Updated January 25, 2012
After a six-year battle against the “Bathroom Bill,” on November 15, 2011 – the second to last day of the 2011 legislative session – the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a bill granting special rights to transsexuals. Though we scored a victory with the removal of the “Bathroom Bill” aspects of the legislation, the way that the altered bill was rammed through highlights an ongoing disregard by Beacon Hill leaders of both the legislative process and the voice of the people. Governor Deval Patrick quietly signed the bill into law a week later.
However, on Thursday, January 19, 2012, Governor Patrick and a large crowd of activists and legislators celebrated the passage of the “transgender” rights law with a gala ceremonial bill signing ceremony replete with pomp and circumstance befitting a coming out party.
The law that was approved ads the ill-defined term “gender identity” to the list of protected classes under the Hate Crimes Law and all non-discrimination laws. This bill was sought as a compromise to the notorious “Bathroom Bill” that had garnered strong opposition from both the public and legislators.
The State House News Service reported that those in attendance at the ceremonial signing said that the battle for “equal rights for transgender people” was not over, noting that they would push for the public accommodations protections that were dropped from the original bill. These provisions were the most egregious part of the original bill, endangering the safety, privacy and modesty of all people. It was no small victory to have them removed from the final bill. However, our opponents are committed to continuing their push for a “Bathroom Bill” to become law in this new legislative session.
Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, said that his group and others would continue to fight for “full protection for every facet of our lives,” according to the State House News Service. Governor Patrick himself said last November after signing the law that he will “come back around to public accommodations.” Arlene Isaacson, a leading lobbyist for the gay agenda, referred the new law as “major victory,” and also pledged that she will continue to fight for the “Bathroom Bill” provisions.
We indeed had a victory in November 2011 by successfully removing the “Bathroom Bill” language from the final law that was approved. While we steadfastly oppose the law that was approved, we accept the partial victory for what it is considering the current makeup of the Legislature.
But our opponents will remain very active in pushing for the passage of the onerous “Bathroom Bill” language that was stripped out. It may not happen this year with the upcoming November election, but we have no doubt that they will continue to harass legislators with false assurances, sob stories and other under-handed tactics to get what they want. Massachusetts Family Institute and our allies will continue to fight this radical agenda, educating legislators and the public on the true consequences of the “Bathroom Bill.”
Massachusetts Family Institute report on the passage of the “Transgender Rights Bill” on November 15, 2011
On November 15, 2011, the second to last day of the 2011 legislative session, the House of Representatives approved a bill that grants special rights to transsexuals. (CLICK HERE for a roll call of how legislators voted.) Though we scored a victory with the removal of the “Bathroom Bill” aspects of the legislation, the way that the altered bill was rammed through highlights an ongoing disregard by Beacon Hill leaders of both the legislative process and the voice of the people.
With time running out and a full schedule of bills to approve, House leaders used “an unusual maneuver…to limit debate on the bill to one hour,” reported the State House News Service. The vote to limit debate, as proposed by Rep. David Linsky, was 94-56. Forty minutes of that hour was taken up by two supporters of the bill, Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty and Rep. Carl Sciortino, leaving opponents little time to speak or move any of the more than 40 amendments filed to study various affects of the bill.
Even Rep. Dan Winslow, the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill, said that it was regrettable that “the majority has limited debate.” Democrat Christopher Fallon, a representative from Malden, lambasted his colleagues who voted to limit debate to an hour, saying it brings “shame on us all.”
“We marginalize our importance to our constituency. We marginalize the importance of a bill like this when we try to limit, when we try to suspend, when we try to restrict debate,” Rep. Fallon exclaimed from his seat in the back of the chamber.
In the “why are we not surprised” category, the leadership’s brazen action to limit debate not just limited to procedural tactic designed to fast track the bill. The House voted earlier 115-37 to bypass the Ways and Means Committee’s review of the bill, a critical step that would have had that committee analyze the legislation for any fiscal ramifications.
In the end, it was a victory for safety, privacy and modesty of women and children who expect to be secure in public bathrooms. But it leaves too many issues unanswered in terms of burdensome and costly regulations to businesses and the use of their facilities, and more importantly, the effects in our public K-12 schools and day care centers.
From all of us at MFI, thank you for your tremendous grassroots involvement over the past 6 years that led to the final bill not including the bathroom language. It was your calls and emails that tipped the scales in our favor in the Legislature, and your concerns that forced the media to cover this issue. This will be forever known in Massachusetts as the “Bathroom Bill.”
Our work continues as we seek remedies that protect individuals and small businesses from undue harm as a result of this radical measure. And the evidence continues to pile up that one-party rule results in undemocratic maneuvers that serve special interest groups and not the common good. The same lack of transparency and accountability led to same-sex “marriage,” the convictions of the last three House speakers, and now the passage of this radical transsexual bill.