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Discrimination and public health

The Spokesman-Review article “Starbucks assumes lead on bias, bathroom rule,” (May 30) praises businesses “graciously” deciding against forcing persons wanting access to bathrooms to make purchases. A trend brews among businesses cutting off low-income persons’ access to restrooms by posting signs demanding those wanting to urinate, defecate or use bathroom sinks make purchases.

However, a just-turned-41-year-old law effectively bans pay toilets. Our attorney general says it violates that law to require purchases for bathroom access otherwise available to those on business premises.

This spring, following public health-related consumer complaints, the AG compelled fast-food business owners in the 6700 North Division block to install signage emphasizing availability of bathroom door lock codes from employees, zero purchases required.

Business-persons should stop whining about partly-socialized (tax-deductible) costs of doing business (maintaining restrooms) and boldly march into the mid-20th century by embracing the 1964 Civil Rights Act - which effectively bans signage stating owners “Reserve Rights to Refuse Service to Anyone.”

No soul deserves discrimination from worn-out clothes, unlaundered appearance or sour odor. If profiteers revile that Act, they at least should support poverty-battling advances: universal no-out-of-pocket health care, living-wage laws, facilitated union membership, free transit for the poor, disabled and elderly plus expanded government-subsidized housing.

Rob Ethington



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