MassEquality News - Legislative Action Edition

MassEquality News

July 9, 2018


Conversion Therapy Ban Bill Passes in the House, Heads to the Senate

Deborah Shields, Rep. Kay Khan, and members of the MA House gather following the House vote on the Conversion Therapy Ban BillThe Massachusetts House passed the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill by an overwhelming majority in a vote of 137-14 on Wednesday, June 27th. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

This is great news... but there's less than a month left in the current legislative session. We don't have time to lose—this is our best chance to protect Massachusetts youth from the harms of conversion therapy!

Please call your state Senator NOW and ask them to urge Senate leadership to take up the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill as soon as possible, and to vote yes on the bill as drafted in H. 4664, without amendments.

Contacting your state Senator is easy and only takes a few minutes, but can make a big difference in protecting our youth from the harms of conversion therapy.

Don't know who your state Senator is? Find their name and contact information at

Download our sample letter to your Senator (Word file) to use as the basis of an email to your state Senator and to guide you in making your call. We also have an updated Fact Sheet on the bill (PDF file) that you can download and refer to when contacting your Senator.

It's past time for Massachusetts to join 13 other states—including four in New England—in protecting our youth from this dangerous and discredited practice. With your help, we can pass the bill this session!

Photo (l-r): Deborah Shields, Rep. Sarah Peake, Rep. Kay Khan, Rep. Denise Provost, Rep. David Linsky, Rep. Jack Lewis, Rep. Liz Malia and Arline Isaacson gather following the House vote on the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill.

Photo credit: Sathya Mandjiny


Gender Marker Bill Passes in the Senate

Non-binary Pride Flag, with yellow, white, purple and black vertical stripesThe day after the House passed the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill, Senator Karen Spilka held a press conference with a young non-binary constituent, Ella, who had contacted her office telling Spilka that they needed the gender marker on their driver's license to reflect who they really are—neither female nor male. Ella had done some research into the issue, and learned that Oregon, Washington, California, Washington, D.C., and Maine had passed laws allowing a non-binary gender marker option on their identification documents. They asked Sen. Spilka if there was a way that Massachusetts could also allow non-binary gender on state IDs.

In response to Ella's concerns, Sen. Spilka introduced a bill, An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification (S.2562/H.4499), that would allow Massachusetts residents to have "X" as the gender marker on their state-issued identification. Many Senators attended the press conference in support of the bill, including Senate President Harriet Chandler. MassEquality's Executive Director, Deborah Shields, was a guest speaker at the press conference.

A few hours later, the Senate passed this bill in a 36-1 vote with little debate. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Please call your state Representative and ask them to support H.4499 when it comes up for a vote!

Don't know who your state Representative is? Find their name and contact information at

[Image credit: Non-binary Pride Flag by Mosir T, cc-by-sa-4.0]


The Healthy Youth Act Needs Your Support

Youth march down a city street holding the edge of a giant rainbow flagAn Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S.2128/H.3704) would ensure that students receive medically accurate, comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education information in school. LGBTQ youth are particularly impacted by poor sex education, and this bill would improve the quality of sex education for students across the Commonwealth.

Last year, the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming majority (31-6), but it's been slow to progress in the House. The bill is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee awaiting a vote.

The Healthy Youth Act is close to finally being passed into law, but time is running short—the current legislative session ends on July 31st, so we need your help to get the bill onto the House floor as soon as possible!

Please call your state Representative TODAY and ask them to urge Speaker DeLeo to bring the bill to a vote as soon as possible, and to support the bill when it comes up for a vote. If your Representative sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, it's even more important that they hear from you about this bill.

Don't know who your state Representative is? Find their name and contact information at


You're Invited! Join MassEquality and our coalition partners for a Lobby Day for Healthy Youth on Tuesday, July 17th to encourage our legislators to support the Healthy Youth bill and bring it to a vote before the end of the current legislative session! More details are available on the Lobby Day Facebook event page.

[Photo credit:Giuseppe Milo, cc-by-2.0]


Healthcare Bill Amendment Ensures LGBTQ People Will Be Included in State Health Data

White medical symbol against a rainbow flag backgroundOn June 19th, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a comprehensive healthcare bill, which included an amendment from Rep. Dylan Fernandes to expand the scope of medical studies to include gender identity and sexuality, and to ensure the healthcare system supports LGBTQ people. The amendment was introduced in response to the federal government stopping data collection on the LGBTQ community in key areas, including healthcare.

"We applaud Rep. Fernandes for his amendment in the healthcare reform bill. Data collection is a critical first step in addressing health disparities and targeting services appropriately," said Deborah Shields, JD, MPH, MassEquality's Executive Director.

"This amendment goes a long way to ensure that the health care concerns of our transgender community, and all LGBTQ indivduals, are recognized and addressed at the highest levels of government in Massachussetts," she continued.

MassEquality thanks Rep. Fernandes for introducing this amendment and championing the inclusion of transgender people and the LGBTQ community as a whole in health data reporting and addressing healthcare disparities.


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As the end of the legislative session approaches, MassEquality is working hard every day to ensure that bills to protect LGBTQ people across Massachusetts pass into law.

Your gift in support of our work to educate the public, advocate for LGBTQ rights and elect pro-LGBTQ candidates to public office is now more important than ever...

Please join us in the fight against the anti-LGBTQ backlash:
Give to MassEquality TODAY!

Thank you for your generous support!



MassEquality Celebrates Pride Month

MassEquality celebrated Pride Month this year in both Boston and Salem with our volunteers, supporters, staff and board members. This year, we were honored to march at the head of the Pride Parade with Boston Pride's Grand Marshals, Freedom for All Massachusetts, as a leading member of the coalition to defend our state's transgender anti-discrimination bill.

[l-r: MassEquality table at North Shore Pride in Salem, MA; MassEquality's proud marchers gathered before the Parade; Executive Director Deborah Shields and Intern Hannah Sherffius at the MassEquality table in Boston; Staff and supporters marching in the Pride Parade. Photos by Robyn Ochs and Valerie Fein-Zachary.]

After the Parade, we met hundreds of supporters at the Boston Pride Festival and shared the latest news about our priority bills and current issues. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the table and signed up to volunteer or subscribe to this Newsletter!

Two weeks later, we packed up our flyers and tent and traveled to historic Salem, MA for North Shore Pride. This is a fun, family event with a great atmosphere. The morning rain and cloudy skies didn't dampen our spirits, and we had a great day meeting old and new friends and supporters.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, board members and staff who helped at these events, and to our colleagues at Freedom for All Massachusetts. And welcome to our new subscribers and volunteers who signed up at Boston and North Shore Pride Festivals!



Poster of t#TransLawMA, signed by attendees of a public celebration.Happy 2nd Anniversary, #TransLawMA!

This past weekend, we marked two important anniversaries in the history of LGBTQ rights in Massachusetts.

On Thursday, July 7th, the House of Representatives voted 117-36 to approve a compromise bill that was released by the conference committee the day before. The bill passed in the Senate on a voice vote. Then, on  Friday, July 8th, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Transgender Anti-Discrimination bill, making Massachusetts the 18th state to fully protect transgender people from discrimination under the law.

MassEquality, as a founding member of the Freedom for All Massachusetts coalition, is proud to celebrate this key victory in the fight for transgender equality. And we will continue the fight to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts can live safe and free from discrimination based on who they are.

[Photo credit: Mark Williams]


Pride Month Ends With SCOTUS and Stonewall Anniversaries

Crowd gathered outside the Supreme Court waiting to hear the Obergefell decision, 6/26/15Pride Month, when we recognize the LGBTQ community's history of struggle and resilience, has now come to a close. In a month that raised new challenges and concerns for our community, there has also been much to celebrate and remember. Last week brought us four final, important Pride Month observances.

Three Historic SCOTUS Decisions That Shaped LGBTQ Rights

June 26th is an important day in the struggle for the legal recognition of LGBTQ equality. This year, we celebrate three landmark Supreme Court decisions:

  • The 3rd anniversary of the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made marriage equality the law of the land.
  • The 5th anniversary of Windsor v. United States, which struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. This case paved the way for the eventual full repeal of DOMA in the Obergefell decision.
  • The 15th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned sodomy laws throughout the U.S. Previous to this decision, these laws were used to criminalize consenting sexual behavior between same-sex partners.

MassEquality is proud to have been part of this history-making movement for equality and the legal right to have our partnerships recognized and celebrated.


Black and white photo of the Stonewall Inn, taken during the Stonewall RiotsThe Riots That Started the LGBTQ Rights Movement

The final major event we celebrate during Pride Month—and the defining one in our movement's history—is the Stonewall Riots. In the early morning of June 28th, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Unlike previous raids on gay bars in the city, the bar patrons and a gathering crowd outside the bar resisted the police and fought back, leading to several days of riots and launching a swiftly growing movement for LGBTQ liberation and equality. Today, cities around the world hold their own annual Pride parades and events to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and celebrate the LGBTQ community.

From Stonewall to Obergefell and beyond, the LGBTQ rights movement has a long and proud history. MassEquality celebrates our community and our victories in the movement for justice and equality for all!

[Photo credits: SCOTUS crowd by Ted Eytan (cc-by-sa-2.0); Stonewall Inn by Diana Davies, © 1969 by NY Public Library (cc-by-sa-3.0).]

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