The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, passed through the Maryland House's Health and Government Operations Committee with a 15-8 favorable vote, according to Equality Maryland.
The legislation, which seeks to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing against transgender Marylanders, will now move on to the Maryland House of Delegates floor for a full vote.
[UPDATE] According to prominent transgender activist Dana Beyer, the bill's third reading and final vote are expected on the House floor before midnight on Monday, March 28. The bill will then move to the Senate.
"The party-line vote is indivcative of the fact that there's strong support on the floor," Beyer says.
According to Beyer, amendments made to the bill in committee were limited to the language used in the bill and were of "no great significance." A proposed amendment to allow greater religious exclusions was rejected.
In a statement released by Equality Maryland Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk's (D- Anne Arundel, Prince George's), the lead sponsor of the bill, said the legislation is about fairness.
"Every Marylander should expect to work or live in comfortable housing without fear of losing either because of who they are. HB 235 provides the protection necessary to make sure that every Marylander can live without fear of discrimination."
Equality Maryland executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets told Metro Weekly yesterday that she was confident of a favorable vote in committee, despite some delay introduced by Republican Del. Susan Krebs (Carroll County) who sought a definition of "transgender," one that was approved by Maryland's Attorney General, prompting a "procedural hold" until this morning.
"All hardworking people in our state, including transgender people, should have a chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families," Meneses-Sheets states in the release. "Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance."
Meneses-Sheets also said that she is confident the bill will make it on to the House floor for a vote before the end of this year's legislative session, which is April 11.
Though it could not be determined if Kreb's dilemma was appeased with a resolution, she ultimately voted against the measure.
Opponents of the legislation include members of the LGBT community who argue that the bill is inadequate because it only provides some, not all, protections by excluding "public accommodations" on a state level. Similar legislation, which included protections for transgender people with regard to Maryland public accommodations, has failed in the past.
Currently, Baltimore City and Montgomery County provide protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity with regard to housing, employment and public accommodation.
Voting record on bill is now available.
Voting in favor of H.B. 235:
- Peter Hammen (D-46)
- Shane Pendergrass (D-13)
- Eric M Bromwell (D-8)
- Bonnie Cullison (D-19)
- Robert Costa (D-33B)
- James Hubbard (D-23A)
- Ariana Kelly (D-16)
- Dan Morhaim (D-11)
- Peter Murphy (D-28)
- Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D-10)
- Nathaniel Oaks (D-41)
- Joseline Pena-Melynk (D-21)
- Kirill Reznik (D-39)
- Shawn Tarrant (D-40)
- Veronica Turner (D-26)
Voting against the measure:
- John Donoghue (D-2C)
- Donald Elliott (D-4B)
- William Frank (D-42)
- A. Wade Kach (D-5B)
- Nic Kipke (D-31)
- Susan Krebs (D-9B)
- Patrick McDonough (D-7)
- Justin Ready (D-5A)