The Kennewick City Council was asked at its Tuesday meeting not to support proposed state legislation that would restrict the bathroom choice of transgender people.
Six people spoke against that bill or another bill that would allow services to be refused for same-sex weddings on religious grounds. One person spoke for the bills.
The bills were not part of the council agenda Tuesday. But Councilman John Trumbo still talked about the proposed legislation at the end of the meeting.
“This is not an attack on anyone. This is a way to protect people and to protect freedoms,” Trumbo said.
Ronnie Batchelor of Kennewick, representing the Pride Foundation, disagreed.
“An attack is underway on the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, when our courts — high courts — have already stated that there will be not any discrimination,” Batchelor said.
Batchelor offered to meet with council members, saying the group could put to rest fears and misinformation.
Just drop it. Let it go. There have been no problems before except us transgender people being bullied. If there was not a problem before, why make a new problem?
Sierra Gormsen of Benton City
Being forced to use the restroom assigned to the genitalia he was born with would make him uncomfortable and upset and confuse others, said Alexander Nolle, of Kennewick.
“People just need to go to the bathroom,” said Jennifer Goulet of Pasco. “And I wish people could just stop worrying about what other people are up to.”
Reps. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, and Larry Haler, R-Richland, are among 37 cosponsors of a bill in the state Legislature intended to override a new state rule requiring buildings open to the public to allow transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms for the gender by which they identify.
Klippert also sponsored the bill that would retroactively protect businesses and people who refuse service for same-sex weddings on the basis of their beliefs. It would protect Barronelle Stutzman in the Arlene’s Flowers case.
The new bathroom rule has raised considerable concern, Trumbo said.
William McKay of Kennewick said he was concerned that people without good intentions would take advantage of the new law and put people like his wife or grandchild at risk. The new rule is “political correctness gone awry,” he said.
Sierra Gormsen of Benton City said previously there was no law about bathroom use, and if there were problems about illegal behavior in a restroom, police took care of it.
“Just drop it. Let it go,” she said. “There have been no problems before except us transgender people being bullied. If there was not a problem before, why make a new problem?”
The issue has been fairly and practically handled at the state level, and there are other issues in the city of Kennewick that would be a better use of council time, said Barbara Hodges of Kennewick.