|South Carolina's "bathroom bill" is dead at least for now.|
The lgbt community of South Carolina and its allies just scored a HUGE victory. A bill which would have forced transgender men and women to use bathrooms and restrooms in accordance to the gender on their birth certificates failed to even get out of committee:
According to the GreenvilleOnline News:
Three GOP senators on the Senate General Committee say they oppose the transgender bathroom bill and a fourth said he is torn, a number which likely means the bill is dead for the year.
Sen. Greg Gregory of Lancaster, Sen. Ray Cleary of Murrell’s Inlet and Sen. Paul Campbell of Goose Creek told The Greenville News Tuesday they are opposed to the bill.
Sen. Lee Bright, the bill’s sponsor, said he needs nine of the 10 GOP members of the 17-member committee to approve it in order for it to advance to the floor. Democrats oppose the bill. If three GOP members oppose it and a fourth is on the fence, the bill cannot come out of committee.
“I don’t think the bill is going anywhere,” Sen. Joel Lourie, a Columbia Democrat and one of the bill’s main opponents, told The News. “I can tell you it’s dead.”
Ever since Bright proposed the bill, which mimics several which have been and are now being discussed across the nation, its passage didn't look to be a sure thing. People on both sides of the political spectrum voiced opposition to it. Gov. Nikki Haley said that the bill was not needed. Some people were wary of passing the bill because of the severe backlash which North Carolina is now facing over a similar bill it passed, which not only targeted the transgender community, but also prohibited NC cities and towns from passing pro-lgbt non-discrimination ordinances.
However, the bill did have its supporters, including the Palmetto Family Council, a statewide "family values" group. They claimed that the bill was needed to ensure safety of women and girls.
But if anything, Bright's bill galvanized SC's lgbt community and its allies more than those who supported it. This was strangely different than in other areas of the country where supporters of these bills told unproven tales of male predators waiting to attack women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms This tactic generally galvanized support of these "bathroom bills.".
One reason why it may not have worked in South Carolina was because the lgbt community, spearheaded in this fight by SC Equality, made sure to attack the "bathroom predator" myth head on. The organization Trans United of South Carolina also played a vital role in organizing opposition, assembling witnesses, and crafting the game plan to defeat Bright's bill. During a committee hearing, opponents of the bill vastly outnumbered supporters. Witnesses speaking against the bill included mayors of the city of Columbia, Greenwood, and Florence, US Attorney Bill Nettles, and former State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum. And many of them refuted the notion of 'bathroom predators." It also didn't hurt matters that before testimony was even heard by committee, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the bill unenforceable.
But the testimony many focused on was that of transgender teenagers who told the legislative committee that the bill would have a negative effect on them.
According to WISTV:
Grayson, 13, and Dex, 13, sat before Bright and his fellow committee members during Wednesday's hearing.
Grayson, a female-to-male transitioning teen, recounted his story of having to go to the nurse's bathroom to avoid having to answer questions about his identity.
"All I want is to be able to use the men's restroom with the rest of my non-transgender peers, but this doesn't happen and it won't happen if this bill is passed," Grayson said. "The people introducing this bill are victimizing the innocent. When I enter a men's bathroom, I just want to use the facilities, wash my hands and leave. I do not deserve to have my gender identity washed away like a fingerprint on a windowpane. I do not deserve to have the person I am replaced by someone I don't want to be. I do not deserve to be forced to use a restroom where I do not feel safe."
Grayson also called out supporters of the bill, saying none of them understood what it was like to prove themselves and who they are constantly.
"We were brought into this world to live, not to be targeted by people who don't know what it's like to be born in a shell that doesn't match your interior spirit," Grayson said.
Meanwhile, others opposing the bill held a rally outside the State House.
With opposition having momentum and gaining more, Sen. Bright attempted to force the bill through committee via a secret polling vote and onto the State House. He was unsuccessful and today, according to GreenvilleOnline News, Sen. Lourie, called him out on the Senate floor:
“There has not been a member of my caucus that has been polled,” he said. “You know and I know there is no bathroom bill. If you want to have a hearing, let’s have a hearing tomorrow and vote it up or down. The people of this state deserve that this vote not be taken in private, sir.”
At the time of this post, I was unable to reach any official with SC Equality, but I am sure that a congratulatory message is forthcoming.
My take is that it was a combination of luck and determination which killed the anti-lgbt bill. It was lucky that many in South Carolina saw how North Carolina was suffering a p.r. and economic backlash because of its bill and realized that the Palmetto State would be in for the same problems if Bright's bill had passed.
But that still does not take away from the fact that those who fought to defeat this bill deserve a lot of credit for refuting the "bathroom predator" instead of running away from it.
Most of all, SC's transgender community deserves a lot of praise. Instead of hiding, they spoke up for themselves in large numbers.
I think that's a lesson we all need to remember.