The Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday
approved a bill that bars discrimination in the workplace against
transgender people, Springfield's CBS affiliate WSHM reported.
Senators approved the bill on a voice
vote during a morning session.
The House approved the measure during a
late night session on Tuesday with a 95 to 58 vote after Democratic
leaders moved to limit debate to one hour.
Gay rights groups lauded the move.
“The Massachusetts Legislature today
recognized that transgender residents should be treated equally and
protected under the law,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest advocate for gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. “The Transgender Equal
Rights Bill has languished for years, but today the Legislature sent
a clear message of fairness and equality.”
In a move to boost lawmaker support, proponents agreed to drop a public accommodations section of the bill
which had previously proved controversial. Critics had argued that
such protections would hurt women and children.
The bill also amends the state's
existing hate crime laws to include gender identity and expression.
“Transgender individuals in
Massachusetts face unacceptably high levels of violence and
discrimination in their daily lives,” state Rep. Carl Sciortino, a
co-sponsor of the bill, told ABC News. “This is a community that
has disproportionally high levels of not only discrimination, but
This is the first time the bill has
made it to a vote since first being introduced in 2007.
According to a 2011 study by the
Williams Institute, roughly 33,000 people in Massachusetts identify
Democratic Governor Deval Patrick has
said he will sign the bill, making Massachusetts the 16th
state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact such a law.