In an open letter sent to Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George's), the seven LGBT members of Maryland's House of Delegates address House Bill 235's assignment to the Senate Rules Committee, instead of the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee:
We respectfully request that you allow HB 235, Human Relations - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination to be passed out of the Rules Committee to allow for a vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. This bill received a supermajority vote of support in the House and was sent to the Senate before the crossover deadline. Please allow it to have a fair hearing in the Senate.
We believe that this bill is absolutely necessary for the civil protections of a subset of Marylanders who are most vulnerable to discrimination and prejudices. In that context, studies show that transgender individuals are victims of violent crimes, including murder, at a much higher rate than other groups.
This bill would offer limited protections with respect to employment, housing and financial security. In the hearing in the Health and Government Operations Committee we learned the transgender community has double the national average rate of unemployment (14%) and 90% face discrimination or harassment at work. With regard to housing, 11% report having been evicted for being transgender and 10% have been homeless.
In the hearing, there was testimony about all manner of abuse based solely on the discomfort that others have with the appearance or mannerisms of transgender individuals. No one in this country should be subjected to these mistreatments, but this defined group of people experiences them frequently in their daily lives.
We are simply asking for full consideration of this bill on behalf of these Marylanders. Please pass HB 235 out of the Rules Committee and into JPR for a hearing on this very important issue.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
The March 31 letter is signed by all seven LGBT members in the House: Dels. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery), Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), Peter Murphy (D-Charles County), Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery) and Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City).