Kudos to The City Paper and reporter Jeff Woods for reporting that the Tennessee legislature has moved to “quickly nullify” the Metro Council's newly adopted nondiscrimination ordinance. To the best of my knowledge, this has not been reported significantly — if at all — by other Nashville media. So I’m glad we have reporters like Woods to keep us informed — and, hopefully, properly outraged.
As Woods pointed out in his article that ran April 6, “Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance was adopted less than 24 hours ago, and already the state legislature is taking steps to nullify it.” According to Woods, this decision was made “without debate” by the House Commerce Subcommittee, which voted “to bar all Tennessee cities from enacting their own policies against gay, lesbian and/or transgender discrimination. The action was taken by voice vote, with no lawmaker offering audible opposition.”
Then Woods wrote an April 7 follow-up article in which he notes House Speaker Beth Harwell favors the nullification effort.
It seems the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a conservative Christian organization, has been putting “heavy pressure” on lawmakers by using scare tactics such as a video that suggests that not discriminating against gays would enable male child molesters to follow children into women’s restrooms. But how many children enter workplace restrooms? How many young children enter workplace restrooms without their parents accompanying them? Is there any evidence that there is a higher rate of pedophilia among GLBTs than among heterosexuals? If not, why use scare tactics to make a minimal danger seem so ominous?
Not discriminating against GLBTs does raise interesting questions about restrooms. But let’s be honest. I’m 53 and have probably shared many bathrooms with many gay men. Even though I’m not considered repulsive, I have never been conspicuously ogled while “doing my business,” much less molested or raped. So I have to believe that most gay men don’t have plans to “take advantage of me” if we end up sharing the same bathroom.
And of course heterosexual and GLBT athletes have been sharing locker rooms, showers and urinal areas for decades. We all share the same beaches and swimming pools, where we walk around nearly naked and no one worries about whom might be attracted to whom, as long as everyone acts with a reasonable degree of decorum.
Heterosexual men could dress up as women, enter women’s restrooms, and do shameful things. But we don’t discriminate against every male heterosexual because a few are creepy perverts. So there is no reason to discriminate against the many fine, upstanding citizens among our GLBT brothers and sisters, just because a few might be “bad apples.”
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.