PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE (S 735) –The Senate 33-4, approved and sent to the House the bill that would expand current law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people by adding “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights laws that already prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status. Public accommodations is defined as “a place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” This includes hotels, restaurants, retail stores, malls, theaters, parks, medical offices, libraries and public transportation. Debate centered around the fact that proposal would also allow access to legally gender-segregated public facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms, based on a person’s gender identity rather than on their sex.
In 2011, the Legislature approved and former Gov. Deval Patrick signed a law that added “gender identity” to the state’s non-discrimination laws, to prohibit discrimination in employment, education, housing and credit against transgender persons. That law, however, does not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations.
Supporters said transgender individuals still face the threat of discrimination in many public accommodations. They argued that under current Massachusetts law, there is no protection ensuring that transgender people cannot be turned away from a restroom, locker room, hotel, restaurant, retail stores and many other places simply because they are transgendered. They said it is time to have Massachusetts join the other 17 states that offer these protections.
Opponents said the privacy rights of children matter and asked how youngsters might react to a transgender classmate using the same bathroom. They argued that bathroom and locker room use should be based on the gender on one’s birth certificate, not on an inner sense of feeling or expression. They said that predators could use this law as cover to excuse their presence in women-only spaces.
Here is how the state’s 38 senators voted on the bill. The vote was strictly along party lines with one exception. All Democrats voted in favor of the bill while all Republicans, except Sen. Richard Ross (D-Wrentham), voted against the bill.
O’Connor Ives YES
Pacheco DIDN’T VOTE