BOSTON, June 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Massachusetts is poised to enact sweeping legislation that would open all public restrooms, showers, and intimate accommodations to members of the opposite biological sex. In the process, legislators rejected an amendment that would bar convicted sex offenders from accessing the facilities of the opposite sex.
The bill (H. 4343) passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, 116-36, with the support of eight Republicans and the opposition of 12 Democrats.
The proposal would reorient state laws away from a biological understanding of sexuality by replacing the word “sex” with “gender identity” in existing state laws. It also requires “any public accommodation…without limitation” to allow people to use the intimate facilities of their preferred gender at the time. It now goes to reconciliation with the Senate.
Sex offenders welcomed in the restroom of their choice
Leading up to its passage, lawmakers rejected 36 amendments. Amendment 9 would “allow individual public accommodation to ban level 2 or 3 sex offenders from using sex-segregated facilities that are not consistent with their assigned sex.”
The amendment failed 58-94. A roll call may be seen here.
“What is truly disturbing is the House’s absolute refusal to accept any amendments which might have provided safeguards for women and children in places like locker rooms or public showers,” said Andrew Beckwith, the president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. “The bill as passed allows registered sex offenders to claim a gender identity in order to access whatever bathroom they want.”
“The bill does not exempt churches or women’s shelters from having to yield to the demands of a man claiming to be a woman,” Beckwith said.
Brian Camenker of MassResistance told LifeSiteNews that “the amendment was technically superfluous.”
It did not confront “the real problem,” he said, “that the entire concept of 'gender identity' or 'transgenderism' is nothing but unscientific nonsense” and “that the 'civil rights' argument being used was a sham and mockery of the actual civil rights movement.”
Republican governor likely to sign the bill
The state's Republican Governor, Charlie Baker, told the Boston Globe on Tuesday that he would sign the bill if it passed in its current form. “No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity,” he said in a statement.
The position is a flip-flop for Gov. Baker, who opposed what he dismissively called the “bathroom bill” as a candidate for governor in 2010.
The change of heart won plaudits from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied the legislature to pass the bathroom bill. “Being on the wrong side of this issue can have serious implications on the business community,” said James E. Rooney, the group's president and CEO.
The legislation's opponents said businesses were not the only people affected. “This bill would take away the rights for more than 99 percent of the population,” said Republican State Rep. Marc Lombardo, “the rights of our children to feel safe in the bathroom, the rights of teenage girls to not have to shower in front of teenage boys.”
The will of the Founding Fathers?
The bill's proponents said its adoption would continue the arc of justice dating back to the civil rights movement and beyond. “We are doing the work the founders of our nation intended for us to do,” said Rep. Byron Rushing, one of the act's co-sponsors.
But Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover, said, “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.”
A total of 18 states and Washington, D.C., have added “gender identity” to their anti-discrimination laws, applying them to the restrooms and showers of public accommodations. The last state to enact such a law was Maryland in 2014.
Beckwith encouraged state residents to call the governor's two state offices and urge him to veto the bill. One of Gov. Baker's voicemail accounts was reportedly full on Thursday evening.
Gov. Charlie Baker's Boston Office: 617-725-4005
Gov. Baker's Springfield Office: 413-784-1200