California nursing home workers had better start choosing their words carefully. A law signed last week by Governor Jerry Brown threatens long-term care workers with fines and jail time for refusing to call a transgender patient by the individual’s preferred pronoun, even if doing so violates an employee’s religious beliefs.
The “LGBT Senior Bill of Rights” gives transgender residents of California long-term care facilities the right to be addressed by the name and pronoun of their choice. If an employee “willfully and repeatedly fail[s] to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns,” the employee could be fined up to $1,000, jailed for up to one year, or both.
“How can you believe in free speech but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” Greg Burt of the California Family Council asked the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in July. “Compelled speech,” he added, “is not free speech.”
Although the pronoun mandate has attracted the most media attention, it is far from the only dangerous and disturbing stipulation of the law, which grants homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender residents a wide range of privileges. It prohibits long-term care facilities from denying them admission, transferring them to another facility, or evicting them. It requires facilities to assign residents to gender-specific rooms in accordance with their chosen “gender identity” and to let said residents use the restrooms of their choice. It mandates that facilities allow residents to be dressed in accordance with their preferred gender, even if it means forcing workers who oppose dressing men as women, or vice versa, to perform that task. It even forces facilities to permit LGBT residents to have “consensual sexual relations” with anyone they desire unless the facility prohibits all sexual relations among residents.
“Care homes that fail to comply with the new law could incur a fine up to $150,000 levied by the state Fair Employment and Housing Commission, have their operating license revoked, or both,” reported CBN News.
“The homosexual activists have gotten everything they wanted in California law,” Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com told CBN News. “This transsexual agenda is being pushed now to destroy free speech. If ‘Jeff’ now wants to be called ‘Jane,’ you better do it or you could get fined, shut down, or have jail time.”
State Senator Scott Wiener, who sponsored the bill, dismissed such concerns as “just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections.” The Democrat’s office told Fox News that “violations for residential care facilities under existing law rarely resulted in criminal charges, especially for minor violations.” Whether that is true or not, the fact remains that the new law makes prosecution a very real threat.
Worse still, the law offers no exemptions for facilities or employees that object to the LGBT agenda on religious grounds. It explicitly states that “every residential care facility for the elderly shall abide by the provisions” of the law or face the consequences.
“Everyone is entitled to their religious view,” Wiener said. “But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”
In other words, in Wiener’s opinion, Californians are free to believe whatever they want — at least for now — but if their beliefs conflict with LGBT dogma, they had better not let them inform how they live their lives or run their institutions, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and speech notwithstanding.
Of such opinions, Burt said in July, “This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect. True tolerance tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own.”
How things will play out under the new law remains to be seen; but Thomasson warned, “The state of California has thrown land mines over these care homes and people are going to step on them.” Golden State nursing homes and their employees had better watch their step.