Last week the New Hampshire House took up two very separate, but very important bills. The first was HB 94 to protect child victims of human trafficking. The second was HB 478 to update New Hampshire’s existing nondiscrimination laws—which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public—to also protect people who are transgender.
These are two very different bills. But you wouldn’t know it from the scare tactics of those opposed to the transgender nondiscrimination bill. To justify their own prejudice, these opponents claimed, among other things, that it would open the door to sexual predators using the law to prey on children even though there was no evidence to support this claim. The NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence wrote a powerful op-ed on this fact in the Union Leader, and also highlighted that transgender individuals are actually more likely to be the victims of assault and that’s why a clear non-discrimination law is needed.
But we further know this fear-mongering was all hype because some of the very same politicians who voted to keep discrimination in place also sided with johns over child human trafficking victims on another bill. HB 94 sought to enhance protections for underage trafficking victims and make it easier for law enforcement and prosecutors to hold anyone trying to pay for sex with children accountable. If a politician’s vote against HB 478, non-discrimination was truly over concerns about public safety – rather than their own deep-set prejudice – then HB 94 should have passed unanimously. But it didn’t.
Meet this week’s 78 awful State Representatives who used fear-mongering to squash an anti-discrimination bill but who turned around and sided with johns over child human trafficking victims:
|Aldrich, Glen||Republican||Belknap||2||Free State Project|
|Sylvia, Michael||Republican||Belknap||6||Free State Project|
|Comeau, Ed||Republican||Carroll||5||Free State Project|
|Hull, Robert||Republican||Grafton||9||Free State Project|
|Dickey, Glen||Republican||Hillsborough||5||Free State Project|
|Murphy, Keith||Republican||Hillsborough||7||Free State Project|
|Prout, Andrew||Republican||Hillsborough||37||Free State Project|
|Ammon, Keith||Republican||Hillsborough||40||Free State Project|
|Seaworth, Brian||Republican||Merrimack||20||Free State Project|
|Hoell, J.R.||Republican||Merrimack||23||Honorary Free State Project|
|Osborne, Jason||Republican||Rockingham||4||Free State Project|
Upset about it? Contact your State Representatives and write a letter to the editor. Do not let these votes go unnoticed. For reference: All but one Democrat supported transgender non-discrimination, and 16 Republicans also voted against the tabling motion. Not a single Democrat voted against helping child human trafficking victims.
About HB 94: NH advocates, law enforcement, and policymakers have come a long way over the past few years in creating strong human trafficking laws to keep victims safe and to hold traffickers and “johns” accountable. This is significant, as NH has been identified as high-risk for trafficking activity due to the I-95 corridor and law enforcement has seen a significant uptick in this activity as it co-occurs with the opioid crisis. It is more important than ever that we have the strongest human trafficking laws possible. HB 94 seeks to enhance protections for underage trafficking victims and make it easier for law enforcement and prosecutors to hold anyone trying to pay for sex with children accountable. Arguments against passing this bill included having sympathy for “johns” who are misled by prostitutes and pimps, and would wrongfully punish unwitting johns trying to pay for sex with minors. An unbelievable 86 NH State Representatives in total sided with johns over child human trafficking victims. See the entire HB 94 vote record list here. (Yea = in support of children; Nay = in support of johns)
About HB 478: This bill would have updated New Hampshire’s existing nondiscrimination laws—which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public—to also protect people who are transgender. This is important because right now there are no express protections in New Hampshire to prevent a transgender person from being fired from their job, denied an apartment or denied service in a restaurant, and otherwise discriminated against simply because of who they are. No one should have to live in fear that they will be unfairly fired, evicted from their home, or refused service at a public place simply because of who they are. The NH House Speaker pushed for the bill to be tabled without debate, which is what happened. It is unlikely for the bill to be removed from the table this session. See the entire HB 478 vote record list here. (Yea = tabled bill, against non-discrimination; Nay = against tabling, wanted to pass non-discrimination bill)