By Scott Malone
(Reuters) – State lawmakers in New Hampshire narrowly blocked a bill on Thursday that would have banned discrimination against transgender people, including allowing them to use public restrooms that match the gender they identify with.
The rights of transgender people are a politically charged issue in the United States. Supporters say bills like the one blocked on Thursday protect people who do not match their birth gender, while opponents say they could cover peepers and sexual predators.
The 187-179 vote in the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives to introduce the bill without debate came a day after Gov. Chris Sununu, also a Republican, said he had no position on it. .
Many Democrats had supported the bill.
“With Sununu’s support, the bill, which was introduced by a small margin, would be on its way to the corner office,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “His silence and apathy are a tacit endorsement of discrimination, and he will have to live with the fact that he denied many transgender people the freedom that is granted through equality before the law.”
A Sununu spokesman whose father, John Sununu, was the governor of New Hampshire and later the White House chief of staff in the first Bush administration, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This was the latest in a series of defeats for transgender rights this week. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling in favor of a Virginia transgender student after President Donald Trump rescinded a policy implemented last year to protect those young people.
A Texas Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require people to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.
That measure is similar to the one passed last year in North Carolina, which sparked boycotts estimated to have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Due to economic concerns, analysts do not expect the Texas measure to pass the state House.
Despite their dominance in the New Hampshire government, Republicans in the state legislature do not unanimously support the party’s national agenda. Last month, state lawmakers blocked a bill that would have allowed employees in union-represented jobs not to pay dues.
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