Boston City Council Approves Transgender Bill
Vote would broaden rights protections
[BOSTON, MA] - The Boston City Council yesterday approved a measure to protect transgendered persons from discrimination, passing it over the vehement objections of Councilor James Kelly of South Boston.
The ordinance, authored by Councilor Chuck Turner of Roxbury, would expand city antidiscrimination laws covering race, religion, sex, and sexual preference to include ''gender identity or expression.'' It now goes to Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
While nine of the council's 12 members supported the move, Kelly argued that transgendered persons don't face discrimination in Boston.
''I don't know why we should be voting to prohibit something where there is no evidence that it exists,'' Kelly told the council during an indignant speech against the measure. He was the only councilor to vote against the resolution. Councilor at Large Mickey Roache abstained, and Councilor at Large Stephen J. Murphy wasn't present.
Other councilors argued that the ordinance served a higher purpose - to raise awareness of the struggles faced by transgendered individuals.
''If this ordinance protects just one of those people, then we've done something right,'' said Councilor Maureen Feeney of Dorchester, chair of the council's committee on government operations, which supported the measure.
Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Youth, praised the council's vote.
''I think this is groundbreaking and courageous on their part,'' she said. ''It sends the message to everyone in the city of Boston and beyond that discrimination against anyone based on who they are is wrong.''