Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker spoke briefly with reporters on Thursday morning, the first meeting with the press since being booed off the stage by activists at an LGBT event in Boston.
In the four-minute news conference, Baker said what he’s been saying throughout the debate on a bill that would extend protections to transgender people in public places: until the law gets to his desk, he isn’t taking sides.
“As a general rule we don’t take positions on legislation that’s pending before the Legislature for a lot of reasons,” Baker said, speaking in the State House over the roar of other protesters — those there to call for a $15 minimum wage.
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Baker said he spoke to the crowd at the Boston Spirit Magazine’s LGBT executive networking night at the Boston Marriott Copley Place about his support for marriage equality and a program to award more government contracts to LGBT-owned businesses. It was because of that program that he was invited to the event, he said.
At the event Wednesday night, he also discussed other priorities of his administration, among them the opioid crisis and the MBTA, for which he attracted criticism for being “tone-deaf.”
Activists have been calling for passage of the transgender rights bill — which would add protections for trans people in places like parks, restaurants and bathrooms — for months. Discussions about laws on transgender residents in other states has brought the debate over trans rights to the political fore.
After demonstrators holding signs shouted to his podium on Wednesdaythat they wanted him to come out in support of the Massachusetts bill, Baker ended his speech and walked away.
“In the end that wasn’t quite what folks wanted to hear and I respect that. It’s an emotional issue and people have strong feelings about it and I respect that,” Baker said.
He added: “I'm going to spend time in front of audiences that don't agree with me on stuff. But that's kind of my job."