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Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill Gets Second Hearing

Hundreds rallied in support of House Bill 1319 at a Jan. 31 hearing in Concord. (Freedom New Hampshire)
Hundreds rallied in support of House Bill 1319 at a Jan. 31 hearing in Concord. (Freedom New Hampshire)
February 13, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – Support for a bill to protect New Hampshire's transgender residents from discrimination has grown.

House Bill 1319 is getting its second hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today. The bill would protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

According to Linds Jakows, campaign manager at Freedom New Hampshire, the bill is identical to legislation introduced last year that failed by a slim margin before it could come up for a vote.

"This year, we have nine new Republican cosponsors, so that makes me really optimistic about the chances of our bill," Jakows says.

Opponents of the bill argue that it would put women in jeopardy by allowing men who claim to be transgender to enter sex-segregated spaces such as restrooms.

But Jakows points out that safety and privacy are major concerns for the transgender community, too. Harassment and assault still would be illegal, and experience has shown that nondiscrimination laws don't put anyone at risk.

"This bill has already passed in 18 states and 200 cities and towns all across the country and the sky hasn't fallen," Jakows notes. "Our opposition's fears haven't come true."

The Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to give a positive or negative recommendation on the bill to the full House. That could happen as early as Wednesday.

Jakows says at the bill's first hearing in January, hundreds of people testified in favor of its passage, including a wide array of community leaders.

"We had a really strong turnout from business leaders, [Dover Police] Chief [Anthony] Colarusso representing the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association, several faith leaders, lawyers speaking in support of the bill," Jakows adds.

If the bill passes, Gov. Chris Sununu has indicated he is open to signing it into law.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NH