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By KATHLEEN RONAYNE
House Republicans delayed a debate and vote Thursday on legislation that would add protections for transgender people against discrimination.
Speaker Shawn Jasper had pushed to table the bill, citing concerns that men would exploit the legislation to enter women’s restrooms. Tabling a bill means it receives no debate or up or down vote. Democratic Rep. Ed Butler, its prime sponsor, urged his colleagues not to sidestep debate on the issue. A second effort by Democrats later in the day to debate the bill also failed.
“Our job is not to skirt challenging issues but to engage them,” Butler told his colleagues.
The bill would’ve barred discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations at places such as restaurants or movie theaters. Eighteen other states, including every other New England state, have similar protections in law. New Hampshire provides protections already based on race, religion, sexual orientation and several other factors.
“There’s a lot of fear and misunderstanding, and that’s unfortunately what seems to lead the way instead of just listening and debating,” said Jennifer Huckman, the mother of a transgender teenager.