‘Bathroom bill’ completes long trip to Baker’s desk

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/07/08/bathroom-bill-completes-long-trip-to-bakers-desk/

Following the lead of other states, the Massachusetts Legislature on Thursday sent a bill aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

The bill sparked vigorous debate during its journey through the House and Senate but ultimately cleared both branches by veto-proof margins, although supporters are hopeful that Baker will sign the bill.

The bill (S 2407) — a compromise reached Wednesday by six lawmakers sitting on a conference committee — would allow transgender individuals to use the facilities that match their gender identity, and not necessarily their anatomical sex.

Baker previously said he would sign the House’s version of the bill and his office on Thursday did not disclose the governor’s thoughts on the compromise bill.

“Governor Baker believes no one should be discriminated against based on gender identity and looks forward to carefully reviewing the final bill,” Lizzy Guyton, Baker’s communications director, said in a statement.

In 2011, former Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation adding the words “gender identity” to the state’s non-discrimination laws, a bid to prevent discrimination against transgender residents seeking housing, employment, credit or post-secondary education. At the time, Patrick said he signed the bill as a matter of “conscience” even though lawmakers had stripped a provision that would have required all “sex-segregated facilities” to grant admission to people based on their gender identity, rather than their biological gender. The provision, which mirrors the bill enacted on Thursday, was removed in 2011 to build consensus among lawmakers for the law Patrick signed that year.

If the pending bill becomes law, Massachusetts would become the 18th state to have such a law on its books, with full protections going into effect on Oct. 1.

The House voted 117-36 to accept the conference report and the Senate passed it on a voice vote. Later, both branches enacted the bill on voice votes. The Senate previously passed its own bill 33-4.

— Written by Colin A. Young and Michael P. Norton

Copyright State House News Service