Maryland is poised to become the 18th state to add legal protections to its law books for its state’s transgendered citizens. On March 28th the Maryland House of Delegates voted on House Bill 1265, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 which passed with an 82 to 57 vote.
“People realized that no one should be denied a job, should be thrown out of their home, should be denied a place to eat dinner just for living a life as who they are,” said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr.
The bill which has already passed through the state’s Senate is intended to add legal protection for transgendered people against employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination.
Gubernatorial candidates from the Democrat Party, Lt Governor Anthony Brown, State Delegate Heather Mizeur and Attorney General Doug Gansler all praised the bill.
“As the Supreme Court has written, the guarantee of equal protection under the law stems from our American ideal of fairness,” wrote Gansler prior to the House debate, ”and no one should be able to single out individuals for unfair treatment due to their gender identity or sexual orientation without legal consequences.”
In a press release publically announcing his support for the bill Brown stated that the legislation was an “important step to protect all Marylanders.”
“We can have a difference of opinion on the issues, but let’s not forget that at the end of the day, the underlying issue in this legislation is whether or not some of our most vulnerable members of society are still allowed to get beat up in these bathrooms…whether or not they’re going to be able to be fired from their jobs, whether or not they can be kicked out of their houses,” stated Mizeur while speaking on the house floor, “ we are talking about people who are suffering real harm in this state.”
Similar bills which specifically ban discrimination based on gender identity have been passed in other states including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia .
Opponents of such bills have commonly referred to the legislation as “Bathroom Bills” claiming that such legislation would encourage sexual predators to enter any bathroom and endanger woman and girls.
Republican State Delegate Ron George, who voted against the bill shared this sentiment and stated that “The bill is too loosely written, it’s not thought out enough, and it was pushed through.”
It is a fair assessment to say that the bill is indeed flawed as it does include exemptions for religious institutions as well as private clubs and some educational institutions.
The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk who has already stated that he will sign the bill into law.