Second, despite the incendiary claims by our opponents, this bill is a civil rights bill, nothing more and nothing less. As one of the primary sponsors of the bill, I want to make it explicitly clear what the bill does. Our state has existing civil rights laws. These laws prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and education. Where we have historically protected against discrimination based upon race, religion, sexual orientation, and other protected categories, we would now be adding gender identity and expression. Additionally, our existing hate crimes laws would also be similarly amended to add to already-covered protected classifications. We are not making new laws or protections; we are only including a class of people in existing protections who currently face high rates of violence and discrimination.
Finally, I want to thank Rep. Driscoll and Rep. Lewis for their leadership and last week for filing the bill as an amendment to the House budget. Making policy changes as a part of the budget is not uncommon, and a number of non-budgetary amendments filed by Democrats and Republicans alike were adopted. While we ultimately made the decision to table the amendment, I want supporters of the bill to know that Rep. Driscoll and Rep. Lewis have my appreciation. Their efforts helped us continue to build momentum and support for its passage.
I also want to thank Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray, and Committee Chairs Rep. O’Flaherty and Sen. Creem for their willingness to continue the dialogue on this important legislation. We have had two public hearings and three advocacy days where transgender citizens and their family members shared their experiences. For the past six months we have provided monthly updates to legislators about the all-too-common incidents of discrimination and violence facing transgender people in the Commonwealth. We have seen the press begin to recognize the illogical and misleading arguments by our opponents.
Our supporters in the legislature know the importance of this civil rights bill, and know that Massachusetts citizens are proud that our state continues to advance civil rights. And with a majority of the House and Senate co-sponsoring this bill, I am confident that we will be successful in securing its passage.