March 4, 2008 State House public hearing on transgender bill a complete sham and disgrace.
An insult to all Massachusetts citizens.
During the hearing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Creedon was taking cues from Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus lobbyist Bill Conley (above) regarding which panels to call up.
NOTE: Running a public hearing at the State House is not rocket science. There are hundreds of them each year. The steps are: (1) publish a list of the bills to be taken up, giving the public reasonable notice; (2) starting about an hour before the hearing, have a staff member at the hearing room entrance provide signup sheets for each bill, for citizens (or small groups called “panels”) to sign up to testify; (3) during the hearing take up the bills in numerical order, giving each person 3 minutes (or panels 3 minutes per person) in the order they signed the list. It’s really pretty simple.
But this hearing was entirely different than any we’ve ever seen in 15 years of doing this. It was haphazard, undemocratic, badly run, and clearly dominated by the homosexual lobby through collusion by the legislators in charge. In other words, a sham.
This was clearly run for the benefit of legislators and special interests, not the public. It was burdensome and onerous, and many people eventually just gave up and went home. There is no excuse for what took place.
Here's what happened that day :
- It was impossible for the public to determine exactly which bills were scheduled for that day. The three official places that list the bills -- the State House Web site, the State House Docket office, and the list handed out by the staff at the hearing – were all different, causing great confusion. This is the fault of the Committee.
For example, the two bills filed by MassResistance, S926 and S928, mysteriously disappeared from the docket office list.
- There were too many bills for one hearing, and bills with vastly different constituencies, making things more crowded and unwieldy than it should have been. One of the "official" lists had about 60 bills. Moveover, one bill, H1722, was the object of a very well-organized lobbying effort and the major focus that day.)
- The signup for testifying was being done by members of the Transgender Coalition – NOT the Judiciary Committee staff! Outside of both doors of the hearing room, the "transgender" activists were there with clipboards passing out sign-in sheets, collecting them, and (supposedly) giving them to the Chairman, and no committee staff. We found some committee staff and asked them about this, but they just shrugged their shoulders.
- The sign-in sheets were also very unusual – instead of one sheet per bill, it was one sheet per person. We've never seen anything like that before. The person was to write down the bills he wanted to testify about and mark down whether he supports or opposes them. It turns out that this was to enable the Chairman to figure out who the “pro-family” people were, so he could have them testify last.
- The testimony was not organized by bills. The Chairman simply picked people (or panels) to testify at his whim. Interestingly, early on Senate Chairman Robert Creedon announced that the testimony would be by bills, and that a staffer would go out into the hallway and call the current bill number so people wouldn’t have to sit in the hearing room. Then he proceeded to do exactly the opposite.
Judiciary Committee Senate Chairman Robert Creedon (left) and House Chairman Eugene O'Flaherty listen to testimony as the night wears on.
- It became clear during the hearing that there was collusion between the legislators and the special interests. House Chairman Eugene O’Flaherty would leave his seat to converse with Carl Sciortino, sponsor of H1722 and Angus McQuilkin, executive director of Planned Parenthood. Senate Chairman Robert Creedon was very publicly taking direction from Mass. Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus lobbyist Bill Conley regarding which panels to bring up next.
- There were no time limits. Each person was allowed to speak as long as he wished. Some spoke as long as half an hour. There are always time limits, usually 3 minutes. We’ve never seen this before. It was obviously so the homosexual activists could dominate the hearing. And it made the hearing last many times longer than normally would have.
- Most shameful and disgusting – the Chairman made pro-family citizens wait until 10:25 pm to testify while everyone else went first. (The hearing had started at 1:00, and many people got there an hour before that to sign up.) Of course, most of the pro-family people couldn’t be in the State House that long. They had to go home. So they couldn’t testify. Only a few actually waited that long. This didn’t bother the Committee at all; they clearly had no interest in what we had to say.
(Actually, a few did get to sneak in early. In the late afternoon two pro-family panels persuaded the Chairman to let them testify, and one woman who was seven month pregnant was allowed to testify around 6:30 pm – having waited since about noon.)
An undemocratic disgrace
This was a complete sham of a “public hearing.” It was very clear to everyone that the Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature had no interest at all in what “the public” had to say. It was all about providing the homosexual lobby a showcase to push their latest destructive agenda.
Conflict of interest? Transgender activist -- NOT Judicial Committee staff -- signs in people to testify at hearing for transgender bill #1722. Committee staff had no explanation for why this happened.