Oxford councilors may recall transgender bathroom ordinance

Published: May. 3, 2016 at 5:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2016 at 5:22 PM CDT
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OXFORD, AL (WBRC) - Oxford city councilors will discuss potentially recalling the ordinance that made it illegal for people to use a public bathroom that is different from the gender on their birth certificate.

The city council will hold a special called meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4 to "discuss potentially recalling Ordinance No. 2016-18," the council said in a statement on Tuesday.

A law was passed last week in response to Target's policy allowing employees and shoppers to use bathrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity.

"The policy creates an unsafe environment," council president Steven Waits said this week.

There's a Target store in the Oxford Exchange.

"It's being put in to protect women, children and families from voyeurs, child molesters, exhibitionists, sexual predators and others who might use these policies to their advantage," Waits said.

When asked if the law then associates transgender people with sexual predators, Waits replied, "That's not the spirit of this law."

The ordinance carries penalties of a $500 fine or six months in jail, according to Police Chief Bill Partridge.

Enforcement of the misdemeanor will be the same as other misdemeanor city laws. A person would have to call police to complain, when police arrive the officer would have to witness the crime. After that, a person's information is gathered and the person who called in the complaint would have to sign out a warrant, according to Partridge.

Waits said the ordinance was spurred by people contacting city hall concerned about safety after Target announced their policy.

Earlier this month the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group, began a petition to boycott Target because of the ordinance. So far, more than 500,000 have signed the petition saying they will shop elsewhere.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is considering suing the city of Oxford over the ordinance.

While no action has been filed yet, the ACLU's counsel for the Alabama chapter, Randall Marshall, said his group is taking a close look at the law.

Marshall said by phone that what he knows about the law, makes it appear to be a solution in search of a problem, since Target has never had any known problems with the issue before.

"I know that they talked about things like safety, and, and, and that kind of thing. But you know, the fact of the matter is, there are plenty of laws on the books to deal with people who would go into a bathroom to harass someone," Marshall said.

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