By: Christine Nicco/TRT Reporter—
BOSTON, Mass.—Freedom Massachusetts, a bipartisan campaign working to ensure all people are treated fairly and equally under the law, has launched its effort to secure public accommodations protections for transgender BayStaters this year.
According to the campaign’s co-chair, Mason Dunn, the campaign is a “coalition of businesses, policy makers, and organizations,” aimed at passing S.B. 735 and H.B. 1577, An Act Relative To Transgender Anti-Discrimination, through the state legislature.
“We have an opportunity right now to fix a glaring gap in our state’s nondiscrimination laws so that Massachusetts cannot only be a state that reflects the values of its residents, but a state that is poised to carry its economic successes and growth well into the future,” said Kasey Suffredini, Freedom Massachusetts co-chair, via a press release. “Over the course of this campaign, we intend to show lawmakers just how broad support is for this commonsense update to our law.”
Currently, state law provides nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit/lending, and public education. Excluding the transgender community in public accommodations protections means it is not free from facing discrimination in public spaces such as restaurants, retail stores, government offices, malls, transportation, bathrooms and hospitals.
“At the end of the day, this work is about individuals,” said Dunn, also Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, via the same release. “It’s about making Massachusetts a better, safer place where transgender people and their families don’t have to worry about facing unwarranted, hurtful discrimination when they’re simply going about their lives.”
Based in grassroots efforts, Freedom Massachusetts will be hosting phone banks every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the campaign, explained Katie Guare, field outreach coordinator. [pullquote]Based in grassroots efforts, Freedom Massachusetts will be hosting phone banks every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the campaign, explained Katie Guare, field outreach coordinator.[/pullquote]
“Our hopes for these actions is to grow larger as we get closer to a vote, and generate more contact with legislators and policy makers in the State House,” she said. “Participants at our phone banks range from long-time activists in the LGBTQ community, to family members, friends, and neighbors who understand the importance and urgency of this legislation, and many people who are getting involved in grassroots advocacy for the first time.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have established policies protecting gender identity, depicting that big business recognizes the importance of ensuring protections for all Americans. Such companies also stand behind Freedom Massachusetts.
“The support of companies like Google, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Eastern Bank sends a powerful message that these bills are the right thing to do, and that they move our state in the right direction,” Dunn said.
Massachusetts lags behind 17 states and Washington D.C., which have already passed nondiscrimination laws protecting gender identity in public spaces. [pullquote]“The support of companies like Google, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Eastern Bank sends a powerful message that these bills are the right thing to do, and that they move our state in the right direction,” Dunn said. Massachusetts lags behind 17 states and Washington D.C., which have already passed nondiscrimination laws protecting gender identity in public spaces.[/pullquote]
“We’re hoping to engage more community members and allies in this work,” Dunn further explained. “Whether that means attending a phone bank, writing letters to the governor, or urging your legislator to support this legislation, we hope community members will get involved with the campaign. This is not only a great way to get involved, but also an excellent opportunity to empower community members with core leadership and grassroots advocacy skills.”
Freedom Massachusetts is a joint effort of state and national organizations, including the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, MassEquality, the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom for All Americans, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, BAGLY, the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, the Anti-Defamation League, PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign.
To join the coalition, volunteer, or to learn more about the campaign, visit www.freedommassachusetts.org.