Yesterday’s post received some outraged comments so we decided to dig even deeper to see why Representative Frank Artiles is proposing a reasonable law to prohibit Miami-Dade County’s unisex restroom policy.
At the start, let us state for the record that we support most of Miami-Dade’s strong laws against discrimination. We as a society should not countenance discrimination based on race, religion, gender, etc., when it comes to employment, housing, admittance to restaurants, and lots of other issues.
However, we happen to disagree with the county’s decision to force public accommodations to operate unisex bathrooms, which is the effect of the ordinance adopted last December. Let us explain.
Public accommodations under the county code include the following:
Places of public accommodations shall mean any establishment, service, place or building which offers, sells or otherwise makes available to the public any good, service, facility, privilege or advantage. Each of the following establishments which services the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this article:
(a) An inn, hotel, motel or other place of lodging, except for an establishment located within a building that contains not more than five (5) rooms for rent or hire and that is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as the residence of such proprietor;
(b) A restaurant, bar or other establishment serving food or drink;
(c) A motion picture house, theater, concert hall, stadium, or other place of exhibition or entertainment;
(d) An auditorium, convention center, lecture hall or other place of public gathering.
(e) A bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment;
(f) A laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital or other service establishment;
(g) A terminal, depot or other station used for specified public transportation including but not limited to taxis, limousines and buses.
(h) A museum, library, gallery or other place of public display or collection;
(i) A park, zoo, amusement park or other place of recreation;
(j) A nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate private school, or other place of education;
(k) A day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank, adoption agency or other social service center establishment; and
(l) A gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course, or other place of exercise or recreation.
(m) Any area or structure provided for the purpose of storing personal property.
(n) Gas station retailers. For purposes of this article, “gas station retailer” shall mean any full service gasoline station; or any self-service gasoline station that has two or more attendants on duty at any given time during the hours the station is open for business to the public.
(o) A gasoline station. For purposes of this article, “gas station” shall mean that portion of property where flammable and combustible liquids used as motor fuels are stored and subsequently dispensed from fixed, approved dispensing equipment into fuel tanks of motor vehicles by any person.
Section 11(A)(20) Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances
As you can see, the definition of a public accommodation is pretty broad and we would argue that it covers everything that is not specifically and narrowly exempted, such as certain religious facilities. (An example might be that a mosque could have separate bathrooms for men and women and not be required to allow transgender persons to choose the restroom he or she prefers.)
Anyone who operates one of the public accommodations described above who is not specifically exempted must adhere to the following or face prosecution by the county under its police power:
It shall be an unlawful practice for any person to engage in any of the following acts because of the race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, marital status, familial status, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation of any individual or of any person associated with that individual:
(1) To refuse, withhold or deny to a person any services, access, advantages, goods, facilities or privileges of a public accommodation including the extension of credit; or
(2) To publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any communication, notice or advertisement to the effect that accommodations, services, goods, advantages, facilities or privileges of a public accommodation shall be refused, withheld or denied to a person or that the patronage of such person is unwelcome, objectionable, or unacceptable; or
(4) To segregate any public accommodation except where such segregation is caused by barriers to accessibility which are not required to be eliminated through reasonable accommodation.
Section 11(A)(19) Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances. (Emphasis added by SDM.)
Taken together, SDM reads the county code as meaning that anyone operating a public accommodation, including all of its services (e.g. restrooms) may not deny access to a facility on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. So what do these terms mean?
(12) Gender identity shall mean a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate).
(13) Gender expression shall mean all of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. Social or cultural norms can vary widely and some characteristics that may be accepted as masculine, feminine or neutral in one culture may not be assessed similarly in another.
Thus, a person may dress like a man and have an “innate, deeply felt psychological identification” as a woman or some other gender and be able to step into a ladies’ bathroom at the Children’s Museum and nobody could say boo about it.
Note that this concept of “innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth” is not temporally bounded.
A guy caught in the ladies room at Coral Reef Park could say to a police officer that he felt like a woman at the time he walked in and no court in this county could do otherwise but dismiss an infraction.
In fact, it may be illegal to have separate restrooms for men and women because these separate facilities constitute segregating the public accommodation based on gender identity and/or expression! Maybe SDM should file a lawsuit against the village for having segregated restrooms at village hall. Hmmm…
[Late afternoon edit: The Florida Building Code requires public and private structures to be built with both men’s and women’s restrooms so it doesn’t look like Miami-Dade can outlaw them.]
SDM Wonders: Did commissioners (with the notable exceptions of Bovo, Diaz and Zapata who voted no) really understand what they were doing when they adopted this new de facto unisex bathroom policy? Or were they too busy clapping each other on the back for being sensitive and politically correct?
SDM Says: The more we look into this travesty, the more we support Representative Artiles and his proposed law. See the post yesterday on this subject by clicking here.