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Hawaii News

Transgender rights bill awaits governor’s OK

A proposal to solidify civil rights protections for transgendered employees is headed for the governor’s desk after the state House agreed to a Senate draft of the bill earlier this week.

House Bill 546 would bar employers from discriminating on the basis of gender expression, bringing Hawaii’s labor law in line with similar protections in the areas of housing and public accommodations.

The House, in a 45-4 vote on Monday, agreed to accept the Senate’s amended draft of the bill, allowing the proposal to skip the conference committee proc­ess and move directly to Gov. Neil Aber­crom­bie for his signature.

The bill drew support from the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission as well as many LGBT advocacy groups because it would codify explicit protections against discrimination based on gender expression, rather than relying on judicial interpretation of civil rights statutes.

"Today is a great day for all residents of Hawaii," said Alan Spector, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. "Providing employment protections to transgender people in Hawaii is a victory for civil rights. The people of this state should be judged on the quality of work they do and not on who they are. That’s what this legislation guarantees."

A similar proposal was passed by the Legislature two years ago but was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle.

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