OLYMPIA, Washington, January 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Republican-led Senate committee narrowly passed a bill that would repeal Washington State's new law requiring public buildings and most businesses to let people with gender dysphoria use the restroom, locker room, and other facilities of their choice.
On Wednesday, the Senate's Commerce and Labor Committee heard from 300 people on both sides of the issue. While transgender activists said the law prevents discrimination, parents and others said they were concerned about the potential of sexual assaults. Some noted that the Human Rights Commission, which approved the so-called “non-discrimination” law, is not a legislative body.
One business owner, Thrive Community Fitness's Paul MacLurg, told legislators that “now I have no good choices” when it comes to protecting women from men who would harass them. He has assigned a private restroom and locker room for transgender people.
Bill sponsor Senator Doug Ericksen described the measure as a “compromise” effort that would allow local jurisdictions to handle the issue on a case-by-case basis. “The state shouldn't have a mandate on men using the women's locker room,” he said.
Ramona Calquhoun told The Associated Press that, in addition to opening possibilities for sexual predators, “[e]ven mentioning anything puts you in a legally bad position to get sued.”
Transgender activists say repeal would cause more harm than good.
“[V]ery strong laws on the books … already say it's illegal if people enter a restroom to harass, assault or invade the privacy of other people,” Danni Askini, executive director of the Seattle-based Gender Justice League, told The Associated Press on Wednesday
Kathryn Mahan, identified by “a transgender woman” by The Associated Press, told legislators that if they repealed the new law, “it will be possible for anyone who doesn't like me to harass me when I'm using the restroom.”
“Tell me, how do I prove that I have female genitals?”
Shortly after the hearing, the committee passed the bill 4-3. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Getting the measure to Governor Jay Inslee's desk is likely to be difficult even if it gets through the Senate. The Democratic chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Laurie Jenkins, says she will not consider the bill.
However, legislators have options to get around the normal legislative process. House Rule 24D, Point 2 allows “[t]hat by motion under the eighth order of business, a majority of the members elected to the house may relieve a committee of a bill and place it on the second reading calendar.” That strategy would also face difficulties, as the state House leadership and majority are Democratic.
Washington is also a state in which citizens can use ballot referenda to force consideration of legislation.
Concerned citizens can find their state senators and representatives here.