MA: Equal Access in Public Accommodations Bill To Get Its First Hearing

A bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations is scheduled to get a hearing in the Joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts General Court this Tuesday, July 9.

“An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and All Other Places Open to the Public” (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643) would add “gender identity” to the list of classes protected from discrimination in public accommodations.

State law already forbids discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of religious sect, creed, class, race, color, denomination, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, deafness, or any physical or mental disability.

The following text would also be added to the law:

Any public accommodation including without limitation any entity that offers the provision of goods, services, or access to the public that lawfully segregates or separates access to such public accommodation or other entity based on a person’s sex shall grant all persons admission to and the full enjoyment of such public accommodation or other entity consistent with the person’s gender identity.

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition has provided a helpful list of examples of public accommodations:

Examples of Public Accommodations

  • health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care facilities;
  • hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging;
  • restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink;
  • retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments;
  • theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment;
  • convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering;
  • museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection;
  • parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation;
  • public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities;
  • public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways;
  • service establishments, including laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, gas stations, barber shops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, employment agencies;
  • providers of professional services such as law offices, doctors, dentists,accountants,and insurance agents;
  • public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places, public information counters and displays.

In 2012 the Massachusetts state legislature passed a Transgender Equal Rights law which provides legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes, but not public accommodations.

At the bill signing ceremony for the Transgender Equal Rights law, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a lead sponsor of that law as well as the current public accommodations bill told Boston Globe that “While we are celebrating the implementation of this law, we realize that our work is not yet complete, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on passage of a public accommodations bill.”

And so here we are, back as promised.

Anyone wishing to submit written testimony in support of the bill before the Tuesday hearing can find out how to do so from MTPC.

Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.

Exit mobile version