An estimated 250 people lobbied
lawmakers last week for transgender protections at the Massachusetts
Statehouse, gay weekly Bay
Thursday's third annual Transgender
Equality Lobby Day served as a reminder that Massachusetts –
arguably the nation's most liberal state – has yet to join 13 other
states in approving laws that protect transgender people. The event
was sponsored by the Massachusetts
Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and the Massachusetts
chapter of National Organization for Women.
“All people are children of God and
God loves his children regardless,” Rev. E. Carrington Heath, a
pastor with the United Church of Christ in Provincetown, said.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that
would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of
protected categories in the state's civil rights and hate crime laws,
protecting transgender people in the areas of housing, employment and
“We are all equal and this bill just
verifies that,” Heath added.
Passage, however, has been elusive for
supporters, who have floated similar bills since 2007.
This year's bill was debated in the
state's Judiciary Committee in July. At the hearing, opponents
dragged out the same old arguments used earlier in the year in North
Dakota, Florida and even neighboring New Hampshire.
The Massachusetts Family Institute, a
group that opposes the bill, warned in a radio spot that the bill
would invite sex offenders to lurk in public restrooms, endangering
“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.
“This is an invitation, it seems to
me, for people with predatory tendencies to come out and hide behind
the fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep.
Peyton Hinkle, a Republican, said on the New Hampshire House floor
during debate on a similar bill that was ultimately approved by the
One of the bill's primary sponsors has
dismissed such concerns: “Anyone that uses a facility to commit a
crime or does something indecent can be prosecuted under the current
laws and this bill does nothing to change that,” Rep. Carl
Sciortino, a Democrat, told the AP.
According to a survey conducted by Lake
Research Partners, more than 3 in 4 Massachusetts voters (76%)
support the bill.