Question 3, which seeks to deprive LGBTQ residents of their civil rights, is a referendum that should never have come before the voters of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, it attained its status on the ballot lawfully through petition, and The Eagle believes that voters should resoundingly reject it. Paradoxically and perhaps confusingly, this entails a "Yes" vote on the question.
In March 2016, the issue of LGBTQ access to restrooms in public accommodations appeared on the radar screen when the North Carolina Legislature passed a law that would require all persons to use the facility that corresponded to their gender as listed on their birth certificate. The fear was that potential sex offenders disguised as women would enter ladies' rooms to assault the occupants. Multiple studies have shown that this was a solution in search of a problem, for no difference could be discerned between the number of such crimes committed before or after the law was passed. Instead, gender-based prejudice in North Carolina was enshrined in statute, and the state suffered mightily thereafter from multiple boycotts by corporations and tourists until a compromise partial repeal was crafted.
A few months after the original bill's passage, the Massachusetts Legislature passed "An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination." It mandated that individuals be treated "consistent with the person's gender identity" in all places of public accommodation. Birth certificates and physical characteristics cannot be considered as relevant in its implementation. This is the law as it stands now, and those backing the question want to have it repealed.
Studies indicate that transgender people are more likely to be subject to bullying and discrimination than the general population. They are the victims here, not the fictional woman in a public restroom. Repeal of such a law is contrary to the state's historical tradition of defending the principle of equal rights for all. These sentiments are amply supported by endorsements by multiple city councils, businesses, clergy, congregations, every state professional sports team, police chiefs, labor unions, the attorney general, the governor, members of the Legislature from both sides of the aisle and the state congressional delegation. It would also set a bad precedent by taking away the rights given to a specific group by the governor and Legislature.
It is of critical importance to remember that a "Yes" vote maintains the anti-discrimination law in its current form. A "No" vote is one that favors repeal. The Eagle strong urges a "Yes' vote on Question 3 on Tuesday.