Massachusetts voters in 2018 will be asked whether the state should keep or repeal the new state law aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations, as activists submitted enough signatures to secure a place on the ballot, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.
The ballot question committee Keep MA Safe filed 34,231 certified signatures with Secretary of State William Galvin's office, more than the 32,375 needed to ensure ballot access in 2018, according to Galvin's office.
The committee has said hundreds of volunteers, resisting "radical transgender policies," had collected more than 50,000 total signatures over the past two months in order to get the question on the ballot.
"We are extremely grateful to the thousands of people who courageously signed the petition, at times in the face of threats and intimidation. As voters began to learn about the full impact of this law, we saw them often move from alarm to action," Keep MA Safe wrote in a statement Tuesday. "We look forward to spending the next two years continuing to raise awareness about the dangers of this law and making sure voters are fully educated on what is at stake."
Supporters of the new law this summer hailed it as a long overdue protection of transgender individuals. The legislation (S. 2407) allows transgender people to access sex-segregated locker rooms and bathrooms based on their gender identity rather than their anatomical sex. It bans discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations such as pools and restaurants.
"Legislators updated our Commonwealth's civil rights law this year to legally protect transgender people from discrimination with the overwhelming support of thousands of businesses, faith leaders, women's advocacy and anti-violence groups, and fair-minded residents across the state," Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom Massachusetts, said in a statement, noting that signatures from less than 1 percent of the state's population is all that is required to get on the ballot. "The people of the Commonwealth have a deep and long history of promoting fairness and inclusion. When presented with the question of whether to continue to treat transgender people as equal members of the Commonwealth in 2018, they will vote yes."
Freedom Massachusetts announced it will hold a press conference with faith leaders on Thursday to "officially respond, discuss next steps, and reiterate the broad range of support for the law."
The repeal question could be joined on the 2018 ballot by a constitutional amendment imposing a 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million. The offices held by Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are also on the ballot in 2018.