Lakes Region delegation mostly opposed to legislation
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — The New Hampshire House has voted, 195-129, to extend the state’s anti-discrimination law to transgender people, with the majority of Lakes Region representatives voting against the bill.
The lone local voice casting a vote with the majority was Phil Spagnuolo, D-Laconia, who had been sworn into office earlier in the day.
“I’m against discrimination in any form, that’s what it boils down to,” Spagnuolo said after the vote.
“I think that a lot of studies have been done in this area [supporting transgender rights], and they were trying to stall the vote by asking that it be studied further,” he said. “I don’t discriminate against any class of people, so any bill that discriminates, I’m against. I’m glad it went the right way.”
The bill would ban discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on gender identity, in the same way the law currently protects people from discrimination based on sex, religion, and sexual orientation.
Vincent Paul Migliore, R-Bridgewater, was among the majority from the Lakes Region voting against the bill.
“We’re getting far too micro in the need to protect minorities,” Migliore said. “When you look at the statistics on the number of individuals this affects, and see it’s a very, very, very small fraction, I don’t feel as though protecting yet another minuscule minority is wise, particularly when you have the underside of that equation — that, in the opinion of some, it damages those on the other side that are not discriminated against, but are feeling threatened.”
He said young women and their parents, of which he is one, worry about them “being subjected to in the case of a male transgender being able to participate in the private aspects of the bathrooms and the showers and the gymnasiums of those of the birthright gender.”
Migliore said he had received a substantial amount of communication by telephone, email, and in person from people all over the state who were worrying about their emotional "rights" being trampled upon.
Because of the number of bills being considered this session, Migliore said, “I did not have the benefit of sitting through the public hearings that might have swayed me the other way.”
Other Lakes Region representatives voting against the bill include Mark Abear, Glen Aldrich, Valerie Fraser, John Plumer, Norman Silber, Peter Spanos, Michael Sylvia, Frank Tilton, Herb Vadney, and Ray Howard.
David Huot and Charlie St. Clair did not vote on the bill.
Passage by the House sends the bill, HB 1319, to the New Hampshire Senate for a full vote in the coming weeks.
Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said, “Today’s bipartisan vote to pass HB 1319 demonstrates that New Hampshire is ready to truly become the Live Free or Die State. ... 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.”
Masen Davis, chief executive officer of Freedom For All Americans, commented, “This win took place because legislators met with their transgender constituents, listened to their stories, and understood the urgent need to ensure equal protections. In a federal landscape that has proven increasingly hostile to transgender Americans, New Hampshire has taken an important step forward to showcase their values of freedom and individual liberty for all.”
Devon Chaffee, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, said, “It is past time for New Hampshire to to join 20 other states nationwide, including all other states in New England, by explicitly including gender identity protections in our state’s non-discrimination protections.”
Gov. Chris Sununu has endorsed the bill, as well as the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, House Libertarian Caucus, Children’s Legislative Caucus, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission.