“This bill is just a first step to help protect our teachers but when we have students in school now that don’t identify as a boy or a girl but as a cat, as a furry, we have issues,” Rep. Mary Bentley (shown) said Thursday in presenting her bill that would require public school employees to address students only by the name and sex designated on the student’s birth certificate. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)
Arkansas teachers wouldn’t be required to address students by a name or pronoun inconsistent with the student’s biological sex under proposed legislation that passed Thursday in the House, one of the latest of several measures in the state Legislature that human-rights advocates say targets transgender people.
The vote on House Bill 1749 came two days after lawmakers prohibited hormone treatments, puberty blockers and transition-related surgeries for transgender minors.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who vetoed the bill only to see it overridden by Republican supermajorities, faced sharp criticism again Thursday afternoon, this time from former President Donald Trump.
In a written statement, the one-term president accused the two-term governor of being a “RINO” — a Republican in Name Only. A spokesman for the state Republican Party rejected the assertion.
BILL ON IDENTITY
Lawmakers who opposed HB1749, as well as LGBT-rights advocates, say it protects teachers who intentionally misgender students who are transgender, which sponsor Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, has acknowledged would be the case.
The House’s 62-21 vote, which was mostly along party lines, sends the measure to the Senate. Two lawmakers voted present, and 14 didn’t vote. Two Republicans, Rep. Frances Cavenaugh of Walnut Ridge and Rep. Jeff Wardlaw of Hermitage, voted no, and Rep. Spencer Hawks, R-Conway, was excused.
Hutchinson has expressed concerns about the latest proposal.
“This bill is unnecessary,” he said in a written statement Thursday. “I am requesting my Department of Education to further evaluate.”
Bentley said some teachers had raised concerns to her about students who have changed their name or pronoun several times in a year, or use three different names in as many classrooms, and fear that they’ll be sued for not addressing the child by their preferred name or pronoun.
“It’s not compelling anyone’s speech. It’s not prohibiting anyone’s speech. It’s helping those professors and teachers in our schools that do not want to be sued for not using a certain person’s pronoun,” Bentley said.
Two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Fred Love of Little Rock and Rep. Megan Godfrey of Springdale, spoke against the bill.
Love said intentionally not referring to someone by what they want to be called is “one of the most disrespectful things that you can do.
“That’s one of the simplest decencies that we can give someone. … That’s not hard. That’s not difficult. That’s just a bit of decency and a bit of respect and I think that’s what we need to do,” Love said.
Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, spoke for the bill and mentioned a situation at the residential Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, where a “male student who wanted to be called by a female name” was voluntarily referred to that way by teachers, but administrators were instructed to refer to the student by the student’s given name when talking to the child’s parents.
Lowery said “not letting a parent know what their own child is going through shows that we have a problem.”
“This bill does not specifically address the example I’m giving you but it does put a spotlight on the fact that it is something that needs to be addressed, and so I think that a good starting point would be to vote for this bill,” Lowery said.
Godfrey said, “There’s nothing more critical than a positive relationship between a student and a teacher, especially kind of at those adolescent grades” with regard to student achievement.
She said teachers who intentionally misgender students are severing that vital relationship.
Bentley said schools should do more to address things like students changing their name between classes or identifying as an animal.
“We have a real issue in our state, and I need our districts to take a look at this and do more than this bill does,” Bentley said. “This bill is just a first step to help protect our teachers but when we have students in school now that don’t identify as a boy or a girl but as a cat, as a furry, we have issues.”
Some members of the House Education Committee said Tuesday that those concerns weren’t something they’d heard from teachers.
In response to a question from committee member Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren, Bentley said no teacher had been sued for not using a student’s preferred name or pronoun in Arkansas as of Tuesday.
Richelle Brittain, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law who is transgender, said at Tuesday’s committee meeting that the bill violates Title IX as interpreted by President Joe Biden’s administration. An executive order that Biden signed last month states that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination based on gender identity.
“This bill targets trans kids. It is aimed at protecting intentional misgendering of our kids,” Brittain said.
Bentley said in committee that a student’s biological sex would be determined by the registration forms submitted at the beginning of the school year, which don’t include a space for preferred pronouns.
The bill doesn’t specify that schools would determine a student’s biological sex based on the form, but Bentley said she would be happy to amend the legislation to do so on the Senate side.
HB1749 is one of several measures passed by or advancing in the Arkansas Legislature that are seen as targeting transgender individuals.
Act 461, which the governor signed into law in March, would ban schools from allowing transgender girls and women from participating on the sports teams aligning with their gender identity.
House Bill 1882, which was filed this week, would allow government entities to be sued for permitting a person to use a restroom designated for a sex different from the sex a person was assigned at birth.
House Bill 1570, the ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender minors, was enacted Tuesday when the Legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson subsequently criticized Hutchinson for opposing the bill, suggesting — without offering any evidence — that the governor was acting at the behest of Walmart or the Walton family.
The Walton Family Foundation, he noted, had backed Hutchinson’s decision.
In a written statement posted Tuesday on its website, Tom Walton, the foundation’s home region program committee chairman, had voiced alarm about “the string of policy targeting LGBTQ people in Arkansas.”
“This trend is harmful and sends the wrong message to those willing to invest in or visit our state,” the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton had written.
“We support Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent veto of discriminatory policy and implore government, business and community leaders to consider the impact of existing and future policy that limits basic freedoms and does not promote inclusiveness in our communities and economy,” he wrote.
On his program Wednesday, Carlson suggested Hutchinson hopes to one day serve on the Bentonville-based retailer’s board.
In a written statement Thursday, Hutchinson said Carlson’s comments were false.
“It is irresponsible for Tucker Carlson to make baseless claims without any evidence or truth to back them up,” Hutchinson said.
“If I have been offered any corporate board seats then please let me know because that is news to me. Let me be clear, I have almost two years left as Governor of this great state and that is my focus,” he said.
“In terms of my decision making as Governor, I am not influenced by any pressure other than the weight of my convictions and the concern I have for the people of Arkansas,” he said.
The veto also drew fire from Trump.
“Asa Hutchinson, the lightweight RINO Governor of Arkansas, just vetoed a Bill that banned the CHEMICAL CASTRATION OF CHILDREN,” Trump said in a written statement released Thursday.
“‘Bye-bye Asa,'” that’s the end of him!,” the former president wrote. “Fortunately for the Great State of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will do a fantastic job as your next Governor!”
In a written statement, Hutchinson shrugged off Trump’s criticism.
“Forty years ago when I started my fight to build the Republican Party of Arkansas I was called ‘a right wing extremist.’ I was simply a conservative then and remain a conservative now,” he said. “Today, as then, I am less concerned about monikers and more concerned about principle and the direction of our nation. Our party was built upon ideas, civil rights, individual liberty and restraints on government. Hopefully, we can debate our ideas with respect and through civil discourse.”
In a text message, Sanders would not say whether she shared Trump’s view of Hutchinson, but voiced support for the bill he vetoed.
“I believe in limited government, but there is a role for us to protect those who can’t protect themselves, especially children, which is why this law is important and I support it,” she wrote.
Hutchinson, while supporting Trump’s reelection bid, broke with the president after it became clear that Democrat Joe Biden had won.
He opposed efforts to overturn the decision of the Electoral College, and said Trump bears “a great deal of responsibility, key responsibility, for what happened at our nation’s Capitol on January 6.”
Hutchinson has also said he would not support a Trump presidential bid in 2024.
Republican Party of Arkansas spokesman Seth Mays dismissed allegations that Hutchinson is a RINO.
“That seems like a pretty hard claim to make,” he said, recalling Hutchinson’s service as an impeachment manager during the Senate trial of President Bill Clinton and his efforts, as state party chairman, to ensure that the state would pay for Republican primary elections.
“The state of Arkansas literally has Republican primaries, because the Republican Party of Arkansas, under its then-chairman Asa Hutchinson sued the state of Arkansas for the state to pay for primaries, [maintaining] that they were not an expense of the party. So that seems like a pretty hard claim to make.”Rep. Megan Godfrey (shown) said the bill would sever the vital positive relationship between a student and a teacher. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect bill number. House Bill 1570 is the ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender minors.
The Arkansas State House yesterday voted 72-21 in favor of letting public school science teachers “teach creationism as a theory of how the earth came to exist.” As if we needed another indication of how little respect Arkansas lawmakers have for students…
It was a party line vote, with every Democrat against it and every Republican for it. (One Democrat and six Republicans didn’t vote at all.)
This is the work of State Rep. Mary Bentley, a Republican, who filed HB 1701 last month.
The short bill defies (or completely ignores) the Supreme Court’s ruling against the teaching of Creationism since everyone knows it’s all about advancing religion instead of teaching credible science. As we know, the Earth doesn’t exist because God poofed it into being a few thousand years ago. The Bible may say that, but the Bible is lying to you.
Bentley tried doing this in 2017, too, but got nowhere with it. That bill died in the House. The current version just passed the House. (Bentley is a graduate of Harding College, a Church of Christ-affiliated school, so science education isn’t in her wheelhouse.)
It’s possible the new bill will breeze through the Republican-dominated State Senate because it purposely avoids mentioning Intelligent Design or evolution — and says teaching Creationism is optional. But giving teachers that choice doesn’t make it okay. It shouldn’t be acceptable for a public school teacher to brainwash your kids with utter bullshit during class.
Not that Bentley cared. She posted this on Facebook last night:
Creationism is Christian fiction. It sure as hell isn’t science. The only thing this bill would accomplish is inspiring a raft of successful lawsuits against it.
I am amazed at the amount of right wing cartoonist / media that seem to deliberately misconstrue and distort what Biden is trying to do, the legislation to make things better in the US, and to bring the US in to the 21st century to compete with other advanced nations. All because of the idea that the government should serve the wants of the wealthy upper class which the elected officials are members of, but never work for or help the lower incomes average people of the country. This is all so the wealthy can increase their wealth more, the poor will get more in a desperate situation. The want to create a third world banana republic where they control everything, have everything, and the people are just their servants to use and dispose of when they are no more use. But it is the disinformation, the lies they spew and draw that makes me wonder their motives. Hugs
As for the situation on the border, so many attempts by the right to make this a new problem. They seem to forget this surge happens every two years about. Remember these people have to travel by foot and other lower income slow means. Remember most are running for their lives and safety, not just to work for a better living, and yes the ones that want to work for a better living are important also. Biden has not changed the rules, even though he has tried. He is still operating under the rules tRump put in place because tRump made it really hard to change his asinine polices and the Republican Ag’s like Paxton of Texas who is indicted for his own crimes have vowed to sue everything Biden tries to do on the border to make things better. Yes the Republican do not want things better, because they would rather have an issue they can bash the Democrats with than help the people living in those horrible conditions. Biden is trying to make things better by opening up better and larger facilities. Biden is still using the send everyone back because of Covid policy that tRump people implemented. The US is by law and treaty required to admit and process the people asking for asylum, and so Biden has asked for more resources to process them rather than jail them. Why put able body people who are willing and want to work in jail to wait for several years to get a hearing. We need more judges and staff to process the people which could cut the time down to a reasonable few months. Also the huge issue is the housing of minors. They are coming, they are here, and they need to be treated as the children they are. Children! So they can not be dropped off at a bus station in Mexico nor in the US as tRump was doing with adults. The ICE detention centers are not designed or big enough to hold them and ICE shouldn’t be holding kids. So Biden has asked Fema to step in and help provide housing and structure for these kids.
I nearly choked on my morning coffee when I read the stories of the Republicans so righteously complaining that Biden was giving housing to “them illegals foreigner while letting our valiant warriors struggle to live while homeless”. Oh woe the military members who struggle to live in dignity under Biden, who has been president for a few months. Meanwhile the Republicans had the White House for the last four years, the Senate for the last four years, and the House for two. What did they do for the veterans? Nothing! They slashed the VA budgets while spending lavishly on new defense programs for weapons and wars. In fact the Covid America Rescue Plan that Biden put forward and the Democrats passed had money to help homeless veterans among other funds for helping veterans and the homeless both. The Democrats did this! Not one Republican voted for it! Not one Republican voted to give money to help homeless veterans get help. So Republicans can shut up until they put up. This is the New Republican way, vote against anything that helps people but take credit for it if people like it, or rail against the problem that they refused to help fix.
These angered me because it is an attempt by Republicans to hide their bigotry while claiming that the legislation would increase something that is not happening now. The big lie is that that election fraud in an amount to change elections has happened. It never has in my life time and I am an old @#@#@. tRump did not lose because there was that much election fraud, He lost because 8 million more people voted for Biden. That is why the Republicans do not want “those” people to vote, they did not vote for their guy. The minor fraud that was found in every investigation was done by Republicans for tRump! The reason is Democrats value democracy and the idea of the right to vote. We want everyone who is eligible to vote. We would like to stop restricting other wise eligible from voting. One person one vote. The reason is that Democrats are willing to appeal to the people and work to get their votes. Republicans do not care for democracy. They want power because power increases their wealth. Because they wont appeal to the people nor work to win their votes, they have decided they don’t want people to vote. They want to rule, they want to force people to live as they say rather than do what the people ask.
This again is pure misdirection and misinformation. The public supports people needing verification to vote. So do Democrats. However Republicans have written laws that require identification that people who normally vote Democratic are less likely to have. Why is a college ID not a valid ID but an NRA card is? People who live in cities tend to vote more Democratic, and people who live in big cites tend not to drive their own cars, so they do not have drivers licenses. In some states older people have trouble getting a drivers license or state ID. If they live in the country they have to travel a distance when they do not drive to a place to get a card, and then they have to produce identification that they may not be able to get. What this is designed to do is to add more steps to vote, to use the right to vote. These are people who all their lives have voted before these new laws to stop them, they are citizens, they have a legal right to vote that the Republicans are trying to take a way. If the Republicans want people to have a set ID for voting they need to make that ID easily available and at no cost. Help the people get the ID’s the Republicans want people to use for their right to vote. Restrictions to rights should happen rarely and for real problems. Republicans losing elections is not a real problem. These laws restricting voting, making voting harder is a bigoted attempt to find a problem to hang their racism on. If you think this is not racism why is the restrictions always aimed at making it harder for POC and other minorities like Native Indians to vote, but makes it easier for older white people to vote? Yes it is racism.
The idea that raising the tax rate is going to tank the economy and cause corporations to flee the country is a joke. It is not true and wont happen. This is brought to you by the same people that have for 40 years told you that if you keep giving more and more money to the wealthy the economy will soar as that wealth trickles down to you. The wealth never reaches you at the bottom does it? It was a lie designed to make the wealthy richer and you poorer. So stop believing those same Republicans now. The fact is the country and the economy has historically done much better when the wealthy and corporations paid a lot more. It makes sense. The wealthy and the corporations can afford to pay more, the burden doesn’t harm them. However when the burden was shifted to the lower incomes and poor they suffer hardships as they do not have the resources to pay for everything. That gives Republicans the joy of calling for even more cuts to services that help the lower incomes, while again claiming they need to give more money the wealthy to fix a problem created by doing just that. Also look around the world. Every country that taxes the wealthy and corporations have more services for the people, have higher ratings, and still have wealthy and corporations that did not flee. Don’t buy into the fearmongering, but instead look around, open your eyes to what is happening around the world. The US is falling farther behind in almost every measure now. We are far from #1 in anything but military spending. Other countries are putting money into schools for their people, into medical care for their people, into infrastructure for the people, reusable energy, electric cars and charging stations among many improvements. China is accelerating research in to reusable energy to corner the market. The US use to be the world leader, but that was when businesses and the wealthy paid their share of the burden instead of demanding all the money of the country be in their pockets. Also the same people that loved no bid give away contracts worth millions and billions during the tRump years suddenly have a problem with well targeted spending plans and want to pretend that spending on things that help the people and make life better for the average person is feeding the swamp. Get real. There is no comparison between what tRump / Republicans did and what the Biden team is doing now.
Really, less regulation on the food we eat? Look the facts are that some country wont even let US dairy and meat products be sold in their countries because the US standards are so poor. There is things in our food that turn my stomach if I think too hard on it. It doesn’t have to be a game of truth or dare to eat. Our food and water needs to be safe to eat and drink. But years of lower standards have made food, especially lower priced foods a gamble. Do you want your meals with your family to be spent wondering if you or your loved ones will get sick from eating? The Republicans want you to picture a loving caring big business that always does the right thing. The truth is most business do what ever they can get away with to make money. In fact officers of a publicly traded company have a federal duty to shareholders to make as much money as possible even if it does harm or hurts people. Money is king by law. So the laws, rules, and regulations have to be created to keep the money grab from being deadly or harmful to everyone. Again it is normal in a developed nation to have rules and regulations, laws restraining the worst impulses of greed. Is the US a developed advanced nation or a banana republic?
This one is 50/50. I included it to show how each side can use the information to their advantage. The money grubbing cooperate Republican DeSantis is well know for playing to the wealthy for money. The money flows large in Palm Beach County for politicians. DeSantis we to meet with some local government leaders, that is true. However he met only with like minded Republican ones. He left out the majority of the elected officials. The ones he talked to were like himself and of course wanted to send as much business as possible to a private business rather than government workers. There is money to be made dishing out vaccines. So Publix got the deal and Desantis and possibly other local politicians got some also. However many board members who were asked by 60 Minutes denied that they talked to DeSantis or would have wanted Publix to get the vaccine contract.
Facts are important and I recommend people educate them selves on these and other issues instead of following a opinion host who makes millions spouting misinformation or is paid to cause confusion and rage by claiming wrongs where no exist. Hugs
On a window outside Aries Tax Service in Radcliff, Kentucky, signs promote how customers can e-file returns for $55 as long as they provide 10 things to Ken Randall, the registered tax return preparer at the Hardin County business.
The alphabetized list includes documents, forms and information they need to provide when they complete their taxes.
But the last thing Randall lists on his “I Need” placard is something he doesn’t want:
“Homosexual marriage not recognized,” the bottom of the sign reads.
Seeing that statement left Amy Mudd and her wife “feeling hurt and discriminated against,” the Glasgow woman told The Courier Journal.
Mudd said her mother-in-law live in Hardin County and recommended Randall’s business because of the flat fee of $55.
After talking with Randall over the phone and setting up an appointment, Mudd and her wife of five years, Stephanie, drove a little over an hour from Glasgow to Radcliff on April 3, but they never stepped inside the office.
When they pulled into the parking lot and noticed the “homosexual marriage not recognized” portion of the sign on the window, Stephanie took a photo and drove away.
“We are NOT doing any business here,” Mudd said her wife angrily declared.
“We have a wonderful family, and to be shamed because of who I love is awful,” Mudd told The Courier Journal in an email, adding she and her wife have twin daughters, four dogs and a cat.
“It’s 2021 and I’ve never understood why discrimination is a thing. Black, Asian, Muslim, LGBTQ+, etc. We are all human.”
Randall, 65, told The Courier Journal in an email he has “moral objections to homosexual marriage.”
“I have filed and do file for homosexuals who are single, as I do not ask about sexual preference prior to filing a return,” Randall said, adding “this is legal, as I have already researched this.”
In the same building as his tax service, Randall also runs and serves as a broker for The Insurance Store, which is “The Place To Go When You’re Told No,” according to its website.
Radcliff and Hardin County are not among the 21 municipalities and counties in Kentucky that have passed Fairness Ordinances outlawing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents.
In 1999, Louisville and Lexington became the first two cities in the state to each pass a Fairness Ordinance extending LGBTQ protections.
Crescent Springs, a city in Northern Kentucky’s Kenton County, became the latest municipality to pass a Fairness Ordinance in March, per the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based LGBTQ advocacy group.
Repeated attempts to pass a statewide “fairness bill” have failed in the Kentucky General Assembly, which currently features a Republican supermajority.
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, said while last year’s Bostock v. Clayton County ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court protects gay and transgender employees from discrimination, Kentucky’s civil rights statute does not ban sex discrimination for public accommodations.
The only exception outlawing sex discrimination under state law is for businesses “supported directly or indirectly by government funds.”
That means Randall and Aries Tax Service legally can deny services to gay couples such as Amy and Stephanie Mudd, according to Hartman.
Roughly 144,000 residents who are 13 years of age and older are part of the LGBTQ community in Kentucky, and LGBTQ adults make up roughly 3.4% of the state’s population, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank.
The incident in Radcliff is not the first of a tax prep business denying services to gay couples.
A tax preparer in Russiaville, Indiana, made local and national headlines in 2019 when she refused to help a married couple who was gay, citing her religious beliefs and recommending a different tax service business.
What every Kentuckian should know:From unemployment to new deadlines, here are recent tax changes
That decision was allowed under a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed in 2015, though lawmakers had amended the legislation to try to assuage fears it would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers.
Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which took effect in 2013, says the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion” unless the state has “clear and compelling evidence” to step in and uses the “least restrictive means” to do so.
Hartman said in any case, Randall’s stated opposition to helping gay customers file their taxes is “rude.”
“It’s discriminatory. It’s disgraceful,” Hartman said. “And it’s a downright shame.”
As for Randall, an Army veteran who has been a tax preparer for 20 years and an insurance broker for 33 years, he said a woman “took exception to my policy a couple years ago.”
“This is where you find out that tolerance is a two-way street.”
This is the world the religious right wants, one where some people who are doing or engaged in a legal action can be denied service from a public business. Substitute the words homoseual marriage in this story with mixed race marriage and do you still feel the same about it? If you can say no homosexuals allowed then you can say no blacks allowed. If this guy refused to do the taxes of a black couple, would everyone still be OK with it. This is 2021, same sex marriage has been legal around the world for 20 years. This is what religious freedom has become, not the right to worship a deity of your choice, but to have the right to discriminate against those who are different from you. I am so tired of this fight. Yet we must keep fighting because it is a growing cancer on our country. Hugs