Governor Deval Patrick today reiterated his support for a transgender rights bill that has become a surprise issue in the governor's race, seeking to use his rivals' opposition to the legislation to raise money for his re-election campaign.
At issue is a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of "gender identity or expression."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker on Saturday issued a flier to delegates at his party’s convention saying he would veto the bill, even though it is cosponsored by his running mate, Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei.
On Monday, state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who is running for governor as an independent, issued a strongly worded statement saying that he, too, would veto the legislation.
Today, Patrick's campaign sent out a fund-raising letter asking for $50 donations "to show our opponents that we believe in a Commonwealth free from discrimination."
The letter, signed by Patrick's campaign manager, Sydney Asbury, takes particular aim at Baker, accusing him of a "campaign to smear the bill at their convention last weekend, despite the fact that his own running mate, Richard Tisei, had sponsored it."
"This is just another example of Charles Baker being willing to say anything to get elected, even if he (and his LG candidate) have taken opposite positions previously," the letter says. "On this issue - like on jobs, health care and the environment - our opponents want to move backwards to failed policies and divisive arguments of the past."
Patrick told reporters at the State House today that he supports the legislation because "it's a very simple straightforward bill that closes some gaps in our civil rights laws."
"I feel very strongly that discrimination should not appear in our Constitution or in our laws," Patrick said. "So I look forward to the bill passing and getting to my desk just as soon as possible."
Social conservatives have dubbed it the "bathroom bill," contending it would sanction unisex bathrooms and locker rooms. Baker, in his flier at the convention, also labeled it a "bathroom bill." Supporters say that term is a scare tactic and contend the legislation would not lead to the sexes mixing in bathrooms.
Baker's campaign yesterday said he stood by his opposition to the legislation.
Cahill, in his statement, said he opposes the bill because the sponsors "wrote it with a sledgehammer approach that could radically change the social landscape in the interest of protecting a small interest group."
"That is wrong," Cahill's statement said. "My opponent Charlie Baker claims he opposes the bill, but when he had to pick a running mate, he picked Richard Tisei, one of the lead cosponsors of the bill."
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