After nearly two years of work and legislative organizing by proponents of fairness for all Granite Staters, New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu has signed House Bill 1319, often referred to as #TransBillNH, into law, which will add nondiscrimination protections for transgender people into existing state civil rights law.
This officially makes New Hampshire the 19th state in the nation with full and explicit statewide nondiscrimination protections. Several other states, including New York, Utah, and Wisconsin have more limited LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, and even more states protect LGBTQ people via federal court precedent or legal interpretation of existing state law.
Freedom New Hampshire, the campaign to secure statewide nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in the Granite State, shepherded the bill through two legislative sessions, in 2017 and 2018. Freedom for All Americans was proud to serve as a founding and leading member of Freedom New Hampshire since 2016.
Making #TransBillNH a Reality
Initially introduced in 2016, the bill advanced out of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee with a vote of 15-2 recommending the legislation ‘ought to pass.’ However, upon arrival on the House floor in early 2017, then-Speaker Shawn Jasper moved to table it immediately, and succeeded by a slim margin of 187-179.
Uncowed, Freedom New Hampshire continued their advocacy and education efforts through the remainder of 2017, recruiting volunteers and speaking to voters, in addition to hosting town halls, house parties, and innovative interactive panels called, “Ask a Trans Person Anything.” Through continued growth of coalition partners, including law enforcement, safety advocates, mayors, and elected officials, and the further mobilization of volunteers, the organization worked with supportive legislators to reintroduce the bill for the 2018 session.
Assigned this time to the House Judiciary Committee, and with the support of the influential Children’s and Libertarian Caucuses, after nearly 6 hours of testimony over 2 days the bill again was recommended ‘ought to pass’ by a vote of 10-8, moving once again to the floor of the House. Although several amendments were introduced on the floor to carve out protections, all failed, and the “clean” version of the bill passed by a vote of 195-129, moving it to the Senate.
Now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, members voted 3-2 to move the bill to an “interim study” committee for further vetting. However, because New Hampshire is a ‘no killed bills’ state, it still moved to the full Senate for consideration to pass. Finally, on May 2, the New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 to pass HB 1319, thereby ensuring all transgender Granite Staters would be protected in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
The Work Ahead in Massachusetts
With the success in New Hampshire, now all New England region states have comprehensive nondiscrimination laws on the books. Unfortunately, a challenge to the Bay State’s existing protections, passed in 2016, has made its way to the ballot by the slimmest of margins this November, making us the first state in the nation forced to vote to protect the rights of transgender people.
If we don’t step up to defend #TransLawMA, we stand the risk of taking New Hampshire’s previous spot as the only New England state lacking comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The success that we saw in Massachusetts in 2016 helped us make gains across the country, including in New Hampshire. Now, we need to protect this success, and keep moving forward.
There are many opportunities for you to help. Check out our Volunteer Action Calendar here, and sign up to join us for phone banks, canvasses, and special events. Visit here to donate to our campaign to defend #TransLawMA — even $5 will help us in our efforts. Keep up with the latest news by checking out our blog here.