On Tuesday the Maryland Senate approved the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 which would expand Maryland’s anti-discrimination laws to add transgender people to the list of classes of people protected against discrimination in housing, employment, access to credit, and public accommodations. The bill exempts religious organizations, private clubs, educational institutions, small businesses and owner-occupied rentals.
There was virtually no debate on the bill, though Anne Arundel Republican Bryan W. Simonaire tried to raise “the bathroom question.”
Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and Montgomery County all have protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and officials in those locales say they have had no complaints concerning restroom usage.
The bill passed by a margin of 32-15, with four democrats (John Astle (Anne Arundel), James E. DeGrange Sr. (Anne Arundel), Roy P. Dyson (Southern Maryland), James N. Mathias Jr. (Lower Eastern Shore) joining the mostly republican opposition. Howard County Republican Allan H. Kittleman, on the other hand, spoke in support of the bill.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr (D-Montgomery).
I know people think these terrible things are happening, when they really aren’t.
With their vote, 32 senators stood up to say no one should be denied the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing or eat lunch at a restaurant just because of their gender identity.
–Carrie Evans, Equality Maryland
After eight years of struggle, and with the active support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and the legislative magic of Senators Jamie Raskin, a comprehensive gender identity anti-discrimination bill has passed the Senate.
—Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland
If approved by the house, the bill would remove Maryland from the states with the dubious distinction of protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity, reducint that number to three (New Hampshire, New York, and Wisconsin). Maryland would become the 18th state to offer protections for transgender people.
Opponents of the bill are trying to raise public outcry against the bill as being an invasion of privacy and threat against women and children. Washington County Republican Delegate Neil Parrott siad the bill would “radically change our society and put our families and children at risk.”
The problem is you send your daughter into the bathroom, and you expect it’s going to be girls and women in the bathroom. And instead you find out there’s a 45-year-old man in the bathroom with them. It really goes against nature.
The Maryland Catholic Conference also objected to the bill, saying they were concerned about redefining gender to conflict with biology.
Such a distinction manifests a fundamental violation of our society’s basic understanding of the human person.
I worry that people think these terrible things are going to happen when they really aren’t. I just hope people realize this is a fairness issue.
People who are transgender do go to the bathroom now and it’s working out fine.
–Sen. Jamie B. Raskin, who pointed out that the bill does not apply to private locker rooms (D-Montgomery)
The Maryland House of Delegates passed a similar version of the bill in 2011.
Gov. Martin O’Malley issued an executive order protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment by the state in 2007.
Wednesday the legislation was discussed in the House Committee on Health and Government Operations. The house version of the bill, HB 1265 has 60 co-sponsors among the House’s 141 members. It is widely expected to pass.
We are confident that this will be the year the General Assembly says ‘yes’ to transgender equality.
Parrott also made the false claim that Maryland businesses would be forced to add a third restroom “for no good reason.”
Governor O’Malley has pledged to sign the bill if passed.