Miami-Dade County commissioners have passed an ordinance that bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations, Miami TV station WPLG reports.
The 8-3 vote to amend the county’s Human Rights Ordinance followed a four-hour hearing Tuesday night.
“We’re united in opposing discrimination — that’s definitely the good news,” Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava, who voted in favor of the amendment, told WPLG. “And now we are divided about bathrooms.”
Opponents of the ordinance voiced their concern at the public hearing. The most common argument against the amendment involved safety and privacy in public restrooms.
“It allows men who claim to be women, or women who claim to be men, to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and dressing rooms,” said Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Family Coalition, according to Miami station WFOR.
Volunteers and members of Safeguarding American Values for Everyone worked for a year to get the measure passed by the county commissioners, reports The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper at the University of Miami.
“I’m overjoyed at the result,” Devin Cordero, the coordinator od communications for the group, told the Hurricane. “It was a long time coming. In politics, there is a saying: Elections have consequences. A lot of people don’t believe that anymore, and while I’ve always believed in the concept in theory, I think that the result proves that it applies in reality.”
The commission was much more united in Tuesday's vote than it was when it passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1998, with the measure winning by a single vote, notes the Miami Herald. It was upheld by voters in a 2002 referendum. The county initially banned such discrimination in 1977, but voters repealed that law in a referendum after antigay celebrity Anita Bryant led a campaign opposing it.
Supporters of the gender identity amendment say they won't be surprised if someone tries to put a measure on the ballot to repeal it, and they're getting ready. “For the past two years, we’ve been waiting for this moment,” SAVE executive director Tony Lima told the Herald after the ordinance passed. “But for the last six months, we’ve also been working on our plan for this becoming a ballot measure.”
County commissioners emphasized that the new ordinance is a matter of simple justice. “This ordinance is not asking for special rights,” Levine-Cava told WFOR. “It’s asking for equal rights.”