State becomes first in U.S. history to successfully defend transgender rights by popular vote
BOSTON – Massachusetts voters tonight supported a “Yes” vote on Question 3, upholding the state’s transgender nondiscrimination law and becoming the first state in United States history to successfully defend basic protections for their transgender neighbors at the ballot box.
“Massachusetts made history tonight, both for our transgender neighbors who call this state home and for transgender people across this nation,” said Kasey Suffredini, Yes on 3 Campaign co-chair and President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans. “From the very early days of our campaign, we have been clear that this is about dignity and respect for all people. Together, we have shattered broken stereotypes of what it means to be transgender and debunked the myth – once and for all – that protecting transgender people compromises the safety of others. Winning this popular vote is irrefutable proof that public support for transgender people is growing, and tonight’s outcome will provide the necessary momentum to change the landscape on transgender rights everywhere.”
“Voters here in Massachusetts have sent a powerful, unmistakable message that this is a state that values, welcomes, and honors transgender people,” said Mason Dunn, Yes on 3 Campaign co-chair and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “We could not have been successful without the transgender people and their families who stepped forward and courageously shared their stories, as well as the countless others who worked behind the scenes and propelled us forward. This campaign also allowed us to engage thousands of new allies who are ready to stand with us in the work that remains for full transgender equality here in Massachusetts and across America.”
In 2011, advocates in Massachusetts updated the state’s nondiscrimination law to include protections for transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and education. In 2015, Freedom for All Massachusetts launched to update the law to include protection for transgender people in public places, including restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, and more. The coalition engaged hundreds of civic, business, and community leaders throughout Massachusetts, and the legislature successfully passed – with a bipartisan, supermajority vote – these historic protections. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law in July 2016. Shortly after it went into effect in October 2016, a small group of opponents gathered the minimum number of signatures required to place the law on the ballot for repeal. For more than two years, Freedom for All Massachusetts, the official ballot committee of Yes on 3, worked to ensure voters would stand with the transgender community on Election Day.
The Yes on 3 campaign was staffed by more than 70 paid employees and more than 4,000 volunteers who filled more than 15,000 shifts.
Collectively, Yes on 3 staff and volunteers knocked on more than 300,000 doors and made more than 2 million phone calls, resulting in more than 100,000 conversations with voters across Massachusetts.
The campaign was governed by an executive committee – half of whom are transgender people, including the two campaign co-chairs – representing a number of local and national LGBTQ advocacy organizations including: ACLU Massachusetts, BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Youth), Fenway Health, Freedom for All Americans, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Greater Boston PFLAG, Human Rights Campaign, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and MassEquality.
Yes on 3 raised more than $5 million from a wide range of people and organizations, including more than $1 million from the local business community. About 90 percent of donors to the campaign were from in-state.
The campaign’s groundbreaking ad strategy included a first-of-its-kind focus on the lives of transgender young people impacted by nondiscrimination protections as well public safety experts who debunked myths about restrooms.
Boasting more than 1,500 strong, the coalition supporting the Yes on 3 campaign was among the most diverse and broad of any ballot campaign in recent Massachusetts history, and the largest ballot campaign on transgender rights in U.S. history. Support came from the LGBTQ community, businesses large and small, labor unions, law enforcement, sexual assault prevention advocates, faith leaders, the region’s professional sports franchises, educators, parents, and many more.
Freedom for All Massachusetts is the coalition that upheld the state’s current nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places like restaurants, retail shops and hospitals, ensuring that Massachusetts continues to be a national leader on equality and fairness for all.