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April 4 , 2014

Maryland adds gender identity to equality law

Annapolis, Md.--In 2001, Maryland was the 12th state to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination laws. On March 27, it became the 18th state to add gender identity to those same laws.

The Maryland House of Delegates passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act on an 82-57 vote, with two delegates abstaining. It now goes to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has already said he would sign it.

The bill passed the state senate on March 4, and then passed the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 25.

Opponents attempted to derail the bill with a duo of amendments. One would have exempted public restrooms, the other would have banned the expression of gender identity to enter public accommodations for the purpose of committing a crime. Both were red herrings, along the same lines used to attempt to stop transgender rights bills across the country: the specter of burly men in dresses swarming into women’s restrooms.

“With each new state joining the side of fairness and equality, we move closer to explicitly banning job discrimination against transgender people nationwide,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “After years of advocacy and organizing in Annapolis, Maryland’s choice to stand behind transgender people is a reminder to our elected officials on Capitol Hill that it’s overdue for them to take action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” the federal LGBT equality bill.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin echoed Keisling’s sentiments.

“Today, the Maryland legislature brought this country one step closer to the promise of its founding documents by recognizing that everyone should be treated equally, including transgender Marylanders,” he said. “Being free from discrimination on the job is one of the things that makes our economy thrive and our nation succeed. It’s long past time for these essential workplace protections to extend from coast to coast and everywhere in between.”

Seventeen other states now include transgender people in their anti-bias laws, plus the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico. Of the 21 states that include sexual orientation in these laws, only three don't include transgender people: New York, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Ohio law does not protect either group, nor does federal law.






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