Attorney General Maura Healey said she expects no serious issues now that the new law aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations has taken effect.
“So far, so good. And it’s what I expect,” Healey said Monday, Oct. 3, on Boston Herald Radio about the law, which went into effect on Saturday.
Our editorial from April: Pass the ‘bathroom bill’ and remember common decency
The law allows transgender people to access sex-segregated locker rooms and bathrooms based on their gender identity rather than their anatomical sex. It bans discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations such as pools and restaurants.
“We went through this a few years ago when there were protections for transgender people put in place in the law when it came to things like looking for an apartment or looking for a job or going to school,” the attorney general said. “We saw after that that once implemented there were no incidents, there were no problems or difficulties with implementation. I expect the same thing to happen here.”
Healey’s office worked with the business community to craft what she called “really helpful guidance” for businesses as the law becomes active. Healey described the guidance Monday as, “It’s business as usual, just make sure you treat people fairly. It’s as simple as that.”
Confident that no problems will arise out of the young law, Healey said, “The sky isn’t going to fall, life will go on, business will be business as usual, and opponents and haters will continue to come at this.”
Activists seeking to derail the law by putting it up for repeal in 2018 have reported that local clerks have certified nearly 33,000 signatures, more than the 32,375 required to ensure ballot access in 2018.
The Keep MA Safe committee said hundreds of volunteers collected signatures to push back against “radical transgender policies.” The committee has until Oct. 6 to submit certified signatures to Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office.
Healey said she is sure the law will withstand the repeal effort.
“I’m confident that at the end of the day, Massachusetts voters and the people of Massachusetts will stand for civil rights and will stand up to efforts to roll back civil rights here in the state,” the attorney general said.
The transgender protections bill was one of the most talked about pieces of legislation at the State House this session. Gov. Charlie Baker, who ultimately signed the bill, for months would not say whether he would sign or veto the bill, leading legislative Democrats to cobble together enough support to override a potential veto.
The issue divided Beacon Hill Republicans, and the bill cleared the House on a vote of 117-36. The Senate approved it on a voice vote. Baker signed the bill on July 8.
On Oct. 1, the day the new law took effect, the advocacy group Freedom Massachusetts said the law made Massachusetts the 18th state to ensure protections for transgender people in public places.
“For me, as a transgender man living and working in Massachusetts every day, this law has a deeply personal impact on me and my loved ones,” Mason Dunn, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, said in a statement. “For the first time in the history of our Commonwealth, I can leave my house knowing that I will be treated equally under the law, without fear of discrimination. This is a shining moment in Massachusetts’ history and legacy as an inclusive, welcoming place for all.”
If it reaches the 2018 ballot, the transgender law repeal proposal could be joined by a constitutional amendment imposing a 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million. The offices held by Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are also on the ballot in 2018.