By Cathy Kristofferson, July 07, 2013
This Tuesday July 9th, a hearing will be held for the Massachusetts Equal Access in Public Accommodations bill – officially (H.1589/S.643) An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public – in front of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Statehouse in Boston. The bill is necessary because public accommodation protections were stripped from last session’s otherwise successful Trans Civil Rights Bill. These protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or expression have been filed as a stand-alone bill this legislative session.
Wondering what exactly are public accommodations? Hint: more than just bathrooms!
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) provides the following more extensive list on their website:
Examples of Public Accommodations
- health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies,nursing homes, and other health care facilities;
- hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging;
- restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink;
- retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments;
- theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment;
- convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering;
- museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection;
- parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation;
- public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities;
- public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways;
- service establishments, including laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, gas stations, barber shops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, employment agencies;
- providers of professional services such as law offices, doctors, dentists,accountants,and insurance agents;
- public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places, public information counters and displays.
Currently civil rights law in Massachusetts protects on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, and marital status. This bill seeks to add “gender identity” which is was defined by the 2011 law as:
“Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender‐related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender‐related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender‐related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.
The Equal Access bill would also add the following text to the civil rights law:
Any public accommodation including without limitation any entity that offers the provision of goods, services, or access to the public that lawfully segregates or separates access to such public accommodation or other entity based on a person’s sex shall grant all persons admission to and the full enjoyment of such public accommodation or other entity consistent with the person’s gender identity.
We have posted about the opponents of this Bill at OBLOGDEE before since they are the same as those who created the fuss over the Gender Identity Guidelines put out by the MA Department of Education back in March. Our post on their high jinx is here. Basically their arguments come down to bathrooms and locker rooms. They really haven’t evolved beyond that.
Any Massachusetts residents who would like to attend the hearing and/or speak with or write their legislators can get more information here from MTPC.