Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) activists are mortified about Houston where voters by a landslide margin rejected a nondiscrimination ordinance.
Some 61 percent of voters in Houston - this country's fourth largest city - rejected the all-encompassing ordinance on Nov. 3. The ordinance essentially would have added gender identity to other protected classes when it comes to employment, housing, and public spaces. Reasonable and rational people shouldn't have a problem doing that for transgender people when it comes to employment and housing. But the inclusion of public spaces that covers public restrooms and locker rooms whether at a school or a health club is a deal breaker when it is lumped with employment and housing protections as it gives many reasonable people pause.
Opponents of the measure zeroed in on that and dubbed it the "bathroom ordinance."
That strategy resonated with voters for obvious reasons. And while some claimed fears were fanned by saying male sexual predators would invade women's restrooms to tip the scales, the reality is that it was a wakeup call for countless people who otherwise would have supported the measure. It would - if put in place - subject people to having to take care of body functions in public restrooms or be naked in locker rooms with others that are biologically of the opposite sex.
What else did LGBT activists expect?
Gays and lesbians have been around since the dawn of civilization. Discrimination and mistreatment of people just because they are gay or lesbian is never right nor should it ever be defended. The same goes when it comes to ethnicity, religion, culture, skin tone, gender (transgender included), or nation or origin.
However, since humans started living in organized groups, reliving oneself in mixed company - especially as one approaches puberty and beyond - has never been embraced universally.
Our bathroom patterns and separation of the sexes - it doesn't matter whether a male or female is straight, gay, asexual or whatever sexual - is deeply ingrained into the vast majority of cultures. People react on what they see - and it's hard to not jump to the conclusion that someone with external male sex organs is male and someone with external female sex organs is female. The move to essentially force acceptance of a transgender in a bathroom or locker room designed for a specific gender when they are physically defined as being of the opposite gender is a game changer.
I get the fact a transgender may feel awkward or out of place changing in a girls' locker room when they for all practical purposes identify themselves as a boy - and vice versa. But what about the girl that biologically are girls who identify themselves as girls as well as boys in the same boat? Don't they matter or are their rights to a degree of privacy, modesty, and being comfortable subservient?
Then there is the issue of bathroom shyness. Just like people who don't like to be touched, there are those who have issues using public bathrooms to begin with. How does allowing biological boys use girls' bathrooms or biological girls use boys' bathrooms just because they are transgender help that?
The Houston ordinance was carte blanche. It would have given transgender citizens the ability to exert a right that goes beyond the original intent of equality that was based on equal protection for genders and people based on physical characteristics whether it is skin tone or DNA. Yes, religious beliefs and nationality aren't physical traits but civil rights issues involving them haven't centered around their bodily functions or being able to use locker rooms.
Carving out an exception for public restrooms and public accommodations that, by their very nature may require nudity at one point - such as changing or showering in a locker room of a school or at a private sector health club, - would probably have made all the difference in the world to Houston voters.
But instead of doing that or taking an incremental step the LGBT activists wanted it all now.
Would a Houston ordinance that excluded gender identity which means being able to access gender separated facilities designed to deal with bodily functions or showering where someone of the biological gender that is opposite of yours have passed? The answer is highly likely.
It shouldn't shock anyone that people see a distinction and are drawing a line at accommodations around bodily functions and nudity.
Because they want absolutes for everyone in their rainbow, LGBT now runs the risk of flushing progress.
There is a huge difference between people not having an issue with same sex marriage and whether they want their 16-year-old son sharing a school locker room with a 17-year-old biological girl that identifies as a boy or their 12-year-old daughter sharing a public restroom with a 29-year-old biological man who identifies as a woman.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.