Leave it to the Rabid Religious Right Repuglicans to carry their opposition to equal rights for LGBT people to the most absurd extreme.
The next big culture war battle is about to be waged in an unlikely place: the restroom. After many years, Congress may finally have the votes to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The measure, which the Obama administration views as key to advancing gay rights, would ban workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. But Christian right groups are fighting the legislation -- on the grounds that it would force businesses to allow transgendered and "transitioning" men and women to use opposite-sex restrooms or face lawsuits from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Traditional Values Coalition, a major foe of ENDA, has written a lengthy report on the potential dangers of the legislation, and the bathroom crisis is high on the list. As proof of the coming bathroom integration, it cites a Seattle incident in which two women who were taking male hormones were thrown out of a men's room at the Washington convention center. The women were staging a "pee-in" as part of a Gender Odyssey Conference, but TVC sees "she-men" invading the hallowed confines of men's restrooms everywhere should ENDA pass.
In talking points issued to ENDA opponents, Liberty Counsel, the conservative public interest firm associated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, warns:
ENDA mandates that employers give access to shared facilities, such as restrooms and other similar facilities for those who are of the same sex, but have an opposite gender identity (i.e. a male identifying as female), or of those who have notified their employer of an ongoing gender transition (i.e. a male transitioning to a female). Those employees would be allowed to share restrooms and other similar facilities with members of the opposite sex.
Peter LaBarbera, president of the anti-gay group Americans for Truth, has called ENDA the "Transgendered Bathrooms for Business" bill. He frets on his Web site that women will be forced to share facilities with "a big-boned man claiming to be 'transitioning' to 'womanhood.'" He writes, "Biologically-born ladies, beware!"
Conservative activists warn that by pushing ENDA, the Obama administration is embracing not just the homosexual agenda, but that of liberal atheist George Soros. His Open Society Institute helped fund a 2005 study [pdf] by the Transgender Law Center called "Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies," which argued for an end to the men's-only room. The study highlights the fact that some transgendered people have been fired because of issues related to bathroom use. By adding both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the language in federal anti-discrimination laws, ENDA would protect them, much to the religious right's chagrin.
Potty paranoia is the latest attempt by social conservatives to fight the march of gay rights promoted by the Obama administration... [emphasis added]
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During the Vietnam War a friend, who had served as a fighter pilot in Thailand (and became an anti-war activist on his return), told me a story about an experience there. When he had recently arrived there, he went to a bar and asked the bartender about the facilities. He entered the rest room to find an open ditch lined with tile. Water flowed into the ditch from a pipe and out the other end through the wall. While he was still looking at it, a woman entered the room and, paying no attention to him, squatted over the ditch. He ran out of the room and asked the bartender where he could find the MEN’S facilities. The bartender laughed at him. Within a month, sharing a restroom with women had become second nature to him. Many parts of the world have no separate facilities for the genders and they manage perfectly well.
In my opinion, extremist anti-gay Republican fanatics who are still in the closet present a far greater threat to the sanctity of men’s rooms than biological females with male gender identity. Perhaps it might be better to have separate restrooms for Democrats and Repuglicans. Independents could choose at the door, much as they do in the voting booth.