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Homosexual activists announce huge push for transgender hate crime law.

Homosexual lobby tells State House News their plans to pass House Bill 1722, which would force the radical "transgender" social agenda on businesses, schools, and the general public. "It's part of our mission," says MassEquality. 

MassResistance quoted in article: "We're going to be pushing to stop this. . . It's one of the most dangerous bills ever filed."

state house news service


By Kyle Cheney

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 11, 2008…..With same-sex marriage in the rearview mirror, a new front for social equality has opened on Beacon Hill, as lawmakers and advocacy groups mount an effort to forbid discrimination against transgender people.

“The transgender community faces high rates of discrimination,” said Rep. Carl Sciortino. “And yet, it is still a community that’s very unknown to legislators.”

Sciortino, a Somerville Democrat, is sponsoring a bill that would add “gender identity and expression” to the state’s non-discrimination and hate crime statutes. Groups that were instrumental in securing marriage rights for gay couples are now applying their tested muscle to lobby lawmakers to pass the bill.

MassEquality, which claims a network of more than 200,000 supporters, is preparing a full-court press.

“We are devising an equality agenda for 2008 and this bill will be front and center,” said Marc Solomon, MassEquality campaign director. “It’s part of our new mission of advancing LGBT equality.”

Solomon said supporters would use the same tactics that helped lock down support for gay marriage.

“In some ways, it’s analogous to the marriage issue in that it’s really all about people telling their personal stories,” he said. “Once lawmakers learn more about transgender folks, I’m really confident that they will want to extend protections.”

Because definitions of transgender people vary widely and because Massachusetts has no gender identity laws on the books, there are no reliable estimates for the number of transgender people in the commonwealth. There are no agreed-upon federal statistics either, transgender advocates say, but some estimate the transgender population is between 0.25 and 1 percent of the country.

Sciortino’s proposal, co-sponsored by 22 lawmakers, defines gender identity as “a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth.”

According to Merck’s Online Medical Library, “Gender identity is how a person sees himself or herself, whether masculine, feminine, or somewhere in-between.”

Twelve states already explicitly protect transgender people in their non-discrimination and hate crime laws, with New Jersey’s Legislature just this week passing a protective law. Congress recently stripped a provision regarding gender identity from an employment anti-discrimination bill when support for the bill eroded over the issue.

Opponents in Massachusetts have, so far, kept a low-profile, but that’s going to change, says Brian Camenker, executive director of MassResistance, a social conservative group.

“We’re certainly going to be pushing to stop this,” he said in a phone interview. “This whole idea of perceived gender expression it means that a man could go into the women’s locker room at a health club if he says that he’s a female.”

Camenker said he envisioned protests on the scale of the opposition to gay marriage.

“If the Legislature even thinks about passing this, they’re going to see an outrage like they’ve never seen in a long long time,” he said. “It is, in our opinion, one of the most dangerous bills ever filed.”

The Patrick administration has “no position on the bill just yet,” according to an administration spokeswoman.

Sciortino said that although Massachusetts was at the forefront of gay rights in the 1980s, the Bay State is now “playing catch-up” with other states that have enacted more transgender protections. His bill is stalled in the Judiciary Committee, which has yet to schedule a hearing on it, even though the bill was filed at the outset of the 2007-2008 legislative session. An aide to the committee said the earliest the bill would be heard is in February.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, an advocacy organization whose supporters include MassEquality, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, plans to ramp up legislative lobbying this month to convince the Judiciary Committee to release the bill and to gauge support in the full Legislature.

Next week, the coalition will join Sciortino for a State House briefing to educate legislators about the bill and about the transgender community in general.

“Transgender issues are not gay and lesbian issues, so there’s more education needed,” said coalition director Gunner Scott. “We’ll be working with folks to meet with their legislators one-on-one.”

Solomon also said he had been having discussions with “key legislators” to move the bill, although he declined to name them.

Three Massachusetts municipalities Boston, Cambridge and Northampton have passed non-discrimination ordinances to protect their transgender populations. In addition, 34 companies and universities with operations in the commonwealth Raytheon, Staples, Bain and Company, Harvard University and MIT, to name a few have policies to protect transgender employees.

Boston passed its ordinance in 2002 by a 9-1 vote, with the only dissent coming from then-Councilor James Kelly. Kelly. An indignant Kelly protested, “I don't know why we should be voting to prohibit something where there is no evidence that it exists,” according to a Boston Globe account.