The Connecticut state House approved a bill late last week that would grant transgender citizens protections from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and the sale or rental of housing, as well as in application for credit and all other laws under the jurisdiction of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
The bill was approved by lawmakers in a 77-62 vote. It adds “gender identity or expression,” defined as a person’s self-determined gender regardless of their birth-assigned sex, to existing protections that cover such classifications as race and disability.
As such, it would make it a Class A misdemeanor to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their gender identity and expression and could be punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of $2,000, or both.
Testimony on the bill was varied and emotional. While at times there was the usual rhetoric and baseless accusations about such legislation opening up bathrooms to sexual predators (that is never accompanied by actual cases of this happening where such protections have already been granted), other lawmakers decided to take a stand against such rhetoric.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Brandford, worried about what might happen if his 6-year-old daughter needed to use a restaurant rest into which he could not accompany her. “Seeing male genitalia in a bathroom. … That’s what my daughter will be exposed to,” he said.
Candelora said he knew “the odds of my daughter walking in” on a male in the rest room are unlikely, “but if it happens once, I need to then have [a] conversation with her” that she is too young to have.
“I agree with [the] underlying premise in this bill” — that people shouldn’t face discrimination — Candelora said, but he added that he couldn’t support it because it would mean restrooms and locker rooms would now be opened up to such potential problems.
Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield, said she is a Christian who leads “a very active, faith-based life,” and “it’s because my faith is so important to me” that she supports the bill, “to assure that people, even if they’re different from us” are “treated equally under the law.”
She blasted unnamed religious activists “who have slandered the intent of the proposal before us” and “stirred up fear.” Such individuals have “not stood up for the same God or the same faith that I hold so dear,” Fawcett said.
The bill must now be approved by the state’s Senate.
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