A Look at the Individuals, Community Organizations, Businesses and Lawmakers Who Made This Win Possible—And a Look Ahead March 13, 2018

Last week’s vote was truly historic. For the first time in nearly a decade, House lawmakers recognized the freedom and dignity of transgender Granite Staters, passing a bill to explicitly protect them from discrimination under New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination law.

Not since 2009 has any bill specifically addressing nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in housing, employment, and public accommodations such as restaurants, retail shops and hospitals passed the House or Representatives. Last year, the House voted 187-179 to table a bill identical to this year’s.

This year, though, a record 48 Republicans, 2 Libertarians and 145 Democrats stood together, showing that respect for everyone’s rights can and should transcend partisan politics.

And none of this would have been possible without businesses, community organizations, law enforcement, faith leaders and thousands of individual Granite Staters—especially transgender people and their families—working together.

The backbone of our coalition is the 12,000 individual Granite Staters who have signed our pledge signalling their support for legislation that updates our Law Against Discrimination to explicitly protect transgender people.

That includes the hundreds of people who testified during two days of Judiciary Committee hearings, as well as the more than 500 Granite Staters who sent a message to their lawmaker this year in support of HB 1319.

These individuals are people from all walks of life and every corner of our state, especially transgender Granite Staters and their families.

They are people of faith and faith leaders—our faith coalition currently numbers more than 140—like Rev. Elsa Worth of St. James Episcopal Church.

“I honor Emilia’s life by doing what I can to make sure New Hampshire is a place where our vulnerable transgender teens know that we have their backs,” Rev. Worth told lawmakers at the Judiciary Committee hearing, “and that they are celebrated and valued for exactly who they are.”  

They are also law enforcement officers like Dover Police Chief Anthony Colarusso, who represents the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera.

Representatives from statewide organizations concerned with protecting individuals’ rights and safety, like the New Hampshire Women’s Foundations, New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, also support HB 1319.

These groups know that every Granite Stater is safe when we’re all protected from discrimination.

The business community has come out big for HB 1319. Our coalition currently includes dozens of local businesses, as well as some of New Hampshire’s most prominent large businesses and business groups. The Business and Industry Association, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Eastern Bank and the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce have supported this legislation two years in a row.

The BIA’s SVP of Public Policy, Dave Juvet, and Eastern Bank’s EVP of Human Resources, Nancy Stager, both spoke in support of HB 1319 during the first Judiciary Committee hearing on January 31st.

HB 1319 is also endorsed by the bipartisan Children’s Caucus and the Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative, indicating that those who know best what children need agree on how important non-discrimination protections are for their development.

And so far, three of New Hampshire’s largest daily newspapers have given their editorial board endorsement to HB 1319. That includes the Keene Sentinel, the Concord Monitor and the Portsmouth Herald.

As we look toward a vote in the Senate, which could come as soon as late March, our strength remains unmatched. But we absolutely cannot take anything for granted.

In the coming weeks, we need to make sure our senators hear the same message our representatives heard loud and clear last week: If New Hampshire truly wants to be the Live Free or Die state, we must ensure that transgender Granite Staters can live free from the threat of discrimination.