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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Real VT: Gender Identity at the Statehouse

I know it's not really a novelty anymore, but I can't help feel a little thrill every time I whip out my laptop and blog from the Statehouse in Montpelier. There's just something exhilerating about sneeking my slightly subversive perspective into these hallowed halls. I highly recommend the experience.

Dscf3904Today I'm here for the floor debate on H. 865, the gender identity and expression bill. I'm sitting in the plush Cedar Creek Room. Just got done interviewing Ace McArelton, builder and part owner of Black Sheep Books. Ace was born female, but considers himself "genderqueer." He says, "I don't feel like a man, and I don't feel like a woman. I feel like a transgender butch. That's a great way of describing it for me."

Ace is here to support the bill, along with a whole passel of queer activists. This is a shot of him in the Cedar Creek Room, sitting next to that nekkid slave lamp that caused all that fuss last year.

Also ran into Euan Bear, who recently stepped down as editor of Vermont's GLBT newspaper Out in the Mountains. I asked her what she was doing here, now that she's no longer an official member of the fourth estate. She shot back, "I'm a citizen. I'm allowed." So true, so true!

UPDATE, 6:46 p.m.: I should also mention I had a lengthy conversation with Kevin Blier, from the Center for American Cultural Renewal. He opposes the bill, which passed on a voice vote in the House tonight. I first encountered Blier at last fall's "Freedomfest," a gathering of conservative and libertarian activists looking to galvanize a new right wing in Vermont. At the time, he told a workshop I attended that defeating the gender identity bill was one of his group's top priorities this legislative session. But I guess they lost this round of that fight.

I enjoyed talking with Blier. We'd spoken over the phone briefly after I wrote a story about Freedomfest — he didn't appreciate my characterization of his organization, and let me know in no uncertain terms. But this time we spoke sitting just inches apart on one of those little Victorian-era loveseats they've got positioned throughout the Statehouse. Man, those benches are TINY.

We agreed to disagree about things like two moms raising a baby boy (I'm for it, he's against it). But I walked away really appreciating the fact that I live in a country where two people who disagree so passionately about something like that can have a civil conversation. And what better setting for that than the building in which our little state works out its differences? Man, I love the Statehouse.

UPDATE II: But wait! Burlington Rep. Jason Lorber just called me to say that there will be more debate about this bill tomorrow. Apparently it's not a done deal yet. Stay tuned... Here's a link to today's AP story about the bill.

UPDATE III, Wednesday 2:45 pm: I was listening to the legislative session today and it sounds like the House just passed H. 865, the gender identity bill. Voice vote, no debate. On to the Senate...

February 28, 2006 at 03:19 PM in Real VT | Permalink


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>I walked away really appreciating the fact that I live in a country where two people who disagree so passionately about something like that can have a civil conversation.<

We're sure that we all do, except for Kevin. His agenda is not only to oppose H.865. He would turn back the clock in a variety of ways. He would certainly aim for the disenfranchisement gay & lesbian families, while also seeking to strip away women's reproductive healthcare protections and politicizing the judiciary, to name only a few of his unsavory views.

Bumping into someone like Blier at the Statehouse would be something akin to bumping into Gregor Strasser at the old Reichstag. While Nazi comparisons are usually excessive, uhhh, no so much in this case.


Posted by: Blier Watch | Mar 7, 2006 2:01:28 PM

More proof that the extreme left is either unwilling or unable to enter into a civil discussion about public policy differences. Infusing the Nazi comparisons is not only passe, but it actually shows that you bring nothing to the table making a plausible, rational argument for your position. But hey, who's accusing the left of offering anything rational?

Reminds me of a great t-shirt slogan I fell in love with years ago: "I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person". Seems whoever wrote the post has nothing but the same old tired, heated, emotional response that only other radicals such as themselves would identify with. And besides, a lot of my Jewish friends, who know of my writings on the Holocaust as an undergraduate, would be very surprised to hear I was an anti-Semite. More slanderous characterizations by people who know nothing about me.

Posted by: Kevin Blier | Mar 8, 2006 12:15:16 PM

We didn't see anything in the post we made saying that you're an anti-Semite, Kevin, but factual argument has never been a strong suit for you. Your group's StraightPride.com connection is very troubling. The founder of StraightPride.com, (Michael) Craig Storm, is a member of a neo-Nazi messageboard and has been endorsed by David Duke, a known Holocaust denier.

BTW, were your undergraduate writings on the Holocaust anything like David Irving's? We'd love to read them.


Posted by: Blier Watch | Mar 8, 2006 1:48:56 PM

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