HB 99 passed out of a House committee today with the support of Republican Rep. Justin Ruffridge of Kenai, who voted with the Democrats.
The pro-stalking bill, sponsored by Anchorage Democrat Rep. Jennie Armstrong, would allow men to enter women’s bathrooms in stores, restaurants, bars, athletic clubs, work places, and anywhere that there is a public accommodation. Women would have no more bathrooms designated for them and their daughters. All bathrooms would essentially become open to both sexes.
The portion of the statute that this bill amends to include sex discrimination says, “‘public accommodation’ means a place that caters or offers its services, goods, or facilities to the general public and includes a public inn, restaurant, eating house, hotel, motel, soda fountain, soft drink parlor, tavern, night club, roadhouse, place where food or spiritous or malt liquors are sold for consumption, trailer park, resort, campground, barber shop, beauty parlor, bathroom, resthouse, theater, swimming pool, skating rink, golf course, cafe, ice cream parlor, transportation company, and all other public amusement and business establishments, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons;” Read the current statute here.
Republicans in the Legislature were horrified that Ruffridge, a Republican, would flip and support a bill that is a direct attack on women’s and girls’ safety.
The bill left Community and Regional Affairs with only the opposition of Republicans Rep. Tom McKay of Anchorage and Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake.
Rep. Ruffridge voted with Democrats against an amendment by Rep. McCabe that would have narrowed the bill down to not discriminating against gay people in employment. Ruffridge said it narrowed the bill too much.
McKay asked Armstrong who would protect our daughters in bathrooms when men walk into a women’s bathroom.
Armstrong, who considers herself LGBTQ as a “pansexual,” called McKay’s question offensive and said that LGBTQ are increasingly being characterized as groomers and perpetrators, but most of the crime is committed by straight males.
The bill now goes to House Judiciary, which is chaired by Rep. Sarah Vance, a Homer and South Kenai Republican.