Baker Wasn't Thinking Politics When He Signed Transgender Bill in Private

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Boston Globe’s State House bureau chief, Frank Phillips, wrote that Charlie Baker’s decision to sign the transgender public accommodations bill on Friday, July 8 -- behind closed doors and with no fanfare -- “was not the most adroit political move.”

Baker’s “socially liberal credentials took a hit with his decision not to have a celebratory signing ceremony for the legislation,” Phillips wrote. 
The closed-door signing was, in Phillips’s words, a “slight that has rippled through the very disappointed LGBT community.”  

Phillips thought Baker “appeared not entirely comfortable with the transgender issue.” 
Further, Phillips speculated that the governor timed the release of a proposal to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining Massachusetts drivers’ licenses for Thursday, July 7, in order to shore up his standing with “his party’s right flank” in advance of signing the transgender bill.

I respect Frank Phillips but disagree with him on this.
I think the governor was totally unconcerned with making an adroit political move on public accommodations for the transgendered because the issue will quickly fade from the consciousness of the public and will have zero impact on his re-election bid in 2018.

As for improving his standing with conservative Republicans, that goal belongs in Baker’s “Nice to Do” file, not the “Must Do.”  What are the right-wingers going to do if they’re unhappy with Baker, vote for Dan Wolf?
I think Baker’s still smarting from being booed off the stage at an LGBT networking event in Boston on the night of Wednesday, April 13, for refusing to say if he would, or would not, sign the transgender bill.

He’s also smarting still, I think, from being publicly disinvited on Thursday, April 7, to an April 26 dinner in Washington, D.C. of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for the same reason.
I’m not saying the booing and the disinviting loom large in Baker’s mind or that he’s nursing a grudge. 

I think Baker just wanted to let the most impatient public advocates for Senate Bill 2407, An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Non-Discrimination, know he didn’t appreciate the way they treated him during the long spell the bill was bottled up in the legislature.
If I can imagine a thought bubble above the governor’s head as he got ready to sign the bill on July 8, it would say something like, “They jammed me for months.  I get to jam them for a minute.”

The governor never complained publicly about any harsh treatment because he understood that the booing, the disinviting, etc.,were legitimate parts of the political process. 
It’s time anyone feeling slighted by the private signing of the bill came to the same understanding of the governor’s action here.  It was his legitimate prerogative to forego a public signing ceremony.

SB 2407 is now the law in Massachusetts.  That’s all that’s going to matter six months, six years, six decades from now.



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