We have an uphill battle. The house bill has 223 co-sponsors. That is half of the House of Representatives already in support of the bill. You can see more details here at GovTrack.
I just read the bill for the first time and wanted to share my thoughts. We all already knew that they were collapsing sexual orientation and gender identity into sex, so I won't go into that.
I had thought that gender identity was just being added to places where sex was already protected, so I was surprised to see that they are adding sex--which of course will include sexual orientation and gender identity--to laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodation. Sex was never incorporated into such laws before because there was a common sense recognition that men and women do need to be separated at times for privacy and safety concerns. This bill will make addressing such concerns illegal. In addition to single-sex bathrooms and lockers, this could eliminate women's fitness gyms, female sports teams, ladies' night at bars and clubs, and gay and lesbian clubs/events. It would eliminate the option to create safe spaces for women and gays/lesbians in any commercial venture.
At the same time, the bill would greatly expand the definition of public accommodations. In addition to places of recreation and exercise, the bill adds the vague terms "public gathering" and "public display." It is not at all clear what that means, but my immediate thought is events that try to represent underrepresented groups like the former Michigan Womyn's Music Festival or the women's only screenings of the Wonder Woman movie would now officially be illegal under federal law.
The bill also specifically adds new language prohibiting discrimination with regard to online services, care centers, shelters (I take this to mean residential shelters, but I could be wrong because residential housing is usually governed by housing laws, not public accommodation laws.), travel agencies, health care services, and legal services. Obviously domestic violence clinics are a concern, but female-only websites like Ovarit (if determined to "affect commerce"), shelters for homeless gay youth, therapy groups for female assault victims, and women's and gay travel groups could similarly be outlawed. And could a Jessica Yaniv-type successfully sue a gynecologist for refusing to serve him? Could a lawyer get accused or discrimination for specializing in women's issues or specific minority issues? Potentially.
The bills also specifies that public accommodations are not limited to physical places. That invites discrimination claims against websites, but I could also see independent event organizers, instructors, and coaches getting into trouble for limiting their services to women, such as in a women's only fitness class, women's empowerment retreat, a lesbian social event, etc. I was assuming that as long as you let trans people into your "women's" event, you'd be safe, but after reading the bill I think trying to hold and advertise a women's event at all would be illegal because it would still discriminate against men who do not identify as women, and vice versa. Every for-profit event and organization would have to be open to all sexes and genders from here on out as far as I can tell. The preamble to the bill suggests that the sponsors are concerned with increasing nursing spaces for mothers in public places, but I do not see how that could be permissible under this bill since any sex segregation would now be illegal outright. Notably, there are no exceptions for breastfeeding in this bill.
The bills adds sex as a protected category for the first time to the statute forbidding discrimination in state facilities. The only real effect I can see this having is to eliminate sex-segregated bathrooms in state buildings.
Under existing employment discrimination statutes, employers had a very narrow defense of bona fide occupational qualification, meaning that they could argue that discrimination was legitimate and necessary in specific instances. These instances usually boiled down to bodily privacy concerns (e.g. hiring a female to oversee an area where women will be in states of undress), role-modeling (e.g. hiring a female to counsel traumatized female rape victims), authenticity (e.g. hiring a female to place a female role in a production), and selling sex (e.g. hiring a female stripper is essential to because the strip club is selling female sex) (I used female examples, but the exception is not limited to women or sex.). Now this exemption has effectively been eliminated because bona fide qualifications based on sex would now also have to include gender identity. So even if you have a legitimate business reason for hiring a female, say to minimize risk of sexual assault of female prisoners by correction officers, you will now have to include men who identify as women among your "female" hires.
Elsewhere in the bill they define gender identity and sexual orientation. The definition for gender identity is completely subjective and mutable, obviously. The sex definition includes both gender identity and sexual orientation in its definition even though they both have stand-alone definitions separate from the sex definition. Clearly, gender is meant to take precedence over sex.
The bill explicitly states that bathrooms, lockers, dressing rooms, and other shared facilities will not be barred on the basis of gender identity in commercial businesses, public spaces like parks and libraries, public schools/colleges, and employment.
Even though I already had an idea of the consequences of the bill, it was surprisingly hurtful to read through because it is so clear that this bill was drafted with the specific intention to destroy women's spaces. There is no other reason to add sex to the public accommodation provisions except to eliminate women's spaces. The sponsors of the bill get to claim that they are finally adding protections for women in public accommodations when the reality is that these "protections" are going to eliminate the safe spaces that women had. We already knew that, but it angers me to see it in print.