On December 13, 1993, In Newsweekly covered legislation I had been working on to protect LGBTQ students in Massachusetts public schools.
More from Ed Boyce:
Over 100 student activists cheered at a rally inside the Statehouse last Tuesday when they gathered to protest a legislative holdup of the Gay Student Rights Bill and were told by Senator Havern that their efforts had paid off and the bill would be engrossed by the State Senate the following day.
The rally mainly organized by gay and lesbian high school activists, was organized to draw attention to the fact that the bill, H.3353, had been held up in the Senate Committee on the Third Reading for over a month, jeopardizing its chances of passage due to the impending end of the legislative year. But the very day of the rally, the Boston Globe published an editorial urging the bill’s passage and legislators who addressed the student credited them with providing the impetus for getting the bill through the complicated legislative process.
“The is your victory,” said Sen Havern, addressing the young audience. “Your efforts, your coming to the Statehouse, has served as a reminder to us of our responsible.”
The following day, the bill was released by the Committee on Third Reading and passed the full Senate by a vote of 31-3.
Proponents of the bill are now highly optimistic that the bill will attain final passage shortly. The bill faces final House and Senate enactment votes this week, but these are considered perfunctory.
Representative Byron Rushing [D-Fenway/South End], the bill’s main house sponsor, told In that he expects that the bill will be enacted by the House this Monday on a simple voice vote and predicted it will face no further hurdles in the Senate either.
“I’m fairly confident that this will be on Governor Weld’s desk by this Thursday,” said Rushing. “There’s a one percent chance that someone will try to get publicity by opposing this, but they can only stall it a short while, not hold it up very long.”
David LaFontaine, Lobbying Director of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, a main backer of the Gay Student Rights Bill, expressed optimism as well, but said that his group, along with the student activists, did not intend to let their guard down until the bill has passed every last vote and is on the Governor’s desk. Governor Weld has already pledged to sign the legislation.
“We have so much momentum at this point that we should be able to push it through Senate enactment pretty quickly,” said La Fontaine. “We’ve had to fight every step of the way, and we are going to keep a watch out for any surprises.”
LaFontaine noted that the visibility of gay youth in the lobbying efforts for the bill has gained considerable interest among mainstream reporters who cover Statehouse politics, and would note in print any unusual maneuvers by legislators to stall the bill.
“Whats made the difference with the legislation is the hundreds of gay and straight students who have come to the Statehouse to rally and lobby for the bill,” said LaFontaine. “At this point, we’ve got considerable momentum and it would be virtually impossible for anyone to quietly kill the bill.”
So confident are the bill’s proponents of impending victory, that they are already lobbying Governor Weld’s office stage a big production of the bill’s signing. LaFontaine told In that he would like the signing to occur at a high school.