigations, criminal prosecution, civil litigation, and fines of up to five hundred dollars per day.

    Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center stated, “Radical homosexual groups have lost statewide attempts to impose their agenda on the public. They are now engaged in a strategy of putting pressure on municipalities –in many cases successfully – to enact draconian provisions like Hamtramck’s. In this case their new strategy failed as the will of the people prevailed.”

    In fact, that legislation said nothing about washrooms. Just public accomodations. They elided the fact that it is already illegal to discriminate in the provision of ‘public accomodations’ on the basis of sex, both in Michigan and Florida. See Civil rights code Florida State Statute 710. If there is a dangerof men legally being in women’s rooms – and that hasn’t been shown in 33 years of ordinances like this one – then it will still exist to exactly the same degree should the Amendment pass.

    So how involved is the virulently anti-gay Thomas More Law Centre in all this? Also from their website:

    The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has acted as legal counsel for the coalition and helped draft the Charter Amendment that would prevent the addition of special categories to the City’s “Civil Rights” ordinance not currently included in the State of Florida’s Civil Rights Act.

    The proposed Charter Amendment will prevent the addition of a multitude of bizarre special rights categories that are being pushed by radical groups with a national agenda.

    Rather than the deletion of existing human rights for gays being “collateral damage”, it is in fact their main target. Just as it was in Hamtramck. That’s why they drafted the Amendment the way they did, to eliminate all such rights, rather than addressing a specific concern.

    They tried the same scare tactics in Montgomery County, Maryland. It didn’t wash there, and the number of incidents they swore blind would occur has been… zero. As it has everywhere else in the USA. Not a single person has ever tried using such a law as a defence. I’m told by law enforcement that perverts prefer privacy, and if confronted, run away.

    Here’s a list up until 2007 of other jurisdictions that have enacted similar laws, and the date they were enacted.

    2007 State of Colorado
    State of Iowa
    Lake Worth, FL
    Milwaukee, WI
    Palm Beach County, FL
    State of Oregon
    Saugatuck, MI
    State of Vermont
    West Palm Beach, FL
    2006 Bloomington, IN
    Cincinnati, OH
    Easton, PA
    Ferndale, MI
    Hillsboro, OR
    Johnson County, IA
    King County, WA
    Lansdowne, PA
    Lansing, MI
    State of New Jersey
    Swarthmore, PA
    State of Washington
    West Chester, PA
    2005 Gulfport, FL
    State of Illinois
    Indianapolis, IN
    Lincoln City, OR
    State of Maine
    Northampton, MA
    Washington, DC
    2004 Albany, NY
    Austin, TX
    Beaverton, OR
    Bend, OR
    Burien, WA
    Oakland, CA
    Miami Beach, FL
    Tompkins County, NY
    2003 State of California
    State of New Mexico
    Carbondale, IL
    Covington, KY
    El Paso, TX
    Ithaca, NY
    Key West, FL
    Lake Oswego, OR
    Monroe Co., FL
    Oakland, CA
    Peoria, IL
    San Diego, CA
    Scranton, PA
    Springfield, IL
    University City, MO
    2002 Allentown, PA
    Baltimore, MD
    Boston, MA
    Buffalo, NY
    Chicago, IL
    Cook County, IL
    Dallas, TX
    Decatur, IL
    East Lansing, MI
    Erie County, PA
    New Hope, PA
    New York City, NY
    Philadelphia, PA
    Salem, OR
    Tacoma, WA
    2001 Denver, CO
    Huntington Woods, MI
    Multnomah Co., OR
    State of Rhode Island
    Rochester, NY
    Suffolk County, NY
    2000 Atlanta, GA
    Boulder, CO
    DeKalb, IL
    Madison, WI
    Portland, OR
    1999 Ann Arbor, MI
    Jefferson County, KY
    Lexington-Fayette Co., KY
    Louisville, KY
    Tucson, AZ
    1998 Benton County, OR
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    New Orleans, LA
    Toledo, OH
    West Hollywood, CA
    York, PA
    1997 Cambridge, MA
    Evanston, IL
    Olympia, WA
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ypsilanti, MI
    1996 Iowa City, IA
    1994 Grand Rapids, MI
    San Francisco, CA
    1993 State of Minnesota
    1992 Santa Cruz, CA
    1990 St. Paul, MN
    1986 Seattle, WA
    1983 Harrisburg, PA
    1979 Los Angeles, CA.
    Urbana, IL
    1977 Champaign, IL
    1975 Minneapolis, MN

    Not a single incident has happened where any pervert has attempted to use the law as a defence. Not one. Not in 34 years now. The one time a man dressed in women’s clothing entered a women’s changing room was a publicity stunt by the “Citizens for Good Public Policy” – oh, sorry, the “Citizens for Good Government” in that case. A group also funded and supported by the Thomas More Law Center. Had they not gotten exposed, it would have been used as a powerful argument. Instead, they’ve opted for videos now.


  3. In the interests of full disclosure, I better say something about my personal circumstances. I’m Intersexed – born with a body neither 100% male nor 100% female. My”gender identity” has always been female, but I don’t get a say in it.

    A superficial physical exam and blood test at a fertility clinic in 1985 diagnosed me as a mildly intersexed male. When I started to get a female puberty in 2005, I then had a whole battery of MRI scans, ultrasounds, a genetic test and other blood tests, and the diagnosis was changed to “severely androgenised non-pregnant woman”. By then, I no longer looked like a footballer (though I’ll never look like a cheerleader, alas).

    My UK Birth Certificate, being a historical document of what I looked most like at birth, says “boy”. So in the UK, I’m legally male. But the UK passport office has to use actual biological reality, so my UK passport says ‘F’. And in Australia, where I live, I’m legally female. My OB/Gyn agrees on that point, by the way.

    It is for people like me that such laws are so important. 1 in 60 people are technically intersexed, though most are asymptomatic and many don’t know why they can’t have children. About 1 in 1000 have problems as severe as mine though, and in many jurisdictions, women and young girls are legally forced to use male restrooms. With the foreseeable consequences of rape and acquisition of STDs.

    And unlike the fears that the Thomas More Law Centre are inventing out of whole cloth, this is not a “hypothetical”, a “might be”, it happens every month somewhere in the USA, and people like me in self-help groups have to pick up the pieces. Pardon me if my view of them is therefore somewhat jaundiced.

    We’ve written to them, you see. They’re not acting out of ignorance. They just hate homosexuality so much that the end justifies the means.


  4. The problem is that there has been no acknowledgment of how this law can be misused. It is legal for a sexual predator male to be in the woman’s room. Yes, your situation is difficult. This law is too broad.


  5. What we disagree on is whether a danger exists or not. We may have to agree to disagree there. The point is that discrimination in the provision of public accommodations on the basis of sex is forbidden by the Florida State Statutes Civil Rights Act 1993 section 710.

    If there is a danger – I don’t say there is, but let’s assume you’re correct, and that there is one – then how can removal of “sexual orientation and gender identity” from the list in any way affect it? Men who are perverts would still be able to claim that they had a right to enter women’s spaces because discrimination on the basis if sex is forbidden.

    They’ve never done so, of course. But by the same logic, they could. If the danger exists now, it will still exist afterwards, and to the same degree.

    The Thomas More Law Center people are not thick. They know this.

    I’ve already said why I don’t think a danger exists, I’ve given the evidence. You may find that insufficiently convincing. But it’s impossible to say that any danger exists now that didn’t exist since 1993 – not without appealing to “common sense” and “of course perverts wouldn’t try that, it would be laughed out of court”.

    Please try to step back, and look at the people who are making these outrageous legal claims. Are they objective? Or do they have a very obvious ulterior motive? Now take a look at the real effects of Amendment 1. It legalises the persecution of gays.

    Now would be a good time to thank you by the way for the courtesy you’ve shown me here. It’s because you are such a rational, thinking person that I’m trying to get you to view all the evidence. I can’t, and shouldn’t, try to change your opinions. If I show facts that you hadn’t considered, your opinions may change, but that will be your doing, not mine.

    Yes, as you may have guessed, I’m conservative, not a moonbat liberal. They’re not *always* wrong you know.


  6. We will never agree on this. It is not about persecuting or discriminating against homosexuals. It is about protecting others especially children. I seriously doubt those who are transgendered pose any safety threat. However, there is too much room for abuse by those with less than honorable intentions. If you don’t feel comfortable using the bathroom for your gender then use the handicap/family restroom which is a single person restroom.


  7. In Gainesville, the TMLC has told the residents that they’re unable to just vote against Transgendered rights because of the decision in Romer vs. Evans 1992, which said that a state could not pass a law that specifically targeted one group or groups.

    In Hamtramck less than 6 months ago, the TMLC told the residents that Romer vs Evans didn’t apply, that the decision on Cincinnati’s Issue 3 in 1997, where a city *could* do what a state couldn’t, applies. So it was perfectly legal to target one group or groups.

    Here’s their news release on that one:

    TMLC Agrees to Help Citizen’s Group Overturn City Ordinance Criminalizing Religous

    July 31, 2008

    Homosexual Agenda – Hamtramck City Hall
    ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center today announced that it will act as legal counsel for a coalition of citizens, businesses, and religions in Hamtramck, Michigan seeking to overturn an ordinance enacted by the City Counsel in June, which gives special privileges to homosexuals and so-called “transgendered” individuals.

    Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center stated, “Radical homosexual activists have taken over city councils like Hamtramck all across the nation. These ordinances end up being used to bully and prosecute Christians who faithfully practice their religion.”

    They knew this wouldn’t play in Gainesville, which has had rights for gays for so long that that line is an obvious lie, so they reversed their advice. Whatever it takes to fool the locals.


  8. True.

    But when you’re getting your legal advice from TMLC, get it independantly checked.

    You see, they’ve told you there in Gainesville the exact opposite of what they told people in Hamtramck. They’ll say anything, including legally laughable claims about the new laws allowing men in the women’s room when they didn’t before, as long as it furthers their agenda. And helpfully draught your legislation for you.

    I live in a jurisdiction that has had similar laws since 1993. Number of cases where it’s been used as a defence by perverts: zero. This mirrors the situation in every part of the USA where such laws exist.

    I’ve given you the evidence that you’re being played for chumps here. I know saying that is probably counter-productive, no-one who’s been swindled likes to be told that. The Communist Party used to do this kind of thing all the time, and Valdimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as “Lenin” (may his socks rot) described well-meaning people taken in by these tactics as “Useful Fools”, and many still don’t want to believe that they were even now. Even when the archives have been opened up.

    If there was any possibility of real danger, no matter how remote, you think the League of Women Voters would have countenanced it?

    I’ve presented the evidence. I’ve shown you that the ordinance could be amended, just as was done in Cincinatti. I’ve shown you that the TMLC has lied to you, because what they’re saying to you is 180 degrees the opposite of what they said in Hamtramck. I’ve shown you that the evidence positively shouts out that this chimerical “danger” is an urban myth dreamed up by an unashamedly homophobic organisation in order to further their cause.

    Seriously, what evidence would convince you? You’ve retreated into a position of “you don’t live here”, but I do live in an area which has the same kind of law as the one you’re fighting against, and has had for over 15 years. And I have a child too. Only 7 years old.

    Male perverts do sometimes invade female spaces. But the evidence shows that they do so at the same rate in jurisdictions without such legislation as with it. If that were not the case, you can be sure the TLMC would have trumpeted that to the high heavens, as they would if a single case anywhere in the world existed of these laws having ever been used by a Pervert in their defence.

    Please, investigate what I’ve said. Go to the TMLC website Verify for yourself that what I’ve said is all true.


  9. First, I am not getting advice from TMLC. You are the one who keeps mentioning them. Second, it is common sense that tells me letting men in the women’s room is not prudent. There has been a case of misuse of this law here. The bathroom provision is just stupid. I have not retreated anywhere. It is just I am more aware of the situation than you are. Have you seen the long lines to use the single person restroom at the mall because people do not want to use the big restroom because of that law? You only know what your read on the internet


  10. Dee, who *are* you getting advice from? Because if it’s the CGPP, they get theirs from the TMLC.

    I’m not surprised that there’s a good deal of hysterical fear in Gainesville. The video advert was extremely effective. That’s not to say that the fear is justified.

    And it’s not reached the pitch it had in Montgomery County, Maryland recently. There, one Republican party official said, and I quote the exact words;

    ‘‘Heil Hitler! Wait until little girls start showing up dead all over the county because of freaks of nature.”

    The “Heil” bit was his way of protesting what he considered a Government out of control on the issue, he’s not a Nazi, merely implying his opponents were.

    The Montgomery county legislation has been in place for over a year now, and even its opponents admit that none of their fears have come to pass. Though some wait in hope.

    There may well be long lines for single stalls in Gainesville. But oddly enough, nowhere else in the USA with this legislation in place, and I’ve now found out that 38% of the US population lives in such jurisdictions. I guarantee that a year from now, no matter what the result of Amendment 1, such lines won’t exist. The TMLC scare campaign will be dropped the second the result is in, no matter which way it goes, as it was in Montgomery county (where they lost) or Hamtramck (where they won).

    Perhaps you too should use the Internet, to find out what happened in other areas in this situation. Gainesville isn’t exactly in the avante-garde here. Pass Amendment 1 though, and you can be sure you’ll join the elite few who have abandoned existing human rights of long standing, and you’ll gain instant notoriety. A bit like the old story by Rudyard Kipling, “The village that voted the Earth was Flat”.

    Heck, even we here in Australia have heard of you already, just because of that incredible video.


  11. I got my advice from reading the local papers both the Sun & the Alligator, the news on TV, and the city’s website. While I support Charter Amendment 1 I do not support the groups running the video. I am quite capable of thinking for myself.


  12. Since you read the Sun, may I refer you to this section. And there’s this in the Alligator.

    I wish there was more diversity of views though. Obviously I’m anti-Amendment 1, but it seems to me that those like yourself who have honest concerns are under-represented, and only the nut-jobs like Richard Selwach and the Religious Zealots appear for the pro-Amendment camp. There appears to be some slanting there, and this pro-liberal bias appears endemic. Perhaps you could write a letter arguing your case?

    For a Democracy to function, we need more people like you – who are honest about their views – and fewer spinmeisters and propagandists. Ok, we’re on opposite sides on this one, but I can recognise spin and half-truth even when it’s on my side. And I’ll condemn it just as much as when it’s for something I oppose.


  13. The only good, cogent and rational argument I saw anywhere was on this page.

    I mean, I’ve given the evidence that safety isn’t an issue here, but others may reasonably consider the evidence only 99% convincing, and figure better safe than sorry. Heck, if there had ever been a single case of a pervert even attempting to use a “gender ordinance” as a defence, anywhere, even one in 34 years, I would admit that a safety issue, however small, exists.


  14. It is just common sense that allowing someone to use the restroom/locker room of the opposite gender posses a threat. Yes, there have been misuses of this law. It is just one more example of how out of control the city council is here. As wild as this ordinance been it is not even the most outrageous thing the city council as done. That is why I generally vote against the incumbents in the local elections. Maybe eventually we will get someone in office who has common sense.

    As for those opposing the law I have had quite a bit of contact with them and do not support them either. While I may agree with them on some issues I do not agree with their tactics. Several of the leaders are down right rude.


  15. We’ve had a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination law in Columbia, SC and this bathroom issue NEVER came up. It has NEVER been an issue. There has never been a problem with predators in bathrooms because of it. This is simply a moral panic created to scare people


  16. At least 2. As I have said before this is just yet another act of absurdity by our city council. It is just common sense that allowing men to use a woman’s restroom can cause problems.


  17. Please give details! Names, places, times, police records… Look, if this is a problem, then those of us who think it isn’t should be made aware that we’re wrong.

    And what are the news services doing by not reporting these cases, but only those like that guy caught on videotape recently, where the legislation didn’t apply?


  18. This is not the forum for providing that info. Yes, it has been reported in the local media. Further I do not need to provide you with that information.

    As for this matter, we will never agree. If you are unable or more likely unwilling to see the potential danger in allowing men to use the woman’s restroom then there is no point in further discussion. Yes, I am aware that those who are trans-gendered pose little if any threat. That is not the problem the problem is that like you the author’s of this ordinance are unwilling or unable to see past personnel agendas and use common sense. There is a difference between protecting basic rights and making broad provisions that fail to protect the public.
    My contention all along has been with the restroom clause not the entire ordinance.

    This is just one of many examples of how the Gainesville City Council makes decisions based upon personal agendas rather than common sense or even hard evidence. The most ludicrous plan devised by the city commissioners was to control traffic on a busy street using round-a-bouts rather than traffic lights. Even though their own study proved that the round-a-bouts were more expensive and less effective. They wanted the round-a-bouts because they had determinded prior to commissioning a study that round-a-bouts and one way single lane streets is a better way to manage traffic.

    It has become obvious that further discussion on this matter is pointless and comments our now closed.


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