QUESTION OF THE WEEK: State Representative Candidates Weigh In on Ballot Question #3

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In an effort to help voters decide which candidate to select in the Nov. 6 election, WestfordCAT News is asking a question each week of those candidates who will represent Westford. The responses below come from state Rep. James Arciero, a Westford Democrat and the incumbent, and Republican candidate  Kathy Lynch. The two are vying for the Second Middlesex District seat, consisting of 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Ballot question #3 seeks to add gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in public places such as bathrooms. Will you vote yes or no on this proposed law? A yes vote would keep the current law as is, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public places. A no vote would repeal the existing law.

State Rep. James Arciero. COURTESY PHOTO

State Rep. James Arciero. COURTESY PHOTO

JAMES ARCIERO — Westford Democrat

I will vote yes on Question 3.  I am proud to have voted twice to give protection to our fellow citizens who are transgender, believing these individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In 2013, I supported and voted for legislation which provided for workplace protections for transgender employees and defined crimes against these individuals as hate crimes.  In 2016, I voted for legislation to protect transgender individuals in public accommodations. 

As voters consider the repeal of this important civil right and human right law which protects transgender individuals, it is important to know the facts regarding this issue. In the two years since this law has been on the books, there is not one documented case of a transgender person committing a crime in a public bathroom. I believe that the vast opposition to this law is based on misinformation and fear that is unfounded given this fact. In the last two years this law has been in effect, there have been no public safety incidents, including in public restrooms. There already are laws in effect to prevent assaults and hold offenders accountable, ensuring that transgender individuals are treated with dignity and respect in no way threatens our public safety.

Kathy Lynch. COURTESY PHOTO

Kathy Lynch. COURTESY PHOTO

KATHY LYNCH — Westford Republican

This is certainly a touchy topic and one that requires thoughtful consideration. Most people agree that men should go in men’s bathrooms while women should go in women’s bathrooms. The challenge comes when there is someone identifying as or transitioning to the opposite gender. While most people have no intention of doing anyone harm, this law opens a Pandora’s Box.

Because this law bases the definition of gender identity on what is in the person’s mind, there is no way to tell if a person is truly sincere or wanting to take advantage of the law to gain access into private areas like bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, or even women’s shelters.

Additionally, any concerned person, whether it be a parent, friend, caring bystander, staff person, or law enforcement personnel could be fined up to $50K or a year in jail for just voicing their concern. This is wrong. No one should be silenced or penalized for raising a legitimate safety concern for anyone, especially their own child. This law goes too far, putting vulnerable persons at risk. For that reason, this law is inherently flawed and needs to be repealed. I will vote no on ballot question 3.

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