The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice.
Not only does the bill, which passed 116-36, allow transgender people to use the changing facility of their choice, it also prevents discrimination of transgender people in public places. The bill contains punishments for anyone pretending to be transgender.
Many of the representatives in favor of the bill hailed it as necessary means to protect and prevent the discrimination of transgender people. State Rep. John Fernandes said discrimination is “wrong in bathrooms and it’s wrong in locker rooms and it’s wrong in business settings.”
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has come out in support of the bill, saying if it comes to him after Senate reconciliation, he will sign it into law. “No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity,” he said.
The bill has been hotly contested by Republicans and community members at large.
Republicans who oppose the bill say it hinders the rights of other Americans. State Rep. Marc Lombardo says, “This bill would take away the rights for more than 99 percent of the population – the basic right to privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms. The rights of our children to feel safe in the bathroom, the rights of teenage girls to not have to shower in front of teenage boys.”
Republicans tried to pass an amendment to the bill that would prevent sex offenders from using whatever bathroom they want. The measure was shot down as House members claimed the bill already contained enough protections against such potential situations.
Another group of opponents came forward Wednesday in the hopes of speaking with Baker about the bill.
The Massachusetts Family Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families and promoting Judeo-Christian values, is hosting a “Keep the Phone Lines Ringing!” event to convince the governor to veto the bill.
“We’re hoping the governor will listen to these voices of caution and concern,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
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