The New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and TD Garden have announced their support of a bill that would protect transgender people in Massachusetts from discrimination in public places, joining the Boston Red Sox, which announced its support in November. The bill – House Bill 1577/Senate Bill 735 – would ensure explicit protections for transgender people under state law in places like hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, doctors’ offices, and movie theaters.
“Support for transgender equality from some of America’s most well-known and competitive sports teams is unprecedented and will reverberate across the country as people increasingly learn more about who transgender Americans are,” said Kasey Suffredini, chief program officer of Freedom for All Americans and co-chair of the Freedom Massachusetts campaign.
“The world of sports has a unique role in moving hearts and minds,” Suffredini added. “By endorsing legislation that makes transgender people safer and more welcome in their communities, these teams are sending a message of acceptance and respect. Massachusetts has historically served as a beacon for freedom and equality in America. With legislators back in session for the new year, we’re more determined than ever to keep the momentum up and to pass this crucial bill as soon as possible.”
Freedom for All Americans is a founding partner of the broad-based coalition Freedom Massachusetts and is providing ongoing support in the areas of communications, digital strategy, lobbying, and field work. Under Suffredini’s leadership and guidance, the campaign has also received endorsements from the leaders of both state legislative chambers, the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, 14 mayors and municipalities, and more than 200 businesses and statewide professional organizations, including Google, Eastern Bank, MIT, Hill Holiday, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
The Freedom Massachusetts Coalition also announced this week that Carly Burton, a longtime political organizer, has been appointed to the role of campaign manager for the coalition. Burton helped lead the successful campaign in 2010 to pass statewide transgender discrimination protections as well as successful efforts to pass statewide LGBT anti-bullying protections and the nation’s first statewide commissions to address issues facing homeless LGBT youth and LGBT elders. In the role of Campaign Manager, Burton will oversee and manage the lobbying, communications, field and coalition work.
“I believe that no one should be discriminated against because of who they are, no matter what,” said Burton. “That is not what the Commonwealth stands for, nor is it what this country stands for. As a mother, I want my child to live in a state where she can be free to be who she is, regardless of her gender identity. This is not possible right now in Massachusetts. I want to change that.”
Currently, there is no explicit prohibition on discrimination against transgender people in public places in the Commonwealth. This includes parks, medical offices, restaurants and retail establishments. Equal treatment in employment, housing, K-12 education and credit has been law since 2012. Fourteen Mayors and town leaders from across the Commonwealth – including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll – have called on the legislation to be passed.
State Representatives Byron Rushing and Denise Provost and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz are lead sponsors of the bill (House Bill 1577/Senate Bill 735).