Jeremy Bishop

Maryland Transgender Civil Rights Bill Advances

Filed By Jeremy Bishop | March 04, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: anti-discrimination, employment protections, Equality Maryland, Maryland, transgender

Transgender MARYLAND.jpgequality is making advances in Maryland, where the House of Delegates will soon vote on House Bill 474.

HB 474 is more expansive in scope than the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. HB 474 would add "gender identity" to existing protections that protect Marylanders from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

Maryland would join twelve states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in outlawing this outrageous discrimination.

If you or someone you know lives in Maryland its time for you to ask them to either call or take action online and let their legislators know that they want this bill to pass.

Recently, Maryland's unemployment rate spiked to a 15-year high. At any time this kind of discrimination is reprehensible, but at times when families are struggling to keep food on the table, or even keep the table, the stress that gender identity discrimination places on families is immoral and anti-family.

To take action, click here, or please visit Equality Maryland for more information.

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I hope that you or someone else will keep us up to date on what happens in Maryland with this legislation.

Yesterday in Texas, House Bill 2215 was filed in the Texas Legislature. This bill would prohibit most discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression when renting and selling real estate and in places of public accommodation. We also have House Bill 538, now in committee, prohibiting these forms of discrimination in employment. And other progressive legislation has been, or should be, submitted to the Texas Legislature.

For more information, visit the Equality Texas and Texas Legislature websites.

Did Maryland get approval from Bil before taking action on this?

Every action in our movement must be coordinated and organized and prioritized and then submitted for approval before anyone can take any action.

Otherwise there will be chaos.

There is a time and a place for everything...just ask Bil...or June Cleaver.

That's where you misunderstand me, Patrick. I'm all in favor of legislation against "discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit." That's exactly what we should be fighting for. That's what I'm begging for here in Indiana, in fact.

But you'll notice the talk of everyone was about the DOMA lawsuit. Not Maryland's trans rights legislation or New Jersey's new drivers license rules for trans folk, HRC's update to the CEI to better reflect trans needs and company standings, etc. We covered these things, but did they get a lot of play in the news or gay blogs? Nope.

Marriage did. Again.

What difference does it make if marriage related news distracts from victories like these?

Maybe it is helpful to have the distraction...I don't know Bil...but as long as good things like this happen why complain?

I agree that there are many inequities that must be resolved. I didn't pick the order...and it seems a bit impossible to stop now and rearrange anything. They can happen - and have always been happening if you read this post - simultaneously.

Your argument is emotionally compelling, but intellectually dishonest. Housing, employment and any protections to be gained via hate crimes protections are legislative efforts. The courts ultimately are forced to handle the mess that is being made of the Constitution because of the actions of religious zealots - not because there are people fighting for the right to marry.

Asking people to wait for the recognition of constitutional aberrations will not produce legislation. If anything, defending our collective constitutional citizenship helps bolster the arguments that produce legislative victories.

Thanks for the update, Jeremy. I'm wondering what you think the chances are of having this pass. What are its chances with the Senate and governor? Any advance indications?


My understanding is that the House should hopefully sail through, but that the Senate- if they get it out of Committee they think it can pass, but that getting it out of committee is going to be hard.

But they are hopeful. In fact, some of our allies in Maryland would rather pass this bill than have to worry about a marriage bill. So this would help them boost their LGBT credibility without having to handle the evil marriage monster.

This is an update from Equality Maryland's Kevin Walling. They should get the praise for this work- they are leading the charge, with the help of organizations like Pride At Work.

"There’s no question that any initiative to expand equality is always difficult. We feel very good about our position in the House of Delegates with the bill going through the House and Government Operations Committee. The lead sponsor, Del. Pena-Melnyk is a member of the committee and Del. Peter Hammen, the chairman of HGO is a co-sponsor.

In the senate, the bill is being introduced in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The hearing is actually today at 1:00 pm. Our primary focus will be working with Senators on the committee who have not yet indicated their position. Judicial Proceedings will be key in order for the bill to reach the floor. "

Wasn't Equality Maryland supposedly organizing a special lobby day for the nondiscrimination bill? Is that still going to happen?

I think that's already happened. Most of that sort of thing happens at the beginning of the 90 day session.

Hi Laura:

I believe the lobby day happened two weeks ago but not sure- maybe someone from EM can let us know.


Huh, I thought I just left a comment, but it didn't seem to work. So my apologies if this posts twice.

I know EM had their regular lobby day in mid-February (which I once again couldn't make because I had to teach), but I had thought that they were going to do a separate lobby day specifically for the non-discrimination bill. So what I was wondering was, did that happen? Or is it still going to happen? Or was it canceled due to staff shortages? Of course, I could have just misunderstood the whole thing and it was never going to happen...

Dana Beyer | March 5, 2009 12:16 PM


It was considered, and then abandoned, as we had some staff turnover and then decided it was more important to ask people to show up to hearings to testify twice (House and Senate) and not add a third time for another Lobby Day. The gender bill is our #1 goal this year, and that was made very clear at the early February Equality Maryland Lobby Day.

Thanks for the info.

Laura Hart | March 5, 2009 1:10 PM

I personally was not too favorable to a seperate trans lobby day because I felt there would be too few of us. Since the trans bill was the priority for our regular lobby day, a seperate one was unnecessary. The reason a seperate one was palnned in the first place was how the trans bill was lost in the noise of Civil Marraige last year. I'm very happy with the way things played out this year after almost walking away from lobby day last year.

Del. Pena-Melnyk is a truly passionate spporter of our cause. She lined up 67 cosponsors (71 needed to pass) in the house and was at yesterday's Senate hearing lobbying away. The Senate is a big question mark but our oponents did themselves real harm in their testimony. They were even admonished for using inflamitory and disrespectful language.

Thanks, this info is very reassuring. I was building this thing up in my head where the bill was getting semi-ignored due to the cancellation of the extra lobby day--I'm glad that's not the case.