Charlie Baker Is Now ‘Their Excellency, The Governor,’ Massachusetts House Says

Printed from:

Beacon Hill has gone gender-neutral and even gender-plural this week in an effort to be more gender-inclusive.

It’s not grammatical, but the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to start calling the chief executive of state government “Their Excellency, the Governor” instead of his traditional title “His Excellency, the Governor” – even though the current occupant, Charlie Baker, is a male. The new title is in the new version of House Rules.

The Senate mentions a form of the word “Governor” 14 times in its new rules, but avoids honorifics like “Excellency,” usually using the non-gender-specific word “the” before “Governor.”

“His Excellency” has been used in Massachusetts to describe the governor since not long after the former colony’s founding in 1630. The only exception is Jane Swift, the only woman to fill the top spot, who served from 2001 to 2003. She was called “Her Excellency” while in office:

It’s not yet clear what Governor Baker plans to call himself. The governor’s press office could not immediately be reached for comment early Friday morning. (Editor’s Note:  This story will be updated if the governor’s press office responds.)

As recently as Friday, January 18, the office of the state comptroller, which is overseen by the governor, referred to Baker as “His Excellency” in an official document:

A version of “His Excellency” is also what official documents from the Baker administration have used during the governor’s time in office.

Among other changes, both the House and Senate have also jettisoned “chairman” as a title for the legislator who leads a committee of the state legislature, because it includes “man” in it. But they don’t agree on what to replace it with.

The House has decided to call such a person a “chairperson”:

The Senate, meanwhile, is going with the less personal “chair”:

State Representative William C. Galvin (D-Canton), chairman of the temporary House committee on rules (and who is not related to the Massachusetts Secretary of State with a similar name), sponsored the new version of the House rules. The goal of the new language, Galvin said, is to be “gender neutral and gender inclusive,” according to

The House adopted its new version of the rules 125-32 on Wednesday, January 30, along party lines. In the new 2019-2020 legislative session Democrats control the Massachusetts House, 127-32, with one independent.

The Senate adopted its new version of the rules 39-0 on Thursday, January 31. In the 2019-2020 legislative session Democrats control the Massachusetts Senate, 34-6.