- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Is there such a thing as the "gay agenda"? In other words, are efforts to enact various laws, such as those forbidding "discrimination" against homosexuals and allowing gay "marriage" simply the leading edge of an ever-broadening assault upon traditional norms and values, as conservatives have argued for years? Here's a test case to help you decide.

In Sacramento, Calif., state legislators are poised to pass a bill that would prohibit bias against - and here we quote the report of this newspaper's Thomas D. Elias - "Transsexuals, drag queens, effeminate men, 'butch' women and anyone else who doesn't manifest common sex traits and behavior." The bill has already passed the state Assembly and prospects appear good for eventual passage in the state Senate. Its chief sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, says her measure merely "adds gender-appearance discrimination to sex discrimination in the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act." Her bill would require, among other things, that workers notify their employers of their sexual identity - or pending "change" - before making any claims of sex-gender-appearance discrimination.

Hmm. Gender-appearance discrimination? "This would turn the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' into California labor law," said Republican Assemblyman Ken Maddox, one of the bill's most vocal foes. The "Rocky Horror Picture Show" was a film about a cross-dressing Transylvanian transvestite drag queen named Dr. Frank N. Furter and his menagerie of human oddities. The good doctor wore garters and lacy stockings, along with a bodice - attire that would, apparently, comprise legitimate, or at least legally unassailable, office fashion under Ms. Goldberg's proposed bill. In fact, pretty much anything would be sacrosanct because the language of the law is pretty fuzzy - including such hard-to-pin-down terms as "perception," "identity," "appearance" and "behavior." Conservative groups worry that the loose language of the bill would effectively render it impossible for employers to discipline employees or request that they abstain from any apparel that might be considered central to their "identity," "appearance" or "behavior." Art Croney of the conservative Committee on Moral Concerns said his group has "sympathy for people who are really confused about their gender … but they don't need affirmation at the expense of employers and schoolchildren."

Gov. Gray Davis is fuzzy, too. So far, he has issued no comment on the legislation. In any event, California being a bellwether state, gender-appearance protection may soon be coming to an office, school or state agency near you. You'll have to decide for yourself whether that comprises an "agenda" or not.

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