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Legislature Approves Transgender Rights Bill

The state Legislature has passed and sent to Gov. Deval Patrick a bill that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people in Massachusetts.

The measure was approved by the Senate Wednesday morning on a voice vote. No senator spoke against it.

The House passed the bill Tuesday night, but only after Democratic leaders moved to limit debate to one hour, cutting off many of the 50 or so amendments that had been filed by opponents.

Some House Republicans had argued that the measure was unnecessary and could hurt small businesses that have transgender workers.

Proponents of the bill agreed to drop a public accommodations section of the bill that critics warned would lead to a breakdown in privacy in bathrooms and other single-gender facilities.

Gunnar Scott, of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, says the bill is a huge step forward for the transgender community.

"You know, at the end of the day, this is about human beings," Scott said. "And this is what this bill should be about — the dignity and safety of human beings. Some of us are transgender, and we deserve that dignity and safety."

The bill was given final approval by both houses later on Wednesday.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on November 16, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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