Progressive activists behind the anti-misgendering movement, which sought to heavily punish people for not using a person’s preferred pronouns in a new era where there are apparently dozens of different genders available to be claimed, suffered a massive legal defeat this week.
According to the Epoch Times, citing First Amendment grounds, a California appeals court ruled in a unanimous decision to strike down a state-level anti-misgendering law that penalized health care workers for “using pronouns inconsistent with elderly long-term care patients’ claimed gender identity.”
The ruling is in
It was the Court of Appeal of the State of California, 3rd Appellate District’s return to logic and common sense — and the U.S. Constitution — which resulted in the defeat for the activists who believe in multiple genders and call for punishments for those who do not recognize those genders.
The case, known as Taking Offense v. State of California, was decided on July 16, in a challenge to laws written in the state several years ago in party by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D), who argued at the time that existing laws didn’t specifically cover long-term care patients who claim to be something other than male or female.
The law, as it was written at the time, was simple, stating it “prohibits staff members of long-term care facilities from willfully and repeatedly referring to a facility resident by other than the resident’s preferred name or pronoun when clearly informed of the name and pronoun.”
Weiner said at the time that he was inspired to get behind such a provision as he’d received multiple reports of elderly patients being “abused” in the sense that they weren’t being called the proper pronoun.
The group who brought the case to court, Taking Offense — which is group of California residents — argued that such a provision violated the Free Speech protections granted to the health care workers in charge of the elderly, long-term care patients.
Court explains the decision
Like any reasonable person, the appeals court judges explained that they recognized the good intentions of the law, which was to prevent elderly care patients from LGBT-related discrimination but ultimately ruled that First Amendment rights were at stake.
“The pronoun provision—whether enforced through criminal or civil penalties—is overinclusive in that it restricts more speech than is necessary to achieve the government’s compelling interest in eliminating discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex,” the panel of judges wrote.
The judges added: “Using the workplace context as an analogy, the statute prohibits the kind of isolated remarks not sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an objectively hostile work environment.”
California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta (D), as of this writing, hasn’t responded to requests for comment on the California appeals court ruling.
Anti-misgendering laws and provisions are still on the books in other states in various contexts, as The Washington Post has reported, but it’s not a stretch to presume that groups fighting those laws in other states will use California’s decision as precedent in their future arguments.