Reality star Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the ever-expanding family featured in the TLC series, “19 Kids and Counting,” recorded a robocall urging citizens of the Fayetteville, Ark., area to speak out against an antidiscrimination ordinance that would protect the rights of transgender men and women.
According to the Fayetteville Flyer, the ordinance, which passed Wednesday morning in a 6-2 vote despite Duggar’s efforts to defeat it, will establish a civil rights administrator to handle complaints from residents who feel they’ve been victims of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status in situations regarding housing, employment or public accommodations.
It will also make it illegal for business owners and landlords to evict or terminate someone based on any of these factors. (Residents are already protected by state and federal law against discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age and disability.)
Such antidiscrimination measures are commonplace around the country. So what did Duggar find so objectionable?
In her recorded message (which you can listen to in its entirety here) the 47-year-old warns residents that the ordinance “would allow men – yes I said men – to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only."
She also suggests that the ordinance protecting transgender rights would actually provide cover to pedophiles, saying, “I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls."
The charges prompted a memo from Fayetteville city attorney Kit Williams, who dismissed the “fear-mongering” and countered that transgender people “are far more likely to be the victims of harassment and violence if forced to use a bathroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity.”
TLC declined to comment on Duggar’s robocalls. “19 Kids and Counting” (previously known as “17 Kids and Counting” and “18 Kids and Counting”) will return Sept. 2 for its eighth season.
Michelle and her husband, Jim Bob, have never been shy about expressing their fundamentalist Christian views. Most famously, the couple eschews the use of birth control and homeschools their children, but they have also campaigned for politicians including Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Both Michelle and Jim Bob are scheduled to appear at the Values Voter Summit later this year, while eldest son Josh works for the conservative Family Research Council.