Metro Weekly

New Hampshire governor signs bill granting LGBTQ protections and banning conversion therapy

Both bills were signed into law on the third anniversary of the founding of Freedom for All Americans

Chris Sununu – Photo: Rich Girard.

On Friday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed two bills into law aimed at ensuring equality for LGBTQ Granite State residents.

One bill prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The second prohibits licensed therapists and mental health counselors from subjecting minors to so-called “conversion therapy” in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

With Sununu’s signature, New Hampshire becomes the 21st state to extend legal protections against discrimination to its transgender residents, and the 13th state to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

Both bills passed the Republican-controlled State Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives with bipartisan support, something proponents were eager to point out.

“LGBTQ equality is not a partisan issue, but a human issue,” Masen Davis, the CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement. “The vast majority of Americans agree that LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination, and I’m encouraged to see a growing number of conservative leaders join us in supporting freedom for all — especially after meeting their transgender neighbors and learning about the devastating impact of discrimination against LGBTQ people from all walks of life. New Hampshire residents have much to be proud of as they join their New England neighbors in protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination.”

The victories in New Hampshire also comes three years to the day that Freedom for All Americans, which was one of the key groups pushing for the ban, was founded in order to implement comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in various states.

“Today, New Hampshire lived up to its ‘Live Free or Die’ motto,” Dan Pontoh, a community organizer with Freedom New Hampshire, said in a statement praising passage of the nondiscrimination law. “We are elated that elected leaders recognized the need for this law and worked together in a bipartisan effort to get it passed.

“We created a strong coalition of business leaders, law enforcement, elected officials, faith leaders, human rights advocates, and transgender people and their families, who were able to move the debate beyond fear to a place of understanding,” Pontoh added. “We want to especially acknowledge the courage of the transgender community who shared their stories and helped educate lawmakers and their neighbors that every person deserves to be treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Both bills also received support from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, and the Human Rights Campaign.

“Today New Hampshire became the sixth and final New England state to ensure transgender people have the security to live and work free from discrimination, just like everyone else,” Jason Wu, the executive director of GLAD, said in a statement. “This victory has been decades in the making, and GLAD has been proud to be a partner with communities across New England in that work every step of the way. Granite Staters — and all New Englanders — can be proud of their leadership today in the growing movement to secure equality across the nation.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com