New Hampshire lawmakers are getting an early start on planning their agenda for the 2017 legislative session, and they are making transgender rights a top priority.
Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location announced on Thursday that he will introduce a bill to update the state’s current nondiscrimination policy to explicitly protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, which includes hospitals, restaurants, stores and other public places.
“No one should be turned away from a public business, kicked out of their home or be fired from a job simply because of who they are.”
Advocates for transgender rights in New Hampshire rejoiced upon hearing the news. Gerri Cannon, a transgender community leader who was fired from her job after her boss and coworkers discovered she was transgender, said such a bill is long overdue and will have an immediate positive impact on the lives of thousands of transgender Granite Staters.
“There are thousands of transgender individuals in New Hampshire whose lives will be positively impacted by this bill. No one should be turned away from a public business, kicked out of their home or be fired from a job simply because of who they are.”
The momentum behind this bill can’t be overstated. When Butler’s bill is introduced in January, it will be first time in eight years New Hampshire lawmakers have seriously considered enacting transgender non-discrimination protections statewide. The previous bill in 2009—also sponsored by Butler—made it narrowly through the New Hampshire House of Representatives after two tries only to be rejected by the Senate.
But Butler and other backers feel the time is ripe to try again. The number of transgender people living openly has doubled in the last decade. There’s also an increased public awareness about who transgender people are and a growing understanding that they just want what everyone wants: To work hard, put a roof of their heads, and participate in public life with the fear of discrimination.
“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law.”
And of course, Butler has seen the negative political and economic blowback in North Carolina for that state’s anti-transgender HB 2—including the Governor’s impending re-election loss. Butler says passing a proactive law now will give New Hampshire’s reputation a boost.
“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law. By updating our civil rights laws to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, we will be saying that New Hampshire is an open and welcoming place for everyone.”
This move is already receiving positive attention from community leaders, including Dover Police Department Chief Anthony Colarusso. He says that as a 31-year-veteran of local law enforcement, he knows as well as anyone that communities are safer when everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law.
“This group is actually disproportionately targeted for harassment and assault. However, in places where legal protections are in place, rates of violence against transgender individuals go down with no uptick in public safety incidents. Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”
“Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”
If the measure becomes law, New Hampshire will become the 19th state in the nation to provide fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. JeanMarie Gossard, Freedom New Hampshire’s campaign manager, says Freedom New Hampshire will be doing everything it can to support this critical bill.
“We are united in our belief that fairness and equality are important to all of us. Freedom New Hampshire is thrilled to be working with a broad coalition of business, faith and civic leaders, and people across the political spectrum, to support this important measure.”
Freedom New Hampshire stands with lawmakers, law enforcement, public safety experts, businesses, faith leaders, and thousands of Granite Staters who support explicit protections for transgender people under the law. Show your support and click here to send a message to your lawmakers now, urging them to support this legislation.