Bathroom bill? Really, Rep. Kavanagh?
Forget about showing your birth certificate to vote. You soon may need to tote the thing around in order to use the bathroom in Arizona.
No really, I mean it.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Kavanagh plans to introduce a proposal Wednesday aimed at heading off an army of transgendered people who apparently stand ready to invade public bathrooms and wreak all manner of hygenic havoc.
But that, really, is beside the point.
The right wing has been in a dither for several weeks now, ever since the Phoenix City Council had the colossal gall to approve a city ordinance declaring that you can’t discriminate against gay and transgendered people in the areas of employment, housing and restaurants and such.
Naturally, the hysterics among us went right to the toilet – and, coincidentally, to the Arizona Legislature.
And so comes Wednesday’s strike-everything amendment, wiping out an already-approved House bill dealing with state massage therapy bureaucrats and replacing it with this:
“A person commits disorderly conduct if the person intentionally enters a public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room or locker room and a sign indicates that the room is for the exclusive use of persons of one sex and the person is not legally classified on the person’s birth certificate as a member of that sex.”
Exceptions are made for the cleaning crew, kids and the physically disabled. All others would be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. Which, of course, begs the question: in which section of the jail would our leaders house the offenders?
And how would the potty patrol really know that a person with the wrong equipment was about to use the facilities?
I suppose someone could be deputized to peek under the stalls to see which way the high heels are pointed or to peek under the dresses of all who look suspect.
Otherwise, how do you know it’s not a girl who just looks like a dude in a dress?
I guess we’ll find out the answers to these and other vital questions soon enough. The threat is dire enough that this bill contains an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect immediately upon becoming law rather than the usual 90-day wait.
Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, didn’t return a call to explain why there is such a pressing need for this bill or who pressed it upon him. Odds-on favorite would have to be Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy and a woman on every right-wing legislators’ speed dial.
Having already pressured the Legislature into deciding that for purposes of abortion, life begins on the first date, I imagine she’s got plenty of time on her hands these days.
Pity she won’t use it to encourage our leaders to close the gaping loophole that allows deep-pocketed special interests to finance entire political campaigns without having to disclose their identities.
Or to require background checks before someone can buy a gun.
Or to improve mental-health care in this state or public education in this state or countless other things that are actually important in this state.
Instead, we have the emergency bathroom bill, being heard at 2 p.m. Wednesday, to head off the renegade city of Phoenix.
The legislator who is pushing privacy for lottery winners wants you to show your birth certificate – or perhaps your pertinent private parts — to gain entry to a public bathroom.
Which brings us to perhaps the most pressing question of all.
Has there been a problem?
I confess to not spending a lot of time thinking about where transgendered people go when they’ve got to go. But doesn’t it make sense that they probably already are and long have been quietly using the bathroom of their choice?
And if they do and there’s been no trouble, why is it the state’s business where they do their business?
(Column published March 20, 2013, The Arizona Republic.)