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Transgender Bathroom Bans Won't Happen In Chicago, Rahm Says

By Ted Cox | May 18, 2016 3:46pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls an ordinance against transgender bathroom discrimination
Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls an ordinance against transgender bathroom discrimination "appropriate to our values."
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — If a Chicago business wants to ban transgender people from their bathrooms, they better think again, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

Emanuel joined the City Council's LGBT Caucus Wednesday in submitting an ordinance amendment banning bathroom discrimination against the transgender community.

"It's appropriate to our values," Emanuel said in a news conference after a City Council meeting.

The proposal bans public facilities such as hotels, restaurants and grocery stores from requiring a person to show a government-issued identification card to gain access to a restroom or other private areas.

"Discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated in Chicago," said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th). "Chicago welcomes all people, regardless of their biological category and/or their gender identity."

Emanuel was asked if this had already proved a problem in Chicago.

"I don't know that individually," he said. "This has been a request of the transgender community." He cited how Chicago Public Schools had already adopted a similar policy.

Aldermen said it was necessary in the wake of discriminatory laws such as the one recently passed in North Carolina.

"The North Carolina law is unconscionable and an extreme overreach, and I'm pleased that Chicago is taking the opposite approach in an effort to protect all our residents from discrimination," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).

According to Emanuel, it updates the city's Human Rights Ordinance passed 26 years ago under Mayor Eugene Sawyer. Emanuel said it was "ahead of the time" then, but "it has discrimination in it, so we're gonna take that out."

Emanuel said the need for an updated ordinance was brought to his attention by Mona Noriega, commissioner of human relations.

"This change will ensure that the Human Rights Ordinance's public accommodation protections of equal access will apply equally to all people as originally intended," Noriega said. "As the agency that enforces the ordinance, we applaud the mayor for taking this corrective action. The law was enacted by the city to protect people from discrimination, not be a tool for discrimination."

"Times have changed, our values are more reflective," Emanuel said. "We have a code. It permits discrimination, inadvertently, and we're gonna take that code and update it and reflect our own values. There is no discrimination."

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