DALLAS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Dallas city council unanimously voted Tuesday to extend its anti-discrimination ordinance to transgender people, forcing businesses to allow men to use women's restrooms, and vice versa. This applies to all businesses, government buildings and even private schools.
The amendment comes just after Houston residents voted against the controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, nicknamed the "bathroom ordinance" for a provision that would force businesses to open their women's restrooms to men. The ordinance lost 61 to 39 percent.
The Dallas ordinance, which also protects transgendered people from being denied employment and housing based on gender identity, had been worked on for over a year by Adam Medrano, chair of Dallas' LGBT Task Force, a lobby group for pro-gay laws.
The ordinance, which had been set in place in 2002 for gay and lesbian legal protection, was seen as insufficient in the eyes of LGBT leaders. According to LGBT Task Force member Patti Fink, who praised the amendment, "[T]he transgender community believes they're not included because the definition of gender identity is stuffed into sexual orientation." She wanted the amendment to be passed "so it's clear to those who live in this city [that] they have protections."
Now transgendered individuals "see themselves in this ordinance very clearly."
"Words have meaning," said Rafael McDonnell of the Resource Center, "and your vote today will give life to those words and will be seen not only here in Dallas but around the country as support for the LGBT community."
Not everybody is happy about the measure, however. Republican State senator Don Huffines immediately took to Twitter in response, alleging the amendment was voted in without sufficient public input.
The Houston Equal Rights Amendment was initially overturned for this very reason. After the Houston City Council voted to pass the measure, a Houston pro-family group acquired thousands of signatures petitioning the city to put the measure to popular vote. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the residents, and the government was forced to hold a referendum on the ordinance, which was soundly defeated November 3.
As with the Houston amendment, the Dallas amendment raises concerns for the rights of others, since even private universities must allow transgendered persons to use bathrooms for the opposite sex. This will likely result in lawsuits against businesses and schools if they refuse to comply.