The Massachusetts House approved An Act Relative to Transgender Equality late Tuesday night on a vote of 95-58 after Democrats limited debate to one hour, thereby stifling republican proposed amendments intended to water down the already watered-down bill, which does not include protections from discrimination in public accommodations. No lunch counters for us.
The intent, of course, was to keep us out of bathrooms and locker rooms.
The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday on a voice vote. Wednesday was the last day of the legislative session.
Governor Duval Patrick signed the bill today, according to one source. Massachusetts becomes the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to protect transpeople from discrimination and leaves New Hampshire as the only New England state without protections for transpeople.
What's up in New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania? We're waiting. And in some cases, we're dying.
The Massachusetts Legislature today recognized that transgender residents should be treated equally and protected under the law. The Transgender Equal Rights Bill has languished for years, but today the Legislature sent a clear message of fairness and equality.
--Joe Solomonese, Human Rights Campaign
The bill provides protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education and employment and also adds gender identity and expression to the Massachusetts hate crimes bill.
Transgender individuals in Massachusetts face unacceptably high levels of violence and discrimination in their daily lives. This is a community that has disproportionally high levels of not only discrimination, but poverty. It has a broad impact not only for these individuals and their families but also for the tax payer who doesn't even know a transgender person.
--Representative Carl Sciortino
First introduced in 2007, this is the first time it ever reached the voting stage.
After claiming a partial victory because of the withdrawal of public accommodations from the bill, Republican legislators then claimed the bill would hurt small businesses and generate a flood of litigation.
It opens the door for social change that would take away the rights of hardworking men and women and parents.
--Representative Marc Lombardo, (R-Billerica)
The right to discriminate against us, Marc? Is that a right granted by the your Constitution?
Republicans had hoped to limit the bill to adding gender identity and expression to the hate crimes law.
We want complete protections for transgender people – including in public accommodations – but also know that in order to get there, we cannot walk away from the legislature’s first step toward achieving those full protections,
--Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project director
The bill takes affect on July 1, 2012.