Denver and Bathrooms: The Throwdown

Let me first clarify my stand before I link to the article.  I am a Christian. I am a Republican. There were days when I stridently agreed with Focus on the Family and followed every thing that came out of the campus up in Colorado Springs.

Those days are long gone.  James Dobson does not speak for me but he is an interesting figure to listen to at times.  Just like the Re-Create ’68 crowd (seriously, the convention should be a terrible train wreck), he’s got a right to say and believe in certain things I might vehemently disagree with.

But this…this makes me listen a little harder.  9news brings us, Unisex Bathrooms In Colorado’s Future?

I’m all for equal rights and tolerance in regards to what people believe and practice (to certain points…those polygamy cults are starting to concern me) and making the USA a little more welcoming and understanding.

Senate Bill 200, quietly signed by Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) with little fanfare on Thursday, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. It protects those who identify themselves as gay, bisexual or transgender from discrimination in areas including housing, business and education.

The law also prohibits discrimination in “public accommodations.” That is where the debate took a turn toward the toilet.

But I’m with opponents on this one.  First of all, Bill Ritter hasn’t been on my list of people I’m terribly fond of this year.  It started with the whole labor union crockup that he slipped a mickey to us with and did it all on his own.  And this little fact,

The governor signed the bill privately. When reached for a comment Friday afternoon, his spokesman said Ritter would be available for a public comment on Monday.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m outnumbered here on the blog and in my city as a Christian Republican…but I don’t like this whole signing bills privately and quietly.  It’s unnerving to me at best (not a “BATTLESTATIONS” cry mind you) and leaves me continually questioning Ritter.  If I’m alone in this, so be it.

But the concern that Focus has is this,

“It is now legal in the state of Colorado for a grown man to walk into a girl’s restroom in an elementary school for whatever purpose, and it is illegal for the school to say you can’t do that,” said Schneeberger. “What we’re really concerned about is sexual predators … who want to prey on young boys or young girls in particular, who would use the confusion caused by this law to victimize our children.”

The law’s proponents dismiss Focus on the Family’s argument as a narrowly-tailored scare tactic that ignores the greater purpose of the law.

“This is an important step forward for the state to make the state’s laws of fairness and justice applicable to everyone who lives here,” said Bruce DeBoskey, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Rocky Mountain chapter.

And yet the question remains unanswered.  What is to prevent some guy from standing in a girls restroom?  What if he just stands there and does nothing?  The article is lean on those details (if anyone has some better reporting, link in the comments) and leads me to believe that this issue was pushed through with little fanfare, aside from Focus’s campaign against it.

Focus on the Family launched an ad campaign in an attempt to convince Ritter not to sign the bill. The effort failed.

Anybody got an opinion on this? I ask already knowing the answer. I’ve got my flak jacket on and ready.  :)

6 Comments so far

  1. coryp on May 31st, 2008 @ 10:57 am

    I too, saw the segment on 9News last night.

    First, show me the law that (prior to this one) prohibited men in women’s bathrooms. You’ll find no law of that variety. It’s all "tradition" that keeps it that way. In fact, it was and is indeed legal for a man to stand in a womens’ restroom. Have you ever used a restroom of the opposite sex when you had no other choice?

    The same laws that protect people outside a public bathroom still exist. Any harassing guy can get thrown out of a city park by police, for example.

    More importantly, though, the entire argument is based off of "Sexual Offenders" coming into the girls bathroom. Newsflash: Sex Offenders aren’t deterred by signs on the door. If some twisted individual wanted to rape a child in a bathroom, they would be no more likely to do it if the bathroom was unisex.

    Most importantly, though, is the term "Public Accomodations". This does not mean only restrooms. It is a legal term describing most places that are public. Perhaps restrooms fall under that term, though they are not specifically enumerated. From the Americans With Disabilities (Title III) Technical Assistance Manual" published by the US Dept of Justice:

    "What is a place of public accommodation? A place of public accommodation is a facility whose operations —

    Affect commerce; and

    Fall within at least one of the following 12 categories:

    1) Places of lodging (e.g., inns, hotels, motels) (except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms);

    2) Establishments serving food or drink (e.g., restaurants and bars);

    3) Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g., motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums);

    4) Places of public gathering (e.g., auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls);

    5) Sales or rental establishments (e.g., bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers);

    6) Service establishments (e.g., laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals);

    7) Public transportation terminals, depots, or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportation);

    8) Places of public display or collection (e.g., museums, libraries, galleries);

    9) Places of recreation (e.g., parks, zoos, amusement parks);

    10) Places of education (e.g., nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private schools);

    11) Social service center establishments (e.g., day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies); and

    12) Places of exercise or recreation (e.g., gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses)."

  2. Aaron DeLay (den_aaron) on May 31st, 2008 @ 11:16 am

    Correct…my more pointed concern in this article is Ritter. I’m interested to see how this plays out with Focus and Everyone Else. Interesting discussion is sure to be had here. I’m interested to see where it all goes. Great points in you response!

  3. valerie on May 31st, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

    Controversial legislation often moves into existence on Friday afternoon (in hopes that no one will pay attention).

    I don’t think bathrooms are so much the problem. Just put a lock on the door and let one person in at at time. Locker rooms could be an issue whatever your religion or political affiliation.

    Isn’t the greater concern that men’s bathroom are notoriously messier than women’s? Y’all are going to have to change your ways.

  4. coryp on May 31st, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    I certainly agree that it’s strange to see that the governor signed the bill "privately". But, that said, there are hundreds of bills in the legislature that have been passed and are waiting for signatures. Perhaps our bigger concern should be that our local media is not covering ANY of these bills until people like James Dobson start screaming bloody murder.

  5. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (den_nicole) on June 1st, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

    Aaron, thanks for your rebuttal. Focus on the Family circulars tend to be about spreading the Fear And Doubt (FUD), and it’s good to read a reasoned counterargument.

    I am glad for this law making explicit the illegality of discrimination in accommodations based on gender presentation. I have more than a few friends in the transgender community. I hope this law will help make Colorado that much safer for them.

  6. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (den_nicole) on June 1st, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

    Sorry, I meant "coryp, thanks for your rebuttal." Aaron was of course the original poster.

    Now if only every dang blog on the internet would conform to one standard for comment post attribution: author name on top, or below? Make up yer minds, folks!

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