Bill Passes by Huge Margin
Thursday afternoon the Massachusetts Senate passed a transgender rights bill by a vote of 33-4. All four opposing votes were from Republicans. The bill protects transgender people in places of public accommodation, including restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
#TransBillMA passes 33-4, to applause in chamber. Republican Sens. deMacedo, Fattman, Humason and Tarr vote no.â€” Katie Lannan (@katielannan) May 12, 2016
"As a member of the LGBT community it's really big for me," Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg said, according to the AP. "This is a fundamental right."
LGBT activists too were pleased.
"My heart breaks with gratitude. I can't thank you enough," Lorelei Erisis, a transgender woman from Ayer, told the AP. "I'm a writer and I'm losing words. Thank you so much for standing with us and for protecting us."
But anti-LGBT forces were angered.
"If this legislation is passed, woman and children will have no protections against being ogled by, or exposed to, naked men," Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith said. One day earlier his group protested the legislation. That protest included little children holding up signs that read, "No Bathroom Bill."
Day before Senate plans to take up transgender bill, handful of House members join Mass Family Institute to oppose pic.twitter.com/L9ob0QAUg2â€” Katie Lannan (@katielannan) May 11, 2016
On the MFI website Beckwith lamented the bill's debate and passage, saying the discussion included "a five year old girl who identifies as a male, present in the chamber with her parents and siblings." He called it "unconscionable that lawmakers and mental health professionals have convinced a family to go along with the gender confusion of a child who hasn't even started kindergarten."
The bill now heads to the House, which passed a different version. Should Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, sign either, he has indicated a preference for the House version which includes more restrictions. Those restrictions include "language intended to discourage and punish false gender identity claims," the AP reports.
A Baker spokesperson told Buzzfeed's Dominic Holden in a statement the governor "will carefully review a bill should the legislature act." She said the governor "believes no one should be discriminated against based on gender identity."
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