Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill Passes House After Lengthy Debate
For nearly seven hours Wednesday, state representatives debated the so-called "bathroom bill."
The bill passed by a 116-36 margin, and would ban discrimination of individuals who use a public facility such as a bathroom or a locker room based on what gender they identify as.
Representative Sheila Harrington of Groton says those concerned over people abusing the law for malicious intent are misguided. Harrington pointed to the slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer at the hands of Phillip Chism in a Massachusetts school bathroom where transgender accommodations were already in place. "That assailant didn't have to take the time to put on a skirt and appear that he was able to be rightfully in the ladies room," said Rep. Harrington. Harrington says she was originally against a similar measure in 2011.
Democratic Representative Colleen Garry of Dracut did not support the bill, saying she wants to ensure the safety of children should someone enter a bathroom with malicious intent under the guise of a transgender individual. "We don't let pedophiles or sex offenders run daycare centers or (be employed as) school teachers, because we don't want to give them the opportunity to assault or molest a child," said. Rep. Garry. "Here, we are opening up an opportunity."
None of the amendments to the bill proposed Wednesday passed. Governor Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he can support the House measure.