Sheffield — The Sheffield Democratic Committee, like some other Democratic committees in the Berkshires and elsewhere, has sprung to life since the election of Donald Trump and now boasts about 50 members. The Committee recently decided to take a stand on state legislation that protects the civil rights of Massachusetts residents as part of its “Fortress Massachusetts” initiative. The first two bills that the Committee is supporting are the Safe Communities Act, which would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, and an anti-gay conversion therapy measure.
Safe Communities Act
The Safe Communities Act, which has 81 cosponsors in the House, including State Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli, and 53 Senate co-sponsors, including Sen. Adam Hinds, would prohibit the use of public funds and resources for immigration enforcement purposes. The bill also stipulates that no state law enforcement agency can inquire about a person’s immigration status unless that person is the subject of a criminal investigation. In addition, no state law enforcement officer can arrest or detain a person or keep that person in custody solely on the basis of an immigration detainer request. And State Police also won’t provide federal agents with access to booking lists or other information related to a person’s imprisonment unless that person is serving a sentence for a violent felony.
The Safe Communities Act is scheduled for a hearing on Beacon Hill Friday, June 9 at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security committees.
Similar “sanctuary state” measures have passed the Democratic-controlled New York Assembly and the California Senate. In Massachusetts, Great Barrington recently adopted a petition with language like that of the Safe Communities Act at its recent town meeting. Boston, Amherst, Cambridge, Northampton, and Somerville are other sanctuary cities in Massachusetts.
Ban gay conversion therapy
The Committee also backs state legislation that would prohibit gay conversion therapy. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.
The “Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy” has been introduced in both the state House and the state Senate, and a hearing on this bill will be held on Tuesday, June 6. The measure is designed to “ban deceptive conversion practices that can lead to depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, and suicidality,” according to a flyer from bill proponents. Specifically, the bill would:
- Prohibit any licensed mental health professional from forcing minors to change sexual orientation or gender identity
- Require state mandatory reporters to report cases of suspected instances of the use of conversion therapy with a minor
- Define advertisements promoting conversion therapy as deceptive practices violating consumer protections.
Similar laws have been passed in California, Connecticut, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
The Sheffield Democratic Committee seeks to elect Democratic candidates, especially in Republican districts. Moreover, the Committee has joined with a network of like-minded groups in South County to oppose Trump’s agenda. The committee welcomes new members who are Democrats registered in Sheffield.
For more information, please contact Ben Hillman at firstname.lastname@example.org.