Posts Tagged As: Bathrooms

Alabama’s Proposed “Bathroom Bill”: A Shift in Tactics

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2016

Yesterday, I noted that Alabama State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City, ironically) filed a filed a bill requiring anyone that makes restrooms available to the public to do so “in a manner that ensures the privacy of each individual.” That bit of news came from a brief article I found posted by the Florence Times Daily. Details were sketchy, but they included:

Williams said that can be done in three ways. By having:

• restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by one person at a time.

• restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by multiple persons of the same biological gender.

• restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by multiple persons at once, irrespective of their gender, that are “staffed by an attendant stationed at the door of each restroom to monitor the appropriate use of the restroom and answer any questions or concerns posed by users.”

A few hours after I posted it and while I was doing other things away from the computer, I thought more about this and realized that there was something strange about this bill. Or, perhaps more accurately, the paper’s description of the bill, since I haven’t been able to find the bill itself. (It’s not yet listed on the Alabama Senate web site.) This bill, as far as I can tell so far, seems to focus exclusively on those who provide public facilities, and not on those who use them.

In other words, it seems to target Target more so than trans men and women. And in that way, it seems to anticipate the possibility that North Carolina’s law may be struck down in court. The law is currently being challenged by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, and by the Obama Administration in a separate case.

I wish I knew about this yesterday, but I found an op-ed Williams wrote last week for where he confirmed this approach:

Sen. Phil Williams

Sen. Phil Williams

As I write this, a big-box retailer with multiple outlets in this state has decided to make all of their multi-stall restrooms unisex, with a complete disregard for long-standing law, tradition and biology. More egregiously, this decision was made with no concern for the privacy and security concerns of their customers. In essence, Target has thrown out the rule in favor of the exception.

In North Carolina, the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance requiring public restrooms to allow persons to use bathrooms according to their own gender self-identification. … That law is being litigated even now and Alabama must be ready by the next legislative session to deal with the outcome.

…If North Carolina’s law is struck down then my legislation will become a backstop to say that if any person or entity provides public restrooms, bathrooms, or changing facilities then they will do so in one of three ways: a single user facility; facilities separated by the physical gender of the users; or, if facilities are provided in a unisex/transgender manner, an attendant for each facility must be onsite to address any concerns or questions of the general public. Failure to do so would result in civil penalties and provide a private right of action in court for those individuals who have been harmed or aggrieved.

Alabama Lawmaker Files Bathroom Bill

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2016

Sen. Phil Williams

Sen. Phil Williams

Alabama. Where else? Really, it was only a matter of time. Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City, ironically) filed a bill requiring anyone that makes restrooms available to the public to do so “in a manner that ensures the privacy of each individual“:

Williams said that can be done in three ways. By having:

•  restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by one person at a time.

•  restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by multiple persons of the same biological gender.

•  restroom, bathroom or changing facilities that are designed to be used by multiple persons at once, irrespective of their gender, that are “staffed by an attendant stationed at the door of each restroom to monitor the appropriate use of the restroom and answer any questions or concerns posed by users.”

This comes after the city of Oxford, Alabama had passed its own bathroom ordinance which threatened violators with up to six months in jail. After a national outcry, the Oxford city council rescinded the ordinance a week later.

The Target Trolls Are On the Loose

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2016

There’s never been a problem with Target’s bathrooms. People go in, they do what they need to do, and then they leave. And so when Target announced that people could go into whichever bathroom was most appropriate for them, all they did was confirm what had already been going on. But the American Family Association and other anti-LGBT groups see it differently, and have announced yet another of their uncountable boycotts. Unlike the others, this one seems to be having one effect: Bible-waving zealots have taken to marching through Target stores screaming, “Are you gonna let the devil rape your children?”

This guy in Colorado Springs took a different approach, while also trying to prove that zealots are not creativity-challenged:

There still have been no reported incidents of a transwoman assaulting anyone in a woman’s bathroom. However, this video of a man stalking a woman at a Florida Target — he’s a man dressed as a man — is making the rounds, as though it was somehow relevant.

Texas GOP Enters Race for the Most Hatin’-est Platform in the U.S.

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2016

Texas Republican PartyThe Texas Republican Party just wrapped up its state convention after putting its finishing touches on the state party’s platform (PDF). And what a doozy it is, with not just one, but two, bathroom bill-type planks. Also, the GOP renewed its support for sexual orientation conversion therapy, an expansive so-called “religious freedom” bill, and a whole lot of other stuff besides.

The first call for a bathroom bill is filed under the heading of “Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health”:

Gender Identity- We urge the enactment of legislation addressing individuals’ use of bathrooms, showers and locker rooms that correspond with their biologically determined sex.

John Wright reports that this plank was approved by 90 percent of the delegates. Other anti-LGBT planks in that section touch on marriage, support for sexual orientation conversion therapy, and planks on adoption and sex education:

Family and Defense of Marriage- We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between one natural man and one natural woman.

▪ We support withholding jurisdiction from the federal courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.

▪ We shall not recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse, including granting benefits by political subdivisions.

▪ We urge the legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws and support covenant marriage.

Overturning Obergefell v. Hodges- We believe this decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be reversed, returning jurisdiction over the definition of marriage to the states. The Governor and other elected officials of the state of Texas should assert our Tenth Amendment right and reject the Supreme Court ruling.

Homosexuality- Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Counseling and Therapy- No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation change efforts for self-motivated youth and adults.

Adoption- We support reducing the time, bureaucracy, and cost of adoption. We oppose mandates that deny mothers a choice in selecting a traditional home for their children. We oppose mandatory open adoption. We oppose any government agency from forcing faith-based adoption or foster care organizations to place children with same-sex couples.

Sex Education- We respect parental authority regarding sex education. We support the teaching of biology of reproduction and abstinence until marriage. We should prohibit entities and their affiliates that contradict our beliefs from conducting sex education and/or teacher training in public schools. We oppose all policies and curriculum that teach alternate lifestyles including homosexuality, transgender and other non-traditional lifestyles as normal.

The second bathroom-bill plank appears under the “Educating our Children” heading:

Facility Utilization- We support public school facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and
showers being reserved for the use of students based on biological birth gender.

John Wright reports that this plank garnered the support of 93 percent of delegates.

The call for expansive so-called “religious freedom” legislation appears under “Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety”:

Safeguarding Religious Liberties- We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the 1st Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. … We also support vigorously protecting the rights of commercial establishments to refuse to provide any service or product that would infringe upon freedom of conscience of religious expression of the commercial establishments as stated in the 1st Amendment.

Freedom of Conscience- That legislation at the state and federal level be passed that concretely defines public accommodations as originally defined and understood in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that it prohibit any expansion of that legal definition by any federal, state or local law to expand government control to restrict any First Amendment rights; and to proscribe any law that requires any private business or individual to create or provide a custom product or service, or any kind of expressive work, or enter into a contract, or be coerced into any speech that is not their own.

And under “Strengthening the Economy,” there’s this odd entry:

Unnecessary Medical Procedures for Prisoners- We believe no extraordinary medical care such as sex-change operations, hormonal medications, or gender-altering therapies should be provided to prisoners at the expense of the taxpayers.

The rest of the platform is a veritable witches’ brew of conspiracy theories, theocracy and half-baked economic policies, including withdrawing from the World Bank, the W.T.O, the I.M.F. and the United Nations (and “the removal of the United States from United States soil” [sic]), as well as prohibiting the U.N. from levying taxes (because apparently, that’s a thing.) Also they support teaching Creationism, returning prayer and Bible study in the schools, the repeal of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard, building Trump’s “high wall with a wide gate,” abolishing the Minimum Wage, and Benghazi!

On the other hand, they do support Uber, industrial hemp, and “improv(ing) the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients.” Because with a platform like this, it’ll take a whole lot more prescribed cannabis to make living in Texas bearable if they get their way.

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