California Assembly passes gender-neutral restroom bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A bill requiring all single-occupancy public restrooms to be open to anyone regardless of gender or gender identity passed the California Assembly on Monday, and will proceed to the state Senate.

The most populous U.S. state already bars discrimination against transgender people, including in public restrooms. The measure by state Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, goes farther, saying that single-use restrooms should not be reserved for one sex.

“Restrooms are a necessity of life, making equal access to them a civil rights issue,” Ting said in a press statement.

The measure passed on a 55-19 vote. A date has not been set for the Senate to consider the bill.

Supporters have said that in addition to protecting transgender or gender fluid people, the bill would also cut down waiting time at single-occupancy public restrooms by allowing anyone to use facilities previously reserved for men or women.

The bill came during a nationwide furor over a law passed by the state of North Carolina requiring people to use restrooms consistent with their biological sex.

On Monday, a fight between the Obama administration and North Carolina over that law escalated as both sides sued each other, trading accusations of civil rights violations and government overreach.

The U.S. Justice Department’s complaint asked a federal district court in North Carolina to declare that the state is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act and order it to stop enforcing the ban.

North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and the state’s secretary of public safety sued the U.S. agency in a different federal court in North Carolina, accusing it of “baseless and blatant overreach.”

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Richard Chang)

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