On this past Tuesday Maryland state senators Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who is openly gay, and Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013, a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. The bill has 21 additional co-sponsors, including Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County) and 20 Democrats, mostly from Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
A similar bill died in committee last April when Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller (D-Prince George's and Calvert Counties) blocked a vote by the full senate. Miller has reportedly since backed the proposal. The 2011 bill passed the House of Delagates by a vote of 86-52. Since the bill's defeat last year, Howard and Baltimore Counties joined Montgomery County and the city of Baltimore in prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and credit, so nearly half of the state's residents live in jurisdictions with transgender protections.
Put simply, the process of passing a bill requires that you line up the votes you need to make it through a chamber. That process is eased considerably when those legislators are willing to sign on as co-sponsors. I am very pleased we can show this degree of support in the Senate, which I attribute to the diligent work of Senators Madaleno and Raskin and their staffs. The trans community should be very hopeful that this is the year.
--Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland
The protections in this bill are long overdue. We are confident the General Assembly will demonstrate, as they did in 2012, that we are a state that treats all of its citizens with dignity and equality under the law.If passed, Maryland would become the 17th state to have passed laws which protect transgender people and would reduce the number of states that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity to four: Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire and Delaware.
--Carrie Evans, Equality Maryland executive director
The bill is expected to have its first hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee some time in February.
For people who live in the area and want to help, there will be organized lobbying on February 18.
Equality Maryland and a coalition of other organizations will hold their annual Lobby Day on Feb. 18. A rally at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis will begin at 6 p.m. to advocate for legislation in the 2013 General Assembly that protects transgender individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodations and credit. Following the rally, participants will meet with their respective legislators.