HISTORIC: New Hampshire Approves Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill

by HRC Staff

Today the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1319, legislation that would update the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces to explicitly include the state’s transgender residents. HB 1319 was approved by a bipartisan vote of 14-10 and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The legislation passed the New Hampshire House with strong bipartisan support in March of this year. Today’s victory marks the first statewide proactive win on LGBTQ rights in any state since 2016, and comes on the heels of Anchorage, Alaska becoming the first American jurisdiction to uphold transgender protections on a standalone ballot measure.

Republican Governor Chris Sununu is expected to sign HB 1319 into law in the coming weeks. New Hampshire will become the 19th state in the country - and final state in New England - to explicitly provide comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people.

"Today, New Hampshire lawmakers showed tremendous leadership in support of the transgender community and their loved ones," said Linds Jakows, campaign manager of Freedom New Hampshire, the bipartisan campaign working to pass the bill. "This law will go a long way to affirm the dignity of transgender people and allow them to truly live free. I want to especially thank my fellow transgender Granite Staters for their bravery and courage over the last few years - this victory would not have been possible without the voices of transgender people who have been telling their stories and educating lawmakers about the urgent need to make sure all Granite Staters are fully protected under the law. In a national landscape where transgender people are too often attacked for who they are, New Hampshire is a shining example for other states across the country. We look forward to the day Governor Sununu seals New Hampshire’s motto of Live Free or Die with his signature."

“From coast to coast, the tides are turning toward freedom. New Hampshire’s transgender residents will rest easier tonight, knowing their elected leaders voted to affirm their dignity by passing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “Earlier this month, voters from all walks of life upheld transgender equality in a historic vote at the ballot in Anchorage, Alaska. Today I’m overjoyed to see the conservative New Hampshire legislature pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination law that will make it that much easier for transgender Granite Staters to live their lives without fear. Freedom for All Americans is proud to have played a leadership role in both of these campaigns as we continue our work to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our shared triumph in New Hampshire is yet another example that equality is not a partisan issue, but a human issue - and one that resonates deeply with the core values of Americans from all walks of life.”

“Today the Senate passed common-sense legislation to ensure transgender people in our state are treated fairly and with dignity under the law,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “It is passed time for New Hampshire to join the nineteen other states nationwide, including all other New England states, by explicitly including gender identity protections in our state’s non-discrimination protections.”

“Today, the New Hampshire Senate voted to affirm the dignity and humanity of transgender Granite Staters, and to ensure they have an equal opportunity to live and work free from discrimination,” said Janson Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “For more than a decade, transgender people across the state – along with family, friends, and freedom-loving allies - have spoken out, shared their stories, and led the fight to secure these critical protections. GLAD has been proud to be a partner in that work every step of the way. All Granite Staters can hold their heads high today, knowing that New Hampshire is truly embracing its ideals of freedom for all, and taking its place as a leader in the growing movement to secure equality across the nation.”

“No person should be fired, evicted, or denied service just because of who they are, and it is far beyond time that New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination protections include transgender people,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Fair-minded people across the Granite State support these protections and recognize the importance of making New Hampshire an inclusive and welcoming state for all. Inclusive nondiscrimination protections are now one step closer to becoming law, and we urge Governor Sununu to continue this momentum by signing HB 1319.”

HB 1319 was resoundingly endorsed by the Republican-majority New Hampshire House of Representatives, which passed HB 1319 on March 7th by a bipartisan vote of 195-129. Legislators in both chambers heard a combined twelve hours of testimony in support of the bill during three public hearings, most of which was from transgender Granite Staters who have experienced discrimination.

Freedom New Hampshire is the nonpartisan coalition of businesses large and small, law enforcement, anti-violence advocates, faith leaders, and transgender residents and their families working to introduce Granite Staters to their transgender neighbors and to make the case for equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination. The members of the nonpartisan Freedom New Hampshire coalition include Freedom for All Americans, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire (ACLU-NH), Human Rights Campaign, Transgender New Hampshire, and Rights and Democracy New Hampshire.

The bipartisan victory in New Hampshire comes as the Trump Administration continues to push an anti-transgender agenda at the federal level, targeting transgender youth, workers, and service members. A growing number of Americans are rejecting discrimination against transgender people, as evidenced by public outcry around North Carolina's HB2; two consecutive failures by anti-LGBTQ activists in Washington State to bring the state's decade-old nondiscrimination law to a ballot measure; the defeat of Texas' SB 6, one of the worst anti-transgender bills in the country; and the recent victory in Alaska where Anchorage became the first municipality to uphold transgender rights at the ballot.

Freedom New Hampshire has run a robust campaign since 2016 that features local New Hampshire residents who will be directly and positively impacted by passage of HB 1319, particularly transgender people and their families. In addition to New Hampshire’s Republican governor Chris Sununu’s support, HB 1319 has been endorsed by the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, House Libertarian Caucus, Children’s Legislative Caucus, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission.

Governor Sununu is expected to sign HB 1319 in the coming weeks.

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