Voting has begun today on whether to repeal a Gainesville, Florida, ordinance that gives protection to LGBT citizens.
If passed on the March 24 election, the Charter Amendment 1 will make the ordinance conform to the Florida Civil Rights Act, cancelling the anti-discrimination protections Gainesville extends to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.
Howard Simon, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said: “If this ordinance were repealed, it would be perfectly legal in Gainesville to fire someone from a job, to kick someone out of rental housing, to deny someone service simply because the owner does not like the idea that someone is gay.”
Opponents say they have one reason to seek the amendment – a clause which allows trans men and women to use whichever public toilets they feel most comfortable with.
Members of Citizens for Good Public Policy, which collected the 6,343 valid signatures to get the amendment on the ballot, have said that this policy puts women and children at risk from sex offenders.
The provision, passed by a 4-3 vote a year ago, was added to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to benefit around 100 trans residents.
Opponents of the move are currently campaigning against it, with one television advert featuring a blonde girl entering a restroom in a park as a scruffy-looking man loiters outside and then follows her in. The ad ends with the words ‘Your city commission made this legal’.
Cain Davis, chairman of Citizens for Good Public Policy, told AP that the issue is about regulating a “government gone wild” and ensuring public safety, adding that sexual predators could now simply enter a women’s restroom claiming to be a trans individual.
“We know when men go into women’s restrooms, bad things can happen,” Davis said.
However, computer programmer Clare Holman, who was born male but now lives as a woman, said she thought it best to avoid using public toilets at all.
“I don’t want to run afoul of the law by using the wrong restroom,” Holman said.