The first day of the 2017 legislative session in New Hampshire is January 4. That means less than a month until lawmakers return to the State House—and when they do, transgender non-discrimination legislation will be on the agenda.
Last month, Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location pre-filed legislation that would update our state’s Law Against Discrimination to explicitly protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, which includes hospitals, restaurants, stores and other public places.
This is the first time in 8 years that lawmakers will consider statewide non-discrimination protections to transgender Granite Staters. If the measure passes, New Hampshire will become the 19th state in the nation to provide fully protect transgender people.
New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination was last updated in 1998 to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation. Now, nearly 20 years later, New Hampshire legislators will consider adding “gender identity” to the list of protected classes.
Without statewide protections, transgender people living in, working in, and visiting New Hampshire are at heightened risk of discrimination. Some live in daily fear of being fired, evicted, or turned away from a business—just because of who they are..
This isn’t right or fair—and it runs directly counter to New Hampshire’s values of freedom and equal treatment for all.
What’s more, there is now undeniable evidence that anti-transgender discrimination isn’t just bad for the impacted communities—it’s bad for business and for politics.
North Carolina is a perfect case study. Earlier this year, NC Governor Pat McCrory signed the sweeping HB 2 law—a heinous piece of legislation that was first-of-its-kind in explicitly targeting transgender people for discrimination by effectively banning them from using public restrooms.
As a result of the law, the state has lost $600 million dollars from frozen expansions, diverted tourism revenue, and cancelled events. Ultimately, the law also cost Governor McCrory reelection. He conceded defeat just this week.
The message is clear: A vast majority of voters support treating people fairly and equally under the law, regardless of one’s gender identity. And increasingly, businesses are looking to invest in states with stable, flourishing economies—not shackled by controversial and discriminatory politics—where markets are open for business to everyone.
This year, New Hampshire lawmakers have an opportunity to pass non-discrimination legislation to ensure all Granite Staters are protected and equal under the law. It’s good for business, it’s good for communities—and it’s simply the right thing to do.