The House of Representatives is voting by roll call. Members, please report to the Chamber. The House is now voting by roll. Will all Members please report to the Chamber. The House is voting by roll. Members to the Chamber, please.,
Those are the words that echoed throughout the Capitol last week the culminated a five hour debate on the anti-discrimination bill HB6599 as we all held out breath as the Tally Board started to show the vote count. Speaker Donovan then said,
Have all the members voted? If all the members have voted, the machine will be locked. Clerk, take the tally.
The numbers flashed up on the Tally Board… 77 Yea 62 Nay. We all let out our collective breath and proceeded to hug everyone in sight, I was crying. In 2007, our bill died in the House after passing in the Senate and the House was in my mind the biggest hurdle to jump.
The day started out with my usual check of the House “Go List”, the list of bills that are going to be voted on in the House that day and ours was not on it and I was being to get worried because the 2011 legislative session ends on June 8 and the bill still has to go to the Senate for a vote.
In the afternoon I went to a meeting and when I got there everyone had their Blackberries and iPhones out and they were staring at them. When I asked what was happening, they said that the bill was just called in the House. (I later learned that the governor had intervened to get the House to bring the bill to a vote.) After the meeting we headed over to the Capitol and when I arrived they were just voting on the friendly amendment (You can find out the actual vote count, information about the bill and the amendments here
). Then Rep. Rowe, Klarides and Cafero introduced the amendment banning the use by trans-people of sex separated facilities. The debate went on and on for over an hour, the Republicans asking about crazy scenarios that could never happen… what if… Finally the debate ended, the bell rang and the familiar voice called out, “The House of Representatives is voting by roll call. Members, please report to the Chamber…” The votes began to tally on the board and the red and green lights looked evenly matched and I held my breath; the clerked called out the vote and the amendment was defeated! But by only 3 votes!
The next amendment that the Republicans introduced was to define gender identity and expression using the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is a guide published by the American Psychiatric Association which is used when working with patients to better understand their illness, needs, potential treatment and to help get paid by insurance companies.). The debate for the amendment went on for what seemed like forever but it was only for a little less than an hour. One of the things that was apparent during the debate was that the Republicans knew nothing about the DSM, for example it is in the process of being revised and no one knows what the final version will say about gender identity. One draft of the DSM changed the name to Gender Incongruity and that might be scraped for still another version.
Finally, the debate for the bill began with the Republicans reiterating what they had said for the last several hours. What got me was just about all of them said, it was with deep sadness that they will vote against the bill, they do not condone discrimination, but… they just don’t want us to go the bathroom. There were two notable speeches in support of the bill by Democrats; the first was by Rep. Roy, he spoke about his cousin who had just transitioned from male to female. He said that he sent his cousin a Christmas card using her female name and received a thank you from her telling him how she cherished the card. That it was such a small gesture but had gone a long way in showing his support of her transition. The other Democrat who spoke was by Rep. Fawcett, when she first started her speech, she said that she was a member of an evangelical church, a social conservative and she voted against the marriage bill. She said she asked herself “WWJD”, What Would Jesus Do, and she is guided by that when she decides on a bill. I thought here we go; she is going to go on a rant against the bill. But then she said, “Would my God discriminate against any person because of gender identity?” and she said no, that he loves all his children. She then went on to say that there are organization opposed to the bill that "who have slandered the intent of the proposal before us" and "stirred up fear” against the bill and that they have "not stood up for the same God or the same faith that I hold so dear," Then pandemonium broke out on the floor, the Minority Leader, Rep. Cafero stood up and shouted, “Point of Order!” that the representative was attaching the motive of the legislators in voting against the bill. Groups of legislators then scurried around talking to other groups, afterward Rep. Cafero withdrew his “Point of Order” and Rep. Fawcett sat down.
Then the bell rang and the clerk called out, “The House of Representatives is voting by roll call…” The vote was 77 Yea and 62 Nay, not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill and 14 Democrats voted against the bill.
The opposition on their blog wrote
Last night, the House of Representatives cast the single worst, most anti-family vote in the last six years. They passed the Bathroom Bill, which does more to move Connecticut toward a society incapable of grasping objective truth than any vote since the 2005 civil unions fight…
That wing [those who voted against the bill] of the party will not include Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield, Westport), who gave the most disgraceful speech of the evening. Announcing that she is a Christian, she said "it's because my faith is so important to me" that she is voting for the Bathroom Bill, and she blasted FIC Action for having "slandered" the bill," saying we "stirred up fear" and that we have "not stood up for the same God or the same faith that [she] hold[s] so dear."
It fact, it was Fawcett, not FIC Action, who embarrassed the faith, by referencing it for the sole purpose of attacking the motives of those with whom she disagrees. In the most dramatic moment of the evening--one not recorded by the Courant's article--House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero interrupted her tirade and forced her to stop her attack on FIC Action by citing the House rules she was breaking.
Notice that she never mentioned the organization by name. They also complained about the fact that the Catholic Church did not oppose the bill.
We expect that the Senate will vote on the bill today or tomorrow. They submitted all the amendments that they tried to pass in the House, plus the amendments that they tried to add in the Judiciary Committee. Please help us and call or email your senator, you can find their contact information here
, tell them to vote for HB6599 as passed by the House.
We need to stop these biased and intolerable amendments and pass this bill.