- The Magazine
The Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania has said that biological “plumbing” is the standard by which transgender people should determine which bathroom they use.
State Sen. Scott Wagner made the comments during a town hall in Zelienople, Pa., on Aug. 16. The town hall was recorded and posted to Wagner’s Facebook page.
As a Republican running in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 800,000, Wagner has tried to position himself as a pragmatist and not an ideological culture warrior. Conversely, he also touts the fact that he’s been endorsed by President Trump and Vice President Pence.
During the meeting, Wagner was asked by an audience member about his stance on certain social issues, including abortion and transgender bathroom bills.
After responding that he was “100% pro-life,” Wagner then began a long response in which he touched on the issue of nondiscrimination laws, but seemed to imply that he would not sign any measure that would expand LGBTQ rights if it allowed transgender people to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.
“Let me talk about the bathroom issue,” he said. “I was asked two years ago if I would consider co-sponsoring an anti-discrimination bill. I went to see the senator who was introducing the bill, and asked him why he was introducing the bill, give me some background. He said ‘I have a friend who is gay,’ or relative who’s gay, ‘and he’s concerned he could be fired from his job without any recourse or protection.’
“I took that bill and I took it to my law firm in York, Pennsylvania. I asked my employment law attorney, and I paid, at my own expense, and asked for an opinion: that if I have someone who is, you know, gay, who works at my company, could I fire them if I found out they were gay? He answers ‘Yes.’ I do not discriminate in my companies, and I don’t believe anybody in this room believes in discrimination,” Wagner added. “And that was twisted during the primary it was twisted to say I’m a supporter of third bathrooms.
“That’s a very tricky issue. To get it off the table, I would not sign a bathroom bill if it came to my desk, nor would I promote a bathroom bill. It’s real simple, if you’re born with male plumbing, you use the men’s room. If you’re born with female plumbing, you use the ladies’ room. Period.”
The Human Rights Campaign — which has endorsed Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf for re-election due to his support for pro-LGBTQ legislation — attacked Wagner for his comments, saying they showed “an alarming disregard for fundamental human decency.”
“Transgender people should never be singled out for discrimination and forced to use a restroom inconsistent with their gender identity,” Chris Sgro, HRC’s communications director and the former executive director of Equality North Carolina, said in a statement. “This is the same type of deeply discriminatory propaganda used in North Carolina during the now infamous HB 2 fight that inflicted tremendous harm on the state’s people, reputation, and economy. The fair-minded and hardworking people of Pennsylvania deserve better than this from their leaders.”
See the video of Wagner’s remarks below (comments begin around the 49-minute mark):
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!