Marlyand Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Bill Back on Track

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.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.


Beth M.
Beth M6 years ago

It's a start, but there's always more work.

Prinz Lilo
Lilo Prinz6 years ago

thanks for sharing!

Bruce V.

Cheers for Maryland where there is the opportunity to be truly merry and relax be who you are and not live in fear.

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn6 years ago

I wish they'd do more to criminalise homophobic violence and stigmatise homophobia. As for why capitalistic profit motive isn't picking up a prime opportunity to create mutually profittable connections with perfectly good citizens whose sexual activities are done in private with adult consenting partners, it's unimpressive. Socialism is such a clumsy and usually unproductive tool...

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Morgan M.
Morgan M.6 years ago

Michiko - It is sad to see you making incorrect and unsubstantiated claims when you know they are not the truth. You know that Equality Maryland did NOT make the decision to remove public accommodations. The lead sponsor, Delegate Pena-Melnyk stated publicly, in the media and on the House floor that it was her decision given the political climate in Maryland to remove PA to provide an opportunity to move job and housing protections. EQMD did agree to support the bill and proudly do so everyday in spite of incredible odds. It is amazing how much opposition there is to this ENDA bill (jobs housing) and yet people seem to naively believe that there was political will to move a comprehensive bill. We wish it were true. Del. Pena-Melnyk's strategy means that we are doing education, dispelling myths and building political power for this IMPORTANT win and for a stronger foundation to come back for public accommodations, health care competency and coverage, and many other critical needs including the full enforcement of our anti-bullying laws which include gender identity but are not enforced as they should be in every district leaving our LGBT youth at risk. There has been so much division in the community over this. Let's at least stop spreading misinformation.

Michiko O.
Michiko O.6 years ago

The issues with HB-235 is around public accommodations and the lack of them in this bill. This was negotiated out of the bill at the specific request of Equality Maryland in order to assure this bill advances.

This bill does not give FULL employment protections to transgender Marylanders as many positions require the use of public accommodations for either a part of the job function (e.g. visiting customer locations, staying overnight in hotels) or a part of the reality of life (workplaces that require the use of a shared restroom or driving positions that require the use of public restrooms). Transgender Marylanders can still be denied public transportation access to get to work. In all of these cases, there's no recourse towards the employer, nor should there be.

If HB-235 passes, it will also create confusion towards transgender visitors to Maryland who will likely be told by national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality that state has "transgender rights" when in fact, you can still be arrested for trespassing for using the "wrong" restroom, especially if your ID is not in order.

It was proven in California that you can not have employment protections without public accommodations. Let's not make that mistake in Maryland.

This is all about political achievement in both the Maryland State House and Equality Maryland being done at the expense of the lives of transgender Marylanders.

Defeat H