The Massachusetts legislature passed a historic bill extending civil rights protections to the commonwealth’s 33,000 transgender residents following a Senate vote Wednesday morning.
The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, a vocal LGBT rights supporter, who will sign it into law.
The Transgender Equal Rights Bill adds gender identity to existing Massachusetts civil rights laws, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and marital status in the areas of employment, housing, education, and credit. It does not, however, protect transgender residents against discrimination in public accommodations like restaurants, stores, hotels or other places that serve the general public.
The bill would also add offenses regarding gender identity to the list prosecutable hate crimes.
“We support this bill,” said Jennifer Levi, director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project. “We want complete protections for transgender people—including in public accommodations—but also know that in order to get there, we cannot walk away from the legislature’s first step toward achieving those full protections.”
According to the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition, 15 states, the District of Columbia, and 136 cities and towns around the country have passed laws and ordinances protecting transgender people from discrimination