A bill that would give trans people in Maryland much needed protections in the employment and credit sectors received a boost Tuesday when lawmakers voted to move it from a Senate rules committee where advocates thought the bill would surely die to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where it is now expected to pass.
From the Equality Maryland press release:
Today, members of the Senate Rules Committee, lead by Senators Kathy Klausmeier and Brian Frosh, voted to send House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where given the public commitments made by committee members, it is expected to pass. HB 235 would prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing and credit.
Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director of Equality Maryland
“With today’s vote, the Senate Rules committee stood up for fairness. Discrimination is unjust, regardless of who experiences it and should never be tolerated. With the Rules Committee vote, we’re one step closer in passing vital protections for Maryland’s transgender community. Currently, 1 in 5 transgender Marylanders are fired because of who they are. In these tough economic times, no one should live in fear that they’ll be discriminated against in the workplace.
We are hopeful that after thousands of emails and hundreds of calls that HB 235 will continue to advance, but we will not rest until the final minutes of this legislative session. Equality Maryland is joined by our coalition of partners and activists throughout the state in launching a full court press on this critical legislation. We need to keep up the hard work as we look towards a potential floor vote. This bill is about people’s lives and livelihood. We are committed to doing all that we can o ensure that transgender Marylanders are provided job and housing protections this year. It is long overdue.”
A full senate vote must occur before April 11 and the adjournment of the legislative session. As was the case in the lower chamber, the Maryland Senate has a Democratic majority.
House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, which went through a number of amendments before receiving a final 86-52 vote in the House, would prohibit discrimination based on “a gender-related identity, or appearance of an individual regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth” and fully covers employment and credit, while offering limited protections in housing.
The bill has garnered criticism from some members of the trans community who point out that the bill’s lack of encompassing protections in public housing would set a dangerous precedent that leaves trans people vulnerable without a remedy given how difficult it is to move trans-inclusive legislation.
If the legislation does manage to clear the Maryland Senate, Governor Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign the bill into law.