We are one step closer to passing our nondiscrimination legislation today! The bill has been reported out of the conference committee – where the two different versions of the bill from the House and Senate were sent for reconciliation.
Changes to the bill include a new effective date: the nondiscrimination protections will go into effect October 1st. This is a quicker implementation than many bills, which typically go into effect 90 days after passage. The bill also clarifies language to ensure that transgender people are not improperly referred to law enforcement for accessing public accommodations consistent with their gender identity.
The bill will now go back to the House and Senate for procedural votes, and then on to the governor for signing!
This is great movement, and we are so close to passing this important piece of legislation this summer! Stay tuned here and on social media for more updates.
Also, for more information and a legal Q&A from GLAD, visit their website: click here.
The Mass Trans Political Coalition and Health Law Advocates are working together to determine the needs and shortcomings of health care coverage for trans people in Massachusetts. This information will be kept confidential to our organizations, and will be used to determine advocacy needs in health care systems. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this survey, please contact Alexis with MTPC: Alexis@masstpc.org.
Thank you for your participation!
Link to the MTPC/HLA Trans Healthcare Survey here.
Our thoughts are with the the victims, their families, and the Orlando LGBTQ and Latinx community. We stand in solidarity with the communities who have lost so many in this senseless act of violence. This tragedy will stand as a reminder for how much work remains to be done in LGBTQ equality and racial justice work.
MTPC ED Mason Dunn after the House vote. Photo courtesy of Freedom Massachusetts.
Only minutes after the vote, the emails, phone calls, and text messages started to pour in, asking the same question: what’s next? First, it’s important to know this – we’re not finished yet. There is still work that need to be done to make sure this legislation becomes law. Here are some quick, and hopefully helpful answers to your questions:
What is the next step?
There are two versions of the bill in play at the moment: the Senate bill, which added provisions about the effective date, and the House bill, which contains added language about the implementation of guidelines, as well as a differing effective date.
The next big step will be to resolve and reconcile the differences between these two bills. This will likely happen through a conference committee. A conference committee is a temporary group made up of six legislators, three Representatives and three Senators (chosen by the leadership of both chambers), who iron out the differences between the two bills, and negotiate a final version together.
So, the next step is for the leadership to assign legislators to a conference committee, and then schedule a meeting of that committee. We hope to see that happen in the next few weeks.
When will a final version of the bill pass?
This of course depends on when the conference committee is named and meets, but we anticipate that will be another week to negotiate and draft a final bill. That final version will need to pass through both the House and Senate.
This final version must pass before the end of the legislative session, on July 31st, 2016. So in order for this to pass, it must happen in the next two months.
When will the Governor sign the final bill?
After the final version of the bill passes through the House and Senate, the Governor has ten days to either sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. We anticipate the Governor will sign the bill, based on his statements of support before the House vote.
What should we do now?
First, it’s important to thank the 33 Senators and 116 Representatives who voted in favor of the bill. We wouldn’t be here without them, so please take an opportunity to email, write, or call the legislators who have supported this bill. Additionally, please send a special thank you to our lead sponsors, Senator Sonia Chang Diaz, and Representatives Byron Rushing and Denise Provost. We also want to thank the Senate President, Stan Rosenberg, Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, and the Judiciary Chairmen, Senator William Brownsberger and Representative John Fernandes.
It’s important to keep talking to our friends, community members, allies, and businesses about the importance of this legislation. We haven’t finished yet, and we need to continue to raise awareness for trans rights across Massachusetts.
Lastly, please remember that this legislation, even when it passes, is not the end of the work. There is so much that remains to be done for the implementation of the law, to ensure that public spaces are safe, and free from discrimination. We also have other important areas of advocacy ahead, including health care advocacy, economic justice, and so much more.
We’ve come so far with this legislation, and it couldn’t have happened without you. So thank you for your support, and hard work throughout this campaign. Let’s keep it up, until we see lived equality for all people in the Commonwealth!
The following is an excerpt of blog post from MTPC’s Steering Committee Chair, Maxwell Ng. Follow the link below for the full post.
So yesterday I watched the Mass House of Representatives debate and ultimately pass HB 1577, a bill we affectionately call the Trans Equal Access Bill. I have worked on this bill for over 6 years, and I have spoken about it at length before. This bill would protect transgender people from discrimination in all public accommodations, a legal term for spaces like libraries, restaurants, hospitals and parks. In short, every place that isn’t your home, workplace or school.
Those spaces also sometimes include locker rooms, and often times include bathrooms, so of course it has been derided as “The Bathroom Bill” by the opposition. They argue that predators posing as transgender women would use this bill as a cover to prey on women in bathrooms. They forget that criminal activity perpetrated by anyone in a bathroom is already a crime. But the root of their fear is the passive crimes: peeping or upskirting, and ultimately the most dreadful, exposure of male anatomy in a women’s bathroom.
Below are MTPC’s public remarks on the passing of the Equal Access Bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a wide (veto-proof!) margin on June 1, 2016. The bill has already passed in the Senate.
My name is Mason Dunn. I am a transgender man, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts.
Today’s victory is a long-awaited and important affirmation from our lawmakers that transgender people are valued and welcome in our Commonwealth. Not only that, but today’s vote is an inspirational way to start June, National LGBTQ Pride Month. Happy Pride!
The protections that have passed today have been pending on Beacon Hill for nearly ten years. During that time, hundreds of transgender people have bravely come forward to tell their stories and personal experiences with discrimination. I am humbled by the time and effort the transgender community and our allies have put in to get us here today. You have shown up, time and time again, to tell your stories and to be an integral part of this process. Lawmakers heard us, and they see transgender people for who we truly are — human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of basic human rights.
We are so grateful to our tireless advocates in the House: Speaker DeLeo; Chairman Fernandes; and Representative Rushing and Representative Provost, the bill’s lead sponsors. They have shown persistent and determined leadership, without which we would not be here today. We are thankful to them for their unwavering commitment to moving this bill forward and working diligently over the past months to be sure legislators did the right thing.
Today is a triumph for Massachusetts’s reputation as a leader on equality and as a beacon of freedom for everyone. We look forward to seeing this bill arrive at Governor Baker’s desk, and we eagerly await his signature. It’s time for equality for everyone in Massachusetts.