US: Maryland gender identity bill fails to pass Senate committee
A bill which aimed to tackle discrimination in employment, credit, housing and public accommodations, based on gender identity or expression, failed to pass the committee stage of Maryland’s Senate.
The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee killed bill SB 449, namely the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013.
The attempt to get the bill to the Senate floor for a full vote failed by just one vote, as the committee voted 6-5. Three Democrats as well as three Republicans voted against the bill on the committee.
The same anti discrimination protections for trans people from SB 449, are already in force for around half of the state, on county level, as Montgomery, Howard and Baltimore Counties have the protections, as well as Baltimore City.
Nineteen out of the twenty remaining counties lacking the protections would not be able to pass similar legislation, which is why a statewide bill would be needed to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in those areas.
The board chair of Gender Rights Maryland, Sharon Brackett, said that supporters of the bill had one last change to pass the bill to the Senate.
It would require Senate President V Thomas Miller to order the bill on to the floor for an up-or-down vote, as he did in 2009 for a bill related to the death penalty.
The bill would need 24 votes for passage, and currently with 23, cosponsors, supporters have said they could potentially get up to 30 votes for it.
”Personally, I am happy to see that our team made the best efforts we could with several recalcitrant senators,” Brackett said in a statement.
”It is terribly disappointing the committee failed to stand up for fairness and protect transgender Marylanders,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans said in a statement to Metroweekly following the vote.
”In the past month more than 300 people visited their legislators in support of this bill. Additionally, more than 400 constituents called their senators on this committee and almost 2,000 constituent letters, petitions and postcards in support of SB 449 were given to the 11 members of the committee.’
”We are particularly incensed with Senator Jim Brochin’s vote,” Evans continued. ”He had at least 1,000 constituents contact him asking him to support this bill. Despite this, he turned his back on these voters. It is ironic that transgender people in his own district have protections yet he wouldn’t cast a vote to extend these protections to individuals in the 20 counties that aren’t so fortunate.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality said: ”Despite widespread public support and effective grassroots activism, the Maryland State Senate has let transgender people down again,’
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”The National Center for Transgender Equality is disappointed that more than a decade after Maryland, one of the most progressive states in the country, passed a sexual orientation anti-discrimination law, lawmakers choose to lag behind so many other states and localities in establishing these key protections for their transgender people.”
Trans activists promised that supporters of equality would push for the bill in future sessions.
Evans said: ”This is not over… Equality Maryland will come back every year until transgender Marylanders are afforded the right to be free from discrimination in their jobs, homes and places of public accommodations.”