A day after being accused of punching a college kid, Miami-area Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles had a controversial victory in the Florida House. His bill that would ban transgender people using their preferred bathrooms without any exceptions in Florida cleared its first committee in the House.
The first hearing for the bill was in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. It passed today 9-4 with the vote coming down to party lines. All Republicans voted in favor and all Democrats voted against it. Those nine Republicans are Reps. Kathleen Passidomo, Walter "Mike" Hill, Colleen Burton, Larry Metz, George Moraitis Jr., Cary Pigman, Charlie Stone, Jennifer Sullivan, and John Wood.
Artiles argued the bill is needed because Florida is a family-friendly state. No word on whether Aritles remembers that transgender people have families.
.@Artiles118 disagrees with. Colleague who calls Florida "progressive." "We're a family-oriented state. We are not a progressive state."— Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) March 4, 2015
The bill would force people to use public bathrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms of that of the sex of which they were assigned at birth regardless of current gender identity or appearance. Any person who violates the bill would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or $1,000 fine.
Business owners would also have no choice but to follow the policy or they could be sued. Even a transgender resources center, for example, could be sued for allowing transgender people to use their preferred bathrooms.
Artiles says the bill is needed to stop people from committing crimes in bathrooms. However, there has been no evidence that this has been a problem.
Miami-Dade County just last year passed a trans-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance that protected people's rights to use their preferred bathrooms in public. Several other municipalities in South Florida already had such laws. There have been no reports of any trouble stemming from the laws. However, this bill would invalidate those local ordinances.
"Bill supporters are using the same lies and scare tactics we have seen defeated time and again, anchoring the purpose for the bill in concerns about transgender people and public safety in public facilities," read a statement from the Human Rights Council. "To date, 17 states and 28 municipalities in Florida have passed and successfully implemented human rights ordinances that provide protections to the transgender community with absolutely no increase in public safety incidents."
The bill has also been referred to the Government Operations Subcommittee and the full Judiciary Committee. The bill must pass all subcommittees it is assigned to before being voted on by the entire House. Republicans uniformity on the issue does not spell good news for transgender rights advocates as the body is controlled by the GOP.
A companion bill was introduced just yesterday in the state Senate. It has been referred to the committees on Criminal Justice, Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and Fiscal Policy.
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