Have you heard about the ‘Bathroom Bill?’ It’s at the top of the kill list for Phoenix’s City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Center for Arizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod.
Also known as the LGBT Ordinance, this proposal would amend Phoenix’s civil rights policy to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and disability in its list of unlawful discrimination. In other words businesses would not be allowed to discriminate against someone based on gender identity just as they currently cannot discriminate against someone based on race or age or religious affiliation, among other things.
Herrod and DiCiccio like to refer to it as the ‘Bathroom Bill’ because it’s politically savvy to pretend their objections are about bathroom concerns instead of civil protections for LGBT individuals. They argue that little kids might end up using a restroom with a member of the opposite sex.
Herrod also erroneously claims on her website that churches will not be exempt from the ordinance and will be forced to hire homosexuals or transgender individuals, which is flat-out wrong. The religious exemption that was part of the original ordinance remains.
But Herrod doesn’t stop there. She has gone so far as to say this ordinance will lead to child predators pretending to be transgendered just so they can gain access to a child through a restroom.
Her scare tactic is quite imaginative, especially since the ordinance doesn’t even address bathroom use, nor does it change criminal penalties for child predators. And though this may come as a shock to some, transgendered individuals already use bathrooms in public places.
The argument also strikes me as somewhat, no make that incredibly ridiculous because little kids use bathrooms of the opposite sex all the time. When my boys were young, I always took them into the women’s restroom with me just as I know plenty of dads who took their daughters into the men’s room with them.
If Cathi Herrod is really concerned about this issue, perhaps she should be pushing businesses for the addition of family restrooms or single stall, unisex bathrooms.
You may recall Herrod is the same individual who was credited with single-handedly killing an anti-bullying bill during last year’s legislative session. Until Herrod got involved, the bill was set to pass with plenty of bipartisan support as well as the enthusiastic support of teachers and schools.
Herrod, however, claimed the bill was propaganda for gay rights to push a secret agenda even though the bill never mentioned sexual orientation. No doubt she believes she can successfully kill this ordinance with the same type of scare tactics she used to kill the anti-bullying bill.
While Herrod focuses on bathrooms and churches, DiCiccio is panning the ‘bathroom bill’ as harmful to small businesses, saying the language is so broad “the floodgates of litigation against businesses will be opened.”
Interestingly enough, this ordinance doesn’t change any of the existing non-discrimination penalties against businesses. In fact, mediation, not criminal prosecution, is always the first step after a complaint is filed, and to date, no “floodgate of litigation” or anything close to that has ensued within the city.
Phoenix is behind, way behind, other major cities when it comes to extending civil protections for the LGBT community. 166 other cities, including Tucson, have already passed these ordinances, and it has not disrupted the business community or led to frivolous lawsuits.
The Council is set to vote on the ordinance next week Tuesday, February 26. Councilman DiCiccio has pledged he will vote against it, and it’s believed that Councilman Jim Waring will vote no as well. If you’re a Phoenix resident who does not wish to continue to legalize the discrimination of the LGBT community (because without these protections, discrimination against LGBT individuals IS perfectly legal), then I suggest you call or email your councilman/woman and voice your support for the revised ordinance. Don’t let the scare tactics of a few flush away years of progress by many.