Last year, actor and A Plus founder Ashton Kutcher revitalized a conversation on gender equality and single-parent or two-father homes in America.
Kutcher, who had just become a new dad, posted on Facebook about how he could never find changing stations in men's bathrooms. The status was met with widespread support and resonated with his followers, many of them men, who shared his frustration.
Soon after, Kutcher and Change.org teamed up to start a petition for Target and Costco to provide changing stations in all their bathrooms. The petition went viral, netting 100,000 signatures, forcing Target and Costco to pledge to include family bathrooms in all new or remodeled stores.
This week, though, the changing station movement took flight in a whole new way: President Barack Obama signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, also known as the BABIES act. Proposed in April by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and co-sponsored by 26 other Democrats and one Republican, the bill calls on all public buildings to include baby-changing stations in their bathrooms, including the men's room.
"I would like my daughter to experience a world where gender doesn't dictate one's responsibility or limit one's opportunity," Kutcher told A Plus in 2015. "Having changing tables in men's rooms is just a tiny step in the process of rectifying legacy gender discrimination. Men who are aware of this bias want to participate equally in the child care process and our society should support that. It's time to get our hands dirty."
In light of this new law, it appears Kutcher's wishes are coming to fruition. The bill passed with only 34 nays — all of the no votes were Republicans — and was signed into law by Obama on Friday. It was a surprisingly quick legislative process for a congress that has had plenty of roadblocks passing laws during Obama's presidency.
"Government needs to do more to ensure that public buildings are family-friendly. No mom or dad should ever have to worry about finding a safe, sanitary place to change their baby ― least of all in a federal building that's paid for by taxpayers," Cicilline said on his website. "The BABIES Act is a commonsense proposal that makes government buildings more welcoming for families and helps promote good public health."
While it may take a while for every public building to update their bathrooms, parents of the future — both men and women — can look forward to an easier time taking care of their children.
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