The Baltimore County Council voted 5-2 on Feb. 21 to approve a bill that bans discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.
But a similar bill that would cover the entire state died in committee in the Maryland State Senate in April, ending chances for passing the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act in the state legislature in 2012.
Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a statewide group that led the lobbying campaign for the state bill, said supporters were gearing up to push for the billâ€™s passage in the legislature in 2013.
Beyer said that while advocates were disappointed in the setback on the statewide bill, the passage of a transgender non-discrimination measure in Baltimore County increased the stateâ€™s population covered under similar protections to 47 percent.
She noted that Howard County approved a nearly identical bill in December 2011. Baltimore City and Montgomery County approved similar bills several years earlier. According to Beyer, nearly 95 percent of the stateâ€™s transgender people live in those four jurisdictions.
â€śSo in that respect, practically speaking, weâ€™ve done the job,â€ť she said, in providing legal protection for transgender people in the state.
Political observers sympathetic to the state bill have said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. â€śMikeâ€ť Miller (D-Prince Georges and Calvert Counties) orchestrated its demise in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Some observers say Miller acted because he believed the bill didnâ€™t have the votes to pass in the full Senate and he didnâ€™t want the Senate Democratic leadership linked to the billâ€™s defeat on the floor. Others, however, say Miller blocked the bill because he personally opposes it. Millerâ€™s office didnâ€™t respond to calls for comment.