Last night, the Miami-Dade County board of commissioners voted 8-3 to pass an ordinance to prohibit discrimination against person’s gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Critics came in droves, packing seats at Miami-Dade County Hall and waiting for hours to testify against the ordinance. More than 130 signed up to speak. Pastors, parents, teens, and seniors expressed particular concern that the measure would grant sexual predators a carte blanche to prowl women’s bathrooms.
“There are cases of the deviants who will take advantage of this,” said Commissioner Esteban Bovo, who represents suburban Miami. He would only support the ordinance if it carved out an exception so it did not apply to transgender people using public bathrooms. “We have to be mindful of a segment of the population, who is probably a majority, who is very concerned with this issue,” he said. “It is a concern for the safety of their family.”
But in the end, a majority of the commission rejected a bathroom amendment and sided with supporters of the ordinance, who characterized the measure as a basic civil right.
“It’s a scare tactic when we come down to the bathrooms and locker rooms,” said Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, one of the ordinance’s primary co-sponsors. “These are scare tactics.” She also rebutted a common complaint that the ordinance was unnecessary. “When someone has been discriminated against, I don’t care if it is one person, we were elected to defend those people and provide the protection that they need.”
The ordinance adds transgender people to several protected classes under local law, which includes people of color, people of faith, and homosexuals. The ordinance says religious institutions do not need to accommodate protected classes in noncommercial religious facilities.
Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez intends to sign the ordinance, mayoral spokesperson Mike Hernández told BuzzFeed News. “He is 100% supportive. The mayor will not veto — it will become law.”