Massachusetts

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in the States

Massachusetts
Full Statewide LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections
  • Campaigns in Massachusetts
See All News

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Massachusetts:

There are currently full, explicit, comprehensive statewide laws establishing LGBTQ non-discrimination in Massachusetts. One portion of the non-discrimination law protecting transgender people from discrimination will be on the November 2018 ballot. Advocates across the state are now working to defend Massachusetts’ non-discrimination law.

The Campaign for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Massachusetts:

Freedom for All Massachusetts is leading a broad, bipartisan coalition to defend Massachusetts’ non-discrimination laws that protect transgender people in public spaces – including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and public transportation. Following a successful effort to establish transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections in 2015 and 2016, the law, known as #TransLawMA, has been forced onto the ballot by opponents of LGBTQ equality.

The Freedom for All Massachusetts effort includes leaders from the business community, law enforcement, a broad range of elected officials, and many others who believe that no hardworking person in Massachusetts, including transgender people, should experience discrimination just because of who they are.

The Latest on LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Massachusetts:

In July 2016, Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed An Act Relative to Transgender Ant-Discrimination into law, extending full, comprehensive protections to transgender people under the state’s public accommodation law. This law will now face a public statewide vote in November 2018.

Since 2011, Massachusetts law has provided explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people – or those perceived to be LGBT – in employment, housing, education, and credit. But while there was an explicit non-discrimination law protecting Bay Staters from discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, there was no explicit protections from discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity. With Governor Baker’s signature in 2016, Massachusetts officially become the 18th state to secure comprehensive protections for LGBT Americans.

History of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Massachusetts:

  • October 31, 1989: Massachusetts becomes the second state in the country to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, following passage in both houses of the legislature and the signature of Gov. Michael Dukakis. The bill had been introduced several times since 1973, with support growing each year as lawmakers began to understand the importance of treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.
  • 1989-2011: Local and national organizations engage in conversations about who LGBT Bay Staters are, and support for fully comprehensive non-discrimination grows.
  • February 24, 1997:  The City of Cambridge passes a local ordinance to protect residents from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. A similar ordinance is passed in Boston in December 2002. Local ordinances like these build momentum toward statewide legislation extending non-discrimination to LGBT people.
  • February 17, 2011: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in state employment.
  • November 23, 2011: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs into law legislation extending non-discrimination protections to transgender Bay Staters in employment, housing, education, and credit – but not public accommodations.
  • 2011-2015: More than a dozen cities and towns throughout Massachusetts pass local ordinances protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations.
  • June 24, 2015: Freedom Massachusetts launches a bipartisan campaign dedicated to passing “An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Non-Discrimination,” which would update existing law to provide express protection from discrimination in public places for transgender Bay Staters.
  • July 8, 2016: Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed An Act Relative to Transgender Ant-Discrimination into law, extending full, comprehensive protections to transgender people under the state’s public accommodation law.
  • November 6, 2018: Voters across Massachusetts will vote on the transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections in places of public accommodation. Freedom for All Massachusetts is leading the charge to defend the law.

State/Agency Policies:

A February 2011 executive order signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and expression in state employment.

In June 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued guidance on how schools should implement education protections for transgender people.

In 2015, the office of the Attorney General issued a policy for how to treat transgender members of the public who interface with her office. The document affirms that the Attorney General’s Office fully respects the gender identity of all Bay Staters.

Businesses Leading the Charge Against Discrimination:

Nearly 200 businesses support updating Massachusetts law to fully protect transgender Bay Staters. The Freedom Massachusetts Business Coalition is led by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Google, and Eastern Bank.

Last Updated February 7, 2018

Public Support:

  • A June 2011 poll in Massachusetts found that 76% of the state’s voters supported non-discrimination protections for transgender individuals.

  • A November 2009 poll in Massachusetts found that 76% of the state’s voters had positive feelings about legal protections for transgender individuals. 73% specifically wanted legislators to pass non-discrimination protections for transgender people.