Thirteen years ago today, hundreds of same-sex couples lined up outside of Boston City Hall to apply for marriage licenses—marking the first time in our nation’s history that same-sex couples could legally marry.
On that historic day Massachusetts demonstrated a critical lesson to the rest of the country: Landmark change is possible. After that day, Massachusetts was stronger, families were protected, and the state stood as the shining example of what it looks like to lead on basic, fundamental rights.
Now, Massachusetts is leading again. In 2016, Massachusetts became the 18th state to pass a law ensuring full non-discrimination protections for transgender people in all public places.
Deborah Shields serves as the executive director of MassEquality, which led the charge for marriage equality and is now a founding partner of Freedom Massachusetts. She said that winning the freedom to marry in Massachusetts took years of hard work, and that a similar movement will be needed to protect the gains that advocates have made.
“With the state’s transgender public accommodations law threatened by a ballot initiative in 2018, civil rights are again under attack. We must live up to Massachusetts’ proud reputation as a national leader for basic dignity and freedom for all people. Massachusetts cannot roll back the clock on equality.” —Deborah Shields, Executive Director, MassEquality
In October, opponents of equality reached the low threshold of signatures—less than half of 1% of the Commonwealth’s total population—needed to put these hard-won protections on the 2018 ballot. If that ballot measure passes in 2018, transgender non-discrimination protections would be repealed.
But the law currently has broad support. Governor Charlie Baker has said that he will vote in favor of upholding the law and endorsed it while it was pending in the legislature, calling the stories of transgender people “really compelling.”
Defeating this initiative will be every bit as challenging as winning the freedom to marry. If we’re going to protect Massachusetts’ non-discrimination law from repeal, we have to build the same kind of grassroots movement—starting now.
That movement starts with you. Freedom Massachusetts is mobilizing supporters across the state to grow our campaign and build support for inclusive non-discrimination laws. Sign up here and join us.