Federal judge rules 'United States of America Miss' pageant can ban trans competitors - even as the House passed Equality Bill on LGBTQ rights
- Anita Green, 29, of Clackamas, Oregon, had her lawsuit dismissed on Thursday
- Green, a trans woman, wanted to compete in United States of America Miss
- Pageant is distinct from Miss USA, contest once owned by ex-President Trump
- Federal judge named by George W. Bush ruled USA Miss could exclude Green
- Ruling was handed down on Thursday, the same day House passed Equality Act
- Republicans oppose Equality Act, saying it threatens all-female competitions
A federal judge in Oregon said the USA Miss pageant is not required to allow transgender women into the competition because it only permits ‘natural born females’ - a ruling handed down even as the House passed the LGBTQ Equality Act.
The discrimination lawsuit brought by Anita Green, a 29-year-old transgender woman, against the privately run organization was dismissed on Thursday by US District Court Judge Michael Mosman.
‘I view it as an association that cannot under the Constitution be required to allow plaintiff to participate in what defendant says is a contradiction of that message,’ Mosman, who was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, wrote in his ruling, referring to the requirement of 'natural-born females.'
Green sued the United States of America Pageants, which runs United States of America Miss, a competition that is distinct from Miss USA, the contest once owned by former President Donald Trump.
Anita Green, a 29-year-old transgender woman, had her lawsuit against a beauty pageant dismissed on Thursday by a federal judge who ruled that United States of America Miss was not required to allow trans competitors
Green, a native of Clackamas, Oregon, said that while she was disappointed in the ruling, she was pleased that her lawsuit drew attention to the issue
Green's lawsuit was dismissed on the same day that the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the Equality Act. The image above shows Democratic members of Congress holding LGBTQ and transgender pride flags before the vote on Thursday
The United States of America Miss pageant is owned by the defendant in the lawsuit, Miss United States of America, LLC.
Mosman issued his ruling on the same day that the Democratic-led House passed a bill that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
The bill passed by a vote of 224-206 with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.
The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics.
The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.
Supporters say the law passed by the House on Thursday was long overdue and would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law.
Green has competed in female beauty pageants in recent years. In 2019, she won the title of Miss Earth Elite Oregon. That year, when she applied to participate in the United States of America Miss national pageant, her application was rejected
Green called the ruling a ‘minor setback’ and was looking for options moving forward
She said the pageant ‘is on the wrong side of history for choosing to actively discriminate against transgender people, but the road to creating meaningful change has always been a long and bumpy one’
In 2018, Green made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Montana USA pageant. She is seen third from left in the above photo
Green, a native of Clackamas, Oregon, said that while she was disappointed in the ruling, she was pleased that her lawsuit drew attention to the issue.
‘This case brought awareness to an issue many people were and still are unaware of and that issue is that discrimination against transgender people is still actively happening in the private and public sector even within the pageant circuit,’ she said in a statement.
The attorney for Miss United States of America LLC, John T. Kaempf, praised the judge’s ruling.
‘My client is not anti-transgender, but it just wants to be able to hold a pageant that is only for biological females,’ Kaempt told The Oregonian/Oregon Live.
‘Contrary to what people might think, my client, the pageant, is a supporter of diversity. It believes there can be a Miss Black USA pageant, a Miss Native American pageant or a transgender pageant.’
Green has competed in female beauty pageants in recent years. In 2019, she won the title of Miss Earth Elite Oregon.
That year, when she applied to participate in the United States of America Miss national pageant, her application was rejected.
Donald Trump on Sunday waded into the controversy surrounding the Equality Act
The bill was passed by the House 224-206 on Thursday and now moves to the Senate
‘This policy, intentionally designed to exclude the specific class to which plaintiff belongs - transgender females - is discriminatory because it denied plaintiff the full and equal advantages and privileges of defendant’s services in violation of Oregon’s public accommodations law,’ her lawsuit alleged.
Green’s attorney, Shenoa L. Payne, said that the company that runs the pageant is a commercial business that enjoys ‘minimal protection’ rather than ‘expressive association’ granted by the First Amendment.
The national pageant’s barring of transgender women ‘is not message-based, but status-based, according to Payne.
Payne said that Green agrees with the mission of the Miss United States of America pageant, ‘which is to promote and uplift women and she wants to advance their goals.’
But Mosman disagreed, saying that the national pageant is mainly an ‘expressive’ association and not substantially commercial.
‘Because I viewed it as an organization that does promote a message and seeks to maintain control of that message, I view it as an association that cannot under the Constitution be required to allow plaintiff to participate in what defendant says is a contradiction of that message,’ Mosman said.
Mosman and Kaempt cited legal precedents from other cases, including a 20000 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a lower court decision that forced Boy Scouts to allow gay scoutmasters in New Jersey.
They also pointed to a 1995 ruling that allowed the organizers of South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade to exclude an openly Irish-American LGBTQ organization from taking part.
Green called the ruling a ‘minor setback’ and was looking for options moving forward.
She said the pageant ‘is on the wrong side of history for choosing to actively discriminate against transgender people, but the road to creating meaningful change has always been a long and bumpy one.’
‘Transgender women are women,’ Green’s statement said.
‘My message has always been consistent and my message is this: Every person has beauty.’
In 2018, Green made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Montana USA pageant.
Two years prior, the politically active Green made history by becoming the first openly transgender person elected as national delegate to a nominating convention.
She represented Oregon at the Democratic National Convention, in which she declared her support for Senator Bernie Sanders.
Green, who is also a member of the executive board of the Missoula County Democrats, thought about entering the competition in the past, but never felt ready until the 2016 presidential election.
Green, who said it was 'very difficult' to grow up as a trans woman, explained that she didn't realize she was transgender until later in her teens because she lacked information.
She ended up suffering from clinical depression after feeling like she was 'living a lie' for years.
But at the age of 17, Anita came out as transgender, and began hormone replacement therapy the following year. She has lived 'full-time' as Anita since turning 19.
The House passed the Equality Act in the last Congress with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of eight Republicans, but Trump's White House opposed the measure and it was not considered in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome procedural hurdles.
Republicans broadly opposed the legislation, saying that it would among other things make it harder for women to compete with transgender women who have certain biological advantage over men in areas like sports.
They echoed concerns from religious groups and social conservatives who worry the bill would force people to take actions that contradict their religious beliefs.
They warned that faith-based adoption agencies seeking to place children with a married mother and father could be forced to close, or that private schools would have to hire staff whose conduct violates tenets of the school’s faith.
Biden made clear his support for the Equality Act in the lead-up to last year’s election, saying it would be one of his first priorities. But the chances of the bill's passage in the deadlocked Senate are slim.
Democrats are trying to revive it now that they have control of Congress and the White House, but passage still appears unlikely in the evenly divided Senate.
Trump insisted on Sunday that they had been right to block it.
'You know, for years the weightlifting, every ounce is like a big deal for many years,' Trump said. 'All of a sudden somebody comes along and beats it by 100 pounds.'
Trump declared: 'We must protect the integrity of women's sports. So important.'
Many Republicans in the House agreed, with Lauren Boebert, representative for Colorado, tweeting: 'Why are we changing the culture of the entire country around and wrecking sports for 0.42% of the population?'
But the ACLU said that those opposing the Equality Act were guilty of 'transphobia'.