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The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday by a 14-10 vote margin approved a bill that would add gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.
State Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) described House Bill 1319 as “a common sense New Hampshire bill.” State Sen. Dan Innis (R-New Castle), who is openly gay, is among the other senators who also spoke in support of the measure before the vote.
“Anti-transgender discrimination is wrong,” said Innis.
Sexual orientation has been included in New Hampshire’s statewide nondiscrimination law since 1998.
The state Senate in 2009 rejected a bill that would have added gender identity to the statute. New Hampshire remains the only New England state without transgender-specific protections in its statewide nondiscrimination law.
“New Hampshire has recognized that transgender people should have the same rights as everyone else,” Gerri Cannon, a trans rights advocate who is a member of the Somersworth School Board, told the Washington Blade after Wednesday’s vote. “Our Transgender residents and visitors can now feel safe in New Hampshire. Our voices have finally been heard.”
Linds Jakows, campaign manager of Freedom New Hampshire, which advocated for HB 1319, in a statement said “New Hampshire lawmakers showed tremendous leadership in support of the transgender community and their loved ones.”
“This law will go a long way to affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters and allow them to truly live free,” added Jakows.
Janson Wu, executive director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, which is based in Boston, agreed.
“Today, the New Hampshire Senate voted to affirm the dignity and humanity of transgender Granite Staters, and to ensure they have an equal opportunity to live and work free from discrimination,” said Wu.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives in March approved HB 1319, which gay state Rep. Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) introduced.
More than 50 Republicans voted for HB 1319. A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday said he plans to sign the bill.
“In a national landscape where transgender people are too often attacked for who they are, New Hampshire is a shining example for other states across the country,” said Jakows. “We look forward to the day Governor Sununu seals New Hampshire’s motto of Live Free or Die with his signature.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.