‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms
In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution 43, Oklahoma lawmakers accused the Obama administration of overreaching its authority by issuing a directive last week stating that US schools risk losing federal funding if they don’t allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. The measure states that the order “clearly and unequivocally exceeds the authority of the federal government.”
It also calls on US House representatives from Oklahoma “to file articles of impeachment against the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Education, and any other federal official liable to impeachment who has exceeded his or her constitutional authority.”
The lawmakers argue that the Constitution does not give the executive branch authority over public school systems or the use of their restrooms or shower facilities.
State Representative John Bennett, who wrote the resolution, said the federal government’s direction was “biblically wrong.”
“Our phones and emails are being flooded by citizens who are enraged by this president’s attempt to use our children as pawns in a liberal agenda,” he said in a statement. “This directive is biblically wrong, a violation of our state’s sovereignty and it is a serious public safety issue. ... We are going to do everything we can to protect our women and children.”
Even if the bill passes, however, impeachment would be unlikely, as the measure is non-binding, as reported by Reuters.
Another proposal, titled Senate Bill 1619, would declare an emergency in the state of Oklahoma that would give parents and students the right to claim a religious accommodation in order to avoid using the same bathrooms and showers as transgender students. The bill would not allow schools to simply provide a single-occupancy restroom or changing facility either, meaning separate restroom facilities would be required.
According to Reuters, schools might have to build new facilities in order to accommodate such requests, which may be hard to do, as Oklahoma lawmakers cut educational spending in order to make up for a $1.3 billion hole in the state’s budget.
The bill is already facing heavy criticism from LGBT supporters, who accuse the lawmakers of discrimination.
“If lawmakers are wondering how this heinous bill might impact our state, they certainly don’t need to look too hard,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of an LGBT group called Freedom Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoman. “In North Carolina – where lawmakers rushed through nearly identical legislation – the state has lost billions in revenue, major companies like Paypal have left in droves and North Carolina’s reputation has been tarnished beyond repair.”
The debate over transgender bathrooms has gained even more attention since a legal fight broke out between the US government and the state of North Carolina. Lawmakers in that state passed a law barring people from using restrooms that don’t correspond with the gender on their birth certificate, but the Justice Department has stated that this violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sex.
Both North Carolina and the federal government have filed lawsuits against each other, setting up what is likely to be a series of showdowns in court that could yield decisions impacting the entire country.