New Hampshire’s Senate approved a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender in areas of housing, jobs, and access to public facilities and services.
Voting yes were all of the ten Democrats and four Republican senators. The bill added a new layer of protection for transgender individuals to the existing provisions on anti-discrimination based on race, sex, religion and sexual orientation.
New Hampshire passed a bill that would protect transgender people from discrimination according the Associated Press’ transgender news article published in the Daily Beast last May 2. Now, it’s up to Republican Governor Chris Sununu to approve and sign the bill to become a state law. He earlier stated his willingness to do so.
The Senate approved the bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender in areas of housing, jobs, and access to public facilities and services. The bill added a new layer of protection for transgender individuals to the existing provisions on anti-discrimination based on race, sex, religion and sexual orientation.
Voting 14-10, those who voted yes were all of the ten Democrats and four Republican senators.
Senator Dani Innis, an openly gay Republican legislator representing New Castle, stated that transgender people must be accorded the same rights and protection as the rest of the population.
“I don’t understand, I admit that, just as many of you don’t understand me. That’s not what we’re asking for in this bill,” said Innis. “These laws are necessary because of the pervasive discrimination that transgender people face at work, at home and in public. I’m not transgender, but 10, 20 years ago, I experienced these discriminations. They’re painful.”
There are 4,500 estimated transgender people living in New Hampshire.
Other legislators voiced qualified support for the bill. For example, Senator Bill Gannon, a Republican senator of Sandown, said that he supported anti-transgender discrimination on housing and employment.
However, he disagreed that the same protection must be granted to them for public accommodation as it constituted a violation to privacy.
“This bill would remove privacy rights of my three young daughters in their locker room, my wife at her gym and my 91-year-old mother when she goes to a restaurant with over 25 people,” he explained. “It puts the rights of one group over that of another.”
Function of the government
Meanwhile, Republican Senator John Reagan of Deerfield said that other legislators were being selective on the constituents that they wanted to give protection, claiming that their position was likened to saying, “I’m all for equal protection for people because I like a lot of them, but not that much.”
“A legitimate function of government is to provide protection,” he stated. “If we’re not willing to, without sly suggestions, support anti-discrimination on anybody for whatever reason, then we don’t guarantee it to anyone. If we don’t do it this time, what do we do six months from now? What do we do next year? Who falls out of our protection? Who do we then like and put in our protection?”
A similar bill was introduced and was later squashed last year, leaving New Hampshire the only state in New England that did not have a law that protect transgender residents.
The passing of the bill in the Senate was met with welcome.
“I don’t want other transgender people to feel the despair and hopelessness I felt,” Gerri Cannon, a trans woman from Somersworth school board and planning to run for a House seat, said.
Liam Magan, a resident of Keene, transgender man, and a victim of workplace harassment, expressed his happiness upon hearing the news.
“We’re welcome here, we’re safe here to work and live and experience New Hampshire,” he remarked. “I’m really excited.”