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Effort to repeal transgender law advances

Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said his group delivered more than 38,000 certified voter signatures.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File
Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said his group delivered more than 38,000 certified voter signatures.

Just when you thought the issue was put to rest in Massachusetts, the social conservative folks who want to repeal the state’s new transgender rights statute will get their chance to take it directly to the voters.

Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said his group this week delivered more than 38,000 certified voter signatures to the secretary of state’s office to qualify its petition for the 2018 state ballot. Activists needed 32,375 signatures to put before the voters a proposed repeal of the law signed by Governor Charlie Baker in August.

Beckwith says the group relied on its volunteers and its network of churches to circulate the petitions. But he also acknowledged that the committee formed to campaign for the issue hired a signature-collecting firm to help out.

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He declined to say exactly how much the firm was paid, although it will eventually show up in the public fundraising records.

Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, was not surprised by the development. “We have been preparing for the possibility, and we believe the people of Massachusetts are fair and decent and would not want to take away the rights of their fellow citizens,’’ she said. “It is a fair-minded state; it is not North Carolina.”

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.