Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has said that he will support a bill to extend nondiscrimination rules to protect trans citizens, even if the bill is not part of the legislative package he is proposing.
O’Malley, who is expected to publicly introduce marriage equality legislation on Tuesday, told reporters on Monday that he “wholeheartedly” supports anti-discrimination legislation which would be an important step in securing vital protections for the state’s trans community.
Dana Beyer, of Gender Rights Maryland, said the group did not expect O’Malley to introduce this year’s bill — but she’s hoping the governor will mention it during the Feb. 1 [...] address.
Beyer said the bill will put transgender people in the same protected class as minorities, people with disabilities and people who are gay. The proposed law would make it illegal for anyone deny housing, employment or a loan to a person because they are transgender. Also, transgender people could not be denied access at restaurants, lunch counters — or bathrooms.
O’Malley’s support for such legislation was well publicized following last year’s bias motivated and brutal attack on Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore McDonald’s restaurant.
Last year’s attempts at passing a Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act were shelved on the last day of the legislative session however, after Senate lawmakers voted to recommit the bill rather than vote on it.
The bill had been controversial among trans rights advocates because, while it did offer limited housing protections, full protection in public accommodations had been stripped from the bill. Trans rights groups pointed out that without those protections trans citizens would be left vulnerable and it would be unlikely that lawmakers would be able, or willing, to muster the political energy to remedy this omission at a later date.
Whether the new legislation will suffer this same issue remains to be seen.
To read more background on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, please click here.
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