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Last week's Mass. Transgender Bill Hearing: Insulting affront to citizens

With full-court press by trans 'civil rights' crowd

POSTED: June 16, 2011

[NOTE: Full report coming soon with photos & video.]

The public hearing on the Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes Bill (H502) took place at the State House this past Wednesday, June 8.

It was a thoroughly insulting and obnoxious day at the State House -- a classic example of bad government at work. The Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee appeared to be doing everything it could to keep individuals from testifying. And in fact many (if not most) regular people who came to testify eventually gave up and went home. The hearing started at 1 pm. It was still dragging on at 9 pm (when most of the individuals who were not part of a panel but just by themselves, finally got called to testify).

Gardner Auditorium as the Transgender Bill hearing
began just after 1:00 pm.  [MassResistance photo]

Although the Transgender Bill was the overwhelming reason people came (and the reason the hearing was moved to Gardner Auditorium from the regular hearing rooms) there were also 34 other bills heard that day. Some of them were completely unrelated, but others were also very important. This is scaled back from the insane situation at the Transgender Bill hearing last session, in 2009, when the Committee crammed over 200 other bills into same hearing. But still, the Committee organized this in the worst possible way.

How bad was it?

Although many, many of people came, it could have been handled properly. This committee has many years experience doing big hearings. But it certainly appeared that it was purposefully organized badly.  At the hearing:

  • There were no time limits (until the end). When the hearing started, Senate Chairman Cynthia Creem announced there would be a strict 3-minute rule on all testimony. Then she proceeded to completely ignore that. All day, everyone spoke for as long as they pleased. The result was a long day with relatively few people testifying. (The GLAD lesbian-activist lawyer went on for about a half hour, with questions from the panel.) Then about 8 pm - when "panels" of people (mostly liberals) had finished and individuals (mostly pro-family) started to be called up - Creem announced a 2-minute rule, which she enforced scrupulously, often interrupting people in mid-sentence.
  • There was no perceptible order. Customarily at pubic hearings, testimony is grouped by bill number. They go through a list of bills in order, and call the people for each bill. That way, at least you can plan when you might be called up. This time, it seemed completely random. The order people were called to testify had no relation to the bill they were testifying on. Everyone had to sit there for the whole session.
  • "Important people" were always taken before citizens. Generally, the order you testify has some relation to when you came and signed the list, at least during a particular bill's hearing, although committees do have an annoying custom of letting public officials jump to the head of the line. But this time, during the entire hearing people were called on the basis of how "important" the Committee chairman perceived them to be, without any apparent relationship to what bill they were talking about or when they signed in. Thus, Attorney General Martha Coakley was called up first (and spoke for a long time) followed by a blizzard of state reps, senators, and other public officials, followed by wave after wave of panels of "experts" and panels of respected (i.e., left-wing) activists, union officials, teachers, etc. There were some pro-family panels mixed in there also. But the average person (or conservative activist) had to wait till the end. It was outrageous.

Two leaders.  Man on left, in women's clothes, is leader of Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender Youth (BAGLY).  Woman on right in men's suit with beard is head of Mass. Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC).  Both were considered "important" enough to testify near the beginning of the hearing. [MassResistance photo]

A spirited fight from our side

Numerically, our side was completely overwhelmed. The homosexual and transgender lobbies were well organized and brought in panel after well-rehearsed panel of every possible "expert" and activist possible, along with legislators, officials, and others.

Nevertheless, our side had some great moments, with a lot of powerful testimony. (We'll be reporting more on that.) And not only the transgender bill: Reps. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) and Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) spoke stunningly in favor of the bill to repeal the Buffer Zone around abortion clinics. There's no question that the Committee got a full range of info and passion from our side, despite their apparent efforts to subvert testimony.

And a down side

But there were two big holes. Our side had virtually no church presence. Only one pro-family pastor came, and he spoke more on procedural issues. There were more left-wing clergy there, and they spoke more from a religious standpoint.

But also, there was a disturbing tendency in "pro-family" testimony to want to appear "compassionate," and concede that transgender anti-discrimination laws are legitimate as long as the "bathroom" aspect was properly dealt with. They don't get it. Transgender anti-discrimination laws, as this bill clearly shows, are their way of brutally pushing that behavior throughout society -- not just bathrooms -- under force of law.

The transgender movement is very serious about getting this one passed this year. We have a lot of work to do. For more information on how to express your opposition to the Committee and your legislators, see our flyer.