A Burlington newspaper editor has been fired from his position after lashing out at a Vermont proposal to allow a third-gender option on state driver’s licenses.
Denis Finley, executive editor of the Gannett publication Burlington Free Press, claimed the decision would bring us “one step closer to the apocalypse” in a series of Monday tweets posted to his personal account. He also compared legal recognition for transgender and nonbinary people to recognizing the rights of child molesters.
“What if someone said it's awesome they are going to recognize pedophiliacs on licenses?” Finley asked followers. “I'm not being snarky, I'm just asking. Not all recognition is awesome.”
Finley, who was known to tweet his bluntly conservative opinions on the microblogging platform, was swiftly fired by the publication following immediate backlash to his posts. Readers reportedly threatened to pull subscriptions in protest.
The paper claimed Finley’s remarks “are his personal views and are not those of the staff or leadership.”
“We encourage our journalists to engage in a meaningful dialogue on social media, but it’s important that the conversation adhere to our overarching values of fairness, balance and objectivity,” said Randy Lovely, vice president of Gannett’s USA Today Network, in an interview with the Associated Press.
Lovely claimed the former editor’s tweets violated the news agency’s code of conduct.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Vermont would become the latest state to allow a third option on driver’s licenses. Department of Motor Vehicles will allow trans folks, nonbinary people, and all those who identify as neither an “M” or an “F” to register a separate designation in its systemalthough the department has not said what the marker will be.
Municipalities like Oregon and Washington, D.C. have rolled out a gender-neutral “X” in recent years, while Washington announced this week it would permit a similar option on birth certificates.
LGBTQ advocates and local officials have championed the move.
In an interview with none other than the Burlington Free Press, Vermont Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards called the decision “a major victory for folks who are transgender.”
“It acknowledges who they are, and that’s an important thing for us to do,” Richards told the embattled publication.
Finley has yet to comment publicly on his firing.