Doyin Richards has some strong words for California Governor Jerry Brown who recently vetoed the Potty Parity For Parents Act.
In case you aren’t familiar with what’s going on, here’s the quick version: Recently, two bills were created to help increase equality for dads when it comes to restrooms. SB1350 states that if a facility has a baby changing table in its women’s restrooms, then one must exist in the men’s restroom as well. SB1358 states that all new construction must have at least one changing table that’s accessible to both men and women.
Things were going smoothly.
I was the MC of a press conference with California Senator Ricardo Lara and we had many frustrated and concerned parents address the media about how important this legislation is for moms and dads across the state. The media agreed. The State Assembly agreed shortly thereafter by passing SB1350 with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 56-8.
That’s pretty simple stuff, right? I mean, who in the hell wouldn’t get behind something like this, right?
Then once the proposed bills moved up to Governor Brown’s office, he dropped a proverbial deuce on all of us by vetoing both of them. The media was shocked, and parents across California shook their heads in complete disbelief.
Mr. Brown’s reasoning?
It makes more sense that the private sector deals with this issue than attempt to legislate it.
Now that you’re up to speed, here are my thoughts on it.
The Lame Arguments
#1 – It makes more sense that the private sector deals with this issue than attempt to legislate it: Let’s start with the governor’s response. I wonder if he realizes that if the private sector was actually dealing with this issue, the freaking bills wouldn’t have crossed his desk in the first place. Dads are more involved today than ever. We love our kids and we want to have all of the tools at our disposal that moms have to be the best parents we can be. Equal access to changing tables are a big part of the discussion.
#2 – Stop whining. There are a lot of establishments that don’t have changing tables in their women’s restrooms either: Do your homework. This initiative isn’t about those places. What it’s saying is if an establishment has a changing table in its women’s restroom, there must be one in a men’s restroom as well. Again, who in their right minds would be against this? Equality is the only thing we’re asking for.
# 3 – I’m tired of people expecting the government to solve all of their problems by legislating everything: Similar to what I’ve said before, this is about equality. Without government intervention, I could be a slave in the fields of Mississippi picking cotton instead of writing this blog. As a black man, I wouldn’t have the same access to education, bathrooms, restaurants, employment, and housing that white folks have. Women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Gays and lesbians wouldn’t be allowed to marry in some areas of our great nation (oh wait, gays and lesbians still have that problem…never mind).
Putting changing tables in men’s restrooms if one exists in women’s restrooms is common sense. In the not-so-distant past, people could smoke cigarettes on airplanes. That sounds like the dumbest shit ever now, but back in the day it was totally normal until the government decided to legislate against it. Why? Because it’s COMMON SENSE not to have people smoke on airplanes! Just like treating blacks like people instead of farm animals is common sense. Just like allowing women to vote is common sense. And guess what? Sometimes you gotta legislate common sense if the private sector won’t do it on its own. The best part? America is a better place when equality is embraced in all aspects of society. Stop me if I asked this before, but who in their right minds would be against this?
A Bit Of Irony
On September 6th, I enjoyed the most important professional event of my life: the launch party of my new book, Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers To Evolve Fatherhood in Glendale, CA. My whole family was present (including my two lovely daughters), and many people drove for hours just to support me and my mission. Afterwards we decided to have a celebratory dinner at an unnamed restaurant and once we finished, my wife took my older daughter to the car and I was left with the baby. The little one was extremely fussy and after smelling her bottom, I could figure out why. The kid had a horrible blowout diarrhea diaper. Not to be too graphic here, but it was so bad that it was leaking all over my business suit. I had to act quickly, so I rushed her to the men’s restroom assuming that there would be a changing table in there. This was a relatively new restaurant, after all.
No changing table.
At this point, my entire right sleeve was covered in baby poop and my daughter was losing her mind. There was no time to check what the situation was like in the women’s room across the hall. This had to be taken care of immediately. So I put my beloved baby on my changing mat on the bathroom floor and handled the diaper.
As I was changing her, I thought, “I just spoke to a packed house about the importance of evolving fatherhood an hour ago, and here I am changing a diaper on a filthy bathroom floor while I’m covered in human excrement. What’s going on here?” That moment was a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go. No good dad is immune to this. We’ve all walked into a restroom with our babies and found no changing tables. Enough is enough.
Memo to Governor Brown (and other clueless people just like him): I’m not giving up this fight. Parents all over America looked to see if California would be the trailblazer in this effort and you completely dropped the ball. You could’ve been a champ, but you proved to be a chump that wasn’t up to the challenge. That’s okay. Change isn’t easy. We’ll take this to other states. We’ll make sure the media is constantly aware of how important this is. We’ll turn this into an unstoppable movement until we get what we want. Equality.
I know, I know. To you, Mr. Brown – I’m probably just another loudmouth on the Internet trying to get people riled up. Actually, not that’s not true. This isn’t about me. In about a year from now (hopefully), my diaper changing days will be over. Maybe you’re too old to remember what it’s like to change diapers. Hell, maybe you’re one of the Neanderthals that I wrote about in my book who believe women are the only ones who should be changing diapers. It doesn’t matter because this isn’t about you, either. This is about the younger generation of dads coming up who are so excited to be involved as fathers, but will be demotivated when the private sector doesn’t step up like you believe they will by allowing equal access to changing tables. It is straight up discrimination, sir – plain and simple.
Establishments will have to deal with the drama that comes from dads changing babies on their dinner tables or in their women’s restrooms. Is it really worth all of that? Sure, we can fight with our almighty dollar as many people suggest, but let’s be real – once kids aren’t of diaper-changing age, it stops becoming an issue to many parents. And guess what? They’re right back to giving these places their cash as if it wasn’t even an issue in the first place. Businesses never learn their lesson and the cycle continues.
Dads and moms are pissed, Mr. Brown – but I owe you some thanks. Thank you for showing how many people across America think your decision was one of the most boneheaded political moves in recent memory. Your decision brings more attention to how needed this legislation actually is, and we’ll find out which state decides to go for it first. When the nation gets onboard with equality for dads while you’re left to defend yourself for being on the wrong side of history for vetoing this important legislation, you’ll probably wish someone would change your diaper.
For your sake, let’s just hope your office in Sacramento has changing tables in its men’s restrooms when that moment happens.
This article originally appeared on daddydoinwork.com
Photo courtesy of daddydoinwork.com