Republican Representative John Kavanagh's newest effort to regulate toilet usage in Arizona, by proposing that businesses can dictate which bathroom transgender people can use, cleared its first hurdle at the Legislature on Wednesday.
With that, the scores of people who spent nearly two hours testifying on Kavanagh's proposal -- all but one of them speaking out against the amendment -- and ended the committee hearing with a chant of "shame" directed at Kavanagh and his Republican colleagues.
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After stalling his initial bill -- which would have criminalized the use of a public restroom if the sex on someone's birth certificate doesn't match the sign on the door -- Kavanagh tried to take a wider stance, by essentially trying to undo the anti-discrimination ordinance passed recently by the City of Phoenix.
Kavanagh said the only thing his amendment does is undo what Phoenix's ordinance does, but speakers said otherwise, based on the language of his amendment. Then again, Kavanagh also referred to Phoenix's ordinance as a "civil-rights ordinance," before saying a couple hours later that his "bill is not about civil rights" -- a statement that was met with sarcastic laughter from the audience.
After almost two hours worth of people pointing out the different ways in which Kavanagh's proposal (complete language here) is a bad idea -- some of the Dems piped up against it, too.
Democratic Representative Stefanie Mach called it "an embarrassment to our state," a label that's been applied to plenty of Arizona's legislative proposals over the last few years.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell noted the one person who showed up to support Kavanagh's amendment, a man who asked, "When do we stop," referencing giving rights to certain groups of people.
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"We stop when everyone has equal rights," Campbell replied. He also barked back at Kavanagh's explanation of how his amendment is good, because, Kavanagh said, it's "awkward" for transgender people to be in a bathroom where the label on the door doesn't match their private parts.
"If we're going to allow businesses to start to dictate who can come into public spaces, private spaces -- whatever -- based on their own discriminatory beliefs or prejudices or level of comfort . . . we are taking this state farther backwards than we are already taking this state."
Campbell said if this bill were to end up becoming law, he expects it to end up "where many of the bills end up from this body." (We thought that would be the Daily Show, but he clarified he meant in the courtroom.)
The Republicans in the House Appropriations Committee have more numbers than the Democrats, so the bill passed the committee among party lines, 7-4.