Massachusetts votes to keep transgender rights law

Massachusetts has rejected a measure aimed at repealing the state’s transgender rights protections.

Voters in the state overwhelmingly voted in favour of transgender rights during the crunch vote in Tuesday’s US midterm election 2018.

Anti-LGBT campaigners had hoped to use a ballot measure, Question 3, to force the repeal of a 2016 law that protected people from “discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement.”

Massachusetts Midterm Election 2018 Results

At time of reporting, 67.73 percent of voters in the state backed the existing discrimination measure, while only 32.27 percent backed the plan to repeal it.

With 81 percent of votes counted, 1,455,559 people cast ballots in favour of the trans rights law, and 693,542 voted against it.

It marks the first time a US state has approved of transgender rights by a popular vote, and comes despite President Donald Trump launching attacks on transgender rights in the run-up to the vote.

LGBT+ campaigners have celebrated the move, which comes amid other victories across the US during the midterm election 2018.

Freedom Massachusetts said the vote marks “a powerful, unmistakable message from Massachusetts voters that we value our transgender friends and neighbours, and want everyone to feel safe and welcome here.”

The group added: “Because of the team we built, we can say tonight that Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to uphold protections for transgender people at the ballot box!”

The campaign to defend the transgender rights law raised more than $1 million from the local business community. 90 percent of donors were from in-state, Freedom Massachusetts adds.

Trans celebrities including Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox had campaigned in the state in the run-up to the vote.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said: “At a critical moment in the fight for equality, Massachusetts voters sent a powerful message that transgender people are loved and welcomed in the Bay State.

“From North Carolina and Virginia to Alaska and Massachusetts, we have demonstrated that when we stand together and fight back against attacks on our progress, we win.

“The LGBTQ community is indebted to the courage of so many transgender people – particularly young people – who opened hearts, changed minds and laid the foundation for this victory, and the Human Rights Campaign is proud to have been a part of the historic work of the Yes on 3 Campaign.”

A polling station during the US midterm election 2018

A polling station during the US midterm election 2018 (JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty)

Transgender campaigner Sarah McBride, who served on the Yes on 3 executive committee, added: “Transgender residents of Massachusetts can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their hard-fought protections will remain in place.

“This was a crucial test for our community and movement. The Yes on 3 Campaign demonstrated that when we tell the stories of transgender people and our families, voters will reject the scare tactics and side with dignity and equality.”

The vote stands in contrast to the result in the city of Houston, Texas, in 2015, when voters opted to repeal an LGBT+ anti-discrimination law after a targeted ad campaign that featured a fictional little girl being raped in a bathroom.