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Close To Home: Bathroom Dispute Talks fail

I'm about to do something that's going to make me pretty unpopular locally.

Yesterday's Arizona Republic featured a story regarding  the outcome of ongoing talks between a local woman and a nightclub owner.

This has ben going on for a year.  Charges have been filed. If they ruling goes aganst her, the entire community could be endagered.  And it *could* do so — especially now.

 As of now, Equality Arizona has washed its hands of the whole affair — and the reason is a personal grudge.

Equality Arizona was unable to get Michele delaFreniere and nightclub owner Tom Anderson to resolve their differences over delaFreniere's allegations that Anderson discriminated against her and other transgender patrons in barring them from his downtown Scottsdale bar.

Equality Arizona is a pretty fair advocate in a state where sentiment against Transfolk isn't always in the greatest light. This is a pretty strong statement by them.

Anderson, who denies delaFreniere's discrimination claim, has agreed to designate a gender-neutral bathroom, said Sam Holdren, Equality Arizona field organizer.

  DelaFraniere, a transgender woman, still has concerns.

“It still doesn't address the issue of the original discrimination,” she said in explaining why she declined to settle the dispute.

  And yet, the original issue was that because some patrons allegedly coplained about bathroom usage, we were being discriminated against.

The settlement that was negotiated had 4 points — all of which address the original issues from both sides:

  • Anderson would establish a gender-neutral bathroom.
  • The club would welcome transgender patrons.
  • DelaFreniere would not be able to patronize Anderson's Fifth Estate.
  • DelaFreniere would drop her complaint against Anderson.

 It should be noted that both Ms. DeLaFreniere and Mr. Anderson have an intense and ongoing dislike of each other. 

  DelaFreniere said no one should be discriminated against over simply using a bathroom, a basic human need.

  “I'm all over this state and the only place I've had any problem is at Anderson's,” she said.

  Despite the failed settlement, Anderson plans to establish the gender-neutral bathroom, according to Equality Arizona.

  Kelhoffer, Anderson's attorney, said the downtown Scottsdale club owner wants to move on.

  “Unlike the state, which gets lawyers at taxpayers expense, this is getting quite expensive for him,” he said.

So Mr. Anderson is willing to finish it anyway, and is still going to set u inclusive options for all his customers.

From a report by local talk and news radio KTAR:

According to Holdren [of Equality Arizona], that was not enough for Delfranier to drop her suit, so his group decided to bow out of the situation.

“It sort of reached that point where we had to let it go because it really wasn't coming to a resolution,” Holdren said. “They weren't agreeing and they weren't willing to move forward.”

He added, “We were committing a lot of resources to the situation, which was fine because it's an important issue that needed to be dealt with, but we needed to direct some of our resources to other priorities that we have.”

Holdren said one of the things Delfranier wanted was to be allowed back into the club, but Anderson stood firm that she could not come back.

 This case has sparked a deep rift within the local community, with Ms. DeLaFreniere coming extremely close to outright condemnation of anyone who doesn't agree with her method of pursuit.

She has been a very out and very active Transgender advocate, and serves on Scottsdale's Relations committee.

This case and her efforts have spawned Arizona Trans Alliance, an advocacy group that is just now finding its feet and getting legs to be able to handle the events in the future.

At this point, the only reasons to proceed forward are to ensure, by judicial precedent, that Transfolk have restrtoom access — which, in Arizona, could readily backfire into a situation where there is specifically not a requirment — or for a personal grudge and vendetta becuase Michele  wants to get back in the club.

In the interest of disclosure, I'll point out that I have long opposed any sort of viliv litigation in this case, and been the target of Michele's ire. 

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