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Tag: Marilou Johanek

Ohio Republican Lawmakers Voted to Take Away Parental Rights

Ohio Representative Gary Click, an IFB pastor in Fremont Ohio. Click, a homophobe, wants to ban all transgender healthcare — minors and adults

By Marilou Johanek, Ohio Capital Journal, Used with Permission

Busted. Ohio Republicans love to grandstand on parents’ rights and protection of children when they’re pushing culture war crazy like banning books, whitewashing history, or canceling nonexistent gender indoctrination in grade schools. They’re fighting for your parental rights to be in charge of your child and to protect that darling from all the fearful imaginings invented on Fox “News.”

All for show. A charade to justify mindless legislation on made-up crises. But the gig is up. State lawmakers masquerading as champions of parents and protectors of children just voted against parents deciding what’s best for their children and against protecting Ohio children from harm. Busted.

The supermajorities of gerrymandered Republicans in the Ohio Senate and Ohio House voted to replace parental authority with political control. The radical fundamentalists running state government with an iron fist know better than you parents when it comes to your child. Simple peasants with kiddos can’t be trusted to do the right thing. They need to be told by unaccountable authoritarians in the Statehouse.    

We tell parents what to do all the time. So this isn’t any different. Sometimes the General Assembly has to step in and tell them what to do,” said Republican state Sen. Stephen Huffman.

“The same government that requires you to send your children to school…has the obligation to prevent parents and physicians from chemically castrating and sterilizing their children,” said Republican state Rep. Gary Click, sponsor of the extreme anti-trans bill becoming law in less than 90 days.

“The governor has said we should let parents make these decisions. Well, that’s nice as a headline,” but “there are parents making bad decisions, as parents always do,” said Republican state Senate President Matt Huffman.

What the impossibly arrogant and outrageous Republican overlords in the Ohio legislature are saying is that parents aren’t up to the job of raising their children without right-wingers calling the shots. Clearly the extremists believe parents with transgender minors are inadequate to the task of providing health care for them not proscribed by politicians (without medical or psychological training). 

When MAGA Republicans overrode Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of an anti-trans bill that bans gender-affirming care for minors and restricts transgender participation in sports, they mocked parents of this state under the pretext of protecting their kids. They trotted out the same fearmongering delusions and alternative realities parroted in scores of other Republican-dominated legislatures to beat up a strawman unable to hit back.

They legislated away the rights of Ohio’s transgender youth and their parents not for any credible, medically-valid, evidence-based rationale, but because exploiting transgenderism is politically expedient in MAGA world. State Republicans enacted a gender-affirming healthcare ban — despite overwhelming opposition from physicians, children’s hospitals, counselors, parents, patients, and every major medical association in the country — because polls backed indefensible cruelty. Republicans stopped Ohio parents, relying on the best medical advice and long-established clinical practices, from giving their trans children gender-affirming treatment that could well save their lives.

The governor relayed parental concerns when he vetoed the bill Republicans restored. “They told me their child is alive only because they received care,” he said. “Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life.” Ultimately, Republican lawmakers believed targeting the transgender community with discriminatory legislation was worth sacrificing human life to score ideological points.

They broadly dismissed trans youth as “kids doing something stupid” and portrayed their parents as pushovers who succumb to “the culture that has been created behind this movement.” (?) Ohio Senate President Huffman — presumably a scholar on gender dysphoria, its diagnosis and treatment — also argued baselessly that “parents are being pressured” to accept their transgender children who are being “encouraged by a lot of people” to be trans so “of course, they’re gonna latch onto it.”

With that tortured logic, Republican leadership gaveled a sweeping anti-trans bill into law and ignored DeWine’s warning that the consequences on “a very small number of children … would be profound.” Collateral damage. The price of maintaining a MAGA Republican grip on power through hate-baiting. 

After putting vulnerable transgender youth in unnecessary danger by denying their parents the right to save them with health care, Republican state senators joined their counterparts in the House in refusing to protect Ohio’s kids and communities from tobacco addiction. It’s the leading cause of preventable death in Ohio, according to the state’s health director. 

However, the GOP supermajorities sided with Big Tobacco over local efforts to reduce the high rates of tobacco use among young Ohioans. So flavored tobacco products, hugely popular with high schoolers and young adults, will soon be back on store shelves after Republicans overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that prevented Ohio cities from banning their sale. 

Lawmakers voted not in the public interest or as proponents of kids, many of whom start vaping with widely available flavored products that target children with fruit or candy flavors. They legislated away the home rule rights of people trying to improve public health and prevent kids from becoming nicotine addicts at 14, 15, or 16 years old. Protecting the tobacco industry and businesses was more important.

Ohio MAGA Republicans can wail all they want about the protection of children or the rights of parents but truly the gig is up. The gerrymandered frauds have been exposed again. Busted.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Ohio Republicans Marginalize and Demonize Transgender People

gay pride flag

By Marilou Johanek, Ohio Capital Journal, Used by Permission

The right to exist is being erased for transgender kids and adults. You know it. There is always another bill or law being passed in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures, including Ohio’s, targeting the transgender community. It’s a vulnerable community. No match for the aggressive national campaign launched against it by the GOP and an unholy army of fanatical Christian haters. 

Trans-Americans are being nullified as people ahead of 2024 to stick it to the “woke left” and ensure right-wing evangelicals vote Republican. A political wedge used to win elections by pulverizing a population of nonconformists into nothingness. Calculated cruelty to destroy lives for power.   

Transgender adolescents are most at-risk of being rubbed out by the unsparing hostility of anti-trans rhetoric and lawmaking. They’ve been made to feel like a freak show, aberrations to be pushed into the shadows, and potentially suicide just to score cheap political points. It is so wrong and so unchristian.

But the Republican abuse heaped on trans youth, already stigmatized and mistreated, is unrelenting. Right-wingers have unleashed a torrent of unjustified bills to purge the trans community from public life. It is hateful, hollow legislating to curb the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of LGBTQ+ people. 

When the messaging by high-profile Republicans day in and day out is that those people are ungodly deviants destroying all that’s right and wholesome, hate crimes follow. Violence answers the toxic attacks against a group portrayed as perverts. Their freedom to live the way they choose must be stopped.

Last week, Ohio House Republicans passed a slate of bans and restrictions on trans sports, medical care, and speech. The legislation doesn’t solve any pressing problem in Ohio or respond to any pressing constituent ultimatum for change. 

Mainstream Ohio is consumed with real problems like the economy, affordable housing, and day care, not with banning trans girls from female sports or blocking parents from providing medical care for their trans kid. There is no public outcry for pre-clearance of LGBTQ topics in school classrooms or for teachers to out their students. 

That’s mean and muzzling. Who would go out of their way to harm transgender youngsters who are just trying to survive? Not a majority of Americans. But a vocal minority of far-right politicians and religious zealots is on crusade to crush young lives without mercy.   

Theirs is a politically expedient partnership, deceptively cloaked in concern for children, girls sports, and parental rights. It is an ugly charade with real-life consequences. A record number of statehouse bills nationwide have been submitted this year (560 and counting).

They are uniformly steeped in misinformation and disinformation to scare people who don’t know any trans or queer people. It’s a coordinated enterprise to scapegoat a group of human beings into oblivion with a thousand legislative cuts.

The Christian right movement is on a heartless mission, aided and abetted by state and federal Republicans, to cancel trans people entirely: Laws must be enacted to erase the transgender footprint until it is gone. Ruthless edicts must purify a morally homogeneous culture of undesirables.

We are on a dark road. History has gone there before. In Nazi Germany groups of people deemed incompatible with regime purists disappeared. Isolated. Demonized. Gone. For the good of the master race. 

A speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference told the crowd, “For the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated.” An open call for the annihilation of human beings who happen to be trans. People applauded. It wasn’t them being torn down. 

That’s how it starts. The moral connectedness that holds humanity together breaks apart. Suddenly some people are not deserving of care and compassion. Like those instinctively disliked or dismissed as different. Anyone in another tribe. The marginalized. Not your concern.

They can be bludgeoned by unjust laws or dehumanizing oppression. Persecuted for existing. As a transgender child. As a Jew. “We preferred to keep silent,” wrote an anguished German pastor in 1946. “All of that was not our affair” — the persecutions of fellow Germans, the purges of neighbors and friends, the camps, the deaths. In his powerful postwar confession of unforgivable passivity and indifference, Martin Niemoller spoke for the ages.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I am not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Then they came for trans youth. With Ohio House Bills 68 [introduced by infamous IFB pastor and transphobe Gary Click] and HB 8 [Gary Click is a cosponsor of this bill]. One bans trans athletes and trans medical care for minors. The other is a political dog whistle (modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill) with vague curriculum censorship and mandates for outing students to their parents who question their gender identity. 

The anti-trans narrative is the Ohio Senate now. The cost of not speaking out is life itself. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser