On February 12th at the National Assembly in Paris, the French Parliament voted on a bill passed by president Emmanuel Macron (REM party). The bill banishes the words “mother” and “father” from official paperwork in the education system to tackle discrimination against same-sex parents. A child’s document will refer to parent 1 and parent 2 instead of the traditional format. President of the AFDH, the French association for same sex parents (D) Alexandre Urwicz questions “who is ‘parent 1’ and who is ‘parent 2’?” He also says it could create a hierarchy among parents.
The passing of the bill has angered many conservatives and Christians as reported by RT, who argue that the bill sends out a signal of the country lacking morals. The bill currently does not have the support of some liberals and the education Minister, Jean Michel Blanquer. Conservative, Mp Xavier Breton said ”When I hear people say this is an old fashioned model, I would remind people that today among unions celebrated, civil or marital, some 95% are man-woman couples”. Also Conservative, Fabien Di Filippo denounced the move and said it was a “frightening ideology”.
This is not an occurrence only happening in Europe but also around the world and rapidly in America. On February 14th 2019, Democratic Reps Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin ( MI-09) introduced the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Bill that would remove gendered language. According to them the bill would greatly affirm the dignity of the LGBTQ married couples. This new Bill according to those in favor ‘is to advance America’s stance towards equal protection and inclusion under the law. Congresswoman Judy Chu says “Tax filing is often difficult enough already without also making LGBTQ families feel prejudiced against”. “This is a simple common sense fix that acknowledges LGBTQ couples as equals. The Supreme Court has recognized that love is love, no matter your gender identity. It’s time our tax code does the same.” says Chu.
The Assembly Concurrent Resolution 260 (ACR 260) was won in a bipartisan vote of 7-0 and was authored by Assembly member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), who is also Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. The ACR 260 was also co-authored by all of the members of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. Assembly member Evan Low also stated “California is home to the largest LGBTQ population in the country, many of whom identify as non-binary,”. “By using gender-neutral pronouns in legislation and policies moving forward, the State of California celebrates its non-binary community.” The ACR 260 pressures the state to be more inclusive for transgender, gender neutral and non-binary individuals by adopting the use of gender-neutral pronouns. This also includes the removal of California’s legal and traditional gendered language pronouns “he” and “she.” Since many citizens do not identify with binary gender definitions they find themselves feeling removed from the concept of gender entirely.
Canada has participated in this same movement when in June of 2017 they passed the C-16 Bill. It was also added to a section of the Criminal Code that targets hate speech — defined as advocating genocide and the public incitement of hatred — where it joins other identifiable groups. The bill enshrines the rights of transgender Canadians by including them under human rights and hate-crime laws. Critics voiced concerns that the law will penalize citizens who do not use specific pronouns when referring to gender diverse people. Brenda Cossman, law professor at the University of Toronto and director of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, stated “The misuse of gender pronouns, without more, cannot rise to the level of a crime,”. “It cannot rise to the level of advocating genocide, inciting hatred, hate speech or hate crimes … (it) simply cannot meet the threshold.”
In an article from the New York Times, they stated that Employers and landlords who intentionally and consistently ignore using pronouns such as “ze/hir” to refer to transgender workers and tenants who request them — may be subject to fines as high as $250,000. This has much to do with the passing of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act in New York. The Commission on Human Rights’ legal guidelines mandate that anyone who is providing jobs or housing must use the individuals’ preferred gender pronouns. As the regulations which have now been updated, point out that some transgender individuals prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers.
October 2017th, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation against health care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use a senior transgender patient’s ‘preferred name or pronouns’. Those who refuse to change their vocabulary and use the pronouns preferred by these individuals could face punishments ranging from a fine to jail time under a newly signed law. Harvard and Duke Graduate, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, has argued adamantly that nobody is going to be criminally prosecuted for using the wrong pronoun. Sen. Scott says “It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections,”. Yet the Legislation has been passed, in other words as a “scare tactic” as said by Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener. One opponent of the law, the California Family Council’s Greg Burt said to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in August “How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?”, according to CBN News.
Not only are pronouns under attack but so are businesses who refuse to comply with the demands of the LGBTQ community. As many may remember, Jack Phillips the Christian man who refused to bake a cake for a Gay Couple also returned to sue the state in August 2018 for their attempts at forcing him to bake a Gender transition cake. Jack, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver claimed that Colorado officials are on a “crusade to crush” him because of his religious beliefs according to a federal lawsuit filed. Jack Phillips won his case, when he wouldn’t bake a cake for a same sex marriage v. the State of Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Does it end at small businesses? No, also Chik-Fil-A has had its quarrels with the LGBTQ community in the past. When the Christian Fast Food Giant decided that within the next 5 years they’ll open 15 stores in Toronto, LGBT+ rights advocates said they planned to boycott the chain. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also came under fire on Twitter after revealing he ate at Chik-Fil-A during LGBTQ+ pride month. In 2012, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy had a huge backlash after Cathy told the Baptist Press the company was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.” “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said. The companies controversial Christian stance on marriage has became the forefront reasons as to why the LGBTQ community advocates are against the chain. The outcome of the controversy was neither win or loss, as Chick-fil-A’s sales rose up by 12%, to $4.6 billion. Regardless, Chick-fil-A released a statement in July 2012 on their Facebook Page stating, “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena”. Not all in the LGBTQ community engaged in the bashing of The Chains Religious beliefs.
Who decides that sexual preference or gender identity is more important than religious rights and the freedom of speech? Not only is speech and businesses being legally affected by LGBTQ’s fight for equality but the Church and Education System as well. In December of 2018 The city of Austin, Texas defended the lack of a religious exemption for churches in its new LGBT anti-discrimination law. This was in response to a lawsuit by the church, arguing that the law “reflects our values and culture.” This law would ultimately force churches to hire homosexual and transgender employees, if not then face fines or jail time. “Nondiscrimination is a core value in Austin and we need to defend it,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN-TV. President Dave Welch of the US Pastor Council Chapter warned that if the ordinance is enforced, it will be just a matter of time before protections of the First Amendment collapse in the US. He told the Christian Action Network “it’s time for churches across the country to stand and fight”. Welch noted that ‘Christians can’t wait and watch on this issue, because this puts the church at large at a disadvantage’… “In the past, we have too often waited and watched from the sidelines, silent,” Welch told CAN. “We decided that – that is not possible anymore, that’s not acceptable.”
December of 2018th in WEST POINT, Va. — A Virginia high school teacher refused to use a transgender student’s new pronouns and was fired from his job. Over the summer, the ninth-grade student’s family informed the school system of the student’s gender transition to male. They did not imply that the 47-year-old West Point High School French teacher deliberately referred to the student as a female in the student’s presence, but in conversations with others. Witnesses described that the teacher had a “slip-up” when the student was about to run into a wall and Vlaming told others to stop “her.” When confronted about the incident by administrators, Vlaming made it clear he would not use male pronouns for the student, a stance that led to his suspension referral and disciplinary action. The West Point School Board voted unanimously to dismiss Peter Vlaming after a four-hour hearing. The student was not involved in the hearing. The school reported in a statement saying that Vlaming was fired due to insubordination. “I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said West Point High Principal Jonathan Hochman, who testified about letting Vlaming know he had to use male pronouns in accordance with the student’s wishes.
Regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference+ don’t we all fall under basic human rights as human beings? The thought of some how giving certain groups of people ‘human rights’ that we all don’t share doesn’t sound like human rights at all, is it? At what point does self identification stop being, self identification and becomes an ideology that is forced on everyone regardless of how they may feel? Persecution, bullying, or injustice against anyone for any reason is wrong but there’s a fine line between letting someone live their life and forcing everyone to agree with their life. The Question everyone should ask themselves is it really a crime or legally acceptable to fine a person, to jail a person for the misuse of pronouns or their held beliefs. Is the Government going to far in creating an inclusive world for the LGBTQ community that it’s forgotten we all don’t live the same way but should be able to coexist? Is the LGBT community above all other groups including religious groups? Can Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake because of his beliefs now fine the Gay couple $250,000 for attacking his faith or does it only apply to the LGBT community members? It seems like the LGBTQ community is favored and protected by Laws and Rights that the majority of us as citizens are not granted. When this reaches your door step, your church, your class room and it imposes itself into your life is that really letting ‘YOU’ live your life? Ironically Tolerance and letting people live their life is what LGBT advocates for until it doesn’t agree with LGBT.
written by Jazmin Minier