For months, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, has remained publicly silent about his position on SB 735 & HB 1577, legislation to update Massachusetts civil rights law to include non-discrimination protections for transgender Bay Staters in public spaces.
This announcement comes with just over 24 hours until the legislature recesses for the year. For months, the transgender rights legislation has been stalled in committee. If it is not brought for a vote before the legislature recesses, then a 2015 decision to grant full transgender protections is unlikely.
According to lobbyist Arline Isaacson, Speaker DeLeo has “been supportive of the bill for a very long time. And he cares deeply about it, so the only question is what will happen here in the building and when.”
The legislation has extensive support from both within Statehouse walls and out in the community. Just last week, a majority of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation penned a letter to House and Senate leaderships urging an immediate vote to affirm full transgender non-discrimination protections.
However, in his statement, Speaker DeLeo referenced an intention for more internal discussion and education. And he indicated that the bill would “likely not emerge for a vote until at least next year, if at all.”
While the Speaker’s public support is a victory in of itself, there isn’t time for more deliberation on the issue of transgender protections in public spaces.
Yesterday, law enforcement agents teamed up with elected officials, transgender youth and their parents to send a message: This Legislation is about public safety—it’s about creating the type of welcoming and protective communities where children don’t have to live in fear of harassment and discrimination because of who they are.
During Trans Awareness Week, Massachusetts has the opportunity to make history. But there is no time to delay. The legislature must bring SB 735 & HB 1577 to vote before Wednesday’s midnight deadline or risk stalling this decision indefinitely.