Now that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is running for president (unofficially that is), he is backtracking from pro-gay legislation he signed:
To borrow a phrase, have your views evolved over time?
In 1993 I voted for a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodation, housing, and employment. That was 16 years ago.
Yes, gay-rights activists regarded you as a pretty cool guy at the time.
We overbaked that statute, for a couple of reasons. If I had to do it over again I would have changed some things.
That statute is not worded the way it should be. I said I regretted the vote later because it included things like cross-dressing, and a variety of other people involved in behaviors that weren't based on sexual orientation, just a preference for the way they dressed and behaved. So it was overly broad. So if you are a third-grade teacher and you are a man and you show up on Monday as Mr. Johnson and you show up on Tuesday as Mrs. Johnson, that is a little confusing to the kids. So I don't like that.
Has the law been changed?
No. It should be, though.
So you want to protect kids against cross-dressing elementary-school teachers. Do you have any in Minnesota?
Probably. We've had a few instances, not exactly like that, but similar.
For the record, there have been cases of teachers who have returned to class after gender reassignment surgery, although I am not sure that any of them occurred in Minnesota. After initial fears and some trepidation, the schools, students, and parents adapted to the situation. And there have been cases of transgendered students who are as young as six.
So certainly the issue is complicated but the way Pawlenty tries to trivialize it as a way to flip flop on his earlier pro-lgbt stance is rude. It reveals not only a misrepresentation of non-discrimination laws but also a cynical willfulness to exploit ignorance of the transgendered community.
His stance is a combination of two ugly religious right factoids - the claim that non-discrimination laws will lead to an invasion of "cross-dressers" (a claim which has yielded hardly any success for the religious right. Maybe Pawlenty should have pulled the "they will invade women's bathrooms" card) and the claim that pro-lgbts laws in general will somehow put children in some type of danger (an old claim which, regardless of its failure or success, never fails to put people on edge.)
Generally though, when one eliminates the weasel words and the trumped up language, we are back at the time-honored lie that anything which moves the lgbt community forward will ultimately harm the children.
Because apparently "we recruit and indoctrinate."
It's not necessarily the type of thinking I want from someone who wants to be my President. If it were, I would write in Anita Bryant on the ballot.
Hat tip to People for the American Way.