MA becomes first and only state this year to pass transgender -inclusive protections, including restrooms and locker rooms
BOSTON – Today Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed a transgender public accommodations bill into law making Massachusetts the only state this year to pass a bill updating state law to ensure full protections for transgender people from discrimination in all areas of life, including public restrooms. The legislation passed with an emergency preamble provision that instructs the law to become effective sooner than the usual 90-day period, on October 1, 2016.
“Massachusetts by all counts has bucked a national trend of political attacks against the transgender community and offered a simple but powerful acknowledgement to us today: that we are human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of equal protection under law,” said Kasey Suffredini, chief program officer of Freedom for All Americans and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the bipartisan campaign that worked to pass the bill. “This tremendous victory is a testament to the transformative power of story telling. Since this bill was first introduced nine years ago, transgender people courageously have come forward to educate lawmakers about our experiences with discrimination and to dispel myths and stereotypes about who we are. The leadership of our legislature, attorney general, and governor shows that they have listened. The important public education we have done here will serve as a model to other states that are only now beginning the conversation about transgender equality.”
Governor Baker, once opposed transgender protections, campaigning against public accommodations during his failed 2010 gubernatorial race and referring to the legislation as a “bathroom bill.” As of last year, Baker did not take a position on the current bill but stated generally that he is opposed to discrimination. In recent months, he began to speak of the compelling stories of transgender people and their loved ones. He went on to say he favors allowing people to use the restrooms that match who they are; and at the end of May, he publicly expressed support for a version of the bill.
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 recruited and secured endorsements from more than 250 businesses, 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. In addition, Freedom for All Americans contributed to the Freedom Massachusetts coalition in the form of communications outreach, digital strategy, lobbying, field support, and staffing key campaign leadership roles. The bill passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly with supermajority bipartisan support.
Massachusetts is the first state since 2014 to pass a transgender-specific public accommodations law. An existing law already protects transgender people in Massachusetts from discrimination in areas of employment, housing, education, and credit.
From, Freedom for All Americans: is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.