Senator Scott Brown on the Transgender Rights Bill: “We’ve already done it here in Massachusetts”

A fascinating report. Did Senator Brown really think that the transgender rights bill had already become law? It's not as though this hasn't been a fairly high-profile issue which, among other things, split last year's GOP candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor. Scott should pay a bit more attention. - promoted by david

U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) has been dodging questions about his stance on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA, S811). ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. But at a private company function in Massachusetts this week another of Senator Brown’s non-answers on ENDA revealed something valuable: his apparent support for including transgender people in the Massachusetts state anti-discrimination law.

During a question and answer session an employee who identified as a veteran, a Republican and transgender initiated the following exchange. This exchange was independently recounted to me by more than one person who heard it first-hand.

Employee: What is your position on an inclusive ENDA policy to provide support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees?

Scott Brown: Well we’ve already done it here in Massachusetts. I believe in states rights.

Employee: Actually, not for transgender. That’s still on the table.

Scott Brown: The states should take care of it, I believe in states rights.

Clearly Sen. Brown thought that Massachusetts already had a fully inclusive anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The employee was of course correct about Massachusetts state law not yet prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression. But Sen. Brown’s mistake is perhaps an honest one since the Transgender Rights Bill was under consideration by the Massachusetts legislature in 2010 when he was still in the state senate. He wouldn’t be the first person to assume that a Democratically-controlled legislature would have passed that bill by now.

Sen. Brown’s phrasing “we’ve already done it” indicates ownership of what he thought had already been accomplished. Now that he knows that what he thought had been accomplished on his watch in the Massachusetts legislature actually remains undone, Senator Brown should contact his former colleagues in the Massachusetts State House to see how he can facilitate the passage of the Transgender Rights Bill. He owes it to himself and to his constituents to see this through. Otherwise, his words “the states should take care of it” come off as nothing more than a convenient way for him to pass the buck.

Cross-posted at Pam’s House Blend.


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. States rights my arse

    Human rights, civil rights, fundamental rights — they trump states rights. In this case, ‘states rights’ are weasel words for “I’m a politician first and a bigot second.”

  2. For us who grew up in the south in the the sixties ...

    For some of us, this phrase has deep resonances:

    The states should take care of it, I believe in states rights.

    This was the rallying cry of people like George Wallace and Lester Maddox, shouting “States rights” while continuing to enforce Jim Crow laws in defiance of federal authority.

    Once again, a politician pandering to the Tea Party uses a code-word (like “undesirable element” and “electability”) to communicate his real message to his real audience. He, and they, know exactly what he is saying and to whom.

  3. It's sad, a little

    to think we have someone in office to represent all of us who has rocks for brains.

    RyansTake   @   Thu 29 Sep 2:52 AM
  4. A progressive majority across this fair land?

    …”we have someone in office to represent all of us…” If it hasn’t passed in MA, why would Scott Brown see this as a national issue?

    Is it possible that transgender rights isn’t a winner in Massachusetts?

    • Is it possible that that shouldn't matter?

      The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment doesn’t carve out an exception against unpopular minorities.

    • "If it hasn’t passed in MA, why would Scott Brown see this as a national issue?"

      More to the point, if it hasn’t passed in MA, why would Scott Brown think that it had?

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