Church on the Green Newsletter October 2018 - Page 4

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Eat, Pray, Vote: A Message from the

Open and Affirming Team

by Mary Friedman (reprinted from the July/August issue)

The “Massachusetts Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum (2018)” will be on the ballot this November 6. A “Yes” vote supports upholding Senate Bill 2407, passed in 2016, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places – such as hotels, restaurants, restrooms and stores. A “No” vote opposes SB 2407 and would repeal the law.

A group that opposes this law, which calls itself Keep MA Safe, held a signature petition drive to get this question on the ballot. The group supports a “No” vote on the ballot question — to repeal the law. They argue that SB 2407 should be repealed because it could negatively impact the safety of women and children in public areas. The other supporter of a “No” vote is the Massachusetts Family Institute whose website describes the group as “a voice for family values.”

The campaign urging a “Yes” vote on this ballot question is spearheaded by Freedom for All — a coalition of parents, faith leaders, law enforcement, sexual assault, domestic violence and women’s organizations, public officials, advocacy groups, sports teams, labor unions, etc. Freedom Massachusetts argued that Senate Bill 2407 provided protections for transgender people that they were not offered before and that such protections are necessary due to the percentage of transgender people in Massachusetts who had previously reported experiencing harassment in places of public accommodation. Their campaign is supported by a long, long list of LGBTQ advocacy groups such as the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Massachusetts Teachers Association, AFL-CIO, Anti-Defamation League, ACLU Massachusetts and many others.

As a church, we never tell people how they should vote on any issue. The policy of the United Church of Christ makes it clear, however, that we may share information on political issues as we see they may relate to our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some of us in our congregation have heard testimony from our transgender friends about the daily challenges they face in public places. I have tried to present both sides of this ballot question. I encourage you to go to the polls in November.