Earning a big round of applause from families everywhere, the Babies Act has made parenthood a lot easier. Now, all restrooms in federal buildings will be required to have baby changing tables, because it's 2016 and dads change diapers, too. Signed by President Obama on Oct. 7, the legislation does wonders for public scenarios, but it begs the question: Why don't we have changing tables in men's restrooms everywhere?
The act was introduced by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline this past April. Officially titled "The Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act," the legislation passed relatively quickly, receiving 389 Yeas to 34 Nays this past summer, with all of the Nay votes coming from Republican representatives, according to the final vote results. Cicilline stated, proudly:
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.
Similar efforts to Cicilline's have circulated online for some time now. Famously, actor Ashton Kutcher started a petition garnering millions of supporters. "Having changing tables in men's rooms is just a tiny step in the process of rectifying legacy gender discrimination," Kutcher told website A Plus, an outlet he himself founded, alongside Evan Beard and Kendall Dabaghi. In addition, dads seeking changing tables everywhere have been rallying online, through petitions and blogs alike.
But, honestly: What are dads in private buildings expected to do? Pass a baby off to a stranger? Go out wandering in search of a federal building? There are some websites, like ChangingTableLocator.com that are looking to make changing tables more accessible, but it seems absurd that dads should need to go such great lengths to take care of something so normal.
Users on Romper's own Facebook page sounded off about the new Babies Act this week exuberantly, many of them rejoicing in the development. User Aprylle Marie wrote: "It should just be mandated to be in EVERY (men/women) bathroom EVERYWHERE!" Others found the efforts to be superfluous. "It's called take you[r] baby to the car and change him/her," writes user Terese Marie Henderson, insistent that the act was overreaching. User Hillary Romero, however, was especially grateful, writing:
Thank you! My husband is all about helping with our baby equally but when it comes to public places I have to end up being the one to change the baby because the men never have changing tables in their bathrooms!
Like Romero, many parents have welcomed and praised the development, championing it as a symbol of equality. Rather than change a baby in public or stealing away to a the folded-down seat of a car, mandating changing tables in all locations — not just public ones — would surely make things easier on all parents. For now, though, the Babies Act has been a much-appreciated development.