New Year, New Challenges to LGBTQ Rights

MassEquality News

January 24, 2018


Don't Miss Beacons of Light: MassEquality's 2018 Icon Awards Gala!

Honoring the 2018 Political Icon Award winner

Attorney General Maura Healey

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 6:00-10:00 pm

Hotel Marlowe
25 Edwin H Land Boulevard, Cambridge, MA

Leaders of Boston area businesses and organizations at Beacons of Light 2017  Attendees at the 2017 Beacons of Light event  Members of Voices Rising performing at Beacons of Light 2017

Host a Table: $2,500 VIP/$1,750 Dinner

Sponsor the Event: $1,000+

Tickets: $250 VIP (Honoree Cocktail Reception + Dinner & Ceremony)
$175 Dinner & Ceremony only

Honoree Cocktail Reception 6-7 pm | Dinner & Icon Awards Ceremony 7-10 pm

Cocktail Attire Requested

Purchase Tickets | Become a Sponsor

We Hope to See You There!

Photo Credits: Maura Healey by Edahlpr, cc-by-sa 4.0; Icons 2017 photos ©2017 by Marilyn Humphries.

Massachusetts LGBTQ Legislative Update

2017 was a challenging year on every level. From assaults on LGBTQ rights by the Trump administration to the more than 100 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country, MassEquality has been working hard to fight for our rights and advocate for our community. Our efforts have been successful—the ACCESS Act, which ensures access to affordable birth control in response to federal efforts to restrict reproductive health care, was passed and signed into law by Governor Baker on November 20, 2017—but there's still more work to do...

Person holds sign that reads "Trans Rights Are Human Rights".In addition to passing new legislation, MassEquality also defends existing laws protecting LGBTQ people. Our top priority in 2018 is defeating a ballot measure that would repeal the 2016 Transgender Anti-Discrimination law (aka #TransLawMA). This vital legislation ensures fair and equal treatment for our transgender friends, family members and neighbors throughout Massachusetts.

As a key member of Freedom for All Massachusetts, serving on the Executive Committee and contributing our political expertise to the campaign, MassEquality is dedicated to defeating this attempt to deny transgender people equal protection from discrimination under the law.

MassEquality is also looking ahead to a busy 2018 legislative session and we need your help! Below is an update on the progress of the bills we're championing in the current legislative session. If you would like to get involved with our legislative work and help us defend #TransLawMA, please sign up on our web site.

Man in white t-shirt, jeans and red cap holds a sign that reads "Self-Hatred is Not Therapy."Conversion Therapy Ban Bill (SB 62/HB 4014)

This bill, also known as An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors, would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a minor. Rep. Kay Khan and Sen. Mark Montigny are the lead sponsors of this bill. If the bill passes this session, Massachusetts would join 10 U.S. states and Washington, DC in banning this practice.

MassEquality helped organize a hearing on the bill in June, 2017 before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, which then reported favorably on the bill and sent it to the Committee on Health Care Financing, which has also reported favorably. The Senate version of the bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Rules. The House version is now before the House Ways and Means Committee.

A nurse kneels next to an older woman sitting in a wheelchairLGBT Elder Cultural Competency Training bill (SB 346/HB 2892)

This bill would require the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to develop a training curriculum for culturally competent services to be delivered to our LGBTQ elders. We’ve all heard the sad stories of LGBTQ elders going back into the closet or facing terrible discrimination when they move into a nursing home or need a home health aide. Rep. Danielle Gregoire and Sen. Barbara L'Italien are the lead sponsors of the bill, which currently sits in the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. A hearing on this bill took place in October, 2017, and we thank the elders and care providers who provided testimony on the need for this bill.

Your Help is Needed! Please call the members of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, and ask them to report favorably on this bill and pass it out of committee by the February 7th deadline. Thank you for taking action in support of this important bill!


Other bills MassEquality is supporting this session include:

An Act Relative to HIV Screening and Prevention (SB 1186/HB 3249)
This bill would lift barriers to HIV and STI prevention, screening and treatment services.
Lead sponsors: Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Jack Lewis

Latest news: This bill had its first hearing in June, 2017, and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health.

An Act Relative to Healthy Youth (SB 2128/HB 3704)
This bill would ensure that students receive medically accurate, comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education information in school.
Lead sponsors: Reps. Jim O’Day and Paul Brodeur, and Sen. Sal DiDomenico
Latest news: The House version was reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Education and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. The Senate version received its first reading, and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

An Act Relative to the Health Care of Minors (HB 2468)
This bill would ensure homeless youth are more easily able to prove they are managing their own affairs as currently required to consent to medical and dental care.
Lead sponsor: Rep. Elizabeth Malia
Latest news: A hearing was held on this bill in May, 2017, and it was reported favorably by the Committee on Public Health. It has been referred to the Committee on Health Care Financing.

An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare [PATCH Act] (SB 591/HB 2960)
This bill would ensure the confidentiality of sensitive healthcare services on insurance statements, which is vital for LGBTQ youth, minors, people with HIV/AIDS and those on another person's health plan.
Lead sponsors: Rep. Kate Hogan and Sen. Karen Spilka
Latest news: This bill had a hearing in May, 2017. It was reported favorably by the Financial Services Committee, and is currently before the Committee on Health Care Financing.

For more information about MassEquality's 2018 Champions Agenda, please visit our web site.

[Photo Credits: Ted Eytan, Flickr, cc-by-sa-2.0; U.S. Navy Mass Comms Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Lavin, cc-by-2.0; Daniel Tobias, Wikimedia Commons, cc-by-sa-2.0]


Red "Donate Now" buttonThe Trump administration's policies and regulations that erode our civil rights and undermine anti-discrimination laws demonstrate the increasing need for state-level protections to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. That's why MassEquality's 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 our fight to defend our rights against the anti-LGBTQ backlash:
Give to MassEquality today!

Thank you for your generous support!


Vertical rainbow stripes with a white medical symbol and the words "Do No Harm" and "No #Rx for Discrimination" in black letters.Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination Division Introduced at Health and Human Services Department

Last Thursday, January 18th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the creation of a so-called “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.” This new division was formed in anticipation of a new HHS regulation that will allow health care providers to refuse care and discriminate against LGBTQ people, women and anyone else they object to serving. Similar to the "religious liberty" executive order that the president signed in 2017, this new regulation, and the division that will oversee its implementation, blatantly seeks to provide cover for bigotry, hatred and discrimination.

LGBTQ people, and transgender people in particular, are already impacted by lack of access to health care, and they often have no other options if their local health care providers turn them away. A recent analysis by the Center for American Progress found that, despite existing anti-discrimination protections, LGBTQ people "face disturbing rates of health care discrimination—from harassment and humiliation by providers to being turned away by hospitals, pharmacists, and doctors." And a 2015 nationwide survey of transgender people found that one-third of respondents who tried to access health care in the year before the survey were refused treatment or mistreated by providers.

The new HHS regulation has not yet been released, so we're unsure exactly what it will cover at this time. However, we expect that it will broaden exemptions to patient protections that would encourage health care providers to pick and choose who to treat and what services to provide based on religious or moral objections. When the regulation is published, we'll let you know what you can do to help stop the implementation of this policy and ensure that health care providers treat every patient fairly.


Help Us Help You: Volunteer With MassEquality!

Support MassEquality When You Shop at!

Give to MassEquality While Shopping with Giving Assistant!


Thank You for Supporting MassEquality!

Follow us on TwitterFriend us on FacebookDonate Now to support MassEquality