By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com March 28 2013 1:21 PM ET
After seven hours of testimony that stretched into Wednesday evening, an Arizona State House committee approved legislation that would bar transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, reports the Associated Press. The state-level legislation seeks to override local antidiscrimination policies that already protect transgender people.
The Arizona House Appropriations Committee voted 7-4, along party lines, to advance committee chairman Rep. John Kavanagh's Senate Bill 1045. In its original incarnation, the bill sought to impose criminal penalties for any person found using a restroom other than that which corresponds with the gender listed on their birth certificate.
But after swift, vocal outrage from the transgender community and advocates, Kavanagh amended the bill to legally protect businesses that bar transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. The legislation now heads to the Republican-controlled House for a full vote.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the bill seeks to legalize discrimination against transgender people, and puts them at risk for harassment and stigmatization.
"The Arizona Appropriations Committee approved an incredibly discriminatory and hateful bill that specifically targets transgender people," said NCTE executive director Mara Keisling in a statement. "Rejecting the thousands of people who've spoken out against SB1045 in Arizona and across the United States, Rep. Kavanagh and his six allies instead chose to defend discrimination and protect discriminators. SB1045 brings more shame to Arizona's legislature for isolating and targeting another marginalized community. Transgender Arizonans and our allies stand stronger and more determined to put an end to Rep. Kavanagh's anti-transgender campaign."
Kavanagh's bill arose in response to a recent Phoenix antidiscrimination ordinance that allows transgender people to use the restroom, locker room, and shower of their choice. Within seven hours of testimony, only one person testified in favor of the bill, according to the AP, while more than 200 turned out to testify in opposition.
Brynn Tannehill, a transgender veteran and advocate, said that even if passed, the legislation would likely be unconstitutional based on the landmark ruling in Romer v. Evans, which struck down Colorado's Amendment 2 prohibiting any jurisdiction from enacting LGBT antidiscrimination protections.
"It is easy to see how a clear analogy between Amendment 2 and SB1045 can be made," writes Tannehill in an op-ed for the Huffington Post. "Given the lack of incidents where gender non-conforming people have caused harm in public spaces and the evident animus of the bill in attempting to single out a group, SB1045 seems to fail both constitutional tests miserably.