A bill to reverse a public accommodations law that allows transgender people to use opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms was blocked in the state Senate – in part thanks to three Republicans who voted with the minority Democrats.
The law took effect earlier this year and drew a backlash from Republicans concerned about men pretending to be transgender in order to harass and assault women. The GOP has a slim majority in the state Senate, but the three Republicans gave Democrats a 25-24 victory.
The sponsor of the repeal bill, Sen. Doug Ericksen, told his colleagues that business owners are helpless under the existing law to protect women from assailants. “Under this rule, practically, what can he do to be able to protect his members that are uncomfortable?” he asked, according to The Associated Press.
Sen. Cyrus Habib argued that the transgender law protects “a civil right to be included,” and Sen. Pramila Jayapal said, “There have been no sex offenders that have been posing as transgender people to get into bathrooms.”
Some Republicans took issue with how the law was implemented – not via the legislature or a ballot referendum, but through the state’s Human Rights Commission. Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Michael Baumgartner, who held hearings on Ericksen’s bill, said he “certainly was disappointed in the rule because it definitely put people at risk” and criticized the commission for involving itself. (Read more from “Washington State Republicans Join Democrats to Uphold Transgender Bathroom Bill” HERE)