A bill that would expand existing workplace nondiscrimination rules to encompass perceived or actual gender identity was passed by the Hawaii Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 22-2.
The bill, which the House has already approved, must now go back to the House for lawmakers to vote on amendments that were attached to the bill.
Governor Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill into law should it reach his desk.
From the Human Rights Campaign:
“The march towards full equality in the Aloha State continues,” said Alan Spector, Equality Hawaii Co-Chair. “Providing employment protections to transgender citizens in Hawaii is a victory for civil rights and equal treatment under the law for all residents of our great state.”
“Following the passage of civil unions for Hawaii’s gay and lesbian residents, the enactment of employment protections for the state’s transgender people is another step forward in our fight towards equality in the Aloha State,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “No one should be denied employment possibilities because of who they are, regardless of their gender identity or expression.”
The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Hawaii have worked closely together to build public and legislative support for this legislation. Through this joint effort, thousands of phone calls, emails and handwritten letters have been sent to legislators urging them to approve this legislation. Both organizations submitted testimony and launched multiple statewide action alerts to mobilize members to contact their legislators.
Hawaii already has protections for transgender citizens in housing, public accommodations and employment, however the employment protections were established through Civil Rights Commission rulings and have not yet been written into state statute.
The bill, HB 546, passed the House at the beginning of March and would prohibit discrimination “on the basis of gender identity and expression as a public-policy matter and specifically with regard to employment.”
The issue of recognition for same-sex partners in Hawaii was finally addressed earlier this year when, after years of struggle, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill making civil unions legal in the state. Read more on that here.
Read more: civil rights, civil unions, defense of marriage act, gay rights, hawaii gender identity, hawaii legislators, hawaii trans, hawaii workplace discrimination, hawii trans issues, lgbt rights, marriage equality, respect for marriage act
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