“Bathroom bill” opponents say they’ve got signatures for repealer

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/09/28/bathroom-bill-opponents-say-theyve-got-signatures-for-repealer/

BOSTON — Activists working to derail the new state law aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations say volunteers have already gathered enough signatures to place a repeal measure on the 2018 ballot.

The ballot question committee Keep MA Safe reported Wednesday that local clerks have certified nearly 33,000 signatures, more than the 32,375 required to ensure ballot access in 2018.

The committee said hundreds of volunteers, resisting “radical transgender policies,” had collected more than 50,000 total signatures over the past two months. The deadline to submit certified signatures to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office is Oct. 6.

Announcing its signatures, Keep MA Safe wrote Wednesday, “Parents have been particularly alarmed to learn about this law, signed in early July, which would allow men to use the women’s bathroom, locker room, shower or changing facility if they identify as female. There have already been incidents reported here in MA where women’s privacy and safety in public accommodations were violated.”

Supporters of the new law this summer hailed it as a long overdue protection of transgender individuals. The legislation (S 2407) allows transgender people to access sex-segregated locker rooms and bathrooms based on their gender identity rather than their anatomical sex. It bans discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations such as pools and restaurants.

The issue divided Beacon Hill Republicans, and the bill cleared the House on a vote of 117-36. The Senate approved it on a voice vote.

On July 8, the day the law was signed, Attorney General Maura Healey called it a “huge victory for civil rights and for our transgender friends, family and neighbors.”

“Today, regardless of gender identity, people have a legal right to be free from discrimination no matter where they go in Massachusetts. I thank the House and Senate for their leadership, the many businesses and individuals who lent their unwavering support and Governor Baker for signing this bill into law,” Healey said in a statement the day the law was signed.

When he signed the bill the day after it reached his desk, Baker said, “No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity. This compromise legislation extends additional protections to the Commonwealth’s transgender community, and includes language to address the public safety concerns expressed by some by requiring the Attorney General to issue regulations to protect against people abusing the law.”

In July, Freedom Massachusetts Co-Chair Kasey Suffredini said the repeal effort ran counter to the level of public support for the law. “Let’s call this what it is: A last-ditch attempt by a radical right-wing fringe group to repeal a law supported by a majority of Bay Staters, passed by a bipartisan supermajority of lawmakers, and signed into law by our Republican Governor,” she said.

If it reaches the 2018 ballot, the repeal proposal could be joined by a constitutional amendment imposing a 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million. The offices held by Gov. Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are also on the ballot in 2018.

— Written by Michael Norton
Copyright State House News Service