VICTORY: Massachusetts Approves Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections, Now Poised for Final PassageBy Adam Polaski • June 1, 2016 • 5:57 pm
Today, June 1, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted (116 to 36) to approve HB 4343, the bill to update Massachusetts law to ensure explicit protections for transgender people in public places – including parks, restaurants, hospitals, and public restrooms.
The bill previously passed the Senate overwhelmingly (and with very strong bipartisan support), and it now heads to conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. After that, the bill will head to Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s desk. Just yesterday Governor Baker said he would sign a version of the bill when it reaches his desk. Different versions of this bill in Massachusetts have been pending in the legislature since 2007.
The vote today marks a huge victory – in a year when transgender Americans’ fundamental freedoms have been debated, attacked, and endangered, the momentum we have seen this year on the Massachusetts bill has demonstrated the power of transgender people speaking out, sharing their stories, and illustrating the many ways they face discrimination each and every day.
Massachusetts is the first state since 2014 to pass a bill ensuring explicit protections for transgender people in public spaces – Maryland’s comprehensive non-discrimination bill in October 2014. When Governor Baker signs the bill into law, Massachusetts will at last be the 18th state in the country with full non-discrimination protections.
Kasey Suffredini, Chief Program Officer of Freedom for All Americans and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the bipartisan campaign working to pass the bill, said today:
“Today, Massachusetts has bucked a national trend of legislative attacks against the transgender community and offered a simple but powerful acknowledgement to transgender young people, adults and our families: that we are human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of equal protection under law. This is a victory of fact over fiction and a testament to the transformative power of story telling. Since these protections were first introduced in Massachusetts nine years ago, transgender people courageously have come forward year after year to educate lawmakers about our experiences with discrimination and to dispel myths and stereotypes about who we are. Massachusetts lawmakers demonstrated today that they have been listening, and their tremendous leadership will serve as a model to other states that are only now beginning the conversation about transgender equality. We look forward to seeing this legislation arrive at the governor’s desk for his signature as soon as possible.”
Freedom for All Americans is a founding partner of Freedom Massachusetts and has dedicated Suffredini as a chair to the campaign for the past year. Under Suffredini’s strategy and leadership, Freedom Massachusetts has recruited and secured endorsements from more than 250 businesses, more than 350 clergy and congregations, 11 labor unions representing more than 750,000 families, 16 statewide women’s and victim’s advocacy groups, every major professional sports team in New England, the state’s leading law enforcement associations, the entire MA congressional delegation, the state attorney general, bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate, public endorsements from both the Senate President and the House Speaker, and more.
We thank our state and national partner organizations who are working with us through Freedom Massachusetts – including the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, MassEquality, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, the Anti-Defamation League, PFLAG of Greater Boston, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Freedom for All Americans urges the conference committee to quickly reconcile the bills and send it to Governor Baker’s desk for final approval – so that no one in Massachusetts faces discrimination in public spaces because of who they are. It’s time for every state – including the 32 others where LGBT Americans are not fully protected – to pass full comprehensive protections.