Last week, Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh (R) introduced a new bill that would have prosecuted transgender people with a class 1 misdemeanor for using the appropriate bathroom according to their gender. The backlash for this odious proposal was swift, and a newly formed committee has filed paperwork for a recall election to remove Kavanagh from office. Now, he has scrapped his original proposal for a new bill that enshrines anti-trans discrimination into Arizona law.
As he did the first time, Kavanagh scrapped the language from a different bill, SB 1045 — which originally addressed the professional conduct of health professionals — to serve as a shell for his discrimination bill. Though he’s no longer calling for criminal sanctions, his new bill prohibits any Arizona municipality from creating nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity:
A. The regulation of access to privacy areas in places of public accommodation based on gender identity or expression is of statewide concern and is not subject to further regulation by a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state.
B. A county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state shall not enact or enforce an ordinance or policy that requires a person or business to regulate access to privacy areas based on gender identity or expression.
C. No person or business shall be civilly or criminally liable for denying access to privacy areas based on gender identity or expression.
D. This section does not prohibit a person or business from allowing access to privacy areas based on gender identity or expression.
E. Any ordinance or policy that relates to access to privacy areas based on gender identity or expression that is inconsistent with this section is void and of no force or effect.
Kavanagh’s bill specifically targets the city of Phoenix, which passed sweeping nondiscrimination protections, ensuring all LGBT people have access to employment, housing, and public accommodations without fear of discrimination. If this were to pass into law, those protections would be voided and anybody who wishes to reject service to a transgender person would be free to do so in the state of Arizona. Kavanagh’s effort is nothing less than a proposed license to discriminate.