By Seth Goldberg, Government Affairs Associate
With the House set to debate the Transgender Public Accommodations bill today, I can’t help but recall my time with Sam and Dave….
I’m a registered lobbyist, so I find myself in the State House quite frequently. But on this recent day, I was there with Freedom Massachusetts and individual and organizational activists to push the House to pass this bill after it recently passed the Senate in a very emotionally charged debate. As part of the lobby day, I was with a small group of advocates comprised of the mother of a transgender son, a corrections officer who came out as a trans woman last year, and a father, Dave, with his trans son, Sam.
Sam is a happy, shy, and sweet 8th grader who took the day off from school to tell his story. There, among the historic portraits and marble staircases I frequented, it was Sam and Dave’s story that transformed me from lobbyist to advocate.
Sam first met with his State Senator, Richard Ross. While Senator Ross was familiar with Sam’s story, it was the first time they had met in person. Ready to leap into action, Sam became even more enthused when he heard Senator Ross explain why he cast his historic and deciding vote for Marriage Equality 10 years ago, and why he supported the Transgender Public Accommodations bill. He told Sam about how both his daughter and son came out to him as gay after his vote on Marriage Equality. He went on, saying that he was proud to cast both votes and was happy to do his part in helping Sam and the Trans community have the freedom to be who they are as individuals. After expressing his deep gratitude to Senator Ross, Sam set off on his next mission: find an opponent to the bill and enlighten them. This kid clearly has a future in lobbying!
And, then there was Dave – Sam’s dad, who spoke in each meeting about how accepting Sam’s friends had been, how the school system has made accommodations, and about how despite this, he is still very concerned for his son. He worries about what will happen when Sam goes to college, or even when he goes to the local pizza parlor, or enters any number of other public spaces where he doesn’t have the legal protections he does while in the K-12 system. He told legislators that this bill is so important because, like any other parent, he worries about his child. Dave told them that people often marvel at his support of his son, to which he replies, “Of course I support him, he’s my child.”
As we wrapped up our meetings, those words continued to echo in my ears and fuel my message of support. My ordinary day at the State House became so extraordinary and I wanted Sam and Dave to know that they had a deep impact through their advocacy. After getting them a VIP, all-access tour of the House Chamber, a picture on the rostrum, and a private tour from a member of the House, I shared with them that they were now the inspiration for my work. I felt like Sam and Dave’s personal advocate, working to make Sam’s life better and safer, and creating a better place to live for the other kids that I haven’t met yet.
So, it is with Sam and Dave in mind, that I thank Governor Baker for stating that he will sign the bill if passed with the language being debated in the House today, and I call upon the House to speedily do so today…for Sam and Dave’s sake.