Democratic convention sets up 5 percent of bathrooms to be ‘all-gender’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS News) – Democratic convention planners are doing everything they can to make the LGBT community comfortable in Philadelphia — including access to transgender bathrooms.

President Obama recently ordered that public schools comply in allowing transgender people the right to choose a bathroom based on their gender identity, and the Democratic convention is offering the same kind of access, creating two “All-Gender Restrooms” for the 21,000-person capacity venue.

The deputy press secretary for the Democratic convention, Morgan Finkelstein, told CBS News “five percent of the restrooms at Wells Fargo Center are all-gender, located on the event and mezzanine levels where most of the attendees are.” Finkelstein added, “The Democratic convention is committed to making this the most inclusive and engaging convention in history.”

Attendees posted photos of the all-gender restroom signs.

LGBT rights were featured on day one of the convention — entrepreneur Jesse Lipson, a top executive at North Carolina software company Citrix and Pat Spearman, the first lesbian politician in Nevada state legislature argued that North Carolina’s law, also called HB2, which mandates transgender people in the state to use the bathroom dictated by biological sex and not gender preference, is bad for business and a job-killer.

“It’s clear there’s one thing you don’t understand about business,” Lipson said on stage, addressing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. “Nothing scares away investment like hate.”

Both speakers held up the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte in public denunciation of North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s and other GOP legislators’ advocacy of HB2 as an example of the negative effects of the law.

“I guess you can say bigotry has created one job,” Lipson said. “The position of Donald Trump’s running mate.”

Proponents of HB2 say the law exists to preserve religious freedom, while opponents of the bill, including President Obama, say it discriminates against the LGBT community.

As Lipson and Spearman continued their arguments Monday evening against Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, McCrory attended a Trump rally in Winstom-Salem. There, he openly mocked the Democratic Party’s decision to provide a transgender-friendly bathroom at the convention.

“If any of you need to use the restrooms…” McCrory said, pausing to acknowledge the crowd reaction, a mixture of laughter, cheers and whistling, “If you have any questions, go to the Philadelphia convention, where the Democrats are.”

A pro-LGBT agenda will continue to be included in the convention, with the first openly transgender speaker slated to talk Thursday. Sarah McBride, who works as the press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, will address the crowd.

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