Bathroom Bill Repeal Hasn’t Got A Chance, Boston Mayor Says

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By Stephanie Murray


BOSTON — Boston Pride week kicked off at City Hall Plaza on Friday with a flag-raising event where speakers both celebrated the LGBTQ community and called on supporters to mobilize in the face of what could be a brewing political battle over transgender rights.

The week-long celebration champions and promotes equal rights for the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender residents. Pride Week events, from block parties to family events to panels, will lead up to the 47th annual Pride Parade. The 2017 pride week theme is “stronger together,” which Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said is fitting following the most recent presidential election.

“It’s about bringing people together in a common conviction that everyone is entitled to a basic human right. Stronger together has been especially important in the aftermath of the past presidential election. We’ve already seen LGBTQ rights being threatened,” Walsh said. “Hard-fought rights are being threatened around the country. But as you know, we’re not going to let that happen here in the city of Boston.”

A ballot question in the works for 2018 would walk back new legal transgender accommodations rights in Massachusetts.

Sylvain Bruni told the crowd it is vital to remember that the fight for LGBTQ rights is not over.

“It is an important year for everybody in our community,” Bruni said. “We need to mobilize because of the outcome of last year’s election, but also future things that are happening that need to be on everybody’s radar. In 2018 there is an anti-trans ballot measure that is on the books. We need to fight against it,” Bruni said. “I am asking each and every one of you to remember this and to continue supporting the community, to continue being here, being visible, being loud in support of every individual who is part of our community.”

The Massachusetts Legislature approved a measure last year known as the Bathroom Bill, which guarantees access to bathrooms and locker rooms in public accommodations based on gender identity, not just biological sex. That means a biological male who identifies as a female can use facilities set aside for females. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law in July 2016. A referendum that would repeal the Bathroom Bill is set for the November 2018 state general election ballot.

When asked about his message to members of the LGBTQ community concerned about the ballot question, Walsh said they should enjoy the pride week celebrations and trust the question will be defeated.

“I don’t think that ballot question has a chance, to be honest with you,” Walsh said. “Don’t change, be yourself, enjoy the week. You know, when the ballot question comes out we’ll properly address that, we’ll go out and work against it and defeat it if it hits the ballot … Boston is a fully inclusive city and Massachusetts, we’re a fully inclusive state.”

This year’s Boston Pride Grand Marshal is Kristen Porter, founder of Kristen Porter Presents Dyke Night, an events production company that aims to combine entertainment and philanthropy. During her speech, Porter highlighted Gilbert Baker, who created the first rainbow pride flag to represent the gay community in 1978. He died earlier this year.

“We here in Boston are privileged to raise our pride flag when around the globe a pride flag, a rainbow flag, is a reason to be punished, tortured and to die,” Porter said. “We are Boston strong, we are Boston proud and we are stronger together.”

According to organizers, more than two dozen survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando last year will attend the Boston Pride Parade on Saturday, June 10.

The mayor read a proclamation declaring June 2 through June 11 “Boston Pride Week” and named June 2 “Linda DeMarco Day” in honor of a longtime volunteer. DeMarco is vice president of Boston Pride and has been involved with the organization for 20 years, since 1997. Boston Pride also recognized three Honorary Marshals posthumously:  gay police officer Norman Hill, health researcher Dr. Judy Bradford, and “Hat Sisters” John Michael Gray, who fund-raised for AIDS research.

The ceremony concluded as the mayor, city officials, and members of Boston Pride each took a turn to raise the rainbow flag over the city. Sam Chambers, the LGBTQ liason to the mayor’s office, said pride week is his favorite time of the year, calling it a time when “everyone can celebrate who they are.”

“Today is a day for celebration. Celebration of who we are as human beings and who we are as Bostonians,” Chambers said.