`My heart breaks over their deception.’ On Christian conservative opposition to transgender rights

(Demonstrators opposing SB 6 gather in the Rotunda at the Texas Capitol Extension for a press conference following the first public hearing on the bill on March 7, 2017. Tamir Kalifa/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

 

Good day Austin:

In his 2015 inaugural address as lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick famously proclaimed: “I stand here with a servant’s heart, respectful of all faiths, but as a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third.”

I think that for Patrick, Senate Bill 6, the bathroom bill, is about keeping faith with that order of allegiance and with Christian conservative Texans for whom transgender rights is a bridge – really a few bridges – too far.

On Monday, Patrick met with pastors to brief them on the bill. He told them:

Pray for all your legislators to be bold and courageous, do the right thing, pray for their protection and then go out and win this fight for America because America is watching Texas. The world depends on a strong America and America depends on a strong Texas and a strong Texas depends on a church and our synagogues. That’s what it stands for — Texas values. That’s who we are.

Just before 5 this morning, nearly a full day since the hearing opened bright and early Tuesday morning, the Senate State Affairs Committee, approved SB 6, despite overwhelming testimony against it.

From Chuck Lindell in the Statesman:

A Texas Senate committee approved the transgender bathroom bill at 4:50 a.m. Wednesday, almost 21 hours after the start of a public hearing that drew hundreds, most of them in opposition.

The 8-1 vote by the State Affairs Committee — with only Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, opposed — sent Senate Bill 6 to the full Senate, where a vote is likely to be taken next week.

During the hearing, 253 witnesses spoke against SB 6 – many of them transgender Texans or parents of a transgender child — while 29 urged the committee to support the measure, according to a count by the American-Statesman.

From Chuck:

SB 6 would prohibit transgender-friendly bathroom, locker room and changing room policies in public schools, universities and in government buildings. It also would overturn city and county requirements for transgender bathrooms and prohibit cities and counties from withholding contracts based on a company’s bathroom policy.

Violators who allow people to use the bathroom of their gender identity, not the sex listed on their birth certificate, could be fined $1,000 to $1,500 for the first offense, rising to $10,000 to $10,500 for subsequent violations.

Patrick and other supporters of SB 6 insist it is not so much about fear of transgender people, as it is fear of male perverts and molesters who would use the cover of a transgender identity – and rights bestowed on that identity – to enter women’s restrooms and prey on the girls and women therein.

Among the early, invited witnesses was Tony Perkins, a crusader for conservative Christian values as head of the Family Research Council. (It was Tony who wrote the line that Trump famously misdelivered as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.)

From Perkins’ testimony:

This bill responds to a potential threat not just from the federal government, but from local governments and school districts within Texas that might choose to adopt ‘non-discrimination’ laws or policies that elevate ‘gender identity’ over biological sex and thereby threatening the security and privacy of Texans.

xxxxxx”

Let me emphasize that the threat does not primarily come from persons who identify as transgender. Rather, it comes from those who might exploit the situation by posing as transgender to gain easier access to  women’s bathrooms or changing facilities, where they can engage in voyeurism, indecent exposure, or even sexual assault.

But, while proponents of SB 6 have certainly sounded the alarm about the peril to innocent girls and women, I think that ultimately what is at issue is the threat that people who identify as transgender – and their claims to legitimacy and to rights that need to be respected – poses to that particular Christian conservative sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral.

I only watched about 7 hours of yesterday’s testimony, from about 6 p.m. to about 1 a.m.

It was riveting, and, in many ways a replay of the hearing at the beginning of February on SB 4, to ban sanctuary cities.

From Chuck, scarcely more than a month ago:

According to the Senate State Affairs Committee, 264 people spoke against a bill to prohibit “sanctuary” city and county policies during a 16-hour public hearing that lasted until after midnight Friday. In the end, the panel voted 7-2 along party lines to approve Senate Bill 4.

In both cases, members of a vulnerable minority poured their hearts and souls out for most of a day against legislation that they literally said would ruin their lives and/or the lives of people they know, a handful of people spoke up in support of the legislation, and the Senate committee voted to enact the legislation that, for all the opposition in the chamber, polls indicate is very popular with the broader public.

One after another, transgender people – looking like the gender they identify with – and their families, offered dramatic often anguished testimony about their journey to assuming the gender that they believe they were born to be, regardless of their genitalia at birth, the peace they found when they were able to live that identity, and how SB 6 threatens to disrupt and undo all that.

It would seem hard for anyone watching to discard the genuineness of their pleas.

Also, if the concern is bad men pretending to be transgender women as a way into restrooms where they can molest girls and women, it would seem that SB 6 would have the perversely unintended consequence of making it easier for any such pretenders to make their way into ladies’ restrooms under cover of being a transgender female who must follow the dictates of SB 6 and use the restroom that conforms to the gender on their birth certificate, regardless of what they look like now.

If nothing else, anyone watching yesterday’s hearing saw a seemingly endless parade of transgender men who appeared in every way as men – from their attire to, as one noted, “my facial hair and male pattern baldness” – who would, unless they had gone through the arduous and expensive process of having their birth certificate changed as to their gender, be obliged, under penalty of fine, to use the women’s/girls’ room, a requirement that, if observed, would, it would seem, over time, inure Texas women and girls to seeing people who looked like men in their bathrooms because, they would come to assume, those were actually women who think they are men.

I think it was Leo Lytle, a pastor from East Texas, who, some time after 11 p.m. last night,  cut to the chase, in expressing his support for SB 6.

(Leo Lytle in the maroon shirt.)

Leo Lytle:

I live in peaceful Pine Valley, Texas, in Angelina County

My wife, Valerie and I are proud parents of eight children and ten grandchildren.

(I am surprised) that we even need to consider a bill such as SB 6 to provide for the safety and protection of our children. Just plain common sense says that biological males should use the boys’ rest room  and not have access to the girls’ restrooms and  dressing rooms, and allowing boys to use the girls’ restrooms and dressing rooms is foolish with a capital F and flies in the face of common sense and decency.

Convicted sexual predators are hoping that this bill fails and other public places (put up signs that) “all are   welcome here.”  Can you tell me that that won’t cause hurt to our school children? We cannot open this door of opportunity to  those who might choose to prey upon our children. Have we lost our sense of decency in our state? 

(There are) those who have been involved in the effort to systemically deconstruct our culture. Have we systematically deconstructed our culture?

We have heard from many of them here tonight who are attempting to move the boundary of moral decency again and they must  be stopped. I repeat it, Madame Chairwoman, don’t buy this false bill of goods.

It is not about discrimination. It is most certainly not. It is about safety. It’s about decency. It’s about just plain old common sense. I urge you on behalf of my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my church, my community, the great state of Texas, to pass this bill.

State Sen. Bryan Hughes, a fellow East Texan, asked Lytle a question.

A lot of folks have talked about their faith and we don’t question anybody else’s faith. It’s a personal matter. Tell us from your viewpoint. We have heard a lot of talk about the Lord Jesus and Scripture’s been quoted. We know the Bible says He was full of grace and truth and we’re encouraged to speak the truth in love.

Pastor speak to that.

Lytle:

Absolutely.  We have a society full of people –  we have certainly heard from the transgender people here tonight. They have been out in force.

But, when it comes to my faith and what I believe the Scripture says, Jesus said, in the beginning – he quoted the Old Testament – in the beginning they were created male and female. It’s always been that way.

We’ve changed the boundaries though in our country. It started with marriage itself. It’s always been between a man and a woman until recent years. And of course our government, in the last few years has codified that into law, I guess you’d say.

It’s just a mater of time before that changes. I think we’re all aware of that. How many wives can a person have? How many husbands can a person have? It (marriage between one man and one woman) has served us well for all these years and I know that our Lord loves all of us and not all of us are right. I’m aware of that.

I learned a long time ago, it’s not about me, it’s all about Jesus and how he looks at it , and I have to line up my viewpoint with his and it’s not about lining up his viewpoint with mine.

 

 

Among the handful of other people who testified for SB 6 was Cindy Asmussen of Austin

Asmussen is the ethics and religious liberty advisor at the Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and legislative director at Concerned Women for America of Texas.

 

I met Cindy and her husband at a Concerned Women for America event in 2013 when I first arrived in Texas, and they were very warm and welcoming.

As Asmussen posted on her Facebook page yesterday.

So I waited almost 12 hours to testify on the Texas Privacy Act and who do I get on the same panel with? The Texas Association of Business. Senators Hancock and Bettencourt did an awesome job shredding to pieces every bogus and false claim they made regarding Texas business. It may end up being the most explosive panel of the entire hearing.

But, in an earlier post, Asmussen indicated this is really not about business or about about dollars and cents at all.

From Asmussen:

Words cannot explain what we saw today at the Capitol. There were hundreds of protestors – many whom were men dressed as women and parents bringing young children they were helping to transition to another sex. Then listening to the complete confusion from SO MANY lost people who testified. My heart breaks over their deception. I physically felt sick at the awful spirit in the hearing room. This is complete deception in which these people need God’s delivering power.

Her post drew these comments:

Heather Self Stoner I have been listening to this since early morning…I feel like I need to turn on worship music (Brooklyn Tabernacle, Hezikiah Walker, Kirk Franklin type of stuff!) and turn it up REAL load to blast all of what I have heard out of my head!!…Except that I am tired and need to go to bed 🙂 I have been praying for your protection of all the darkness around you.

Cindy Asmussen Thank you Heather! You are SO right! We need to bathe ourselves in worship to lift some of this off. Those senators are going to desperately need that too.

Heather Self Stoner I just said to someone earlier tonight that I have a much more realistic view of what they have to deal with and that we need to step up the prayers for God to guard their minds and spirits. Thanks for all you do.

Cindy Asmussen Yes! That’s right on. And thank you for what you do too!

Greg Young Having just returned from D.C. and CPAC I too was in Austin the last two days for briefings and to watch how people behaved and to sense the spirit of darkness in Austin it was so thick with evil it was worse than D.C.

Cindy Asmussen Ugh, we’ve surpassed the evil in DC! Not good at all.

Janet Boynes Cindy Asmussen Let me know if we can help.

Kari Matthews It’s evil

Brad Childs I can’t imagine….

Karen Andrews My heart would have ached being there – I am studying 2 Corinthians right now and feeling like it’s Austin

Kori Peterson Oh Cindy. I’m so sorry. We are praying here and begging others to pray also and to speak out. Thank you for the incredible sacrifice you are making to secure the blessings of liberty to us all. Love you, precious and beautiful sister.

Michael Asmussen We will not allow them to destroy our country.

And then, from this morning, on Facebook.

Cindy Asmussen:

 Praise God for a new day. Starting it with worship on my way back downtown. Trying to get out of my head the words transgender, cigender, “don’t call me a he or she pronoun”, agender, bigender, and the list goes on. … This was the actual vocabulary of the protestors that testified and they used them non-stop yesterday for HOURS. Please PRAY for our Texas Legislature. They need it more than ever before.

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