Pa.’s horrible anti-transgender sports bill is horrible in dozens of other states, too | Friday Morning Coffee

April 9, 2021 7:14 am

(Capital-Star photo).

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

An eternity ago — or was it just Monday? — a quintet of Republican lawmakers in the state House trotted out a bill that would ban transgender women from participating in women’s school sports in Pennsylvania.

As the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported, the bill, euphemistically titled the “Protect Women’s Sports Act,” has little chance of becoming law, or surviving a court challenge. As an added bonus, since transgender women are women, and there’s no evidence that transgender women outperform cisgendered women, it’s also science defying.

All of which is proven not to be an impediment to this terrible idea spreading like a pernicious legislative weed across the country.

A conservative Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom, has pushed similar legislation in 30 states restricting transgender student athletes.

Their bill is modeled on an Idaho law according to the Idaho Capital Sun, a sibling site of the Capital-Star.

MONTGOMERY, AL – MARCH 30: Opponents of several bills targeting transgender youth attend a rally at the Alabama State House to draw attention to anti-transgender legislation introduced in Alabama on March 30, 2021 in Montgomery, Alabama. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the United States. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Getty Images)

A bit of background: the Alliance Defending Freedom is an Arizona-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on advocacy, training and funding legal cases. According to its website, it focuses on the issues of “religious freedom, sanctity of life and marriage and family,” the Capital-Sun’s Clark Corbin reported on April 2.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the organization as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, a designation, you will be shocked to learn, that the ADF, as it’s known, disputes. A spokesman for the group called the designation a fund-raising tactic by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We are very disappointed in SPLC’s attack against organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom that are standing up for female athletes, standing up for religious freedom and standing up for free speech,”  Matt Sharp, the ADF‘s senior counsel, told the Capital-Sun.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, the ADF has seen its clout grow nationally since the 2016 election, “[becoming] one of the most influential groups informing the [former Trump] administration’s attack on LGBTQ rights,” SPLC officials wrote of the group.

(Getty Images)

The vehicle that’s being used to spread this bill from state to state, like anti-LGBTQ kudzu, is one of the oldest legislative tricks in the books: Model legislation. It’s what it sounds like, a generic template that’s filled in, like Mad Libs, to suit the conditions in different states. And it’s by no means unique to the political right. Progressives also have embraced model bills.

As Corbin reports, it can be tough for the public to tell if bills before their state General Assemblies originated via model legislation or if they came about more organically. One tool political scientists have been using is anti-plagiarism software that will flag matches in different bills across different states. And it’s getting easier with advances in technology, Jaclyn Kettler, an assistant professor of political science at Boise State University, told Corbin.

“Model legislation isn’t anything new, there have been groups or organizations providing model legislation for a long time,” Kettler said. “ALEC [the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization] has gotten a lot of attention from reporters and scholars in terms of how successful they have been in terms of getting model legislation introduced and passed in many state legislatures, particularly in those more conservative legislatures.”

Back in Pennsylvania, LGBTQ activists are lining up in opposition to the bill.

“As the first trans person ever elected in Pennsylvania history, I know bigotry when I see it,” Tyler Titus, a member of the Erie school board, and a transgender man, told  our Frank Pizzoli, adding, “Hate may be the Pennsylvania GOP’s platform, but it’s not Pennsylvania’s. We will defeat this effort because this is not who we are.”

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
A  major state contractor has been accused of fleecing workers out of $20M in benefits, Elizabeth Hardison has the details on the case brought by Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office.

Officials in the Philadelphia school district have announced their plans for summer learning programs, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

Gun violence in America is an ‘international embarrassment,’ President Joe Biden said Thursday as he rolled out executive action in combating this public health threat. Biden also will suggest model ‘red flag’ gun laws for states. Our Washington reporter, Ariana Figueroa, has both stories for you this morning.

On our Commentary Page this morning, the Rev. Mark Meeks, pastor of Capitol Heights Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colo., explains how new Interior Secretary Deb Haaland can help dismantle what’s known as the doctrine of discovery, which led to exploitation of entire peoples and unraveling our relationship with the land. He wrote the column for our sibling site, Colorado Newsline.

En la Estrella-Capital, Pa. ve un record de números del control de antecedentes para obtener armas de fuego. Y la Comisionada de MontCo, Val Arkooshdice que está buscando un reconocimiento Democrático en el 2022 para el Senado de los Estados Unidos.

(Image via The Philadelphia Tribune)

Philadelphia’s U.S. Attorney and other federal law enforcement officers have rolled out their plan to combat gun violence in the city, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh’s mayoral candidates met for their second forum, where they discussed economic issues and policing, the Post-Gazette reports.
A state lawmaker wants to force the Wolf administration to release the details on wasted vaccinesPennLive reports.
Allentown school officials hit the streets to promote attendance as the district gets ready for hybrid learning, the Morning Call reports.
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th Districttouted the stimulus plan during an appearance in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
The York Daily Record rounds up lawmaker reaction to President Joe Biden’s executive order on guns (paywall).

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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Philadelphia police shot and killed a 24-year-old man after a traffic stop on Wednesday night, WHYY-FM reports.
State officials are promising a quicker and easier unemployment system, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).
Wegmans’ Erie-area pharmacies are offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to eligible residents, GoErie reports.
The Democratic National Committee has taken out billboards in Philly thanking U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., for supporting the stimulus plan, and slamming U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for his opposition, PoliticsPA reports. looks at the large racial disparities in vaccine access in rural counties.
In an effort to woo lawmakers, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has released a list of projects included in the $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Natalie Adams, Pennsylvania press secretary for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who celebrates today. Congratulations, and enjoy the day.

Lit maintenant.
Writing for The CutRachel Charlene Lewis makes the case for reading first thing in the morning. Well, you’re reading this, so consider it a job well done.

Heavy Rotation.
Former Spandau Ballet guitarist/songwriter Gary Kemp is out with his first solo material since 1995 this week. Here’s the lead track from his upcoming LP, ‘INSOLO.’ It’s ‘Ahead of the Game,’ and it’s kind of made my weekend.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
It’s still hockey season, and Carolina is still continuing its winning ways. The ‘Canes blanked the Panthers 3-0 on Thursday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.