Most GOP senators seek lawsuit over transgender bathrooms

Twenty-six state senators are calling on Gov. Bill Haslam to join North Carolina’s lawsuit against the federal government over the ongoing battle over transgender students’ access to restrooms, according to The Tennessean.

The group of lawmakers, which included every Republican in the Senate except Sens. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, sent a letter to Haslam on Monday.

“Serving with you on behalf of our citizens, who elected us to dutifully represent our Tennessee values and principles, we write to you in support of our State joining our neighbors, in legal action if necessary opposing the Obama administration’s “decree” which denies the privacy rights of more than 99 percent of Tennesseans,” they wrote.

…Gov. Bill Haslam stopped short of the rhetoric directed at the Obama administration by some top officials in other states but did call the directive a “heavy-handed approach.” (Previous post HERE.)

In their letter, the Tennessee senators said the Obama administration “must not only be stopped, but exposed as a reckless post-constitutional approach to our government.”

Citing statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which indicated that the state had 2,732 cases of rape, forcible sodomy and sexual assault in 2015, the lawmakers said the issue ultimately came down to public safety.

“While a microscopic group of individuals demand accommodation, the opportunism that is created for criminal predators (not within the said group receiving preference) to access their unwilling prey — women and children — is a certain consequence. The deviancy driving rapists and pedophiles has been dismissed and would most certainly impact and endanger a much larger segment of the public in an irrational fear of media criticism and opposition by a radical political activist subgroup,” the letter says.

“We take this opportunity to share our view that the new guidance from the Department of Education and the President be of no legal force nor effect. We also request that you will do nothing to give it effect except in accordance with the law under the state and federal constitutions, which we are sworn to uphold,” they concluded.

News releases from Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Sen. Mark Green, both considering runs for governor in 2018, are below, along with similar statements from Sen. Doug Overbey and congressional candidate Joe Carr.

News release from Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville
NASHVILLE – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) made the following statement regarding the Obama Administration’s “guidance letter” from the Department of Education regarding bathroom policy for schools.

“It is important for us, as a state, to make it clear that we will not acquiesce in the guidance per se but will, instead, continue to administer our schools in the same non-discriminatory manner as we always have.

We are seeking further assurances that nothing will be done to give this “guidance” any effect except in accordance with law under the state and federal constitutions which we are sworn to uphold. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has issued the letter as though it were law.

Governor Haslam issued a statement today which is a good first step. He states that it ‘does not make any additional requirements under the law’ and, although it is ‘not an enforcement action,’ the Governor finds it ‘heavy-handed.’

To that end, I am working to schedule time to meet with the Tennessee Attorney General this week to explore the merits of seeking declaratory relief in order to provide our LEAs with authority on which they may safely rely in proceeding without regard to the Obama Administration’s correspondence.”

News release from Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — TN Senator Mark Green joined twenty-six colleagues of the upper chamber in signing a letter calling on Governor Haslam to oppose the US Government in the directive issued to accommodate transgender individuals in taxpayer-funded toilets and locker rooms to maintain Title IX funding for education.

Citing the public safety and privacy of citizens, the senators highlighted data by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation published in April documenting 2,732 cases of rape, forcible sodomy and sexual assault in Tennessee in 2015 without a new vehicle for those who commit such violent sex crimes to access potential victims. Further, the letter states, “While a microscopic group of individuals demands accommodation, the opportunism that is created for criminal predators (not within the said group receiving preference) to access their unwilling prey – women and children – is a certain consequence. The deviancy driving rapists and pedophiles has been dismissed and would most certainly impact and endanger a much larger segment of the public…”

“The safety of our women and children must always take priority over someone’s political agenda,” stated Green who led the effort in petitioning the Governor to act. “The politics of Washington, DC are toxic and endangering our citizens. This has to stop.”

The decree espoused by the Obama Administration uses a vastly expanded interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Law which was amended in 1972 to include the prohibition of sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. The US Department of Justice in its rejection of biology and science to define sex permits an individual’s personal “identity” to overrule current policy of public restroom/locker room use.

“Criminals find loopholes and exploit opportunities to access victims. The unintentional consequences of this accommodation will create opportunities that should never exist that endanger our children in schools and employees who work for local, state and federal governments,” noted Green, a practicing physician who serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce and as a member of the State and Local Government Committee.

North Carolina, responding to a municipal ordinance of Charlotte to mandate all restrooms/locker rooms accommodate the transgender population, estimated by the Williams Institute – a UCLA policy group devoted to sexual identity – to be about 0.3% of the US population, passed legislation that prohibited the use of “public bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex.” The Obama Administration responded to this action and threatened legal action, including the loss of federal funding for schools. This generated the reciprocated lawsuit by North Carolina challenging inclusion of transgender identity in the legal determination of sex for the purposes of discrimination and policy. On Friday, the Obama Administration countered with the Executive Order.

“As a physician, the astounding activism seen to determine one’s gender or sex based on feeling rather than biology is reckless. I will continue to stand for reason in a time where our government is fighting its own citizens,” Green concluded.

Mark Green, MD represents the 22nd Senate District of Tennessee which serves the citizens of Montgomery, Houston and Steward (sic) Counties.

And here’s an emailed statement from Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville: “I agree with Governor Haslam that the approach the Obama administration is taking in issuing guidance as a result of the North Carolina transgender bathroom law is heavy handed and does not carry the force of law.”

“Our local schools, administrators, parents and teachers, who best understand student needs, are also the best suited to work out such issues. The action by the Obama administration to bully states into compliance with guidance issued from them usurps that local control. It should not stand.”

The first Tennessee politician to send out an emailed statement calling for a lawsuit, it appears, was former state Rep. Joe Carr, who’s running against Diane Black in the 6th Congressional District primary. Here’s his statement:

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school must provide access to any student based on what they “believe” their sex is, or face the loss of federal funds drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, and has been seen as blackmail.

The administration’s directive has enraged people throughout the nation and may not be resolved until the next President is elected. “It is tragic that the Tennessee General Assembly failed to stand firm when it decided not to join North Carolina by passing legislation that would protect Tennessee’s Children against Obama’s transgender bathroom guidance letter. Even more disappointing was 6th District Congressman Diane Black’s eagerness to take advantage this situation for her own personal political gain by using this assault on Tennessee values to collect email addresses and raise money for her reelection.

I call on Governor Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to immediately join North Carolina in their lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s bullying tactics. Additionally, I call on every school system in Tennessee to initiate a lawsuit suing the Department of Justice and the Department of Education. Finally, I call on Tennessee’s U.S. Senator’s and Congressman to join me in demanding that Governor Haslam and Attorney General Slatery take immediate legal action against the Obama Administration to protect Tennessee’s Children. It is time that our elected leaders grew a spine and hit back against another unconstitutional Obama order.” -Joe Carr