Hundreds of Supporters of #TransBillNH Pack the State House; Lawmakers Postpone Conclusion to Later Date February 1, 2018

Hundreds of supporters of #TransBillNH came to the State House yesterday to rally, testify and show their support for HB 1319, legislation that would update New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination.

The day began with a rally outside the Legislative Office Building, during which supporters like Linda and Emily Fishbaugh, a transgender teenager and her mother, gave previews of their later committee testimony.

Once the hearing began, it had to be immediately moved from the Legislative Office Building to the second floor of Representatives’ Hall because of overcrowding in the original hearing space.

Several lawmakers themselves testified, including HB 1319 co-sponsor Rep. Erin Hennessey (R-Littleton). She described the type of discrimination that the bill would target as something her children would call “bullying.” And that’s one reason she’s co-sponsoring it — to be a good role model for them.

Rep. Brandon Phinney (L-Rochester) from the House Libertarian Caucus gave testimony in which he announced that the House Libertarian Caucus would officially endorse HB 1319. Rep. Phinney said directly to his fellow legislators, “This bill affirms the rights of those in our communities who deserve to be protected. We are all human beings. We need pass to pass this bill now.”

The Libertarian Caucus joins other major endorsers including the Legislative Children’s Caucus, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, The Women’s Foundation, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission. Representatives from all of these organizations spoke during the hearing.

Dover Police Chief and head of the Association of Chiefs of Police Anthony Colarusso made a point to push back on the“bathroom predator” myth during his testimony, bringing up his role as a officer of the law and a father, saying he has “no fear” that this bill will make his children or anyone less safe. What it will do, he said, is make transgender people safer.

Providing clarity in the law was a common point for legal and business organizations that testified. Outgoing chair of the Commission on Human Rights Paul Phillips used his testimony to detail the current gaps in non-discrimination law that HB 1319 would close.

And both Dave Juvet, senior vice president of public policy at the BIA, and Nancy Stager, executive vice president of HR and charitable giving at Eastern Bank, spoke on the need for businesses to have two things: fairness and clarity.

Supporters of HB 1319 — outnumbering opponents nearly ten-to-one — gave testimony for four hours. Lawmakers, estimating that testimony could go for another several hours, made the choice to adjourn at 5 PM and resume at a later date.

Unfortunately, the hearing ended without many of the transgender Granite Staters who had traveled to Concord to tell their stories before the committee getting to do that. We will ensure that those who didn’t get a chance to testify are heard when the hearing reconvenes, though we don’t know if lawmakers will be taking new testimony.

We will keep you posted once we know more.