The Conservative Wing of the Republican Party Is Not Going Away Without (Another) Fight

While Globe reporter Andrew Ryan was in church on Sunday, someone left this leaflet opposing the transgender public accommodations bill that is pending in the state Legislature on his car.

Authorship of the leaflet was claimed by a group called “Renew MA Coalition.” You can learn more about the coalition on its Facebook page, which features a photograph of Presidential candidate Ted Cruz and conservative State Rep. Jim Lyons flanking Chanel Prunier, the former Republican national committeewoman from Massachusetts. Prunier was turned out of office last week in a very close election by Gov. Baker’s choice, State Rep. Keiko Orrall. Orrall’s victory capped the Governor’s largely successful effort to replace socially conservative members of the state Republican committee with moderates more in line with Baker’s views. Those views include support for gay marriage, but so far at least, do not include support for the transgender public accommodations bill.

As the Governor continues to face considerable pressure to endorse the bill (his failure to do so caused the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to uninvite him to an event later this month at which he was originally to be honored), the conservative wing of his party continues to hold firm to its abiding opposition to rights for transgender persons.

Indeed, the home of the Renew MA Coalition (100 Trade Center, Suite 625, Woburn) is the same address from which anti-transgender campaign literature has been coming for years. Here’s a flyer produced by one sister organization, the Coalition for Marriage and Family, that was used in the successful effort to defeat then-Representative Kevin Aguiar of Fall River in a primary election in 2012. The Woburn address is shared with other advocacy groups that are opposed to abortion rights, gay rights and transgender rights and that are affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Republican Party or both: Catholic Citizenship and the Massachusetts Family Institute also make their homes there. And the same people appear — or once did — on the staff lists of both religious and political groups: Chanel Prunier, for example, the former Republican national committeewoman, is also the former President of Catholic Citizenship. (More about these interlocking directorates here.)

If the bill reaches Governor Baker, his efforts to remake the state Republican party suggest that he’s more likely to sign it than to veto it. But the importance of this issue to socially conservative Republicans, who have lost the gay marriage fight and the fight to exclude transgender people from the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the past decade, helps to explain why it’s likely to be a headache for him either way.

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