The New Hampshire House has reversed
itself to approve transgender protections, reports the Concord
House members rejected a bill last
month that protects transgender people from discrimination in the
areas of employment, housing and public accommodations after members
were swayed by a “public safety” argument.
But Wednesday, the House reversed
itself, passing the bill by the slimmest of margins: 188 to 187.
House Speaker Terie Norelli, a Democrat
from Rockingham, urged members to reconsider. They agreed after a
three hour debate and sent the bill to the Senate. Openly gay Rep.
Edward Butler introduced the legislation on January 8. It moved out
of committee on March 19 with no recommendation.
Opponents of the bill, Republicans
mostly, called it the “bathroom bill” and asked it be flushed
down the drain.
“This is an invitation, it seems to
me, for people with predatory tendencies to come and hide behind the
fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep.
Peyton Hinkle, a Republican from Merrimack, said on the floor last
Mount Vernon Republican William O'Brien
called the bill “dangerous.”
“This seeks to elevate nebulous
groups to the sacred level we find in racial discrimination,” he
said. “This bill is not needed. It's dangerous.”
A similar argument is being echoed
throughout the U.S. as municipalities and states look to protect
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a
transgender protections bill. Last week, the House moved against
But in the college town of Gainesville,
Florida voters rejected a proposed initiative to eliminate all gay
protections after city leaders added “gender identity” to the
list of classes protected from discrimination. Members of the
Citizens for Good Public Policy argued that the gender clause allows
men to enter women's restrooms, endangering women and children.
Voters disagreed by a large majority (58%).
Debate outside the New Hampshire
Capitol has also been heated. Family Research Council, the Tony
Perkins-led social conservative group, ran an advertisement in the
local media threatening lawmakers who vote in favor of the
The ad featured a Post-It Note scribbled
with the words “YOU ARE FIRED,” and urged residents to contact
legislators to vote against gay rights legislation, including a gay
marriage bill and the transgender protections bill.
“We're not asking you to open
bathrooms to sexual predators. We're asking you to stand tall
against discrimination,” argued Norelli.
“The reason for withholding these
protections from transgenders is, what? Fear?,” Butler, an
innkeeper by trade, asked. “Transgenders are not a threat to our
society or our way of life. They are not sick. They are simply
Legislators say they have been
inundated with vehement opposition to the bill. One anonymous
emailer wrote: “How are we suppose to take our children into public
bathrooms if you pass this indecent legislation? ... or protect them
from the perverted predations of this bill's sponsors? ... [W]e are
not being served by representatives, but being ruled by misfits,
perverts and tyrants.”
Lawmakers in Massachusetts are also
considering similar legislation.