Vote Yes on Question 3 – Support The Right of Trans Individuals to Be Safe
At a recent Boston rally in opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice, one of the final speakers – a young trans woman – spoke about the need for Massachusetts voters to vote yes on Question 3 on this year’s ballot. “Massachusetts is the only place I feel safe,” she told the crowd.
And those, ultimately, are the stakes with regard to Question 3 – will the Commonwealth vote to maintain the public accommodation protections that the legislature passed and Governor Baker signed into law in 2016? Or will Massachusetts turn back the clock and allow discrimination against individuals because of their gender identity or expression?
First, some background. In 2016, Governor Baker signed a law adding gender identity to the state’s public accommodation law. This accomplishment was due to the intense efforts of many local, organizations in the community, wishing to close the gap stemming from the 2011 law that added gender identity protections to employment, housing, credit, education, and hate crimes laws in Massachusetts. The current ballot question asks voters whether to maintain those protections. A Yes vote means maintaining the law – which protects trans individuals – as it currently stands; a No vote means repeal.
“There is no question that those who back a repeal of the law would love to see a liberal state like Massachusetts turn it back on the trans community,” said Sylvain Bruni, president of Boston Pride, one of the region’s most influential LGBTQ organizations. “They would use a victory in Massachusetts as a rallying cry across the country. That’s why it is so important for everyone who supports the rights of transgender individuals to make sure to vote Yes on Question 3.” In June, Boston Pride partnered with the coalition Freedom for All Massachusetts to hold a forum on the ballot question during Pride Week, which featured trans individuals Lizbeth Deselm, Debbie Drew, Kasey Suffredini, and Nicole Talbot, and keynote remarks from Sarah McBride.
Freedom for All Massachusetts is educating voters on the need to maintain the public accommodations law as it currently stands. There is a lot at stake for the Commonwealth’s business community, too. “Inclusive policies also help encourage new business investment. Massachusetts has been a viable candidate for corporate relocations, expansions, and investments, but this could be threatened by the repeal of basic non-discrimination protections,” notes the coalition. “In North Carolina, HB2 and the protracted fight to repeal the anti-transgender discriminatory law cost the state approximately $630 million in less than a year.”
O’Neill and Associates has been a proud partner to and supporter of Boston Pride since 2012. We recently became a founding member of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce. We believe strongly that trans individuals should have the same rights to live safely in their communities as all of us and that the public accommodations protections Massachusetts has now should remain in place. We will be voting Yes on Question 3.
Photo Credit: Marilyn Humphries