Last night another city joined the growing list of municipalities supporting SB 735/HB 1577, legislation that would update the state’s non-discrimination laws to protect transgender Bay Staters in public places like restaurants, shopping malls, doctor’s offices and public transportation.
The Salem City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of the two bills, known collectively as #TransBillMA. Salem, which has had a local public accommodations ordinance in place since 2014, is the third city this month—after Somerville and Easthampton—to declare its support publicly. The Boston City Council also passed a resolution supporting the legislation last month. All told, 16 cities across the state of Massachusetts have now passed resolutions in favor of HB 1577/SB 735, signaling to state lawmakers it’s time to fully protect transgender Bay Staters and affirm their dignity.
— Freedom Mass (@Freedom_Mass) April 29, 2016
Support for #TransBillMA from constituent groups and all levels of government has been picking up rapidly since the House and Senate convened in January. That same month, all of Boston’s sports teams released a statement supporting legislative action.
In March, the Commonwealth’s major educational associations—including the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), and the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC)—released a joint statement in favor of #TransBillMA.
Early this month, more than 300 faith leaders and 50 congregations across the state joined a “Weekend of Action” to urge state lawmakers to pass SB 735/HB1577. The event also marked the launch of Massachusetts Faith Leaders for Freedom, a diverse coalition of faith leaders from across the state who support full protections under the law for transgender Bay Staters.
And the business coalition supporting #TransBillMA continues to swell with new signups. On April 13 General Electric Co., Suffolk Construction, and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable joined longstanding members like Biogen, Eastern Bank, EMC, Google and Liberty Mutual. Nearly all of Massachusetts’ Fortune 500 companies have comprehensive non-discrimination policies on the books, and consider statewide protections key for maintaining a competitive business climate in the state.
As grassroots support continues to snowball, it became clear today that lawmakers are heeding the call for action and will advance HB 1577/SB 735 out of committee. Commitment from the Joint Judiciary Committee to advance the legislation came after Governor Charlie Baker broke his silence just last week in comments to the Boston Globe indicating that he’s moving towards support for the bill.
Committee commitment to move the bill is the first noteworthy action taken by state lawmakers since last year’s public hearing to affirm the dignity of transgender Bay Staters and ensure they are fully equal under the law. Now that #TransBillMA is slated to advance, we need to redouble our efforts to make sure a majority of legislators are prepared to pass SB 735/HB 1577 when it hits the floor.