A photo of beth lear

FFRF Action Fund deplores Ohio legislator’s hatefulness 

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The Christian nationalist attack on transgender rights is in full swing in Ohio the start of the year, with the state House overturning Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a gender affirming care ban.

At a hearing before the vote to override the veto, state Rep. Beth Lear used alarmingly violent religious rhetoric against transgender people or those seeking to support them. 

During her statement as sponsor of HB 183, which would ban trans people from accessing appropriate restroom and locker room facilities in all Ohio public educational institutions, including colleges and universities, she said: “In Luke 17, Jesus says that if you caused one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for you to have a millstone hung around your neck, and thrown into the deepest sea.” She added as justification for the bill that in Genesis, God created people “male and female.” 

“This explicitly religious fear-mongering has no basis in reality, and is not a valid foundation for lawmaking,” comments Freedom From Religion Foundation Equal Justice Works Fellow Kat Grant. “Advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence victims have been debunking the ‘trans bathroom predator’ myth for years, and to use a religious text to imply that someone should be executed for simply existing in public is a clear violation of the First Amendment.” 

This is not the first time conservative Christian legislators have invoked this bible verse in order to justify their hate-filled legislative agenda. In 2023, bills banning gender affirming care in Oklahoma and South Carolina were directly named “Millstone Acts,” referring to the same verse. As of Jan.11, there have been over 200 anti LGBTQIA-plus bills introduced nationwide, wildly outpacing 2023 and putting the United States on track for a third recordbreaking year in a row.

If DeWine’s veto is also overridden in the Senate, Ohio would be the 23rd state restricting transition-related care and the 25th to limit trans student participation.

“The increasingly religious tone of attacks on LGBTQIA-plus rights should be a concern for all Americans,” notes FFRF Co-President Annie-Laurie Gaylor. “Religious bigotry has no place in our secular democracy, and too many of our legislators are advancing a hateful agenda in neglect of their constitutional obligations.”

FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.