Rep. Allen: State Capitol bathrooms are inhospitable

    Vaccine passport | Marco Verch via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) finds the Capitol bathrooms inhospitable due to signs that the Department of Administration (DOA) has posted on the doors that ask people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a mask. That, he says, is discriminatory and amounts to public shaming.

    Rep. Scott Allen
    Rep. Scott Allen

    “I don’t have those signs on my business doors because I welcome all customers,” says Allen. “And our Capitol building is there for all the people of Wisconsin and we ought to act like that and not be discriminatory against those who’ve maybe chosen not to get the vaccine.”

    During a public hearing earlier this week in the Assembly’s Constitution and Ethics Committee on a series of bills seeking to prohibit government, businesses and others from requiring proof of vaccinations, vaccine passports or other forms of “vaccine discrimination,” Allen says people who came to testify brought up the signs and said they felt unwelcome in the Capitol.

    There are similar signs, says Allen, on other doors including entrances to the Capitol. Asked if businesses should make their own decisions, Allen disagrees. “You could say it’s up to the private businesses to do what they want to do. And that same attitude existed in the 1950s and 60s, which allowed business owners to say, ‘Black folks couldn’t sit at the counter.’ And that’s not right.”

    Allen sent a letter Thursday to DOA Secretary Joel Brennan, requesting that the signs be removed: 

    Mr. Brennan:

    We should be hospitable to people visiting the Capitol, after all, it is the people’s Capitol building. Please remove the signs on bathroom doors in the Capitol and other state buildings instructing unvaccinated people to wear masks. We should not engage in discriminatory actions like this. 

    By now, those who wish to be vaccinated have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we do not need to treat unvaccinated individuals differently or publicly shame them. We also do not need to protect them because they have made their choices knowing full well the risks involved.

    Sincerely,

    Scott E. Allen

    Allen says he has not heard back from the Department of Administration nor has he seen the signs come down. DOA did not comment as to what will happen with the bathroom signs.

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    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.