Candidates for Jefferson City Council were asked for their opinions on transgender issues as it relates to the city facilities. The city pool was rented out for a “gender-inclusive” swimming party last summer. The citizens asked the candidates if they’d be comfortable with a transgender individual using the same restroom as their daughter.
She also asked if they’d support a third bathroom – a private gender-neutral bathroom.
Mark Wright said he is “completely against the term transgender.”
“The Bible speaks that, an individual who, uh, um, engages in that kind of act is an abomination,” Wright said. “As I mentioned earlier, I’m an elder at the Church of Christ here in Jefferson. The New Testament speaks also that homosexuality or anything of that nature, so we can get into our opinions on that if you want to, but the Bible speaks against it, stating that it is an abomination and it’s a sin.”
Wright said he would “absolutely” be opposed to anybody going into a female restroom, shower room or “whatever” and opening themselves up to that.
“I’m not for that at all,” he said. “Would not be for that. I wouldn’t want my daughters, granddaughters or anybody to step inside of that. The reverse is also true. I would think the same way from the female aspect as well.”
Wright said he was told it is the legislature who handles all of that.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at that differently as well,” he said.
Heath Enns, who is not currently on the council, said he agrees he would not want his daughters inside the bathroom with a transgender person coming through.
“I am totally against that,” he said. “I understand that there are some laws that make that a little murky and I’m sure the current sitting councilmen have been advised of that. I’m totally against it. If there’s a way to create a third bathroom, I’d be all for that.”
Pat Zmolek, one of the incumbents, said his personal opinions on the subject do not matter.
“One of the reasons that people elect city council is to make sure we’re following all the current laws and ordinances,” he said. “You’re not going to like my answer, but unfortunately my personal opinion on these things really don’t matter. We have to follow the laws and the ordinances as they’re written today.”
Zmolek said if everyone would “take a little step back” and let the council work on it for a while, he thinks they’d find a “suitable solution.”
Harry Ahrenholtz said he thinks all city-owned facilities should be welcoming, safe and convenient.
“(The rec board) is working on things that I think will address these issues,” Ahrenholtz said. “I also know that when we do these things, we have to be non-discriminatory – follow our ordinances and our codes, and comply with state and federal laws. And right now, that’s what we are doing. But I think this issue goes beyond that in that we will do that – we will comply, but let’s step back and work on the safety, the convenience and just the overall welcoming of our facilities.”
Darren Jackson, the third incumbent, said the city is “required to follow the law.” He said the third bathroom is a solution, but cautioned transgender people will not be forced to use it.