General Electric Co., Suffolk Construction, and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable are throwing their support behind a bill to bolster transgender rights, as Attorney General Maura Healey turns up the heat on the Legislature to act on it.
In an effort organized by Healey, businesses plan to send a letter on Wednesday to House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg urging them to vote in favor of a measure that will protect transgender individuals from discrimination in public places, such as bathrooms, restaurants, and malls.
The letter is signed by more than 40 companies and business organizations, including Biogen, Eastern Bank, EMC, Google, Harvard Pilgrim, Hill Holliday, Liberty Mutual, and Partners HealthCare.
“Promoting equality is not just the right thing to do — it is also good for business,” according to a copy of the letter provided to the Globe. “Discriminatory laws make it harder for companies and regions to recruit talented employees, attract customers, and build a thriving economy.”
Healey, the country’s first openly-gay attorney general, has been marshaling support for the bill, which remains stalled in a joint committee. Both DeLeo and Rosenberg personally back the bill, butGovernor Charlie Baker remains noncommittal.
Rosenberg, in a speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, is expected to say that he wants the Senate to take up the bill in May.
In 2011, Massachusetts passed a transgender equal rights law that would protect against gender identity discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, and public education. But left out was a measure to prevent transgender individuals from harassment or unequal treatment in public areas.
The current transgender legislation (Senate Bill 735 and House Bill 1577) would close that loophole. Seventeen other states already offer such protections. According to a 2013 study conducted by the Fenway Institute and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, 65 percent of transgender people in Massachusetts report having experienced discrimination in a public place.
Healey has worked with the business community to lobby for the passage of the bill, launching a social media campaign in March featuring prominent allies ranging from reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner to Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
More than 200 businesses are part of a broad coalition, known as Freedom Massachusetts, endorsing the legislation. General Electric, which will move it headquarters to Boston later this year, joined the group last week, one of several LGBT rights actions the industrial giant has taken.
“At GE, we have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” the company explained on itswebsite.
The Massachusetts Business Roundtable, which represents senior executives from big companies, came out in favor of the legislation this week, joining coalition members Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Alliance for Business Leadership.
“There is overwhelming support from my membership,” said J.D. Chesloff, executive director of the business roundtable, who noticed that many of the companies in the coalition are also part of the roundtable. “It was a little bit of a no brainer.”