KETR

Without Support, Rockwall Bathroom Ordinance Doesn't Go To Vote

May 3, 2016

ROCKWALL- After two rounds of open forum, over 30 people addressing the council, and almost four hours of city government in action, Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt’s proposed ordinance to regulate public restrooms according to biological sex failed when no other councilman seconded Pruitt’s call for a vote.

In simple terms, if a biological male or female, as shown by their birth certificate, were to use the “wrong” bathroom, they would be subject to a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine - as would any business owner, manager, or employee to knowingly allow someone to use the “wrong” bathroom.

The ordinance included exceptions for maintenance, emergencies, parents with children 12 and under, and other situations but outlawed any multi-person unisex bathrooms of any kind, including the potential for a business to choose to add separate facilities or include such facilities in new construction.

The meeting drew an overflow crowd, with many residents voicing civil rights concerns and practical concerns of enforcing the ordinance. Several citizens as well as other council members also voiced objection to the restrictions for business owners; even those that might otherwise support a similar measure.

Most of the public comments to the council opposed the ordinance. Around a dozen Rockwall residents addressed the council in open forum, then a short recess was taken and the council reconvened, postponing action on the bathroom ordinance and taking care of other council business. Another open forum was conducted, but this was not well communicated to the crowd and many left before dark.

Mayor Jim Pruitt proposed the ordinance and was the only member of the council that ultimately wanted to pass the measure, though several other councilmen said they initially agreed with the ordinance. Ultimately, no other member of the council felt the ordinance would be beneficial for Rockwall. Pruitt asked if perhaps such an ordinance on only city property could be feasible, he also found no agreement.

Mayor Pruitt debated the merits of his proposal, but his arguments fell on deaf ears. Eventually, he called for a vote…and found no second. The ordinance died and Pruitt abruptly adjourned the meeting, standing and pacing in obvious displeasure. The sizable crowd still gathered felt confusion at first…unsure what had just transpired. The result soon sunk in…the measure had died on the council floor.

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