Bathroom battle heads to the state Capitol

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Several weeks after the city of Phoenix voted to extend legal protections to transgender people, a new proposal at the state Capitol could make it a crime for them to go into the bathroom in which they identify.

The proposal is scheduled for debate Wednesday in the House Committee on Appropriations and would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for someone to enter a public restroom that is designated for the opposite sex.

It would be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. In a hotly debated move last month, the Phoenix City Council voted to give legal protections to transgender people under the city's anti-discrimination law.

A divided council approved a proposal (5-3), which added gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people from being discriminated against in city contracts, housing, employment, and public restaurants.

Opponents named it the "Bathroom Bill" because they claimed it would let transgender people use bathrooms for the opposite sex. Opponents, such as the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, opposed it because they feared it could be abused.

Officials with CAP were not immediately available for an interview. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican from Phoenix, did not immediately return calls or emails seeking comment for this story.