Phoenix to vote on adding LGBT to anti-discrimination policy, crticis say it will harm businesses

PHOENIX - Phoenix City Council could vote on an ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to its anti-discrimination policy, but opponents warn it will have a negative impact on businesses and churches.

"If you're transgender, you live a life knowing that discrimination is out there," said Erica Keppler, a transgender woman in Phoenix.

Keppler told ABC15 that the civil rights inclusion of LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community) is overdue in the city of Phoenix.

"If we are going to move towards a world where we can live safe and happy lives, then these are the steps that must be taken," she said.

More than 165 other cities have similar rules, according to the Human Rights Campaign .

The proposed ordinance had flown under the radar until last week when opponents dubbed it, the "Bathroom Bill," a term that supporters despise.

Critics of the proposal argue that, if the measure is approved, a man could follow a woman into the restroom and the business or agency would have little recourse if the man claimed to be transgender.

"It really opens to door for a bunch of frivolous lawsuits against businesses," said Aaron Baer, spokesperson for the Center for Arizona Policy.

Baer said other cities and states have already had controversy with such legislation and referenced a November 2012 incident in Washington where a transgender woman with male genitalia exposed herself in a women's locker room.

CAP posted the Phoenix proposal on its website after Phoenix Councilmember Sal DiCiccio came out against it.

"I will be pushing to get all parties to the table so that this can be properly vetted," DiCiccio said in an email to ABC15. "They are rushing this through in the hopes nobody notices."

City council could approve, postpone or dismiss the ordinance after a public comment session on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

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