On Monday, in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, Texas, Mayor Jim Pruitt was handed a humiliating defeat after he tried to pass an anti-LGBT bathroom law similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law passed earlier this year.
For Pruitt to have brought his motion to a vote, he needed a second council member to support the measure. He even tried to scale back his proposal to only include city property. But after hours of debate, not a single person stood with him to force a vote.
At first, four council member did say they liked Pruitt’s ordinance and it’s intent at enhancing “public safety.” But they stated that the “intent” wasn’t captured in the proposal as it was written.
David White, who also sits on the city council, said he was against the bill from the first time he read it:
Every group needs protection. But it’s a property rights issue.
If you believe that Target is a dangerous place for your child, don’t go. I think when government starts getting involved in where you pee or poop, it’s God-dang ridiculous.
Pruitt confessed that his anti-LGBT ordinance was inspired by the Target corporation’s public restroom policy:
I don’t know why we’re having this conversation. We are because someone decided to make a policy to allow men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms. This is purely a security issue…This is for our children’s security, and frankly I don’t think a young girl should be subjected to seeing another’s genitalia when they are changing alone in a public restroom.
On April 19, Target issued this statement:
We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Lewis stated that his solution was much simpler than making a new law.
If Target wants to have this policy, I have the choice of not shopping at Target.
Lewis is also running against Pruitt in a special election for Rockwall’s Mayoral seat.
Before the council’s unanimous decision defeating the ordinance, they also heard testimony for those for and against the law in an open forum. Many made a request to speak, but only a few city residents were selected, which numbered to 30 people speaking at the podium.
The mayor had a few supporters:
There’s a lot of talk that we’re hating LGBT people,” said John White, David White’s father. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. This is an expression of love for our women and children.
Target brought up this issue when they said they were going to allow anybody in any restroom,” said Kim Cline. “That told all the predators out there that the bathrooms are fair game.
Pruitt’s ordinance did include exceptions, although not for transgender people but rather for Custodians, maintenance workers, emergency responders, and adults accompanying a child under 12 or assisting a physically disabled person.
His proposal was also extended to locker rooms, restrooms, changing rooms, and shower rooms throughout the city.
Rockwell District Attorney Kenda Culpepper insisted that private business policies necessitated the creation of the new ordinance, labeling transgender people as predators.
Rockwall County is not immune to sexual offenses,” said Culpepper, who is the mayor’s wife. “And yes, it happens in bathrooms.
However, the majority of the speakers spoke out against the Mayor’s proposal.
Our children are not in danger,” countered Jeremy Johnson, with his daughter by his side.
Resident Karen Roggenkamp threatened to pursue legal action if the law was passed.
This law is designed to interfere with transgender citizens in the worst possible way,” said Roggenkamp, whose daughter is transgender. “These are not outsiders. These are your neighbors.
A person from a local Hilton hotel, representing Rockwall’s private business community, also stated their company’s opposition; citing the devastating economic impacts in states who adopted or tried to adopt similar laws.
Equality Texas Chairman Steve Rudner said that his organization will take all such ordinances to court if necessary:
The underlying assumption here is that something new is happening and children are at risk. In fact, there is nothing new happening,” he said. “There hasn’t been any problem in a bathroom in Rockwall. There is no news here.
The only thing new is that someone is trying to pick on a marginalized group of people and make their lives more miserable
Featured image via Wikipedia.com