Welcome to another week of the ACLU of NH Civil Rights Sentinel, our weekly legislative update and your calls-to-action to help us fight for our civil rights!
The week of April 16 is shaping-up to be a pivotal week on many of our key issues. On Monday, April 16, our transgender non-discrimination bill will have its Senate hearing. We need your help ensuring HB 1319 passes the Senate and on to the Governor’s desk. Additionally, we need your help to keep up the momentum in-support-of the bill to repeal the death penalty and our bill on comprehensive bail reform.
Transgender Non-Discrimination: To demonstrate the incredible momentum and civic action behind this bill, there is a rally scheduled ahead of Monday’s Senate hearing. We need you to turnout! The hearing itself will be significantly shorter in time than the House hearing, so the rally is an opportunity for everyone who has worked tirelessly on this bill to show their support to the Senate. If you are in Concord, please attend the Monday rally, and stay to sign-in support of the bill at the 1:30pm hearing. If you are not in Concord, please call your Senator and urge them to support HB1319.
Rally: Monday, 12:30pm, outside the State House
Hearing: State House, Room 100 @ 1:30pm
- NOTE: Personal stories have the most influence with elected officials. If you have a personal story that relates to this bill and are willing to share it, start with that.
- Since 1998, New Hampshire’s laws against discrimination have included protections on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations, but there are no explicit protections based on gender identity. This means a transgender person is at risk of being fired from a job, evicted from their home, or denied access to or equal treatment in public accommodation, based solely on their gender identity.
- Transgender Granite States face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence in all areas of life.
- Now more than ever, it is urgent that New Hampshire lawmakers take steps to affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters and ensure their fair and equal protection under the law.
- Businesses, large and small, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, as well as conference and major sporting event organizers have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality. They know that if New Hampshire is going to compete in the U.S. and global markets, it must invest in its reputation as an open and welcoming place to do business.
Banning Conversion Therapy: Many of you took action in-support-of HB 587 last week. The bill was successfully voted out of Committee by a slim vote of 3 to 2. No we need your help ensuring that the Senate passes this bill. Please call your Senator and urge them to vote YAY on the ought to pass motion on HB 587.
- This bill would ban harmful sexual orientation and gender identity change practices, which include attempts to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction and transgender identity like using shame to instill self-loathing; aversive conditioning, e.g. inducing nausea or administering electric shocks; and hypnotizing subjects to impose change.
- Conversion therapy is universally condemned by every major professional medical and mental health association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association.
- HB587 does not impede First Amendment rights or talk therapy. Rather, it limits medical professionals from intentionally trying to change someone’s sexuality. It does not impede therapists, faith leaders, or parents from talking with LGBT minors, answering questions, and being supportive.
- Governor Sununu supports banning this harmful practice.
Criminal Justice Reform: A person should never be jailed simply because they are poor, and yet that is often what happens under our current bail system. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted in-support-of our comprehensive bail reform bill (HB 556) by an encouraging vote of 17-2. We now need help ensuring that the House will pass this bill with similar enthusiasm. Please call your Representative and urge them to vote YAY on the ought to pass motion on HB 556.
- This bill clarifies the intentions and limited purpose of cash bail, which should be about ensuring appearance in court and about community safety - not about punishment.
- The bill ensures that people, who are neither a threat to the community nor a risk not to reappear in court, are not kept in jail merely because they cannot afford to pay the bail set, whether $100 or $100,000. Right now, people are jailed pre-trial simply because they cannot afford $100 or $200 bail.
- The bill encourages courts to consider the individual who is before them in setting bail, rather than setting bail based on a judge’s personal standard for that kind of charge.
- The bill requires that an individual’s financial means be taken into account when deciding his/her bail. Cash bail should not be a convenience for the wealthy, and an impossibility for the low-income.
- The bill makes our communities safer by ensuring that people who are a danger to themselves or to their communities, regardless of the charges against them, can be detained without bail. The current statute allows only those being charged with domestic violence to be detained without bail.
- Annulment: This bill would streamline the annulment process for any case that is dismissed or where there is a finding of not guilty, removing the cumbersome petitioning process that exists now.
- This bill does not change the law on annulment; rather, it serves only to make the process more efficient.
- This reform is a valuable tool in helping individuals successfully reenter the workforce and be more productive members of the community. Right now, criminal records can prevent people from getting jobs, being accepted to college, and accessing financial aid. Making it easier for people to receive an annulment is an important step in helping New Hampshire overcome the opioid epidemic and ensuring people can be productive members of their communities.
Repealing the Death Penalty: The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will vote on the bill to repeal the death penalty this week. A strong Committee vote is an important step toward a strong floor vote. Please help us encourage the members of the Committee to vote ought to pass on SB 593.
- Over 165 people have been exonerated from death row across the country. Our criminal justice system is not infallible. The only way to guarantee that we do not sentence to death and execute an innocent person is to repeal the death penalty.
- The death penalty does not act as a deterrent. At its core, murder is a crime of passion. One does not consider the consequence of the death penalty while in the midst of a violent crime. Most murders also occur under the influence of drugs or alcohol, further underscoring that the death penalty can have no deterrent effect.
- The National Research Council reviewed more than three decades of research and found no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime. In fact, states without the death penalty actually have lower murder rates than those with the death penalty. The murder rate in states with the death penalty is 4.7, while the murder rate drops to 3.1 in states without it.
- The death penalty is exorbitantly expensive, but more pressing is the human toll it takes on those charged with securing death row and carrying out executions. Many of those involved in executions have reported suffering PTSD-like symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and other forms of distress.
- The death penalty is too often not based on the crime committed, but on the quality of defense, geography, and on the race of the defendant and victim. The death penalty is applied inconsistently and in a discriminatory manner. Justice applied unjustly is injustice.
- The national trend is in support of death penalty repeal. New Hampshire is the only remaining state in New England that has not repealed this discriminatory and archaic practice.
- New Hampshire has not executed someone since 1939. It is time to say in law what our state has made clear in practice.
- This bill would only apply to individuals convicted after January 2019.
Thank you for taking the time to attend hearings and to call your elected officials. If we don’t hold them accountable to protecting our civil rights, then no one will – take action today!