Freshman Republicans Line up Against Transgender Bill

News Service Brief

An hour after the Judiciary Committee endorsed a bill that would backers say would strengthen the civil rights of transgender Massachusetts residents, 11 freshman Republican lawmakers staged a press conference outside the House chamber to call for the proposal’s defeat, contending that it would strangle small businesses and lead to a flood of litigation.

Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), joined by 10 colleagues and Republican Congressional candidate Bill Hudak, describe scenarios in which small businesses would shutter if a transitioning transgender person scared away clients. The bill, added Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover), “encourages politicians to cater to special interests.” Republicans at the press conference said they opposed violence against any person but emphasized that Massachusetts has “progressive” hate crimes laws and said adding another protection would be duplicative. Attendees also suggested that the effort to pass the bill was a distraction from job creation efforts, which proponents of the bill called a “false” choice.

In addition to Adams and Lombardo, attendees at the press conference included Reps. Steven Levy (R-Marlborough), James Lyons (R-Andover), Richard Bastien (R-Gardner), Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton), Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville), Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge), Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater), and Peter Durant (R-Spencer).

Another freshman Republican, Rep. Daniel Winslow of Norfolk, voted in support of the bill in the Judiciary Committee but told the News Service he hopes to amend the section of the bill that defines “gender identity.” About 55 lawmakers have signed on as cosponsors of the original legislation filed by Rep. Carl Sciortino (D-Medford). The Judiciary Committee revised the bill to strike language that would have required public accommodations be available to support transgender men and women.  

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