Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Senate to pass legislation he co-sponsored that prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations such as sports arenas, gas stations, movie theaters, bars, public restrooms and shopping malls.
“I’d like to ask each and every person here: Where do you want your vote recorded in the story of our nation’s founding ideals, that all men and women are created equal?” Sen. Lesser said in his speech on the Senate floor.
“Do we really want to be on the side of saying we don’t care, that we turn a blind eye to that expanding story of rights in our state? I would encourage everyone to look inside themselves and ask why we’re here, why we ran for office, why we took that oath. We did that to do something, to help people, to expand that story.”
In Massachusetts, all four professional sports teams, the Boston Chamber of Commerce and dozens of other businesses including MassMutual support transgender anti-discrimination laws and policies. Nationally, nearly 70 percent of the nation’s leading Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies in place that explicitly cover gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
If signed into law, the bill would make Massachusetts the 18th state in the nation to ban gender identity-based discrimination in public accommodations, including the New England states of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The House is considering its own version of a similar bill, which if passed would need to be reconciled with the Senate version before heading to Gov. Baker for signature into law.
The Senate also passed a bill Thursday mandating the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender individuals as members of the state’s nondiscrimination regional advisory boards.