On Tuesday, the second to last day of this year’s legislative session, the House of Representatives approved a bill that grants special rights to transsexuals. (CLICK HERE for a roll call of how legislators voted.) Though we scored a victory with the removal of the “Bathroom Bill” aspects of the legislation, the way that the altered bill was rammed through highlights an ongoing disregard by Beacon Hill leaders of both the legislative process and the voice of the people.
Updated Final Vote (94-60): Download PDF
With time running out and a full schedule of bills to approve, House leaders used “an unusual maneuver…to limit debate on the bill to one hour,” reported the State House News Service. The vote to limit debate, as proposed by Rep. David Linsky, was 94-56. Forty minutes of that hour was taken up by two supporters of the bill, Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty and Rep. Carl Sciortino, leaving opponents little time to speak or move any of the more than 40 amendments filed to study various affects of the bill.
Even Rep. Dan Winslow, the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill, said that it was regrettable that “the majority has limited debate.” Democrat Christopher Fallon, a representative from Malden, lambasted his colleagues who voted to limit debate to an hour, saying it brings “shame on us all.”
“We marginalize our importance to our constituency. We marginalize the importance of a bill like this when we try to limit, when we try to suspend, when we try to restrict debate,” Rep. Fallon exclaimed from his seat in the back of the chamber.
In the “why are we not surprised” category, the leadership’s brazen action to limit debate not just limited to procedural tactic designed to fast track the bill. The House voted earlier 115-37 to bypass the Ways and Means Committee’s review of the bill, a critical step that would have had that committee analyze the legislation for any fiscal ramifications.
In the end, it was a victory for safety, privacy and modesty of women and children who expect to be secure in public bathrooms. But it leaves too many issues unanswered in terms of burdensome and costly regulations to businesses and the use of their facilities, and more importantly, the effects in our public K-12 schools and day care centers.
From all of us at MFI, thank you for your tremendous grassroots involvement over the past 6 years that led to the final bill not including the bathroom language. It was your calls and emails that tipped the scales in our favor in the Legislature, and your concerns that forced the media to cover this issue. This will be forever known in Massachusetts as the “Bathroom Bill.”
Our work continues as we seek remedies that protect individuals and small businesses from undue harm as a result of this radical measure. And the evidence continues to pile up that one-party rule results in undemocratic maneuvers that serve special interest groups and not the common good. The same lack of transparency and accountability led to same-sex “marriage,” the convictions of the last three House speakers, and now the passage of this radical transsexual bill.
For our families,