BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker found himself in the middle of a national firestorm over efforts in some states to restrict “public accommodation” rights of transgender people.

As the keynote speaker at a corporate networking event for the lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community Wednesday night, Baker angered many when he sidestepped the issue of whether he’d sign a “public accommodations” bill now stalled in the state legislature.

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Initially, Baker was warmly received as he spent much of his 20-minute speech boasting of the improvements at the MBTA and the opioid bill that were achieved, he said, through collaboration.

“We should not discriminate against anyone here in the Commonwealth of Mass.,” Baker told the audience. But he struck a nerve when he said he would listen to both sides on the issue as well.

At that point, protesters holding signs reading “Public Spaces Equal Our Spaces” moved toward the stage and began shouting “sign the bill!”

The governor wrapped up his remarks and quickly left the stage.

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Lorelei Erisis of Ayer just wanted to hear him say he’d sign a bill.

“I mean that’s not even a very brave thing to say, to say that he would sign a bill, if it came before his desk. And if he had done that, it would have given him the moderate Republican image that he’s trying to have,” Erisis told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Instead, she and other protesters claim Baker aligns himself with states that want to vilify the transgender community.

Baker’s office later issued a statement saying he supports a 2011 bill that expanded protections to transgender individuals and looks forward to reviewing additional legislation should it reach his desk.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

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