The Massachusetts House on Wednesday approved a bill that would expand the rights of transgender residents to all public spaces, including bathrooms and changing rooms.
The legislation passed by a margin of 116 to 36—wide enough to make it immune to potential veto attempts. The bill, which would explicitly allow people to use the facility that corresponds with their gender identity, already passed the state Senate, and Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, indicated earlier that he would sign it.
Representative John Fernandes, the House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called the bill an extension of a 2011 law that protects transgender people from workplace and housing discrimination.
“You can’t tell people it’s OK to work at the diner, but it’s not to sit at the lunch counter. We learned that a long time ago,” he said.
The vote was the product of six hours of contentious debate, with 12 Democrats ultimately voting against the bill, and eight Republicans supporting it. Beyond the gallery, which exploded in applause, the Boston Globe reports that reactions were mixed:
Afterward, proponents cheered. Outside the House chamber, opponents, holding images that showed a man peering over a barrier at a woman, shouted “Shame on you!” as legislators walked by.
The legislation, which until Wednesday had been stuck in stasis for the past eight years, would also protect transgender people from discrimination in public spaces like malls, libraries and restaurants.
Image via AP.