(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
As the Maryland General Assembly considers SB449‚ÄĒthe Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013‚ÄĒthat would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations on the basis of gender identity or expression, the Baltimore County chapter of PFLAG will devote its Feb. 26 meeting to understanding transgender issues.
Sharon Brackett, board chair of Gender Rights Maryland, will present ‚ÄúTrans 101,‚ÄĚ an introductory speech on transgender issues in our society and in our area. She will define basic terms and answer general questions, as well as provide more detailed explanations of the specific implications of being a gender non-conforming individual.
The meeting will take place from 7-9 p.m. at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Rd., Baltimore. For more information, visit pflagbaltimore.org or call 443-255-1484.
The chapter was instrumental in the passage of a gender identity non-discrimination bill in Baltimore County last year.
Sen. Rich Madaleno spoke at a rally in Annapolis this week. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)
A diverse crowd of nearly 200 gathered at Lawyer‚Äôs Mall in Annapolis on Monday to rally behind SB449, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013. The bill, if passed, would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on gender identity or expression. The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality sponsored the event and organized the subsequent lobbying efforts for individuals and groups by district.
‚ÄúWe must put our foot on the gas pedal until there is equality all over the state,‚ÄĚ Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland and who emceed the rally, told the crowd.
Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) attended the event. He, along with Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), introduced the measure on Jan. 29. Madaleno expressed confidence in the bill‚Äôs passage by telling the crowd, ‚ÄúWe are on the verge of this last big victory in Maryland,‚ÄĚ noting that 23 senators sponsored SB449 and 24 are needed for passage. ‚ÄúI think all of the stars are finally in alignment,‚ÄĚ he said.
Last year, a similar bill was passed in the House of Delegates by a margin of 86-52 only to die in the Senate. This year there is much more optimism given that Senate President Thomas V. ‚ÄúMike‚ÄĚ Miller is supporting the bill. Therefore, it is likely to pass in the Senate as well as the House if it can make it out of the Senate‚Äôs Judicial Proceedings Committee. The JPR is scheduled to hear testimony on Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.
Other speakers at the rally included Rev. Larry Brumfield, Maryland Black Family Alliance; Mara Kiesling, National Center for Transgender Equality; Blake Wideman, Black Trans Men, Inc.; Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City); and Darlene Nipper, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Dana Beyer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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 bill‚Äôs 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 state‚Äôs 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 state‚Äôs transgender people live in those four jurisdictions.
‚ÄúSo in that respect, practically speaking, we‚Äôve done the job,‚ÄĚ 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. ‚ÄúMike‚ÄĚ 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 didn‚Äôt have the votes to pass in the full Senate and he didn‚Äôt want the Senate Democratic leadership linked to the bill‚Äôs defeat on the floor. Others, however, say Miller blocked the bill because he personally opposes it. Miller‚Äôs office didn‚Äôt respond to calls for comment.