San Francisco Chronicle: Scott Wiener’s LGBT bill riles conservatives

September 5, 2017

By Heather Knight

When he was a San Francisco supervisor, Sen. Scott Wiener got a lot of flak from progressives for being the buttoned-up, boring moderate who mandated that the city’s naked people cover their genitals.

Now that he’s a Sacramento legislator, he’s getting even more flak — this time from the far right. Not only is he a San Francisco liberal (shocking!), but he’s also gay (good heavens!). And he’s spending a lot of time — grab the smelling salts! — writing laws to help the LGBT community.

Wiener was already on former Fox News blabber Bill O’Reilly’s rhymes-with-snit list after, as a supervisor, he walked away from a Fox News reporter at City Hall and said, “Fox News isn’t real news.” The always mature O’Reilly countered that Wiener was “a pinhead.”

Now that Wiener’s in Sacramento, that kerfuffle seems like child’s play. From his legislation to decriminalize the knowing transmission of HIV to the proposal to add a third gender — “nonbinary” — to state identification cards, Wiener seems to be picking all the items sure to raise the ire of hard-core conservatives.

Now, he’s really struck gold with a seemingly more innocuous proposal: implementing an LGBT Senior Bill of Rights. It would protect gay, lesbian and transgender elders from discrimination in nursing homes through several measures, including requiring staff to use the resident’s preferred pronoun and name, and preventing staff from denying admission to the facility based on sexual orientation.

It has already passed the Senate, but it’s unclear if the Assembly will vote on it before the end of the session this month.

Conservative news sites are really having a field day. There’s the story with the headline that just rolls off the tongue: “California LGBTQ bill could force grandma to share a room with a gender-confused man in care center.” The stories also dwelled, as they so often do, on the whole transgender bathroom issue. And, of course, they refer to Wiener as “a California homosexual senator.”

The latest line of attack against the proposal? Sites such as Breitbart News are saying the bill would send nursing home staff who use the wrong pronoun for a transgender person to jail for a year. You’ll be shocked to learn that’s not true.

“That’s absurd — it’s never going to happen,” Wiener said. “This is pure transphobia.”

The provisions in his bill would become part of the same health and safety code that governs long-term care facilities around California. While the most egregious violations of the code, such as abusing elders, come with jail time, using the wrong pronoun wouldn’t. The bill is backed by Equality California, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Transgender Law Center and many other groups.

Asked whether he’s proud to have made so many enemies because of his pro-gay-rights legislation, Wiener said, “Absolutely.”

“It’s their national pastime to throw bombs at San Francisco, but it makes me even more proud to be a San Franciscan,” he said. “I will take those enemies any day of the week.”

Read the article on the San Francisco Chronicle website