The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill updating its civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation.
The state previously amended its nondiscrimination laws in 1998 to provide protections for people based on their sexual orientation.
The House of Representatives was long seen as a stumbling block, as Republican leaders had defeated similar pro-transgender bills in recent years. Now, the legislation moves onto the Republican Senate for consideration.
“We thank the lawmakers who voted today to move New Hampshire one step closer toward passing these crucially important protections into law,” Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “No person should be fired, evicted, or denied service just because of who they are, and it is far beyond time that the Granite State’s non-discrimination protections include transgender people.”
“Today’s bipartisan vote demonstrates that New Hampshire is ready to truly become the Live Free or Die State,” Freedom New Hampshire Campaign Manager Linds Jakows said. “Granite Staters from all walks of life have gotten the opportunity to meet their transgender neighbors and have come to understand that HB 1319 is about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to truly live free.”
Both HRC and Freedom New Hampshire have been working as part of a coalition with other local and national LGBTQ advocacy groups,including GLAD, Freedom for All Americans, the ACLU of New Hampshire, Transgender New Hampshire, and Rights and Democracy New Hampshire.
The coalition has been lobbying legislators on behalf of the bill, highlighting the need for protections for transgender New Hampshire residents. Once the bill passes both chambers, its members hope to apply political pressure to Gov. Chris Sununu to sign those protections into law.
Sununu has not taken a firm stance on the bill, but told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he was “inclined to move forward with it.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, noted that New Hampshire is the only state in New England that lacks transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and urged lawmakers to pass the bill.
“The momentum behind the fight for equal rights in New Hampshire is growing as lawmakers and citizens alike continue to assert the importance of this transgender-inclusive legislation,” Ellis said in a statement. “Faith leaders, local businesses, public safety officials and now the New Hampshire House of Representatives are collectively calling for fairness and freedom for all by working to ensure transgender people have the same vital protections against discrimination granted to all people of New Hampshire.”
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