State Rep. Jim Lyons Does NOT Favor Free Sex Change Operations for All, After All

(But maybe free lawyers for all?)

Probably no state legislator is more devoted to the ideals of the Tea Party and the ideals of the Massachusetts Family Institute than Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover). In a nutshell: Lyons once filed a budget amendment to eliminate all funding (see Tea Party) for the state’s family planning and HIV testing programs (see Massachusetts Family Institute). How’s that for two birds with one stone?

So you can imagine his apoplectic reaction last fall, when a federal judge ruled that the state had to provide the sex change surgery it had determined was necessary for Michelle Kosilek, a transsexual inmate who had been convicted in 1993 (as a man) of murdering his wife. And then to top it all, the judge ordered the state to pay Kosilek’s attorneys’ fees. Whoa!

How did Rep. Lyons express his outrage? He hit upon the idea that Michelle Kosilek should not be treated better than any law-abiding Massachusetts resident. And this would require that everyone in the state be eligible for the benefits she was to receive. (Yes, strange for a Tea Party guy to find his recourse in a new entitlement program.) It appears that Rep. Lyons may have gone to the press with his idea before he had fully thought out what, exactly, those “benefits” would be. For example, was the headline on this report by the Lawrence Eagle Tribune what he had in mind?

Probably not, because in later editions it was changed to this:

But even the change in the headline did not really clarify his idea, which the article described this way: “if the state is going to be forced to pay a convicted murderer’s legal fees resulting from a demand for a sex change, then the Legislature should consider extending that privilege to every Massachusetts resident.” OK, but could we define “that privilege?” Is it sex change operations? Legal fees associated with sex change operations? Legal fees associated with forcing the state to pay for sex change operations (surely there are very, very few of those)? Any legal fees? The article provided no information beyond Lyons’ assurance that the point he was making was “profound.”

So we have had to wait until the bill was actually filed to learn anything more. Here it is:

All citizens of Massachusetts who are innocent of committing a felony or other heinous act shall have access to taxpayer-funded legal fees that are not less than those provided to any convicted wife murderer, except in criminal cases with respect to guilt or innocence.

Got that? It now seems safe to conclude that Rep. Lyons is not proposing free sex change operations. Beyond that? Vaguely promising but still murky – who are the lawyers and where do we apply?

Stay tuned for the hearing on the bill — we may get to the bottom of this yet.

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