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New call for ‘potty parity’ between men & women

Call it a pre-Valentine’s Day gift, Capitol Hill style. With the introduction of a new bill, Rep. Ed Towns might soon emerge as a hero to Gwendolyn, his wife of 48 years—as well as to countless women across the country. Towns’ bill, called the “Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act of 2007,” would require buildings that receive at least $1.5 million in federal funds to have a two-to-one ratio of women’s restrooms to men’s. If passed, the bill would impact future construction projects, including the Nets basketball arena, he said. “This is utterly ridiculous for women to stand in line like this, and some of these facilities are using federal dollars,” Towns said. He noted that the states of California, Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania all have restroom parity legislation. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the Women’s Restroom Equity Bill into law in 2005. Towns said three recent events compelled the bill’s introduction. First, he said, he was in a Florida airport and he noticed a long line. Towns said he wondered what all the commotion was about, and was shocked to find out it was just the line for the ladies’ room. The next incident found Towns waiting for Gwendolyn during the intermission to the play “The Color Purple.” “I was waiting and waiting,” he recalled. By the time his wife returned from an overcrowded restroom, Towns told her, “Gee whiz, we have to rush back because they’re getting ready to start the second act.” Lastly, Towns said he was at a Knicks-Nuggets game at Madison Square Garden. “Again, I noticed this long line.” Towns said that he consulted with Rep. Yvette Clark, who, while a member of the City Council, was the prime sponsor of the city’s bill. The city’s law requires that bars, movie theaters, concert halls and other public gathering venues accommodating up to 150 patrons provide at least two bathroom stalls for every men’s bathroom stall. Only new buildings, or buildings undergoing renovations are obligated to operate under the 2:1 ratio. “We modeled it after that,” he said. “Women are attending more sporting events, women live longer than men, there are more women in the world than men,” Towns said. “I think developers will get the message and address it.” He said the thought of women standing on long lines “while we are putting people are the moon” is plain wrong. Towns said he is in the process of finding co-sponsors to his bill, which he hopes will pass this session. “Women are giving me a lot of support,” he said.

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