This is the third of three posts that will examine and make recommendations relative to the three state-wide ballot questions that will be part of the 2018 midterms here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Secretary of State’s office has information relative to all three ballot questions on the Secretary’s website. The following is the summary of the question from the Secretary of State:
|Question #3: This law adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement. Such grounds also include race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry. A “place of public accommodation, resort or amusement” is defined in existing law as any place that is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public, such as hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports facilities, and hospitals. “Gender identity” is defined as a person’s sincerely held gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not it is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.
This law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in a person’s admission to or treatment in any place of public accommodation. The law requires any such place that has separate areas for males and females (such as restrooms) to allow access to and full use of those areas consistent with a person’s gender identity. The law also prohibits the owner or manager of a place of public accommodation from using advertising or signage that discriminates on the basis of gender identity.
This law directs the state Commission Against Discrimination to adopt rules or policies and make recommendations to carry out this law. The law also directs the state Attorney General to issue regulations or guidance on referring for legal action any person who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.
The provisions of this law governing access to places of public accommodation are effective as of October 1, 2016. The remaining provisions are effective as of July 8, 2016.
A YES VOTE would keep in place the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation.
A NO VOTE would repeal this provision of the public accommodation law.
Unlike the other two questions, which were initiative petitions, this question is a referendum. Where initiatives propose a new law, a referendum asks whether a law that already exists should be repealed. In 2016 in Massachusetts, the legislature amended our anti-discrimination to include transgendered people as a “protected class.” This referendum attempts to reverse that.
Now let me be the first to admit that I don’t completely get the transgendered thing. I don’t really understand how a man decides that he would really rather be a woman or how a woman decides that she would really rather be a man. I don’t really understand how surgery, regardless of how expertly performed, can really substitute for what grows naturally and organically on our bodies. I don’t think there are really that many people who fall into the transgendered category, and on the liberal side of the spectrum we seem to be focusing a disproportionate amount of energy on them.
However, whatever my personal discomfort with the transgendered might be – and let’s be honest here, this discomfort is mostly about my own limitations — the question here is whether I want them to be discriminated against. Do I want them to be denied housing, to be denied employment, to be denied admission into the college or university of their choice, or to be fired from jobs. And the answer to those questions is clearly no. No, no, and no again.
Opponents of the transgendered anti-discrimination law have tried to link this to issues of women’s safety and women’s rights. In the immortal words of Cher Horowitz, “as if!” The proponents of this question don’t care about women’s safety or women’s rights. They want to make the argument that men could gain access to women’s bathrooms by pretending to be transgendered. The problem with this argument is that there is no evidence whatsoever that this is happening anywhere. It’s a solution without a problem, so to speak.
The people making this argument are the same people that argue that they are against a woman’s right to choose because they are really concerned about the health of women. If you have even a little bit of common sense, you know that this is just a pretext. And the alleged concern of the supporters for question #3 the health and safety of women and girls is just as much of a pretext.
For this reason I recommend voting yes on Question #3.
 Question #3 is worded confusingly, so that if you don’t want the transgendered to be discriminated against, you have to vote “yes” in order to keep the law, whereas a “no” vote would have it repealed.