Councilman Scott Milder: Reasons he opposed bathroom ordinance


The following is a letter written to Rockwall residents from City Council member Scott Milder explaining why he voted against the bathroom ordinance:

Dear Rockwall Neighbors,

Monday night we considered the most emotional, divisive, and politically charged issue in my three years serving on the Rockwall City Council. While on the surface it seemed like a simple issue and obvious decision for this Council, a deeper dive into the matter revealed a compelling case against the ordinance regulating transgender use of public restrooms.

Since our Mayor and his wife do not seem to understand that this is now a dead issue in our City for lack of Council support and a second to his motion, and since our Mayor and his wife want to grandstand on this issue on the media circuit, I feel it is necessary to help Rockwall citizens better understand this issue as I see it from a city governance perspective.

The Rockwall City Council’s decision not to support this ordinance was not an endorsement of the transgender community, nor was Mayor Pruitt’s ordinance a hateful condemnation of the transgender lifestyle. My opposition to this ordinance was strictly a business decision based in practicality.

When Mayor Pruitt first let us know last week that he was putting this ordinance on our agenda for discussion and possible action, my initial reaction was admittedly an emotional one in support of it. It seems perfectly appropriate to expect males to use men’s bathrooms, and females to use the women’s bathrooms. I believe it is inappropriate for a man to dress himself as a woman and use the woman’s bathroom.

Having said that, and upon further consideration and lots of reading on the subject, I believe I am even less comfortable with a man dressing up as a woman and then proceeding into the men’s room. That is much more likely to turn some heads and cause trouble.

But, this is not about my beliefs or about who uses which restroom. Interestingly, I’ve come to learn that there are no laws on the books requiring men to use the men’s room, nor women the women’s restroom. We’ve been on the honor system for as long as we’ve had public restrooms.

From a practical perspective in my role as a Rockwall City Councilmember, I cannot allow my feelings to influence my decisions. Otherwise, I would have supported this ordinance because I am not sympathetic to the transgender agenda, nor any agenda seeking special treatment for special interests under the law.

The practical aspect of my decision was based on the following:

  • The ordinance would be unenforceable, which makes it irrelevant.
  • Limited government is a conservative principle I respect deeply, and therefore, any new ordinance receiving my vote will be meaningful and enforceable.
  • Attempting to enforce this ordinance would not be cost-effective and would divert our police department and other city resources from real crime fighting and prevention.
  • The ordinance would bring costly lawsuits against the city.
  • The ordinance would be an unwelcome governmental intrusion into the private affairs of the private sector, which is another fundamental conservative principle. Those concerned about their safety at businesses who’ve declared accommodations for special populations can choose not to shop at those businesses.
  • There are plenty of laws on the books protecting citizens from lewd and criminal behavior.
  • Transgender persons have been using the public restrooms of their choice since the beginning of public restrooms and seemingly without incident. This ordinance is a solution without a problem.
  • The state legislature has indicated that it will take up this issue next spring, so there is no sense in taking up this issue locally because state law trumps local ordinance.
  • Lastly, we pride ourselves on listening to our citizens and acting accordingly. Of the 30 Rockwall residents who addressed Council on this issue, I counted 24 against, and 6 in favor. That means 24 felt strongly enough about this issue to show up and speak against the ordinance, while only 6 felt strongly enough to show up and speak in favor of the ordinance.

While all of these points weighed heavily on my decision, there is one additional factor that influenced the outcome of my position on this bathroom ordinance more than any other. We want to be a business-friendly city where retail, commercial, and industrial businesses want to do business with limited local governmental intrusion.

When our top taxpayers in town express legitimate concerns with possible city action, I listen. To be frank, we need the Hilton and Target and Costco and the others much more than they need us. When Target chooses to build a Super Target store in our area, we’d like them to do so in Rockwall. They have options. If this ordinance had passed in direct response to their business policy, and if I were on their team deciding where to locate, I would build that Super Target elsewhere, perhaps in Royse City near the new Super Walmart. Thankfully, the ordinance perished.

The most significant reason our city flourishes the way it does is because of our healthy business tax base and business-friendly environment. Few cities have the resources available to them that we have at the comparatively low tax rate that our residents enjoy. Two-thirds of our tax revenue is generated from business, one-third from residential. Most cities are not even close to that ratio. In fact, many other cities are the reverse, where two-thirds of the tax revenue is generated on the backs of residents.

I love Rockwall, Texas. This is my home. There is no place better to raise a family. I chose to run for your city council, and have been blessed to be elected twice, because I believe we have a beautiful community, strongly convicted in its conservative Christian family values. These values we hold dear protect our families from unwanted attention and criminal behavior more so than any ordinance could. We watch out for each other. We have each other’s backs. And, we debate issues respectfully, making reasoned, informed decisions on divisive, emotional, and politically charged issues.

God bless Rockwall, Texas!

Scott Milder

Scott Milder

Rockwall City Council Place 5



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