Arkansas GOP lawmakers work on transgender 'bathroom bill'

AP News
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Posted: Feb 14, 2017 6:48 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers said Tuesday they're working on a "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people, despite warnings from the Republican governor that such a measure isn't needed and could harm the state.

A one-sentence bill was filed by two GOP state senators stating only that it addresses "gender identity and bathroom privileges" without any specifics. But co-sponsor Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield said it'll require people to use public bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

"If they were born a male, that's where they've got to use the bathroom," Stubblefield said.

A similar law in North Carolina has drawn widespread criticism and boycotts from businesses, and prompted the NBA to pull this weekend's All-Star Game out of Charlotte. The state's Democratic governor on Tuesday proposed a compromise to repeal the measure. A bathroom bill being considered in Texas has also prompted a backlash, with the NFL suggesting that Texas could be passed over for future Super Bowl sites if the proposal becomes law.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson repeated his opposition to pursuing a similar measure in Arkansas.

"I have consistently said that there is no need for a North Carolina type bathroom bill in Arkansas," Hutchinson said in a statement. "It is unclear as to the specifics of the proposed legislation but if it similar to North Carolina's, I view the bill as unnecessary and potentially harmful."

The nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group also urged lawmakers to drop the proposal.

"Proponents of anti-trans legislation are invoking a boogeyman that simply does not exist - the reality is that transgender people just want to simply live their everyday lives," Kendra Johnson, Arkansas director for the Human Rights Campaign. "Arkansas should not make the mistake North Carolina made."

Stubblefield and GOP Sen. Greg Standridge, who also sponsored the measure, said they weren't concerned about a backlash from businesses. They also said they expect more proposals from other lawmakers in the majority-Republican Legislature.

"It's a definite thing that there's going to be a bathroom bill pursued," Standridge said. "We just don't know if it's going to be our bill or someone else's bill."

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