Oklahoma lawmakers want Obama impeached over transgender guidance

Republican politicians filed two bills opposing the federal measure demanding that schools allow children to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

Jon Herskovitz/Reuters
The Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On Thursday, the state's Republican-dominated legislature filed a measure calling for President Barack Obama's impeachment over his administration's recommendations on accommodating transgender students, saying he overstepped his constitutional authority.

Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma filed legislation Thursday opposing the Obama administration's guidance that schools across the nation allow transgender students to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity, instead of the one on their birth certificate.

The legislation also calls for President Obama's impeachment, highlighting how tense the relationship between conservative states and the liberal president, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.

Oklahoma is the latest of a number of conservative states to oppose the federal government's bathroom measure, which was issued after the Department of Justice and the state of North Carolina sued each other over that state's "bathroom bill." The newly passed North Carolina law requires all students to use bathrooms that correspond with the assigned gender on their birth certificates.

Oklahoma lawmakers decided to file the legislation after a meeting with state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican who sees the Obama administration's guidance as massive federal overreach. The lawmakers filed a week before the legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn.

Oklahoma state Sen. Anthony Sykes (R) and state Rep. John Bennett (R) filed one measure condemning Mr. Obama's guidance and calling for Mr. Pruitt to defend the state against federal overreach. It also urges Oklahoma's congressional delegation to file articles of impeachment against Obama and other federal officials.

A second bill, filed by state Senate leader Brian Bingman (R) and House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R), allows students to ask their school district to give them an "accommodation based on the student's sincerely held religious beliefs" to avoid having to share restrooms, athletic changing facilities, or showers with transgender students.

Republicans hold a majority in Oklahoma's House and Senate.

"Oklahomans are simply not going to stand for this utter nonsense," Mr. Bennett said in a statement. He added that the guidance is a violation of the state's sovereignty and an "attempt to use our children as pawns in a liberal agenda."

But those who are for the the Obama guidance liken opposition to support for racial segregation that tore tearing America apart during the civil rights era.

"It's about time schools understand that transgender students are fully protected," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project.

However, even in blue states, where the parents of some transgender children met the guidance with tearful praise, other parents are less sure about the blanket guidelines issued by the Obama administration, as the Monitor's Harry Bruinius and Jessica Mendoza reported.

The federal guidance is not law, and courts have not definitively said whether federal civil rights laws protect transgender people. However, schools that refuse to comply have been warned they may lose federal education money and face civil rights lawsuits from the government.

The measures were filed as Republicans in other states have opposed the guidance, with some seeking to join legal challenges.

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam questioned the need for a special legislative session to block it, as some lawmakers have proposed. North Carolina's GOP chairman asked Democratic state Attorney General Roy Cooper to clarify his position on the guidance. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican lawmakers in Arkansas also reiterated their criticisms.

State GOP lawmakers also passed a law Thursday outlawing physicians from carrying out abortions, with the threat of one-to-three years jail time unless it is done to save a woman's life.

Opponents call the bill unprecedented in the post-Roe. v. Wade era. Supporters say it is not unconstitutional because the state is within its rights to set requirements for medical licenses, according to Reuters.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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