Following Anchorage Ballot Win, Spotlight Turns to ‘The Next Transgender Rights Battleground’

By Shane Stahl • April 11, 2018 • 4:14 pm

“If this [LGBTQ] movement can be stopped in Massachusetts, it can be stopped anywhere in the country.”

This is what the leader of a campaign to repeal basic protections for transgender people said to a reporter from Politico, which published an article regarding the fight for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections on March 29.

It’s the clearest indication yet that opponents of LGBTQ equal treatment are viewing November 2018’s ballot fight in Massachusetts, in which residents will be asked to uphold or repeal statewide protections for transgender people, as a test case for future efforts to roll back equality. If an anti-transgender agenda succeeds in Massachusetts, anti-LGBTQ activists will export it to other states to stop progress on LGBTQ nondiscrimination. The Massachusetts fight is a national fight and will dramatically impact LGBTQ equal treatment across the country. However, we’ve seen recent results already this year that bolster our likelihood of success.

Proposition 1, a dangerous ballot initiative that would have stripped away comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, was forced onto Anchorage, Alaska in the summer of 2017. At that point, expectations were unclear — although protections had been made law in 2015, Anchorage is a traditionally conservative city in an even more conservative state. However, with the formation of Fair Anchorage, the campaign to Vote No on Prop 1, defense of existing protections began to gain momentum.

Over the next 7 months, Fair Anchorage worked to mobilize hundreds of volunteers to speak to thousands of voters about the need to defend transgender dignity at the ballot; the campaign also built a large, bipartisan coalition of supportive voices from business owners and elected officials to safety advocates and faith leaders. On April 3, ballots began to be counted in the city’s first ever vote-by-mail elections; by Friday the 6, the results marked a huge success for the LGBTQ movement — nearly 53% of Anchorage voters defeated Proposition 1, thereby making Anchorage the first city in the country to defend transgender dignity at the ballot.

Now, Politico calls Massachusetts “the next transgender rights battleground.” In an analysis of the Bay State ballot fight, veteran Massachusetts political strategist George Cronin says:

“What you’ll typically see is the ‘yes’ campaign will have leads in public polls. When people start to focus on both sides’ argument, [the] race starts to tighten up. If the ‘no’ side can come up with an effective, powerful, coherent message, they can persuade based on that message. It will depend on what kind of a message the ‘no’ campaign settles on.”

This makes clear that even though Massachusetts is typically viewed as a liberal state, the fight to maintain nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public accommodations will not be an easy one, nor can it be taken for granted. We’ll need all hands on deck, and that’s why Freedom for All Americans is proud to be a leading member of Freedom for All Massachusetts, the campaign to uphold transgender dignity in Massachusetts.

Kasey Suffredini, President of Strategy for Freedom For All Americans and campaign co-chair of Freedom For All Massachusetts and, told Politico:

“We are confident in Massachusetts voters, but we take nothing for granted, The high-profile defeat in a similar fight in Houston in 2015 showed us that our opponents will lie to voters to make them uncomfortable with transgender people, and that tactic can win.”

Just as the fight for transgender dignity and equal treatment builds momentum in Massachusetts, the campaign to proactively pass protections for transgender people in neighboring New Hampshire is heating up. New Hampshire is currently in the middle of a legislative session where lawmakers are considering protections for transgender Granite Staters. HB 1319, which would add comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people to existing state law, has seen fantastic success thus far, passing overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives, a body of over 400 legislators, with strong bipartisan support. The next step is the Senate Judiciary Committee — if the bill moves from here, it will advance to the Senate floor for a full vote, and if passed, Governor Chris Sununu is expected to sign into law.

For more information on the Massachusetts campaign, and to find out how you can help, visit their website here. To read the Politico article in full, click here.


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