Oregon mayor threatens to veto human rights bill
Eugene, Ore., mayor Jim Torrey said the issue of bathroom privacy might force him to veto amendments to the city's human rights code, including the plan to start Oregon's third domestic-partnership registry. Torrey said he couldn't accept the language used in the proposed amendments guaranteeing "reasonable accommodations" for transgendered people in all buildings open to the public. He said it could raise privacy and cost issues not only for public rest rooms but also for health club and swimming pool dressing rooms and showers. Torrey said he supports extending human rights protections to transgendered people, along with the creation of a domestic-partnership registry. But unless the issue of transgender accommodations can be handled separately when the council takes action next Monday, the entire package is likely to be vetoed. "I'm not trying to be unreasonable here," Torrey said. "But there is a real issue."
The council will likely act next week on four amendments to the revised code--each addressing the issue of access to facilities for transgendered people. One specifies that it would be permissible to restrict men's or women's public rest rooms to "individuals whose gender is perceived to conflict with their congenital reproductive anatomy." The other amendments would clarify that those individuals who have undergone sex-change operations couldn't be turned away from a public facility intended for those of their new gender, that city law wouldn't require employers or owners of public places to remodel existing facilities for "reasonable access" purposes, and that those building new facilities should be encouraged but not forced to include one-person rest rooms that could be used by people of any gender.