A strange tactic has emerged from the conservative push to overturn Washington state’s LGBT protections – a tactic which includes proponents of anti-LGBT legislation following women to the restroom to get their signatures.
According to Think Progress, Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington was leading an effort to collect signatures for Initiative 1515. In an awkward twist, recordings were recently leaked of Backholm telling male staffers to hang out next to women’s restrooms, and then to follow them in if they don’t initially get a signature.
From Think Progress:
At one meeting on April 27, Backholm can be heard giving various tips to petitioners, such as going to places like retirement communities, where the residents are all registered voters who are excited to have visitors. “For gentlemen,” he then suggested, “what I would encourage you to do, if you are so bold and you want to make the point, take your petitions and stand outside the women’s restroom at the mall, and if any of the women don’t want to sign it, just go ahead and follow ’em on in [laughter from crowd]. ‘Maybe this will be a better time to sign our little petition’, and we can make the point that way.”
It wasn’t the first time Backholm made the suggestion. On an episode of the FPIW podcast back in April, he shared the idea again with an enthusiastic co-host Zach Freeman (skip to 10:55 in the audio below):
KIRO-7 asked Backholm about his comments (of which echoed again during a May 10 event), but he refused to comment.
“[Backholm’s] behavior was inexcusable and reprehensible. And it is absolutely not protected under the law,” Washington’s Human Rights Commission said in a news release after the incident. “Persons who enter the wrong gender-segregated facility for nefarious purposes can be asked to leave in no uncertain terms. And they would have no recourse.”
The notion that transgender protections allow men to enter women’s restrooms has — to this point — been an invented hypothetical that has never actually happened. Backholm and the I-1515 campaign are now trying to actually create that problem in real life for the sole purpose of scaring people into voting against transgender equality.
Opponents of I-1515 are demanding the Backholm step down or be fired.