THE SENATE PASSED HB 1319! Call Governor Sununu!

I am JUBILANT! The New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1319 on a 14-10 bipartisan vote!

Sometime in the next few weeks, HB 1319 goes to Governor Sununu for signing into law. He has said that he’s favorably disposed toward it.

Now, CALL GOVERNOR SUNUNU!

The opposition flooded the Senate phones and emails in a bid to kill HB 1319. They’ll try the same thing with the Governor’s Office. Make sure that the Governor knows that he will enjoy broad public support when he signs HB 1319. I was in the State House, today, and the Governor smiled at us and seemed to be supportive. This battle is ours to lose, but we can win it! Help him make the right call!

Governor Sununu:
603-271-2121
https://www.governor.nh.gov/contact/index.htm

And then, when he signs it into law, and only then, we can celebrate.

I note that the opposition sent a lot of emails and made a lot of phone calls, but they didn’t have the guts or the integrity to stand at the State House, where we packed the halls and there was not one single sign opposing the bill. See the picture; I’m second from the left, with the day-glo green sign, looking directly at the camera. The sign, partly obscured by the head of a NH State Trooper, reads, “Trans kids are watching to see if you hate them.” It was a hit with allies, garnering several compliments. My wife, Sparrow, made it.

The lack of opposition in person would seem to me to be the mark of an out-of-state effort. Granite Staters who are trans and gender nonconforming, and our allies, showed up bodily and in force. The bigots may say that they feel strongly about this issue, but we and those who love us are willing to stand in public, despite the lack of protections.

Make sure HB 1319 becomes law!

Grace

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Call your Senator on HB 1319 NOW!

HB 1319 is being considered in the NH Senate, today. It would add gender identity to NH’s nondiscrimination law. Right now, the Senate is almost evenly split, and some of them want to add an exemption for bathrooms, locker rooms, and other public-access accommodations, which would leave it as legal to bar those spaces to use by trans and gender nonconforming people. That would effectively lock trans people out of any space run by people who don’t like us, or who think we don’t conform to their notion of what someone of a given gender should look like.

PLEASE, if you are a NH resident, call your Senator AND the general Senate line to support HB 1319 in its current form, with NO AMENDMENTS.

The time to call is NOW.

Find your Senator here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate/members/wml.aspx.

Thank you!

Grace

The New Hampshire Senate is Considering Exempting Trans People from Being Protected in Public Accommodations – Contact Your Senator and Tell Them To Pass HB 1319 In Its Current Form

HB 1319 would add trans and gender nonconforming people to New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination law. I have just learned that some members of the New Hampshire Senate are considering adding language to the law which would make an exception for public accommodations. In other words, it would be legal under the law to tell women who are trans to use the men’s room, to tell men who are trans to use the women’s room, or to bar trans people completely from being able to use locker rooms if a business so chose, even if the trans people were behaving lawfully and changing behind closed doors — as trans people universally do, in an effort to avoid alarming people who might assault us, which people sometimes do.

PLEASE call your senator, and the general Senate contact line (603-271-3092) to tell them to pass HB 1319 in its current form.

This is what I sent to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Hello, Senator Carson.

I was at the recent hearing on HB 1319.

I was glad to hear you make the point that the Senate is a more deliberative body than the House. I’m hopeful that you will all take plenty of time to examine the actual evidence around this issue. It’s a topic which rewards study, and knowledge.

I hear that some members of the Senate are considering adding an exemption to the law which would permit businesses to exclude trans people from public accommodations. This would be a bad mistake, a mistake which will force the New Hampshire legislature to revisit this issue time and time again, until the mistake is rectified. North Carolina became infamous with their HB2. Alaska, known for conservatism, just voted down an attempt to add an exemption like the one New Hampshire’s Senate is contemplating. Massachusetts is fighting the issue out in a public referendum.

You can see recent activity detailed in this article:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/alaska-voters-latest-to-reject-an-anti-transgender-law

Let’s not have this kind of fight in New Hampshire.

Some people think this is simple: people should use the bathrooms which match their genitals, or their birth certificate. But, of course, no one ever sees your genitals or your birth certificate when you use the bathroom in a lawful manner. Instead, they see what your face looks like. A business or hospital which demands that people with female genitalia use the women’s room will put people like this man, who is trans, into the women’s room:

Buck Angel

Such policies would also put ME in the men’s room. This is what I look like (I am a woman who is trans):

[img]

Buck Angel doesn’t belong in the women’s room. I don’t belong in the men’s room.

Sometimes humor can illuminate an issue in a way that other approaches can’t, and by now, you could surely use some humor. Here are a couple of on-point cartoons:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/what-bathroom-do-8626764

http://leftycartoons.com/2017/01/10/special-treatment/

http://leftycartoons.com/2017/03/01/think-of-the-children/

I’m a retired law enforcement officer, and I consult professionally on this issue. I would be happy to meet with you in person, or with any group of senators. I would be happy to help you with research, to point you to resources, to shed light in any way I can. Please just let me know how I can be of assistance.

Thank you,

Grace Alden

Fun with WordPress Stats

WordPress has a tool for looking at various basic statistics on each blog. Every once in awhile I take a look at the stats for mine. One of my favorite bits is the one which shows how many people are checking in from each of various countries. Over the life of this blog, I’ve had visitors from all over the world. The top countries tend to be English-speaking, but Germany holds the #3 all-time spot, and Denmark is at #5. I have no idea why, but I love it. Also represented in the all-time list are Lithuania, Tanzania, and Belgium. Wonderful.

Welcome to my reader from Japan! I don’t know how long you’ve been reading, but I hope you stick around! I regret that my Japanese is too rudimentary to manage more than this: Youkoso.

Also in the list is Puerto Rico, which for some reason WordPress includes in a list of countries, even though it is not a country, and should in fact be a state (and almost certainly would be already, if its inhabitants were mostly white and spoke mostly English). Pues, a mis lectores en Puerto Rico, ¡bienvenidos a Uds., y espero que vuelvan a menudo y disfruten leyendo mi pequeño blog!

Public service announcement for the Trump administration and Trump supporters, and apparently WordPress: Puerto Ricans are Americans. If they were born in Puerto Rico, they are still Americans, because Puerto Rico is American soil. Aid to Puerto Rico is not foreign aid, and it’s shameful that a country which can project military might all over the globe has a president who offers “it’s hard to get to because it’s an island” as an excuse for woefully inadequate disaster relief.

Now I’m going to pore over the stats some more. Romania! Hm…

Grace

HB 1319 needs support in order to add trans and gender nonconforming people to New Hampshire’s Nondiscrimination law

How to contact your NH legislators.

On January 31, some friends and I drove down to Concord to join many, many other people in advocating in favor of HB 1319, which would add gender identity and gender expression to New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws. The House Judiciary Committee was taking up the question of whether to recommend the bill for consideration by the full house. There were far too many people to fit in the chamber, which appeared to be similar to the chamber they used last year. So they adjourned the committee and reconvened in the State House, where the House of Representatives meets to debate and vote. We did a pretty good job of packing that, too.

This year, no out-of-state professionals testified against. Testimony in favor completely overwhelmed testimony against. Notable among the speakers was Chief Anthony Colarusso of the Dover Police Department. He said that he had been an officer for 33 years, and Chief of Dover for the last 11. He said that the NH Chiefs of Police, as an organization, support the bill, as does he. He said that he kept hearing about how this bill might make women or children unsafe, because people who were not trans might pretend to be trans in order to gain access to women’s spaces. (Yes, that’s an argument the opposition actually makes.) He pointed out that this is an antidiscrimination bill, and that the idea that it would open the doors to cisgender predators is “a bogeyman”. He said, as best I could transcribe it, “When I was investigating sexual assault, I didn’t have to worry about trans people. I had to worry about neighbors and other people who volunteered in order to put themselves into the position to predate.” He had no fear that this bill will make his children or grandchild less safe. In fact, he said, it is the trans kids at school who bear the brunt, because they are bullied.

The paltry few members of the opposition made counterarguments to the bill which were largely laughable. Doug Rollins of Goffstown, for instance, suggested that trans people “seek professional help to overcome deep interior trauma” — apparently ignorant that people who are transitioning or have transitioning have all “sought professional help” … because a therapist’s letter is required to access appropriate medical care. You can’t transition without “seeking professional help”.

People like Doug Rollins should perhaps know their topic better before putting their ignorance on blast in front of the entire State House of New Hampshire.

The best moment of the hearing came when Joseph Mendola, of Warner, NH, said that he opposed the bill. He said that “children have enough stress. We don’t need to add the stress of having a student of the opposite sex entering the locker rooms and bathrooms.” He said that in his own school, there are two children who “lean toward this transgender situation” out of 1800. He said that we should not lose local control, on this issue, but should let it be done by local school boards. He said that his school board met last year, when HB 478 was under consideration in 2017, to discuss how they would handle it.

One of the committee members (I did not catch his name, but he had white hair and was balding), asked if his school district did an effective job of dealing with the 2 children out of the 1800, and if there was anything in the current bill which would make that harder.

Mendola replied, “We didn’t have to deal with it. The bill was tabled.”

Rep. Alscholler asked, “So you chose not to protect these children because it was not required by law?”

The gallery applauded.

And Mendola replied, “There was no reason for protection. The bill was tabled.”

Mendola beautifully illustrated why HB 1319 is needed. He could not have done a better job if he’d been in favor of it himself.

The hearing did not fit into the day, and was continued on February 13. Some friends and I drove down again.

Among the speakers on this occasion was Karen Young, the Chief Inclusion Officer at Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. She said, “We know that when trans & nonbinary people receive non-inclusive healthcare, they receive substandard care.” In a survey of their constituents, 18% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to, for fear of being harassed. She said that a consistent statewide standard is necessary to protect people whose health is negatively impacted by harassment.

Several other medical professionals spoke. They all spoke in favor. They testified that being trans is not a choice, and that trans people face literally overwhelming discrimination.

I had not planned to speak, but I decided to do so, and drafted my statement as others spoke. Here is what I said:

My name is Grace Alden. I have lived in Plainfield, NH for almost 20 years. My wife and I raised our children there.

I am a retired police officer. I retired after 21 years of service to the State of New Hampshire, most of it in Lebanon, NH. During my career I worked as a field training officer, a firearms instructor, a use-of-force instructor, a patrol supervisor, a traffic accident Reconstructionist, and a tactical operator. As far as I know, I am the only female trans officer to continue to serve as a tactical operator after I transitioned, while serving, in 2012.

When I [transitioned], my City Manager found it necessary to pay a lawyer to do the legal research to determine whether, in fact, the City of Lebanon had a sound legal footing in the event that some wanted to make an issue of my continued employment. That cost was ultimately borne by the taxpayers of Lebanon. They would not have had to pay for that legal research if HB 1319 had been law at the time. This is the concrete practical effect of having clarity in the law.

During my decades of service, I investigated thousands of complaints and made many hundreds of arrests. Not one of them involved a trans or gender nonconforming person behaving criminally or even inappropriately in a bathroom or locker room.

I did, however, hear slurs from members of the public because I was trans.

I did have coworkers avoid me as much as they could, which complicated the provision of police services to the people of Lebanon.

That situation was tremendously stressful to me. It was a significant part of my decision to retire.

The residents of Lebanon should not have had to lose a proven and experienced officer.

Trans and gender nonconforming people are not a threat to cis people. Those cis people who let themselves be governed by fear and ignorance, however, are demonstrably a threat to trans and gender nonconforming people. We need HB 1319 to become law.

Thank you for your time and attention.

With the testimony overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, and with most of the opposition appearing ignorant and sometimes unhinged, and often making the case accidentally for the supporters, I was cautiously optimistic.

On February 27, I learned that the House Judiciary Committee had just voted 10-to-8 that the bill “Ought to Pass”.

It was that close.

Now the bill is winding its way through the Senate, and is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I just called my Senator, Martha Hennessey, who is on that committee, and I asked her to recommend that the bill pass.

Please, contact your Senator.

How to contact your NH legislators.

Grace

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Shows How It’s Done

Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an address in the House of Commons to LGBTQ2 Canadians, in which he apologized for years of “state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection” of LGBTQ2 Canadians.

Apologies require careful attention, but if you are sincere, the mechanics of a good apology are straightforward. Here is a good guide to apologies. Here is another. Here is another.

(Note that neither of these contains the step of asking for forgiveness. If you’re hoping for something in return for an apology, you’re doing it wrong. I disagree vehemently with each and every one of those many articles which have “Ask For Forgiveness” as one of the actual steps in an apology. You apologize because you have wronged someone. If you apologize in order to secure a statement of forgiveness, it’s not an apology; it’s a transaction. If you simply must ask for forgiveness from someone you have wronged, at least have the decency to do it at a different time and place from the apology.)

PM Trudeau was specific, and reasonably comprehensive. He talked about European colonists forcing on the First Peoples their ideas of propriety and rigid gender roles. He pointed out that same sex couples could be arrested for having sex as recently as 1988. He pointed out that from the 1950s to the 1990s, the government investigated and persecuted suspected LGBTQ2 people in government because they were thought to be especially vulnerable to blackmail (a practice which, of course, only made that potential problem worse). He characterized it as “nothing less than a witch hunt”.

He did not specifically mention the removal of First People children from their families, and the placement of those children in government-run boarding schools, a placement which plucked those children who were two-spirit from a cultural context where they could have had a place, and put them among people who did not understand them and would abuse them and demonize them. He did, however, apologize for suppressing “two spirit indigenous values and beliefs”.

Also, he gave about half of his speech in French. In a country with a large French-speaking population which is nonetheless a nationwide minority, speaking to that minority in their own language was inclusive and affirming.

He apologized to those who were stripped of their ability to serve their country:

You were not bad soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, you were not predators, and you were not criminals. You served your country with integrity and courage. You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. For all your suffering, you deserve justice. You deserve peace. It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long. Many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words, and for that, we are truly sorry.

He thanked and praised those who spoke out and resisted when it was

…dangerous to do so. To those from all across the country, from all backgrounds and political stripes: we admire your courage, and we thank you.

He pointed out that there are still things to be done. He pointed out that there is much to do for intersex people. He pointed out that trans people didn’t have protection under Canadian human rights legislation until 2017. He pointed out legislation in progress, one of which is the Expungement of Unjust Convictions Act. Canadians previously convicted of consensual sexual activity will have their criminal records destroyed.

He vowed that Canada would never repeat them.

Never again will Canada’s government be the source of so much pain for members of the LGBTQ2 communities. We promise to consult and work with individuals and communities to right these wrongs and begin to rebuild trust. We will ensure that there are systems in place so that these kinds of hateful practices are a thing of the past. Discrimination and oppression of LGBTQ2 Canadians will not be tolerated anymore.

He expressed his hope for the future, that Canada could set an example to the world on how to treat LGBTQ2 people.

Canada will stand tall on the international stage as we proudly advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ2 communities around the world.

Finally, he addressed LGBTQ2 children:

To the kids who are listening at home, and who fear rejection because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity and expression, and to those who are nervous and scared, but also excited, about what their future might hold: we are all worthy of love and deserving of respect, and whether you discover your truth at six, at sixteen, or at sixty: Who you are is valid. To members of the LGBTQ2 communities, young and old, here in Canada and around the world: You are loved, and we support you.

Several of his statements received standing ovations.

Check it out:

Last year, I thought that my country was taking the first steps into this stage. That turned out to be untrue. But it gives me hope to see such civilization represented in my country’s closest neighbor.

Someday perhaps my country will value our LGBTQ2 children in the same way.

Grace

Open Enrollment for AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE Started Yesterday

In spite of the best efforts of the Republicans, the Affordable Care Act is still law. Which means that people who otherwise would have no access to healthcare for themselves and for their children, healthcare is available for 2018.

Since they weren’t able to get rid of affordable healthcare, they slashed it across the back of its knee and cut funding for public information efforts. That way, even though it’s available, people won’t know that it’s available.

Please spread the word to anyone who needs access to affordable care.

https://www.healthcare.gov/

Get the word out!

Grace

AG Jeff Sessions: We affirm the dignity of trans people… but we won’t protect them from those who don’t.

This is the short version:

President Obama’s administration: Trans lives matter. The law protects them.

President Trump’s administration: ALL lives matter! Oh, and the law doesn’t protect trans people. We affirm their dignity, mind you. We just won’t lift a finger to help them.

Me: Context matters! By itself, “all lives matter” is a neutral statement. In reaction to “trans lives matter”, “all lives matter” is bigotry. When you have a crisis in population, to decline to protect that population is not equitable treatment. To say “all lives matter” in response to “trans lives matter” or “black lives matter” is like sending the fire department to a street where there is a house on fire and carefully directing them to hose down every house equally.


This is the longer version:

The Justice Department, under President Obama’s US Attorney General Eric Holder, in 2014:

I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of … sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.


The Justice Department, under President Obama’s US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in 2016:

There is nothing radical or even particularly unusual about the notion that the word ‘sex’ includes the concept of gender. Transgender people are discriminated against because their gender identity does not match the sex that was assigned to them at birth. HB2 denies transgender people something that all non-transgender people enjoy and take for granted: access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity. That’s sex discrimination, plain and simple.

…and…

Some of you [trans people] have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.

…and…

Transgender men are men. They live, work, and study as men.
Transgender women are women. They live, work, and study as women.


The Justice Department, under President Trump’s US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, talking about the same law on October 05, 2017:

Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status. … Therefore, as of the date of this memorandum, which hereby withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum, the Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters…

…followed by this:

The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals.


So the government of my country has spoken. It’s okay to discriminate against trans people, as long as you tell us that you respect us while you do it.

I sure feel safe, now. I feel safe like a bleeding mackerel in a shark tank.

But that’s federal law, so people in blue states should be okay, right? Well, no; I live in New Hampshire, and last year the government of my state spoke, too.


I still think Judge James Robertson said it best in Diane Schroer v. James Billington, Librarian of Congress:

Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only ‘converts.’ That would be a clear case of discrimination ‘because of religion.’ No court would take seriously the notion that ‘converts’ are not covered by statute. Discrimination ‘because of religion’ easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion. But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faces discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman, courts have traditionally carved such persons out of the statute by concluding that ‘transsexuality’ is unprotected by Title VII. In other words, courts have allowed their focus on the label ‘transsexual’ to blind them to the statutory language itself.

None of this is theoretical. Civil rights decisions have an effect on how many children kill themselves.

This decision by our federal government will be a blow to vulnerable people, which surely includes our fellow citizens who are trans and gender non-conforming (GNC), and which surely includes trans and GNC kids.

If you know someone who is trans, please look out for them. If you know a child who is trans, or just GNC, if you know an apparent boy who is feminine, or an apparent girl who is masculine: please keep an eye on them. Tell them that a wise man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Tell them that this is temporary. Tell them that in the long run, bigotry loses. Tell them that we will keep fighting for their equality under the law.

Tell them that they have inherent worth and dignity, not just in the hypocritical mouthings of Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump, and not just in a courtroom (in those places where their peril is acknowledged in law), but in their actual persons, in their actual souls. Show them that you believe in their inherent worth and dignity by your daily deeds, not just by words you speak.

When they look into your human eyes, help them to see themselves reflected.

Grace

Evidence That Your Vote Counts: 509 Voters in New Hampshire Probably Saved the Affordable Care Act

A friend of mine has a son with hemophilia. The equation is stark: without routine treatment, her son dies. Monthly cost out-of-pocket would be about $12,000. You can hit a lifetime cap very fast, at that rate, and you’ll never get coverage after that without the current ban on refusing care to people with pre-existing conditions.

I have several pre-existing conditions, one of which is cancer. At the moment, my most costly medical cost is screening to see if it has come back. So far, so good. If my family lost healthcare, I’d have to wing it and hope for the best, and if it came back, we’d probably catch it too late. Unlike last time, when I had healthcare. My other healthcare costs are minimal.

For now. That could change, of course, with one careless driver. I recall one accident I investigated where a driver crossed the center line (probably because she dozed off) and took another car head-on. She was fine. The other driver, a man, had two broken hips, among other traumas, and was screaming such that another officer who showed up shortly after I did thought that it was a woman whom the EMTs were extricating.

That man could be any of us. That could be in your future.

But that’s hypothetical. My friend’s child is anything but hypothetical. He exists.

I met him when his mom took him roller skating. He seemed like a nice kid. But, of course, that’s neither here nor there; he is a human being with inherent worth and dignity, and he is too young to look out for himself, and he has a medical condition which, treated appropriately, will enable him to live as long as any of us can reasonably hope for.

The prospective repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems beyond heartless, in that context. It seems like purposeful evil.

It’s not, of course. It’s commonplace, banal indifference coupled to a desire to lower taxes on those best able to pay taxes.

Well, Mitch McConnell sure was persistent, but in the end, the Republicans didn’t have the votes to repeal the ACA. One big reason was that the Republican majority in the Senate is so slim. One fewer Democrat and one more typical Republican, and that would have been a net of two more votes in favor of repeal.

In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan beat Republican Kelly Ayotte by 1017 votes.

I have nothing against Kelly Ayotte. In fact, I have a personal connection which disposes me to think well of her, and on a personal level, I do. She was New Hampshire’s Attorney General during my law enforcement career. My friend and colleague Bruce McKay started his career just a month or so after I did, in the same department, and years later was killed in the line of duty. When we marched to honor him on a foggy day in the north country, Kelly Ayotte was among those who spoke, and I’ve never forgotten it.

But I didn’t vote for her. She is a Republican, and while Republicans have gotten my vote in the past, and may someday get my vote in the future, no Republican got my vote in 2016. Because I thought it was pretty clear what kinds of policies they would enact, and because they had decided to support Donald Trump for president. People who want power badly enough to line up behind a person like Trump don’t get my vote.

So I voted for Maggie Hassan.

Senatorial elections are statewide. There’s no such thing as the Electoral College, or a “winner-takes-all” county. It’s a simple head-count. Here’s how it turned out:

Maggie Hassan: 354,649 votes
Kelly Ayotte: 353,632 votes

1017 votes apart. If 509 voters who voted for Hassan had voted for Ayotte instead, Kelly Ayotte would have been a US Senator yesterday, when they tallied the vote on the ACA.

That’s smaller than the number of people at a high school football game. If you have a good set of lungs, you can reach that many people with a shout, downtown in a city. That’s a hair’s breadth. That’s 0.1436% of the vote. Less than a fifth of one percent.

So, to all who are looking at a foreseeable future of having healthcare, you’re welcome. It was my privilege.

Because I’m more than a citizen: I am a voter, so my vote counts.

And so does yours.

If you vote.

Grace

Trump About to Sign on Legalizing TLBG discrimination

Maybe Donald Trump wouldn’t hurt a fly. But he sure has a knack for selecting people who will do it for him, and then backing them.

Vice President Mike Pence came to national prominence when he was governor of Indiana, and signed a “RFRA” bill into law. “RFRA” stands for Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Indiana’s bill was more sweeping than the prior federal legislation or legislation in many other states because it permitted people to argue RFRA protections in civil suits, where the government was not a party.

Religious freedom sounds nifty, right? Until your doctor says that he will not prescribe birth control for you, because he can’t, in good conscience, do that. Or until you and your same-sex spouse need a room for the night and a bed-and-breakfast owner refuses you a room because your relationship is “detestable” and “defiles [their] land”.

One of this nation’s founding ideals is that no single religion should have primacy. That is, freedom OF religion also includes freedom FROM religion. And never mind whether you think children should be required to pray in schools, or should utter the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — when it comes to basic public services, like obtaining medical care or a place to put your head for the night, it’s hard to see why one person’s else’s religious convictions, however sincere, should control another person’s access to these basic services.

In 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, which protected civilian federal workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2017, Trump rescinded it.

Now Trump is going to advance Pence’s agenda, and remove more protections which enable TLBG people to participate in our society as equal citizens.

Here’s how you can make your voice heard:

How to contact your Federal government.

Grace

Edited to add resource links:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/trump-pence-religious-liberty-executive-order/

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/02/donald-trump-religious-liberty-executive-order-237888

https://www.salon.com/2017/05/04/trumps-religious-liberty-executive-order-is-meant-to-legalize-anti-lgbt-discrimination-and-may-be-unconstitutional/