After 2 Years In Effect, Massachusetts Transgender Nondiscrimination Faces Huge TestBy Shane Stahl • July 6, 2018 • 4:29 pm
Sunday, July 8, marks the two-year anniversary of statewide nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ people in Massachusetts in housing, employment, and public accommodations taking effect, following the 2016 passage of legislation extending nondiscrimination protections in places of public accommodation to transgender people. Signed into law by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, the legislation was helped through the statehouse largely through the efforts of Freedom For All Massachusetts, at that time the coalition formed to pass said nondiscrimination protections in the Bay State. Upon the Governor’s signature, Massachusetts became the 18th state in the country to offer statewide protections.
However, not long after the law’s passage, a group of anti-LGBTQ activists sought to petition a repeal effort of the law providing public accommodations protections to transgender people. Oppositional forces gathered the low number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot, and after certification by the Secretary of State, the issue will now be up for a vote this November. This makes Massachusetts the first state forced to defend the dignity of transgender people at the ballot.
Freedom For All Massachusetts is the coalition to defend #TransLawMA, working to get YES votes at the ballot box this November and uphold this important law, affording transgender people the right to participate in public life and live openly, without fear of discrimination simply because of who they are.
#TransLawMA Makes Everyone Safer
Protecting transgender people from discrimination is settled law in Massachusetts. Governor Baker and a bipartisan supermajority of legislators passed the law back in 2016, and since taking effect it has helped so many transgender people and contributed to a state where all people are protected from discrimination. Repeal of these protections would violate the principles of freedom and liberty at the most personal level.
The state’s leading sexual assault and domestic violence prevention advocates like the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence have joined with women’s organizations like the YWCA and National Organization for Women to support the state’s nondiscrimination protections.
There are already laws in place that make it illegal to harm or harass people in restrooms. These laws are used to prevent assault, keep people safe, and hold offenders accountable. Protecting transgender people from discrimination hasn’t changed that.
In fact, laws protecting transgender people from discrimination have been in place for a long time—including in places like Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Amherst—with no increase in public safety incidents in restrooms in any of those places. And there’s been no increase in such incidents in Massachusetts since our state’s protections passed in 2016. No one should fear for their safety because of the color of their skin, who they love, or how they identify. Massachusetts’ nondiscrimination law allows transgender people to live their lives free from harassment and discrimination.
#TransLawMA Enjoys Far, Wide-Reaching, Bipartisan Support
Only through bipartisan collaboration was MA’s nondiscrimination law able to advance through the legislature and be signed, and that support has continued to this day.
Mayors and elected officials on both sides of the aisle continue to speak up urging people to defend the law this November. Both labor unions including the AFL-CIO and SEIU endorse the law alongside nonprofit and advocacy groups such as the ACLU and United Way.
The Freedom For All Massachusetts coalition also includes voices and organizations ranging from faith leaders and government entities to safety advocates and a wide range of business voices large and small alike. In addition, every major league sports team in the New England region has signed on as supportive of the nondiscrimination law.
#TransLawMA Must Be Defended
Anti-LGBTQ opponents have made clear that they are investing multitudes of resources into the upcoming ballot fight, saying that if they would be successful in repealing the Massachusetts law, it would open the door for them to attempt similar repeals in states across the country.
The most recent polling shows a slight majority of MA voters are in favor of defending the law. The state has also been called by many, “the next transgender rights battleground,” following victories in Anchorage, Alaska and New Hampshire, which saw the dignity of transgender people upheld and protected under new law, respectively.
To find out how you can get involved in the Freedom For All Massachusetts campaign, click here to visit their website.