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California Assembly passes gender-neutral restrooms bill

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A gender neutral restroom is seen at the Downtown & Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar today in Sacramento, Calif. A measure, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, requiring all single-stall restrooms to be gender-neutral, was approved by the state Assembly today. The bill now goes to the Senate.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, urges lawmakers to approve his gender-neutral restroom measure today in Sacramento, Calif.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Plumas Lake, right, calls on lawmakers to reject Assemblyman Phil Ting’s, D-San Francisco, left, gender-neutral restroom measure today in Sacramento, Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. » California lawmakers advanced a proposal today that would require all single-stall public restrooms to be gender neutral.

The vote came hours after North Carolina’s governor sued the federal government to defend a law in that state requiring transgender people to use the restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate.

Members of the California Assembly voted 52-18 on an initial ballot in favor of the proposal from Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco. He said it aims to help transgender people, parents with kids of different genders and adults caring for aging parents.

At least three states have considered proposals in the past two years to open single-occupancy stalls to anyone as state and local governments address gender issues. Ting’s office says California’s proposal is the most comprehensive taken up so far.

His proposal would apply to all businesses in California as well as state and local government buildings, asking inspectors and officials who enforce building code to check restroom signs for compliance. A state association of health officers rescinded its opposition to the bill after Ting removed them from that list.

“California is a place of inclusion,” Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, said in support of the proposal. “Let’s make a clear statement that, if you want to go pee, by all means help yourself.”

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said he was co-authoring the legislation on behalf of “thousands of transgender individuals in the state of California who feel unsafe in bathrooms, who feel harassed in bathrooms, who are questioned when they walk into a bathroom.”

Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher of Plumas Lake opposed the proposal, saying men’s messy habits will inconvenience many more people than the bill would help. He said the bill applies too broadly.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has long considered restroom access a safety issue and in June 2015 named gender-neutral stalls a best business practice.

The California Assembly also advanced to the Senate a proposal to ban publicly funded, nonessential travel to states with laws restricting the rights of gay or transgender people. That bill and Ting’s lavatory legislation now move to the state Senate for consideration. If passed, they would go to Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, for final approval.

Brown signed a separate bill in 2013 allowing public school students to participate in sports and use restrooms of their gender identity, regardless of their sex listed on school records.

In New York, lawmakers are considering a bill similar to California’s restroom proposal that would apply only to government facilities. Legislation to establish gender-neutral restrooms in new and remodeled government buildings stalled in the Vermont General Assembly a year ago.

Washington, D.C., has required single-person toilet rooms to be labeled “restroom” or have some other gender-neutral sign since 2006.

In the North Carolina case, the Justice Department responded to Gov. Pat McCrory’s lawsuit by suing the state, seeking a court order declaring the law discriminatory and unenforceable.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday the state’s law requiring transgender people to use the public restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate amounts to “state-sponsored discrimination” aimed at “a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Billions in state aid for North Carolina are at stake in that dispute, which has triggered boycotts and cancellations aimed at getting the state to repeal the measure.

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  • Ah, yes. The idiocy that is California. How about that we just declare, in law, that there is no such thing as gender. Would solve so many problems right?

      • So Klastri, you claim to be an attorney, what evidence would stand up in a court of law that you are transgender as opposed to someone who wants a free peep show. Enlighten all of us if you can.

        • First of all, you’re making up in the entirety the circumstance that you write about. No one, in any state where this has been enacted by the legislature, has been able to cite one single case of any misuse, assault or molestation by a transgender individual. Not one, anywhere. So you can fabricate crimes in your mind if you want, but your sexual fantasies should not affect the passage of law.

          The fact is that the imbeciles who try to discriminate against people don’t understand that by forcing the ridiculous birth certificate test (as if that could ever be enforced in any event) are requiring men with beards and such to use the female rest rooms. No one, including you apparently, thought about this for 10 seconds without torturing logic to find yet another way to be bigoted against people you don’t like.

          Enjoy marinating in 1950.

        • He claims to be an attorney. I don’t know how since he habitually relies on ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies. On second thought…maybe he is an attorney.

        • d_bullfighter – I know you can’t accept facts. And I couldn’t care less.

        • klastri – nor do you deny that you rely on ad hominem attacks. Thank you – CASE CLOSED.

        • Klastri, this is something new for most people. You say there hasn’t been any cases of assault or molestation by a transgender. I am not worried about a transgender, I’m worried about the straight teenage boy who will enter the girl’s locker room and get a peep show. There would be absolutely nothing you could do about it. He would just have to claim he currently identifies as a girl. If you think this wouldn’t happen, then you must be an imbecile (like you call everyone else). You want to help the very small minority at the expense of the majority. However, I like the idea of single stalls being family or gender neutral. I think the long term solution to the Transgender rights vs privacy rights would be more single stall restrooms and locker room facilities. In the mean time, reasonable accommodations would be needed on a case by case basis (in schools or in the workplace).

      • Where is the discrimination? The restroom issue revolves around Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1964 which says in part that no person in the United States, based on their sex, shall be excluded from participation in or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The law is quite clear, the exclusion or discrimination must be based on sex of which there have been only two since humans were created – male and female. However, in 2014 the Obama administration gave sex a new definition, meaning or interpretation by asserting that sex includes transgenders. This was an administrative action and not a changed to the law. Nevertheless, the Obama administration is using its interpretation of sex to push its social agenda on Americans by threatening to withhold financial assistance to states that do not accept its assertion that tansgender is a sex under Title IX. Unfortunately, we are stuck with what Obama and his enablers in DOJ are doing until the several lawsuits challenging the ruling work their way through the courts to the Supreme Court or, alternatively, Congress amends the law to define sex as biological sex, i.e., based on one genitalia.

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