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Oxford, Alabama Repeals Anti-Trans Bill 

Oxford, Alabama Repeals Anti-Trans Bill

Oxford, Alabama Repeals Anti-Trans Bill

City Council members voted to repeal the law that would have imposed a $500 fine and jail time for any transgender person who used a bathroom that matched their gender identity.

By a vote of 3-2, the City Council of Oxford, Alabama, just repealed an anti-trans ordinance that this publication denounced as “the nation’s most terrifying.”

A staff member with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Montgomery-based civil rights legal group, confirmed to The Advocate that the ordinance was struck down during a special meeting held this afternoon.

“The Oxford City Council did the right thing by recalling its discriminatory ordinance,” said Chinyere Ezie, staff attorney with the SPLC, who attended today’s hearing. “We are pleased the council members came to the conclusion that nobody should be criminalized simply for using the restroom.”

The unprecedented ordinance — which the City Council passed unanimously less than a week ago — made it a crime for transgender men to use the men’s room, and for trans women to use the ladies’ room in any space open to the public, including in businesses and theaters. Under the law, anyone caught using a restroom that does not match the gender listed on their birth certificate, would have committed a misdemeanor crime. 

The ordinance also imposed a $500 fine and a jail term of up to six months for using a public restroom or locker room not designated for the gender on a person’s birth certificate. Member of the council were clear in adopting the ordinance that it was a response to big-box retailer Target’s recent announcement that its customers and employees are free to use the facilities that comport with their gender identity. Target’s announcement, in turn, was a response to the anti-trans House Bill 2 passed in North Carolina in March, which among other things bars trans people from using facilities appropriate for their gender identity, if those are located in government buildings.

Ezie and the SPLC were present at the standing-room-only City Council meeting today, tweeting images and quotes from the hearing. Earlier today, the progressive nonprofit had sent a letter to council members, co-signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, warning that the sweeping policy could put the city at risk of losing federal funds. The anti-trans law violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by targeting transgender people for “different and unequal treatment,” stated the letter. The short-lived law also ran afoul of federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex, as outlined in the Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964  and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the attorneys argued.

These arguments appeared persuasive, as SPLC reports several council members raised these precise concerns during today’s meeting. 

“It’s a great day in the state of Alabama and we commend Councilperson Charlotte Hubbard for leading the recall effort,” said the Human Rights Campaign’s Alabama state director, Eva Walton Kendrick, in a statement. “This sends a welcome message of inclusion to Oxford’s families, businesses and visitors, and sets an example for other communities that may be considering similar legislation. Fair-minded Americans do not believe in discrimination, and we must continue to educate one another on the importance of being inclusive and welcoming to all.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates. 

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