A controversial bill that would give trans people in Maryland greater protections in the work and credit sectors cleared a key Senate committee vote on Saturday.
Having listened to diverse testimony earlier in the week, legislators voted 7 to 4 Saturday to advance the bill to a full Senate vote which must occur before the end of Monday April 11 as it is the final day of the legislative session.
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.
Thursday’s debate showed that discourse on the bill has taken an ugly turn with conservative groups marching out familiar “think of the children” scare tactics to try to prevent the bill passing.
From On Top Magazine:
At a hearing on Thursday, opponents testified that such a law would hurt children.
“If you vote yes on this bill, it will be abundantly clear to every one of your constituents that you do not care about the children of Maryland and you do not care about the children – our youngest most vulnerable and defenseless citizens who also have rights,” one opponent told lawmakers.
Added another, “Children will then have to defend their birth femininity or masculinity and they will be discriminated against if they attempt to be the boy or the girl they were born to be.”
“You’re looking at transgender teachers and you’re looking at an agenda that is rolling out into the school systems that seeks to affirm transgenderism as normal and positive. Children will be encouraged to cross dress.”
The bill has garnered more legitimate opposition from some in the trans community who point out that the bill’s lack of encompassing protections in public housing could set a dangerous precedent that would leave trans people vulnerable without a remedy given how difficult it is to move trans-inclusive legislation.
What are the chances of the bill being brought up for a vote in the Senate before the close of the legislative session?
Speaking to Metro Weekly trans activist Dana Beyer said last week that she had a commitment from the Senate President that if the bill cleared the judicial committee, he would expedite a vote: “Senator Thomas Miller (D-Calvert and Prince George’s Counties) told us that if Equality Maryland could show him the votes on the Senate floor, if we get out of this committee, he will expedite our Senate vote,” Beyer is quoted as saying.
Any amendments to the bill at this late stage would surely kill it.
UPDATE: The Senate has voted today, Monday April 11, to send the bill back to committee, effectively killing the legislation. Senators recommitted the bill with a 27-20 vote. You can read more on that here. This will likely anger LGBT rights advocates because this is the same method the House used to kill a same-sex marriage bill last month.