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NJ Legislators Propose Ban on State-Sponsored Travel in response to North Carolina’s HB2 Bathroom Bill; NJFPC moves to the frontlines, opposing travel ban before State Senate Committee

The “LGBT movement”, as we’ve come to know it, has grown and morphed with such rapid intensity in recent months, it seems it’s no longer a movement at all. It has become a fierce and nasty culture war whose only “movement” is on the battlefield in bathrooms and locker rooms across the country.

How did we end up here?

It began on March 23 after North Carolina passed HB2, common sense privacy and safety legislation. HB2 was designed in response to a set of highly controversial ordinance changes passed by the Charlotte City Council in February. These ordinances included the open bathroom policy, basically establishing gender-neutral restrooms to accommodate the .03% of transgender Americans who want to use the public restrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with, regardless of their biological sex.

While the governor of North Carolina and those supporting HB2 continue to withstand the onslaught of bullying and attacks, we’ve seen bathroom battles begin igniting all over the country and specifically in schools throughout New Jersey, right here in our backyards.

It doesn’t stop there.

New Jersey may be next to join the growing number of U.S. states, including New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington and Minnesota, banning state-sponsored non-essential travel to North Carolina and other states with controversial gender bathroom legislation.

New Jersey has become fully engaged in this brutal culture war that has so deeply divided the United States; and we are now on the frontlines.

On Thursday, May 5th the NJFPC went to Trenton in support of North Carolina’s HB2 and on behalf of NJ residents who also want common sense privacy and protection to be upheld in public restrooms. We presented our position on NC’s HB2 and testified against new legislation S2043 at hearing before a state senate committee. State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) proposed the legislation S2043, which would ban state-sponsored travel to states with “religious freedom laws that don’t protect against discrimination of gay and transgender people”, including North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.

The ban would apply to state departments and boards, as well as state-funded colleges and universities-with the exception of emergency travel. The companion bill to S2043 passed in the state Assembly last month, 54-17.

Moments before we were called up to give our testimony Senator Lesniak addressed the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, stating,

“New Jersey should not sit on the sidelines of this battle to protect the rights of the LGBT community.” 

In Friday’s news The Star Ledger and other local NJ media sources included the following portion of our testimony in their publications,

Lauren Gerardi with the New Jersey Family Policy Council testified in opposition to the bill (S2043), saying the state Legislature shouldn’t be getting involved in the laws of other states on behalf of a tiny fraction of the population.

“It just seems that the priorities are out of place,” she said, adding that these laws simply codify established restroom etiquette. 

“It’s worrisome to us that our New Jersey Legislature seems compelled to take action against North Carolina, she said. “There are a lot of people that do agree with what North Carolina is trying to do.”

There were several testimonies at the hearing, from both proponents and opponents of the bill. Aaron Potenza, program director at Garden State Equality, NJ’s statewide LGBT advocacy and educational organization, countered Ms. Gerardi’s statements when he addressed the committee; was explaining that passage of this bill will send a positive message to LGBT youth in NJ that their home state stands by their rights.

Mr. Potenza strongly supports the passage of S2043; dressed in professional business attire Mr. Potenza appeared as male as every other man at the hearing. However, he began his testimony by explaining his personal commitment to this issue and the overall LGBT movement; sharing his experience as a transgender person. Mr. Potenza was born a biological female.

S2043 passed with a 3-2 vote on partisan lines; it will be scheduled for a hearing before the full NJ state senate. We will continue to follow this bill and keep you up to date on it.

Here is an actual excerpt from our testimony:

New Jersey Family Policy Council believes that the privacy and safety of all individuals should come first; before any interest group’s agenda or political motivation. As the LGBT movement grows, its agenda takes precedence in this country and things like commonsense, basic biology and privacy rights are being tossed out in order to accommodate the .03% (three tenths of one percent) that makes up our gender-challenged culture. 

As a woman, I’m asking other common sense Americans to join us in protecting the privacy & safety of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends.

This is the bottom-line; NC’s HB2 and similar common sense are not about religious freedom, bigotry, or anti-LGBT discrimination. It’s really much less complicated than all that. We support North Carolina’s HB2 simply because it makes sense. The law clearly reflects the way we’ve always handled bathrooms here in the U.S. Yet now, those of us supporting the same “bathroom etiquette” are called “anti-LGBT bigots”.

»North Carolina passed legislation that simply restored what has always existed- the common sense policy that has been universally understood and observed in American culture; it’s all about the basics-biological males, those with “boy parts” and biological females, those with “girl parts” use the restroom and undress with those of the same biological gender, i.e. those with the “same parts”.

»Suddenly NJ legislators are compelled to take action, become involved in the legislative matters of another state on account of their strong convictions to make .03% of the population “more comfortable” in public restrooms.

»NC’s HB2 simply restored the state to what it had been before Charlotte’s city council passed an ordinance permitting men in women’s bathrooms. Not one state governor or NJ legislator proposed a state travel ban to NC before HB2… 

»If NJ legislators are spending taxpayer money to travel out-of-state for nonessential travel; they have no need to be there anyway. There’s plenty to do here at home. 

The NJ legislators supporting this bill should also then consider proposing legislation to ban nonessential state travel to the other 32 states that do not have a “discrimination law” for transgender individuals in public accommodations.

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