N.H. House tables transgender nondiscrimination protections bill March 9, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. — Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 187-179 to table House Bill 478. The measure sought to update the state’s law against discrimination to provide protections for transgender individuals in housing, employment and public spaces, including hospitals, stores and restaurants.

Efforts to revive debate on the measure failed on a 168-180 vote this evening.

“I introduced HB 478, because transgender Granite Staters need to be protected from the real and pervasive discrimination they face,” state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said following the vote. “Today’s vote sends the message that discrimination is okay, and it motivates me to redouble my efforts to ensure everyone in New Hampshire is treated equally and fairly under the law, including transgender residents and visitors.”

Today’s vote came only a couple of weeks after a GOP-led House committee gave the measure a favorable recommendation on an overwhelming 15-2 vote, following hours of moving testimony from supporters of the bill, which outnumbered opposition 7 to 1.

“Those legislators who heard from transgender constituents, learned about their lives and why these protections are needed, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure just two weeks ago,” Gerri Cannon, a New Hampshire transgender woman and a member of the Freedom New Hampshire coalition, said. “It is shameful that opponents of HB 478 would use scare tactics to permit discrimination against transgender Granite Staters.”

Organizations and individuals who spoke against the bill cited unfounded claims that protecting transgender individuals from discrimination would make the state less safe. This assertion was proved false by those entrusted to protect the public, including the N.H. Chiefs of Police Association and the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, both of whom support the legislation.

Since HB 478 was introduced, 7,600 individuals, businesses and organizations have joined the Freedom New Hampshire coalition. Constituents made more than 8,200 contacts to legislators in support of the bill. The coalition will continue efforts to shine a light on the very real discrimination transgender individuals face on a daily basis and the urgent need for nondiscrimination protections.

“While we are disappointed with today’s vote, we are incredibly proud of the work that we have accomplished since this bill was introduced,” Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said. “Since January, we have created a strong, diverse and bipartisan coalition of people from all walks of life who support transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire. This coalition is not going anywhere. We will continue our efforts to obtain explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals in New Hampshire.”

Despite today’s vote, Freedom New Hampshire’s bipartisan and diverse coalition is committed to passing explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters.

The measure will likely not be considered again before 2018. In the meantime, Freedom New Hampshire will continue efforts to shine a light on the very real discrimination transgender individuals face on a daily basis.

“Transgender Granite Staters deserve an up or down vote. It’s not a question of ‘if’ New Hampshire will adopt explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters, but ‘when,’” Jakows concluded.

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

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