NH Senate Passes ‘Bathroom Bill,’ and Safe Haven Bill

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Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem


CONCORD – House Bill 396 which would permit classification of individuals based on biological sex including for certain bathrooms and correctional placement passed the Senate Wednesday.

It is seen as a carve-out of the 2018 law that extends public accommodation and rights for the LGBTQ+ community and a potential setback if signed by the governor.

A copy of the bill is here. https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billinfo.aspx?id=630&inflect=2

Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown, said it would clarify that there is nothing discriminatory about having a men’s room and a women’s room. Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, said it was clearly discriminatory. It passed Wednesday along partisan lines, 14-10.

Gannon urged the Senate to “follow the science.” He said there are differences and should be so in public accommodation. He called it a “middle of the road approach.”

The bill also extends to separation by biology at detention facilities.

Altschiller said the bill will be clawing back rights given to trans rights individuals in 2018 when the legislature extended protection rights for those individuals.

“Why are we doing this?” Altschiller asked.

Gender is a social construct, she said, and not always binary.

Gov. Chris Sununu has remained non-committal on this matter and a number of LGBTQ+ votes saying he would use the metrics of safety and fairness to determine whether he will sign the bills into law.

In a statement following the vote, Senate Democrats said, “it is deeply disappointing that, yet again, Senate Republicans have chosen to blatantly discriminate against our LGBTQ+ community members by passing HB 396. This bill will roll back the very protections the Legislature put in place in 2018 by allowing schools and businesses to discriminate against transgender individuals. This horrifying move to pull these protections, that had wide bipartisan support only a few short years ago, shows that Senate Republicans are committed to continuing their attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and to furthering national rhetoric that only serves to divide us.”

Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, and Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, released the following joint statement on the Senate passing HB 396:

 “Men and women have basic biological differences between them. We want to ensure the safety and opportunities available to biological females. This bill clarifies that it is not discriminatory to have different facilities, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, sporting events, and prisons, for males and females. This bill is not a mandate. It is simply a clarification under the State Commission on Human Rights that separate bathrooms or prisons are not discriminatory practices,” said Carson.

 “New Hampshire law does not allow discrimination against people because they are transgender. They have the same rights as every Granite Stater. However, there are no special rights for biological males to use intimate female spaces. Biological male athletes have taken opportunities from female athletes and have sexually assaulted female inmates after being transferred to a women’s prison. We cannot allow the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission to become a battleground in this culture war,” added Avard.


The Senate also passed 14-10 House Bill 1607 which allows the surrender of an infant by a parent.

It changes the age limit for surrendering an infant from 7 days old to 61 days old and provides an exclusionary rule that would prevent the infant from being used to prosecute parents. It says any rule of evidence or law to the contrary, evidence of a parent’s crime or wrongdoing obtained as a proximate result of the parent acting by this chapter will be inadmissible in a criminal or civil trial against the parent.

After the vote, Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, said: “Safe havens save the lives of babies, our most precious residents. This bill allows for the installation of instant safety devices that are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which allows for anonymous surrender. This effort will allow for a safe surrender of a child and add protections for parents surrendering a baby from investigation or prosecution due to evidence gathered as part of the surrendering of their baby. This is to put the safety and life of the child above all else.”

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