HOBOKEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- Expanding civil rights for members of the LGBTQ community, a new executive order was signed Wednesday by Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, declaring all city owned single occupancy restrooms gender neutral.
"The trans community remains one of the most systemically persecuted groups in the country," said Mayor Bhalla. "They deserve our respect, they deserve our support and they deserve our protection."
In an effort to promote dignity, respect, and equality, Mayor Bhalla calls the changes a common sense approach and announced plans to expand the measure city-wide through a new ordinance yet to be voted on by the city council.
"It's something that's very important to me personally as a minority," said Bhalla. "I know what it feels like to look different, to feel different and promoting that idea of equality."
If the citywide ordinance is approved, Hoboken will become the first city in New Jersey to pass a law like this. Meaning single stall bathrooms in restaurants, businesses and even schools would be re-designated as gender-neutral spaces.
"I think anyone can use any bathroom," said Hoboken resident Devon Prince. "When I go to a place or a restaurant I just use any bathroom that's available ."
"I think it's great," said Hoboken resident Terrie McGinnis. "I think the world is a little too uptight about all this stuff. As long as there's safety in place I think it will decrease the line to the ladies room. There's always no line to the men's room. I think it will just get everybody in and out faster."
With Hudson County home to the largest LGBTQ community in the state, Mayor Bhalla anticipates the new law will pass through the council unanimously and will be on his desk for a final signature in mid-May.
"I think it's great if Hoboken is moving forward and leading the way for progress and change in directions that just kind of make everything easier and feel less discriminatory ," said McGinnis.
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Hoboken mayor signs order making all city bathrooms gender-neutral