HRC Blog

Boston Globe Endorses Transgender Civil Rights Bill after Gov. Candidate Threatens Veto

Charlie Baker There's an interesting flare-up in Massachusetts over proposed legislation to expand the state's existing hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity and expression. Ever since Massachusetts passed the nation's second statewide anti-discrimination law applying to sexual orientation in 1989, activists have been pressing to expand the law to more fully protect transgender and gender variant people. These efforts have picked up steam over the past few years, and HRC has supported the efforts of pro-equality legislators and groups like the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and MassEquality to push this critical legislation over the finish line. Now, with the bill still pending in the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary, it appears that transgender people are going to be an issue in this year's campaign for governor. At the Republican state convention this past weekend, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker said he would veto the bill if elected. He referred to the bill as a "bathroom bill," using a scare tactic that has become all too common when considering the civil rights of transgender people. Baker's opposition to the bill and the language he uses to describe the bill are surprising, because he's been running as a moderate Republican in the same vein as former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who was widely seen as a fiscal conservative and social moderate. In addition, Baker's running mate for lieutenant governor is openly gay state senator Richard Tisei, who is a co-sponsor of the bill. Finally, Baker came to prominence as president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a company with both a stated nondiscrimination policy that includes gender identity and a 100% rating on HRC's Corporate Equality Index. MassEquality's political director Dee Dee Edmondson says:

"It appears Charlie Baker was for transgender civil rights before he was against them."

The Boston Globe runs down the details here and editorializes in favor of the legislation here. If you live in Massachusetts, please take this opportunity to contact your state legislators and let them know that you support adding gender identity and expression to the state's hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws. Tell them that you don't agree with Charlie Baker on this issue. Visit www.massequality.org/action/contactleg/ to take action.

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