This week, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee has been hard at work pushing a controversial “bathroom bill” that would bar transgendered people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. After making several drastic changes to the original form of the bill, the House Appropriatie has passed a new draft, provoking outrage from the LGBT community. Here is everything you need to know about the Arizona “bathroom bill.”
Originally, Arizona Senate Bill SB 1045 would have blocked any transgender person from using a bathroom designated for the gender with which they identify, the Huffington Post reports. In short, any citizen using a bathroom designated for the gender not listed on their birth certificate would be facing a class one misdemeanor, with penalties of up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
At this stage of the bill, sponsor state Rep. John Kavanagh, said the bill was intended to protect innocent children from being exposed to "naked men in women's locker rooms and showers," according to the Huffington Post.
This version of the bill provoked sparks of outrage against Kavanagh and his fellow Republican supporters. More than 200 LGBT protesters showed up to a seven-hour public hearing on the bill in an effort to prevent them from passing the measure, the NY Daily News reports.
In response to the criticism, Kavanagh has retooled large portions of the bill in order to appease the LGBT community, but it has not sated opponents of the measure. Under the new version of the “bathroom bill,” business owners would be free to make their own discriminatory rules for private bathrooms and locker rooms, forcing transgendered customers to either use facilities they do not identify with or seek another restroom.
Many transgendered people feel that there is simply no need for such a law, and that more measures should be taken to protect transgendered people’s ability to use their preferred bathroom.
"I've been using washrooms for 15 years and I don't want to be discriminated against, and I'm scared to go to a male washroom," Patty Medway, a transgendered woman born a man, told the Associated Press.
Arizona Republicans have been eager to pass a similar bill since Phoenix’s recent anti-discrimination bill that would protect transgendered people from being kicked out of public locker rooms, showers and bathrooms. Conservative efforts to overturn Phoenix’s law have led to the bathroom bill being labeled “an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law.”
According to Kavanagh, the new version of the bill is simply pushing back the clock to before the Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance.
"What I'm doing is pre-empting these cities from prosecuting businesses that say they want separate (facilities)," he told the NY Daily News. "I'm basically resetting the clock to before Phoenix passed the law."
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.