Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gainesville, Florida Voters Reject Anti-GLBT Rights Measure

Voters in Gainesville, Florida rejected Charter Amendment 1, a measure that would have repealed existing ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Proponents of the measure marketed it as remedial law that would simply conform Gainesville law to standards set by the State of Florida. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not protected categories in Florida civil rights law. Proponents also raised the extreme possibility of opportunistic sexual predators dressing in drag in order to rape women and children in bathrooms. Despite the misleading and dramatic marketing strategy, the measure lost by a vote of 58-42 percent.


FLRN said...

Darren - I think you missed the boat on this on! I am a strong supporter for GLTG rights. I am also a strong supporter of the safety and well being of the community and children. Unfortunately on the issue of Amendment 1 these two issues collide. On this issue public safety loses. Children are a vulnerable and innocent group with special needs for protection and those against the enactment of Amendment 1 have legitimate concerns that this statute will interfere with a parent's ability to offer reasonable protection to children from harm within public bathrooms because the ancillary impact of amendment 1 is that now males - heterosexual males - can enter and use female restrooms without fear of reprisal under city statutes.

Below I have posted several recent articles that offer current evidence that sexual assaults occur very frequently in public restrooms.

By normalizing the availability of bathroom facilities to all persons without regard to gender the Gainesville City Commission has weakened an already dangerous area of privacy for local citizens - most specifically young women and children.

This is not a "marketing technique" this is a real issue that causes distress for young and older women alike, and jeopardizes the safety of children. Now under this law a girl can go change in a Gym bathroom locker room and share the space with any man that feels like "a woman today" how absurd! This in truth has nothing to do with extending rights to transsexuals rather the real issue is the loss of privacy for women who already have to take special precautions at night, during the day, in parking garages, at parties, in social gathering or out for an afternoon jog and yes in restrooms - most women do this every day because we know that as women we have a one in four chance of being sexually assaulted in our lifetime. This is a real statistic, and a fear women deal with every day. We should not have to worry now about unwanted male company in the bathroom - an already private but dangerous place to begin with as many sexual assaults do happen in public restrooms where camera and security persons do not typically "peep in" - I'd urge you to look at this issue differently and change your filter....

It is not fear or homophobia leading the fight against this issue it is the real fear of granting more access to heterosexual males on the you well know most sexual assaults are not committed by "gays" the blame lies with the heterosexual males on this issue.

Boy, 7, attacked in Bethel Park bathroom
Mike Cronin. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Washington: Feb 24, 2009.
First Sexually Dangerous Individual Committed Under New Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
Anonymous. U.S. Newswire. Washington: Feb 12, 2009.

Cops arrest man on sexual assault charge
Anonymous. Sun Journal. Lewiston, Me.: Dec 17, 2008. pg. B.3

3 boys arrested in alleged sexual assault at Franklin High School
Sonia Krishnan. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Washington: Nov 22, 2008.

Police track escaped prisoner; Convicted robber still at large, escaped custody while working at Moncton Wesleyan Church
Brent Mazerolle. The Times - Transcript. Moncton, N.B.: Nov 18, 2008. pg. A.1

Child-care worker found guilty of sexual offences; Six-year-old girl was assaulted
Keith Fraser. The Province. Vancouver, B.C.: Sep 17, 2008. pg. A.10

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hello, FLRN. I believe that including gender identity in civil rights laws and preventing sexual assault only collide in an abstract way. Here is a list of states and cities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity: Gender Identity-Inclusive Laws
The list gets longer every year.

Before I would deny civil rights protection, I would demand empircal evidence that the fears of sexual assault are realistic. Instead, the proponents of the amendment simply stated the narrative of the "possiblity" over and over again. But the "possiblity" of sexual assault could justify the prohibition of many things - from busing kids to school, operating a public library, and -- given the incidence of incest -- permitting adult males to have kids in the first place.

I have seen no evidence that gender identity-inclusive civil rights laws cause an increase in sexual assaults. The cases you cited only confirm that sexual assault occurs with or without these types of laws. One of the cases involved a child care provider - which is miles away from an opportunistic child predator presenting as a woman in a public restroom. The vast majority of child sexual assaults, in fact, typically involve someone the child knows -- like a parent, relative, adult friend of the family, minister, teacher, etc. The incidence of stranger rape -- is low enough; the incidence of stranter-gender identity opportunistic rape is, naturally, a much smaller category (to the extent it even exists).

Finally, the opponents of the Gainesville amendment advocated the repeal of both sexual orientation AND gender identity protections in the civil rights law. They also supported the removal of these two categories from EVERY area of prohibited discrimination, which includes housing, employment, the extension of credit, and public accommodations. Even if the fears of rape are justifiable, this does not warrant the repeal of provisions prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination; it also does it justify the repeal of gender identity protections in areas like credit discrimination that do not implicate bathrooms or sexual conduct whatsoever.

Real Time Analytics