House to take up transgender rights bill on Thursday

Associated Press
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A bill to add nondiscrimination protections for transgender people is expected to be the first item up for debate in Thursday’s House session.

Lawmakers planned to discuss the bill Wednesday but recessed before it was taken up.

House Republican leaders hope to table the bill, meaning it wouldn’t be fully debated or given an up or down vote. But if House Speaker Shawn Jasper doesn’t have enough votes to table, a lengthy debate will likely ensue.

The legislation bars discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on someone’s gender identity. The same protections already exist based on someone’s race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or various other factors. Supporters say adding those protections will ensure transgender people aren’t fired or unfairly discriminated against because of who they are.

Detractors, including Jasper, raise concerns that it would allow men to improperly use women’s bathrooms. That mirrors a national argument over similar bills in states including Texas and North Carolina.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said he has no position or opinion on the bill.

“I’m kind of monitoring what goes on in the Legislature, but beyond that I don’t have a direct opinion on that,” he said.

New Hampshire is the only New England state without similar protections for transgender people.