May 12, 2016 at 5:47 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Massachusetts Senate approves transgender rights bill

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The Massachusetts Senate on May 12, 2016, approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations. (Photo by Fcb981; courtesy Washington Blade)

The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations.

Senate Bill 735 — which would expand a 2011 law that prohibits anti-trans discrimination in employment and housing — passed by a 33-4 vote margin.

“Today’s historic passage of the transgender protections bill in the Massachusetts Senate sends a message the transgender community has longed for decades to hear — that we are truly welcome and valued in our commonwealth, and that our contributions are a part of the fabric that allows Massachusetts to thrive and prosper,” said Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, which campaigned in support of SB 735.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives is expected to pass the measure.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has not publicly said whether he will sign the bill, but he has indicated his opposition to discrimination based on gender identity.

‘‘If this legislation is passed, woman and children will have no protections against being ogled by, or exposed to, naked men,’’ said Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith, according to the Associated Press.

Eighteen states and D.C. ban anti-trans discrimination employment, housing and public accommodation.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in March signed House Bill 2, which bans trans people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures. The Justice Department on Monday filed a federal lawsuit against the state after it refused to stop enforcing the controversial law.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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