The Maryland Senate voted on Monday to send a gender identity nondiscrimination bill back to committee and given that the legislative session ended Monday this was a vote to effectively kill the legislation for this year.
From On Top Magazine:
The Judicial Proceedings Committee OK’d the measure,which would ban discrimination based on gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and credit, with a 7 to 4 vote on Saturday.
But on Monday, a 27 to 20 vote in the Senate returned the bill to committee, a move that ends its chances of passage this year because the legislative session ends on Monday.
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 just a few weeks ago, would have prohibited discrimination based on “a gender-related identity, or appearance of an individual regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth” and covered employment and credit, while offering limited protections in housing.
LGBT rights group Equality Maryland, who had backed the bill since its conception, said in a statement that they were disappointed that legislators had chosen to walk away from the bill and deny justice to the trans community, but said they would keep fighting.
Today, led by Sen. DeGrange, the Senate referred House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, back to the Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 27-20, effectively ending efforts to pass vital protections in housing, employment, and credit for transgender Marylanders.
Senators Kasemeyer (D-12), Klausmeier (D-8), McFadden (D-45), Middleton (D-28), Robey (D-13) and Zirkin (D-11) were expected to support ending discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and credit, but voted instead to recommit the anti-discrimination bill.
Equality Maryland’s Executive Director, Morgan Meneses-Sheets:
“Six Senators who committed to support HB 235 took a walk on justice and fairness today and turned their backs on the most vulnerable members of our community. We are appalled that lawmakers continue to play politics with much needed protections for the transgender community.
We must not forget all the positive strides we accomplish as a community this year overcoming significant hurdles, including getting this legislation out of the Senate Rules Committee. Supporters of this critical legislation made hundreds of phone calls and sent thousands of emails to their legislators. Countless members of the transgender community shared their very personal stories of discrimination. We are grateful to them for their courage and to every supporter who made their voice heard on this important bill.
Equality Maryland remains committed to fighting against discrimination and injustice targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community at every turn. Progress takes time. Today’s result was not fair or right, but we will keep up the fight to make the Free State truly free.”
However, not all in the trans community were sad to see the bill die. Since the legislation’s key sponsor stripped public housing protections from the bill, many in the trans community argued that the bill was poisoned and rather than being a measure of progress would in fact have them suffer under a lack of public housing protections without remedy given that legislators were highly unlikely to come back and tackle this issue later.
From The Advocate:
Not all LGBT Marylanders were saddened by the vote to recommit the bill to committee, however. Ashley Love, who joined with Trans Maryland and Trans United to lobby against the bill, issued a statement of celebration.
“Transsexual and transgender people in Maryland, and around America, are rejoicing that the unjust H.B. 235 bill has been sent back to the committee,” she said. “Now we will be able to educate the senate why lifesaving public accommodations protections are basic human rights. We thank the senators who publicly acknowledged our concerns. Now Equality Maryland knows they have to enroll our community, via Trans United and Trans Maryland, to get community buy-in. The transsexual and transgender communities own their voices, not the gay and lesbian establishment. Full equality is the only option.”
Whatever opinions are on the bill itself, many in the LGBT community are likely to be extremely disappointed with the Maryland Legislature as a whole given this motion to recommit seems a rehashing of the House’s decision last month to simply recommit a marriage equality bill. Legislators were perceived to have dodged that vote when choosing to send it back to committee, effectively ending chances of passing the bill this year and in the process ensuring that they did not have to go on record with their final vote.
To read more background on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, please click here.