In another victory for LGBT rights in a Republican-led state, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has signed into law bills banning discrimination based on gender identity and the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors.
“Discrimination – in any form – is unacceptable and runs contrary to New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die Spirit,” Sununu said in a statement issued after signing House Bill 1319 today, reports Manchester TV station WMUR. “If we really want to be the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families.”
The law applies to employment, housing, and public accommodations. It takes effect July 8. The state Senate had approved the bill in May and the House in April, and both chambers have Republican majorities, making the legislation’s passage even more surprising.
New Hampshire becomes the 19th U.S. state to ban anti-transgender discrimination, and it joins the rest of the New England states in doing so.
Sununu also signed into law House Bill 587, which prohibits state-licensed mental health professionals from subjecting minors to therapy aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. This practice, known as conversion therapy or “ex-gay” therapy, has been discredited as ineffective and harmful by a wide range of health organizations. Twelve other states, the District of Columbia, and many municipalities have similar laws.
The Republican governor of Maryland recently signed a conversion therapy ban, and the GOP governor of Vermont has approved legislation requiring that single-user public restrooms in the state be gender-neutral.
“LGBTQ equality is not a partisan issue, but a human issue,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All American, in a press release issued by the Human Rights Campaign. “The vast majority of Americans agree that LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination, and I’m encouraged to see a growing number of conservative leaders join us in supporting freedom for all - especially after meeting their transgender neighbors and learning about the devastating impact of discrimination against LGBTQ people from all walks of life. New Hampshire residents have much to be proud of as they join their New England neighbors in protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination.”
HRC and Freedom for All Americans worked with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire (Transgender New Hampshire, and Rights and Democracy New Hampshire in the Freedom New Hampshire campaign for the new antidiscrimination law.
"Today, New Hampshire lived up to its Live Free or Die motto. We are elated that elected leaders recognized the need for this law and worked together in a bipartisan effort to get it passed. We created a strong coalition of business leaders, law enforcement, elected officials, faith leaders, human rights advocates, and transgender people and their families, who were able to move the debate beyond fear to a place of understanding," said Dan Pontoh, community organizer for Freedom New Hampshire. "We want to especially acknowledge the courage of the transgender community who shared their stories and helped educate lawmakers and their neighbors that every person deserves to be treated fairly and equally under the law.”