Soon, every state in New England will have explicit protections for transgender people.
Early Wednesday evening, the state senate in New Hampshire—the last holdout in the region—voted 14-10 to pass House Bill 1319, which would add gender identity to the state’s pre-existing anti-discrimination legislation, thereby providing explicit protections for transgender people in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Chris Sununu who previously told the Union Leader that he’s “inclined to move forward with it”—and who said through a spokesperson shortly after the vote that he intends to sign, according to WMUR political director Adam Sexton.
Local LGBT advocacy group Freedom New Hampshire celebrated the win on Twitter, calling it “a huge victory for freedom-loving people everywhere—especially the transgender Granite Staters who have fought so hard for nearly a decade to make this happen.”
Those efforts came to a head in 2017, when a similar bill HB 478 failed to pass after the socially conservative New Hampshire organization Cornerstone asked its supporters to send letters to state representatives spreading the myth that gender identity protections endanger women and children using public restrooms.
The bill was tabled last March in a contentious vote after a heated hearing by a 187-179 margin.
LGBT advocates responded to the narrow loss by conducting an extensive public education campaign, as The Daily Beast previously reported, holding house parties and coffee meet-ups and “Ask A Trans Person Anything” panels.
“This victory is the result of years that advocates and allies have spent laying legislative groundwork,” Freedom New Hampshire said. “But it was transgender Granite Staters who bravely opened their lives to neighbors and lawmakers—and that is why we won today.”
This March, HB 1319 handily surpassed its legislative predecessor by clearing the Republican-controlled house of representatives in a 195-129 vote. And Wednesday’s vote in the state senate, which is also under GOP control, only adds momentum to the bill.
When Sununu signs HB 1319, New England will join the West Coast in becoming an entire region of the United States with transgender-inclusive non-discrimination measures in every state.
There are still no explicit protections for gender identity written into federal law, although LGBT advocates have argued successfully in court that existing civil rights measures on sex discrimination apply to transgender people as well.
As national LGBT advocacy group GLAAD noted, the signing of HB 1319 would also mark the second major transgender-specific legislative victory in as many months. In early April, voters in Anchorage, Alaska rejected a “bathroom bill” initiative that would have restricted restroom use by “original birth certificate.
“From Alaska to New Hampshire, Republicans and Democrats are coming together,” said Zeke Stokes, Vice President of Programs with GLAAD, in a statement. “Gov. Sununu has said he is inclined to sign the measure and, and it’s critical that he do so in order to ensure everyone in New Hampshire has access to the same freedoms and protections under law.”