Freedom New Hampshire Campaign Leader Linds Jakows Celebrates Long-Awaited Victory

By Shane Stahl • May 9, 2018 • 11:52 am

On May 2 of this year, Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, saw the efforts of hundreds of people over two years finally come to fruition — the New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 1319, legislation that adds transgender nondiscrimination protections to the state’s existing civil rights law.

Having made it through both chambers of the legislature, Governor Chris Sununu is expected to sign the bill into law. As the campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, the bipartisan coalition to pass nondiscrimination legislation in the Granite State, which Freedom for All Americans is proud to serve as a founding and leading member), Linds has steered the campaign through accomplishments to finally win full lived equality for transgender Granite Staters.

For the second feature in our State Leader Spotlights, read more about Linds’ history with the campaign, the key strategy decisions they helped implement, and the sense of relief they and so man others felt upon achieving the end goal of passage, long in the making.

What was the immediate reaction on learning nondiscrimination protections had passed the House and Senate?

So much relief and joy. We erupted and were told to be quiet. Everyone was hugging and crying and thanking each other for the hard work and everything we’ve put into it. We all felt confident about the work we did, but nothing is a guarantee in the state house. We didn’t expect the big margin, but the conservative speakers we had did a good job and have been increasingly talking to each other about the bill. Our key coalition partners also helped a lot — police chiefs, women’s groups, business and industry, a lot of different and influential voices that representatives found compelling.

How did Freedom New Hampshire’s strategy change from the last time the bill was introduced in legislative session?

We realized coming out of the 2017 session that legislators who heard hours of testimony in committee and got to hear the stories of transgender people, often for the first time, were much more likely to vote with us in committee and on the floor. In New Hampshire, the House of Representatives is 400 people, so it’s hard to share those stories with everyone and walk them through the need for protections. We realized we needed to start sharing our stories outside of the capitol. We started hosting house parties, film screenings, and other events  in districts with conservatives and other representatives that might not have necessarily voted with us. Having those face-to-face personal interactions makes it much more difficult to vote against transgender people once you’ve had a sit down meeting, had time for questions, and gotten to know each other as people.

What has your journey been with Freedom New Hampshire? How did you first get involved, and how did you come to your current position?

I jumped into my role as campaign manager about a year ago in February, before last year’s bill was making its way through the House. The previous person left the position, and at the time I was working in progressive politics, trying to get more involved with the transgender community. I identify as nonbinary, and I had gone to some events and had friends who worked with various different organizations. When I heard the job was open, I was so excited – this was my dream job. I got it, and then I ended up sort of being thrown in in the deep end a couple of days before the bill, but I was so excited to be doing this.  I feel there’s been a great genderqueer and LGBTQ community working here to finally pass this bill!

What about the work you’ve done on the campaign is most meaningful to you?

I think we’ve shown that if you can win in New Hampshire, it is very possible to win on this issue in Republican-led legislatures, and it should give so much hope to trans kids and families that they are going to be protected at the state level in the face of whatever uncertainty is happening on the federal level.

Throughout, we’ve had really strong volunteers, including many parents of trans kids. Something that sticks out in particular was that we had one legislator on the fence at the last moment who had been supportive, but he was fading. A local school board was raising hell about a transgender-inclusive school policy, and he was getting cold feet concerning his reelection. We had a mom in his district with a trans kid who talked to him for an hour the night before the vote, then the child’s grandmother talked to him a half hour the day of the vote.He voted against the proposed bad amendments and for the bill to pass. This is the kind of personal effort it takes to get each and every one of these votes.

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