Spin Control

“A country run by idiots”

Audience comments during the Spokane City Council’s debate over adding gender identity to local civil rights protections were at times so graphically vile that Councilman Jon Snyder suggested it was evidence of why the ordinance is necessary.

Former state Rep. John Ahern, for example, warned of increased rapes and other violent crimes that he believes would escalate if men dressed as women were allowed to use public restrooms. Another audience member described cases of sexual torture that included setting victims on fire. A woman who drew a mustache on her face and dressed as a man (pictured) took to the podium to declare that America is becoming “a country run by idiots.”

The proposal was approved Monday night on a 5-2 vote, with several councilmen calling the tenor of the testimony “offensive.” Among them was Councilman Mike Allen, who opposed the measure on technical grounds but joined others in expressing disappointment over some of the more vicious comments made by audience members.

Allen said he’s worried that by adding local protections, which already are provided under state law, it would open the city to litigation if lawsuits ever arose over something like equal access to school locker rooms. He said he’d prefer to let the state pick up the tab for that kind of legal fight.

The proposal also added local prohibitions against discriminating based on military status and disabilities. It was proposed by the city's Human Rights Commission. A video of Monday night's meeting can be seen here. The gender identity issue is toward the end.

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David Wasson oversees coverage of politics and state and local government and assists with editing on the City Desk.

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