State Capitol News
8:48 am
Wed March 20, 2013

AZ Legislators Debate So-Called "Bathroom Bill"

A dust-up over a new Phoenix ordinance has state lawmakers weighting legislation on exactly who can use which bathroom. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

The city already has regulations barring discrimination based on things like race and gender. The month-old change extends that to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals. It quickly became known as the Bathroom Bill amid charges it will let anyone use any bathroom, locker or shower based on self-identified claims of gender.

Senator Nancy Barto said state action is necessary. She said, "how far does the City Council need to go in infringing upon people's fundamental rights to run their businesses as they see fit without succumbing to a small minority's wishes." Barto went on to say, "it puts at risk every business and church for frivolous lawsuits."

The language crafted by Representative John Kavanagh would make it a crime to enter a public restroom designated for one gender or the other if you are not "legally classified" on your birth certificate as a member of that sex. He said it will not be necessary for people to carry that around, any more than it's necessary for someone entering a men's room or women's room now to produce documentation. "But if you go into a public shower," Kavanagh said, "and you're a male and it's a female public shower, and the police are called, well, you'd better be able to prove that you're a female and not a male. Otherwise, you're going to go to jail, which is where you belong."

The measure is set for a hearing today in the House Appropriations Committee.