Male and female icons.

I realized today that I’m a naive 65 year old fiscally conservative, socially responsible Republican left alone in the ballot box and bathroom.

I was present for the hearing on SB 305 while the Secretary of State, who personally voted by mail, railed about the hazards of mail ballots yet didn’t have the presence of mind to take the lead from Montana’s clerk and recorders about why and how to run this special election by mail as allowed by SB 305.

Meanwhile the Republican chairman of the committee ignored input from the majority of Republican and or Democrat commissioners around the state about the effectiveness and openness of mail in ballot elections.

This treatment by the Republican Party claiming local control is best control. If I felt alone, these county officials had to feel naked, alone and unrepresented by the majority members of the judiciary committee.

The Republican members didn’t have the wisdom to fully consult and consider the advise of the state’s clerk and recorders detailing the mail in ballot process. Only after the public chatted “ask the clerks” did members of this committee ask for a clarification from our own Regina Plettenberg, Clerk and Recorder regarding the mail in election process.

In addition, the chairman disallowed a former Republican legislator and present commissioner of Lewis & Clark county from answering questions about the mail in ballots of SB 305. The majority Republican members of this committee should be ashamed of their undocumented claims against using this one time special election mail in ballot process, their lack for respect for bipartisan support for SB 305 from 54 out of 56 counties, and their inability to set aside their party politics to support SB 305 for the common good of Montana.

Next to be heard by the House Judiciary committee was HB 609.

The “bathroom bill” requires gender verification by birth certificate prior to using a bathroom to insure that everyone relieves themselves in the proper bathroom. This is an issue dear to my heart considering I’m on blood pressure meds that require, when you have to go you have to go, now.

The best way to explain HB 609 as proposed is this hypothetical account assuming HB 609 was in place during today’s extended hearing process when I needed to take a bathroom break.

First in this hypothetical account, I go to the hearing room’s Sergeant of Arms and relay that I have to use the bathroom. Once at the bathroom I present my birth certificate to another Sergeant of Arms enforcing HB 609 verifying I am a man qualified by birth biology to use the men’s bathroom and I take my position in the appropriate enclosed stall.

Meanwhile by chance my female House representative has similar biological needs and presents herself to a separate Sergeant of Arms enforcing HB 609 at the women’s bathroom. She has forgotten her birth certificate. She can not prove she is a real women in a red dress, white lapel pin, representative name tag and styled hair without her birth certificate.

Upset she retrieves her birth certificate from hearing room, returns to the bathroom Sergeant of Arms and gains access to the women’s bathroom. Once in the bathroom, in a condition by now, that could only be called a holding pattern, she discovers four petite female MSU students hiding in the handicapped stall in fear of their purity and virginity. The source of their anxiety is a full bearded male in the adjacent toilet stall.

Set to go rather than say whoa, she immediately requests this unidentified person’s birth certificate. Thank God everything is correct under HB 609 which requires this transgender male to use the women’s bathroom.

The MSU students’ virginities are saved from their own unfounded imagined threats. My representative finally gets to go. What a relief! Yet this relief may soon fade when you consider the cost of bathroom monitors for every bathroom in the state to enforce HB 609.

There is physical and emotional relief for all except the transgender male in this story. All he wants is to answer the call of nature in private, as we all do, as we feel the need, where we want to, as we want, without threat of harm or public awareness. This is a freedom not allowed to this transgender individual under HB 609 resulting in personal humiliation and threats for the entire LBGBT community.

Meanwhile, a lone fiscal conservative leaves the men’s bathroom clutching his birth certificate, relieved of nature’s call. He’s aware of the emotional and institutional Republican majority privilege playing out in hearing room 137 yet saddened by its methods, results, waste of taxpayer’s money and lack of human compassion.

Call your representative and request they: Vote yes on SB 305. Vote no on HB 609.

–Archie L Thomas, Corvallis