I’ve never been prouder to live in a small town. Earlier this week, the city council in Kokomo, Indiana voted to pass an ordinance updating the city’s human rights code. Amongst other things—veterans, the elderly, the disabled—this new measure protects one of the most disenfranchised in the LGBT community:
That’s right, folks! Our trans brothers and sisters can finally use the bathroom in peace.
Of course, such a progressive piece of legislation would not be possible if opponents weren’t able to stand up and voice their concerns (and a bit of the gospel) to the council. While pedophile fear ran rampant, others seemed more concerned their religious liberties were somehow in danger of being snuffed out. Still, there was the more localized concern that small business owners would have to cater to members of the community, you know, equally. As a result, concerned citizens rose in protest against a local doughnut shop that did exactly that.
Yes, the age-old cake debate was still alive and kicking this week in Kokomo, and with good reason. As one supporter of the ordinance told me, “Kokomo loves their pastry.”
Look, I get it. People enjoy their privilege and flock in droves to protest that which they don’t understand. And no doubt others are truly scared they're losing some sort of religious freedom by being forced to marry those hell-bound gays they love so much. Despite that pesky little exemption protecting churches too, they might even have a point.
But they don’t.
Their argument falls apart as soon as they open their mouths. Take these “bathroom boogiemen” people are so scared are waiting in the toilets to molest their little girls. First, according to Kokomo City Councilman Steve Whikehart, Indianapolis has had a similar ordinance on the books for a decade with zero incidents. Secondly, sexual assault affects women and men. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives, and those rates are disproportionately higher for transgender folks—over half, in case you were wondering. Those bathrooms seem a little safer yet?
Of course, anyone who’s never fit into America’s straight, white box has had to develop a thick skin. The “other” in this country has long since been linked to mental illness, sexual assault, and a number of other atrocities. Remember all the bestiality people were worried about during the gay marriage debates? As a gay man, I've learned to just sit back and let the assholes accusing us of such abhorrent things slander their own head right onto the chopping block. After all, every other week it seems another prominent member of the Christian community is being outted on Grindr, or caught up in some raunchy sex scandal on FetLife. I mean, where else can the pastor of a mega church be diapered and choked out while getting his O, and still stand up on Sunday morning and proclaim “The gays are going to hell, but we love them.” Can I get an Amen!?
But none of that matters now, at least here in Kokomo. In the end, the Kokomo City Council “voted their conscience,” as council President Robert Hayes told the audience right before calling for the vote of 5 – 4 in favor of the new measure. Of course, someone somewhere is probably out there waiting to exercise their "religious freedom" by discriminating against some poor soul just to be the martyr their religion is so keen on—as was the case recently in California for military vet Kendal Oliver, a trans man who just wanted a haircut. He didn’t even have to pee!
Yes, Indiana still has a long road ahead on the equality highway, but for now we'll take the positive light shed on a state too long overshadowed by a conservative, devil-may-care governor currently in the throes of dictating the female uterus now that he can’t tell people where they can take a piss.
On to the next “evil”, right?