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NH Senate OKs transgender rights bill

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 02. 2018 9:43PM

CONCORD — Outlawing discrimination of transgender people in New Hampshire became a virtual reality Wednesday night, with the state Senate passing the legislation and Gov. Chris Sununu’s office confirming he would sign it into law.

The bipartisan 14-10 vote on the measure, HB 1319, overcame the opposition of Senate Republican leaders who wanted the issue shipped off to study for 2018.

State Sen. Dan Innis, R-New Castle, an openly gay man, said it’s long past time for the 4,500 in the state who consider themselves transgender to face no bias in employment, housing and accommodation.

“I am supported by the anti-discrimination passed into law many years ago,” Innis said.

“Am I better than the transgender people here? No, I am not, absolutely not. So let’s give them the same protections I enjoy.”

Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown, said he strongly opposed the accommodations change, which allows someone born as a male to enter a girl’s bathroom.

“I believe that other people have an interest here, a privacy right that this bill is going to infringe on — the privacy of my three young daughters in their locker room, my wife in her gym,” Gannon said.

“It negates my rights as a father to protect my daughters’ privacy and their interest in school.”

But Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, said it was already a crime for a transgender person to enter any bathroom and sexually harass or assault anyone.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, along with Sens. James Gray, R-Rochester, John Reagan, R-Deerfield, and Innis joined all 10 Senate Democrats in supporting the bill.

A move to send the bill off for study came up short, 12-11.

The Senate then passed the measure, which the House had adopted in March, 195-129.

“This law will go a long way to affirm the dignity of transgender people and allow them to truly live free,” said Linds Jakows, campaign manager of Freedom New Hampshire, which led the effort.

“I want to especially thank my fellow transgender Granite Staters for their bravery and courage over the last few years — this victory would not have been possible without the voices of transgender people who have been telling their stories and educating lawmakers about the urgent need to make sure all Granite Staters are fully protected under the law.”

Thirty days after Sununu signs it, New Hampshire will become the 19th state in the nation and the last in New England to outlaw transgender discrimination.

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