Today, Governor Chris Sununu joined Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to announce the signing of an executive order establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and the formation of a new Civil Rights Unit at the New Hampshire Department of Justice. New Hampshire NAACP State Coordinator Rogers Johnson, community leaders and State Government officials joined Governor Sununu and Attorney General MacDonald at today’s announcement.
“Today is an incredibly important day for New Hampshire,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “If we really want to be the Live Free or Die State, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families. I am proud to join Attorney General MacDonald to bring together leaders from across the State to engage in these efforts, and to establish the first Civil Rights Unit in the history of the New Hampshire Department of Justice. The actions we are taking today will keep New Hampshire on the forefront of efforts to combat discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion. As Governor, I am committed to ensuring that everyone is welcome and valued in the Granite State.”
The new Advisory Council will work collaboratively with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights and any other relevant State entities to review state laws, regulations and policies and recommend changes to further combat discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion. The Council will also recommend ways in which the State can support local and community efforts and partner with non-governmental organizations to advance diversity and inclusion. Governor Sununu announced that Rogers Johnson, the State Coordinator of the New Hampshire NAACP, has agreed to chair the Council.
“The course we are about to undertake is nothing short of historic, and I am humbled that I was asked to be a part of it,” said Rogers Johnson.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald offered his thoughts on today’s announcements and the new Civil Rights Unit.
“The creation of the Civil Rights Unit reinforces and advances the fundamental mission of the New Hampshire Department of Justice to enforce our laws, protect our residents and visitors, and provide training, resources and support to state and local officials,” said Attorney General MacDonald. “I thank Governor Sununu for his strong support of this initiative. I am delighted that Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Lahey has agreed to be the first leader of the Civil Rights Unit. She brings to this new position not only exceptional skills as a lawyer but also a deep commitment to equality and justice.”
Freedom New Hampshire applauds Governor Chris Sununu’s decision today to establish an Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s creation of the Civil Rights Unit within the NH Department of Justice.
Freedom New Hampshire is the nonpartisan coalition of businesses large and small, law enforcement, schools, anti-violence advocates, civic leaders, faith leaders, and transgender residents and their families working to introduce Granite Staters to their transgender neighbors and to make the case for equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination.
Below is a statement from Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager of Freedom New Hampshire:
“We applaud the Governor’s leadership and recognition that transgender Granite Staters deserve the opportunity to work hard and provide for their families like anyone else. The establishment of this Advisory Council is an important first step towards ensuring that the Granite State is welcoming to all.
“Right now, under New Hampshire state law, there are no measures that explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination in the workplace, access to housing, or public spaces like restaurants, shops, and government buildings. There are thousands of transgender people living and working in our communities, but despite growing public awareness of and support for them, they still face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence in all areas of life.
“New Hampshire lawmakers can do something about this. They can enact HB 1319, legislation to affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters and ensure their freedom and opportunity for all. Updating the law is one more tool to help ensure that every person in our state— including those who are transgender—has the opportunity to earn a living, meet their obligations, provide for themselves and their families, and build a better life.
“Treating transgender people with dignity and respect is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business. Business leaders want to work in states where their employees, customers and families can live and work without fear of discrimination. Businesses large and small, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, as well as conference and major sporting events organizers have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT freedom. 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.
“Transgender people are our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members. Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure that all people – no matter who they are – are welcomed, valued, and safe in the communities they call home. We look forward to working with the Governor, the Attorney General, and other members of the Advisory Council to make the Granite State a place of freedom and opportunity for all.”