The Massachusetts House approved a bill on Wednesday that expanded anti-discrimination statues to cover trans residents’ access to public facilities including restrooms, WBUR-FM reported.
The measure, H 4343, passed in a 116-36 vote, a month after a similar bill passed in the state Senate. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has already indicated that he would sign it into law if passed. It is slated to take effect in early 2017.
“This historic vote brings us another step closer to protecting the rights of all residents and sends a powerful message that our state is a place of equality, opportunity, and community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts said in a statement.
The group also posted video online of people cheering in the gallery after the vote, which can be seen below.
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— ACLU Massachusetts (@ACLU_Mass) June 1, 2016# p #6_14 # ad skipped = true #
The bill passed in the wake of legislation in other states that banned members of the trans community from using restrooms according to their gender identity. Opponents of the Massachusetts measure seized on a common argument in that vein, saying that H 4343 would provide a way for sexual predators to sneak into womens’ restrooms.
“The bill allows people on a routine basis to decide if they are male or female. Your anatomy is no longer relevant,” said state Rep. James Lyons (R). “This has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination, it has everything to do with changing our society and social engineering by those on the left. I’m not interested in changing society.”
WHDH-TV showed footage of a group of demonstrators opposing the bill, as well as a trans woman, Aurora Desmond, who held up a sign saying, “Trans rights are human rights” in support of the legislation.
“This is Massachusetts; we were the first state to legalize gay marriage,” she said. “We are famous for being progressive. It’s time.”
WHDH’s report can be seen below.