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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Eugene City Council Removes Amendment that would have allowed Transpersons Access to Gender-Appropriate Restrooms

Domestic partner registry proposal passes

[EUGENE, OR] - Facing a possible mayoral veto, the Eugene City Council voted 6-2 Tuesday to remove portions dealing with gender identity from proposed changes to the city's human rights code. The amended proposal passed unanimously.

The approved revisions include the establishment of a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples, the addition of the terms "ethnicity" and "domestic partner status" to anti-discrimination ordinances, and allowing people to file private discrimination lawsuits.

Mayor Jim Torrey, who has stated support for equal rights protection for transgender people in general, opposed the public accommodation portion of the proposal because of privacy and cost concerns.

Torrey had threatened to veto the entire proposal unless the City Council removed the portion allowing transgender people access to the restroom of their choice. Torrey said that he would sign the amended measure into law.

The portion of the proposal that would allow transgender persons to use public restrooms consistent with their gender identity, not their biological anatomy, has been the subject of much controversy.

In an open forum at Tuesday's meeting, a number of citizens expressed opposition to the ordinance. Arguments ranged from concerns about the vagueness of the proposals to outright religious condemnations of homosexuality.

Eugene attorney John Hudson said that the ordinance posed legal problems because gender identity is perceived and not objective.

"Who makes this determination?" he asked.

Steve Light, a Eugene resident, expressed concern that the City Council might be overstepping its bounds in determining morality.

"What are we teaching our children when we redefine what is right and wrong?" he asked.

Councilor Pat Farr said he was concerned that the sexual predators might be able to abuse the ordinance.

"I would be concerned that people would be able to enter the bathroom under the guise of being transgender," he said.

Austin Shaw-Phillips of the University's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Alliance said she felt sympathy for people's concerns, but said those concerns may be unfounded.

"The safety issue here is the safety of trans men and women," she said. "Trans people don't represent a threat."

Shaw-Phillips said she felt the domestic partner registry was important but wasn't sure if it would be worth excluding public accommodation for transgender people.

"Transgender people get left behind a lot," she said. Councilor David Kelly, who introduced the amendment removing the gender identity references, pledged that the gender identity issue would be revisited by the Human Rights Commission.

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