'Bathroom bill' fails to gain ground at Arizona Capitol - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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'Bathroom bill' fails to gain ground at Arizona Capitol

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 5:03 pm

A veteran state lawmaker has quietly flushed his plans to have the state intervene in who can use which bathroom or locker room.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said Wednesday that colleagues remain concerned about the issue of those who biologically are men in women's locker rooms or showers. But he said there isn't enough time to craft a version that can get the needed votes for what was quickly dubbed the "bathroom bill.''

The fight surrounds a decision earlier this year by Phoenix to expand its existing anti-discrimination ordinances to cover people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. That law covers places of public accommodation.

Other cities already have similar laws.

Foes insisted it would allow those who are anatomically male but self-identify as female to be able to demand access to facilities reserved for women. That alarmed Kavanagh.

"We don't want to have young girls in women's locker rooms being exposed to basically biological men in a state of undress,'' he said at the time.

He originally sought to make it a crime, complete with a six-month jail term, for someone to use a facility where the sign on the door did not match the person's genitals. That proved unacceptable.

So he tried an alternative: Void any local law that requires a business to let individuals use the restroom, locker or dressing room of his or her "gender identity or epxression.'' It also would have barred prosecution of businesses for refusing to let someone in a restroom the owner does not believe is gender appropriate.

While that was approved by the House Appropriations Committee, it failed to gain much traction in the rest of the chamber. Kavanagh said Wednesday the issue is pretty much dead this year.

"It is kind of getting lost in the rush'' to adjourn, he said. "The budget is consuming everything right now.''

But Kavanagh vowed to resurrect it next year.

"It's certainly not gone, not so long as you have a Phoenix ordinance that subjects businesses to criminal prosecution for daring to have a separate men's or women's shower or locker room and actually enforce that,'' he said.

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