Anchorage, Alaska becomes the latest city to face a “bathroom bill”

Anchorage voters will vote next year on their own version of a bathroom law, but how it will be enforced and whether it has a chance in relatively liberal Anchorage are unclear.

Nowhere to go? (Still from YouTube video)

ANCHORAGE, August 2, 2017 — In 2018, Anchorage voters will face their version of the controversial “bathroom bill.” The bill would require people to use bathrooms or locker rooms based on the gender on their birth certificates.

Anchorage Deputy City Clerk Amanda Moser certified the signatures of 6,200 residents, more than the number required to make the ballot. On the ballot, the measure will appear under the title “Regulating Access to Facilities Such as Locker Rooms and Bathrooms on the Basis of Sex at Birth, Rather Than Gender Identity.” Similar legislation is being considered by the Texas legislature.

A 2-year-old Anchorage law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing and public amenities. That includes bathrooms and locker rooms open to the general public. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz released a statement, opposing the measure:

“It is divisive and distracting at a time when we should be united and focused on the issues that impact Anchorage every day—making sure we have good jobs and a growing economy, that our neighborhoods are safe, and we continue to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community.”

Anchorage city attorney Bill Falsey warned that the legislation will face serious legal and constitutional questions. Falsey questioned how the measure would be enforced. Others have pointed out that it would be difficult to determine a person’s anatomy and genetics at birth, since most residents don’t carry copies of their birth certificate. Falsey also brought up the possibility of someone with Swyer’s syndrome, which causes a person with male genes to to be born with female sex organs.

Supporters of the bill, including the Alaska Family Action, say businesses and places of worship should be allowed to determine whether transgender people can use the bathroom or locker room that connects with their gender identity. While Alaska is a Republican stronghold, the city of Anchorage has liberal leanings, so there’s a strong possibility that the bill will fail on Election Day.

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