PHOENIX - A prominent GOP lawmaker in Arizona wants to link public bathroom use to birth certificates in what civil rights advocates are calling the nation's toughest anti-transgender measure.
The bill would require people to use public restrooms, dressing rooms or locker rooms associated with the sex listed on their birth certificate or face six months in jail.
The proposal had been scheduled for a vote Wednesday during a House of Representatives committee. But in an unusual scene for the usually staid halls of state government, men in dresses, women in business suits and other transgender supporters crowded into the committee room and the lobby of the House to protest the legislation.
Minutes after the meeting started, State Rep. John Kavanagh said he would delay the debate on his bill because of a paperwork error.
Arizona's measure - and the response it received - reflects a growing national debate over what kind of restroom can be accessed by men and women presenting as a gender other than what they were born as.
With more people identifying as transgender, state and local governments are increasingly banning gender-identity discrimination to ward off legal battles, but opponents and proponents alike complain the laws don't explicitly demand businesses provide equal access for transgender people, creating confusion over how governments, restaurants, clothing stores and other establishments must act.
One local TV station has dubbed Arizona's legislation the "Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty" bill, a reference to the state legislature's sweeping 2010 immigration law.
Among those waiting to speak out against the bill on Wednesday was Phoenix resident Erica Keppler. She was born a man, but doesn't feel comfortable in men's bathrooms or locker rooms with her earrings, long hair and feminine clothing.