In the wake of the decision last year by Governor Baker, along with his colleagues Kaufman, Weld et al to file a brief in Federal Court standing against Republican Party values and for Democrat Party values, the Watertown Republican Town Committee met subsequently to discuss that particular matter, among other things. At the meeting, Baker Cabinet member Elizabeth Mahoney took the brunt of the frustration from the members about Republican leaders openly rebelling against our party’s official and stated values and beliefs. [Remember, MA GOP by-laws state unequivocally that we will support the Platform – without exception.] The subject quickly turned to the Bathroom Bill, at which time RTC members were assured by Ms. Mahoney with 100% confidence and certainty that Baker’s position on the Bathroom Bill was in strong opposition to it. Ms. Mahoney was firm in her resolve.
Now however Baker’s position has apparently morphed into a promise not to veto the bill, which is of course no different than saying he will sign it. In light of Baker’s liberal stance on all things social however (he once claimed to be to the left of Obama on social issues) RMG suspects that in spite of Ms. Mahoney’s conviction, Baker always wanted to support the Bathroom Bill, but needed to wait until after he had waged his battle against the social conservatives on the Republican State Committee earlier this year.
Baker’s argument for supporting the bill is that he doesn’t want to discriminate. While it is a position that RMG can respect, it ignores something more important than all else, which is the one of personal safety. Because the other side of the equation, the side which Baker chooses to ignore, is how to protect women, children and other vulnerable members of the population when you open up all bathrooms to all people all the time. Now you don’t have to be a genius to realize that everywhere in our world there are people of all varieties who seek to inflict harm on others. And after all, bathrooms are small, isolated spaces, with usually only one means of egress, where people are often distracted by the task at hand, and where most people are at some point in time in some state of undress. A bathroom is a unique and personal space, and that fact must be taken into consideration when crafting a position on open unrestricted access.
Now for the purposes of this argument, RMG assumes, and rightly so we believe, that no person identifying themselves as transgender is any more inclined to be a threat to anyone than people who do not define themselves as such. In fact, given the small percentage of the population that is transgender, the real concern has nothing to do with them. It is about opening up all bathrooms to the general population. For what the argument of parents, moderates and conservatives is and always has been is that it is about the protection of the vulnerable. The protection of our weakest, our most vulnerable has always been and will always be our greatest strength, and that which unites all Americans. That said, what of convicted sexual predators, straight or otherwise? Can they now use any bathroom at any time? Can a pack of teenage boys, strolling through the Mall on a Saturday afternoon now follow an attractive young girl into the ladies room? How comfortable will she be with the boys she was hoping to get away from now sitting on either side of her? And what of the thief who can prey on ladies purses? Certainly the thief could not ask for a better environment than a bathroom to lift a purse or two. By the time the victim can get put back together as it were, the thief is long gone.
So the challenge for the Governor becomes how to provide a person who has a sincere and honest need to use their bathroom of choice with ensuring that predators of any size or shape cannot have isolated unsupervised access to members of the opposition sex. Sadly however the two goals are in fact mutually exclusive. The Gov cannot have complete and outright access while guaranteeing safety for our weakest and most at risk. He knows this.
RMG calls on the Governor to change his position on the Bathroom Bill back to his original position of firm opposition by explaining that since it is impossible to balance two conflicting goals, and while he respects the concern of a certain small slice of the population to use a facility of their choosing, he will and must err on the side of protecting the safety and security of children, women, the elderly and all others at risk.