The Supreme Court in California will still decide whether those who refuse to use LGBT pronouns should be put to jail or not, reports say.
The Christian Headlines said the court has agreed last week to hear a case against a 2017 law signed by former Governor Jerry Brown, Senate Bill 219, that punishes individuals for "misgendering" or for not using the preferred pronoun of an LGBT member.
The California Family Council explained that the lawsuit against SB 219 was filed by Taking Offense in 2018 through Attorney David Llewellyn, Jr. when the law came into effect and has since then been in court. Llewellyn contested the law for violating the "rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and freedoms of thought and belief" of long-term care facilities' staff.
The California Third Appellate District Court of Appeals' three-judge panel unanimously ruled against the law's section on pronoun use just last July. The judges said the law's pronouns section was a "content-based restriction of speech that does not survive strict scrutiny." The pronouns section will then be finally decided on by the California Supreme Court.
SB 219 was an addendum to the state's Health and Safety Code, which particularly involves protecting the rights of its residents by placing restrictions on long-term care facilities. The law's main goal is to enact the LGBT Bill of Rights and includes a section on the use of pronouns for LGBT members, which caused controversies and prevented its implementation. Employees of long-term care facilities who violate the law are penalized criminally with imprisonment and fines.
"This bill would enact the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights," the law's text declared.
"Among other things, the bill would make it unlawful, except as specified, for any long-term care facility to take specified actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, including, among others, willfully and repeatedly failing to use a resident's preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns, or denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring or refusing to transfer a resident within a facility or to another facility, or discharging or evicting a resident from a facility," it added.
California Family Council Director Greg Burt pointed out during the legislative committee hearings on SB 19;s approval that it violates freedom of speech as it compels people to do something against their held beliefs. Burt also stressed that the law threatens people for simply disagreeing with LGBT members instead of advocating "mutual respect."
"How can you believe in free speech but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others. Compelled speech is not free speech. Can the government compel a newspaper to use certain pronouns that aren't even in the dictionary? Of course not, or is that coming next?" Burt said.
"Those proposing this bill are saying, 'If you disagree with me about my view of gender, you are discriminating against me. This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect...True tolerance, tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own," he added.