Gov. Charlie Baker won’t get an argument from local candidates of both parties when it comes to his stance of maintaining transgender rights.
Baker on Friday came out in favor on a “yes” vote on Question 3, which would uphold a 2016 law protecting rights such as access to the public bathrooms transgender people feel most comfortable with.
The 2016 bill allows a person who was born a male but who dresses and lives like a woman to use the women’s public restroom, for example.
People who want the law repealed and are urging a no vote on Question 3 contend that men could dress as women and assault women and children in restrooms.
“The Legislature had an opportunity to amend the law to protect all citizens from violent criminals and sexual predators by making an exemption for registered sex offenders but chose not to do so. Now, women, children and the vulnerable are at risk,” Massachusetts Family Institute said on its website.
But, Baker’s position pleased people such as Marcia Niccoli Sweeney of Attleboro, the mother of a transgender girl.
She said she understands that some people believe allowing transgender people to chose their own public bathroom could create a public safety problem, but she disagrees.
Repealing the protections would send a signal that transgender people are not welcome or supported, Sweeney said.
“They truly just want to use the facility where they feel most comfortable,” she said.
Jay Gonzalez, Baker’s Democratic challenger for governor, said on his website that he also supports a yes vote on Question 3.
“We cannot go backwards. I strongly oppose the efforts seeking to roll back these critical protections and strongly support upholding them,” he said.
Locally, Democratic and Republican candidates voiced their support for the governor’s stance.
“This is not a partisan issue, but rather a question of our values as human beings,” state Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, said.
“I agree with Governor Baker in his assertion that discrimination, in any form, is wrong and I look forward to partnering with the governor in a bipartisan manner to strengthen protections for all people throughout the Commonwealth.”
Feeney’s Republican opponent, Jacob Ventura of Attleboro, has a similar position.
“I share the same position as the governor on this issue,” Ventura said.
He said if there are flaws in the law they can be fixed in the Legislature, but rights should not be taken away from people.
State Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, said he supports a range of issues in support of gay and transgender rights, including the bathroom bill.
“I am completely in support of a yes vote on 3,” he said. “A yes vote will protect the rights of transgender people for employment and in public places like restaurants, stores and doctors offices. I am glad the governor also supports a yes vote although it is at odds with his support of local and national candidates who have voted against the interests of LGBTQ people.”
Republican challenger Julie Hall, an Air Force veteran, said she applauds the governor’s stand and supports keeping the protections in place.
“I will be voting yes on question 3,” she said. “As a military leader, I have served with many very talented and professional people from a variety of races, genders, religions, sexual preferences and orientations. Every person I have served with has done so with dignity, pride and their focus on the mission.”
Becca Rausch, a Needham Democrat running against state Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, said she is an “ardent” ally of the gay community and LGBTQ rights.
“I’ve been a life-long advocate for social justice,” she said, adding she will be voting yes on the question.
Ross could not be reached for comment.
The question will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.