ACLU Comment on Oxford, Alabama Anti-LGBT Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
May 4, 2016 1:45 pm

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The city council in Oxford, Alabama will meet later today to discuss its restroom ordinance — perhaps the most extreme in the country — and will hopefully vote to repeal it. While the bill was passed last week, it has yet to be signed by the mayor and the exact procedure for when the law would go into effect has not been clarified publicly. This ordinance is the latest in a flurry of more than 200 anti-LGBT bills proposed in state legislatures across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently challenging an anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina and is considering the potential for other challenges elsewhere.

Oxford’s law would make it a crime for transgender people to use the restrooms matching their gender identity in buildings and businesses open to the public, punishing those who violate the ordinance with a $500 fine or up to six months in prison. The Oxford City Council will meet this afternoon to discuss this ordinance. The ACLU of Alabama, ACLU National, and the Southern Poverty Law Center have provided the council with their thoughts in a letter. Below are quotes from the ACLU of Alabama and our allies:

“I love the City of Oxford. While I don’t wish to fight the city, my son is worth fighting for. I hope the council does the right thing and recalls this ordinance,” said Oxford resident Sherry Matthews, whose transgender son would be impacted should the law take effect.

“This proposed ordinance, like the hundreds we’ve seen introduced in legislatures across the country, many of which we are challenging, will do nothing to protect privacy or public safety, but will unfortunately harm Oxford residents and others who come here — solely based on who they are. We urge the city council to stand on the right side of history and indeed on the right side of the law and not write discrimination into law,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

“Discrimination has no place in 21st century Alabama. Yet, that was the path taken by the Oxford City Council when it voted to criminalize transgender people for simply using the restroom,” said Chinyere Ezie, staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Misunderstanding and fear should never guide public policy decisions. Transgender people, like anybody else, should not be treated differently simply because of who they are. Fortunately, city council members have the opportunity to repeal this ordinance. Not only is repeal the right thing to do, it will protect city taxpayers from a potentially expensive lawsuit.”

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