Equality Maryland (EqMD) released a press release today on the Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination bill (HB 235). The date of this press release coincided with the House Health and Government Operations Committee hearing on this bill — the hearing at which Del. Mary Washington testified.
The text of the press release:
ANNAPOLIS, March 9, 2011 — Equality Maryland, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-21), Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Maryland Catholics for Equality, the Maryland Black Family Alliance, Pride at Work and other local activists, held a press conference prior to the Health & Government Operations Committee hearing testimony on HB235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and credit. The press conference solidified the need and urgency behind HB 235.
“HB 235 provides necessary to make sure that every Marylander can live without fear of discrimination.”
Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16), Lead Sponsor
“Today, I stand before you speaking up against unjust discrimination that happens daily in our state for thousands of transgender Marylanders. As a lead sponsor to HB 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, I believe it’s time that we put these vital protections in place for our trasngeder residents.”
“All hardworking people in our state, including transgender people, should have a chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance – like our good friend Owen. Owen was fired because of his gender identity and later harassed on the job. It is time for this horrible discrimination to end and for us to act immediately in addressing these life or death protections for all Marylanders.”
Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director for Equality Maryland
“Every person in our state deserves an opportunity to live a life free from discrimination and violence. Every person deserves to live and work with equality and dignity. No one should lose their job, or be denied a place to live, because of their gender identity or expression. House bill 235 is an important first step to living up to the promise of equality.”
Lisa Mottet, Transgender Civil Rights Project
“The National Center for Transgender Equality and my organization, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released a groundbreaking report that found that Maryland transgender and gender non-conforming people were being fired, harassed, passed over for promotion, and not hired simply for being who they were. This was not a small problem: 71% experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and 18% had lost their job just because of who they are.”
“Likely due to this discrimination, transgender Marylanders experienced poverty (making under $10,000 per year) nearly 3 times the national average. Likely also due to troubles with employment discrimination as well as housing discrimination, homelessness was experienced by 12% of transgender Marylanders. Seventeen percent (17%) were denied a home/apartment due to being transgender. Twenty-two percent (22%) had to find temporary spaces to stay in an attempt to avoid homelessness.”
Owen Smith, Equality Maryland
“I have been harassed and even assaulted at work because I am transgender. I was kicked out of my apartment for not being able to afford my monthly rent. Without a job, how was I supposed to be able to afford my rent? I was forced to live out of my car. I am just one of the hundreds of transgender Marylanders in need of these protections.”
Mara Drummond, transgender activist from Howard County
“I write software that helps keep over 700 million air travelers safe each year. I designed and wrote the software the NASA mainframe computers use to communicate with the space shuttle. Yet, the Maryland legislature for the last 4 years has essentially said that I do not deserve a basic human right, the right to hold employment, because I’m transgender.”
Alex Hickox, Equality Maryland Board of Directors
“I can’t afford to lose my job because someone may not like that I am transgender. I can’t afford to lose my job, because I will likely lose my house. I will likely lose 15 years of hard work and dedication in one fell swoop. I deserve to be judged on my work ethic and job performance, not on the presentation of my gender.”
Donna Cartwright, Pride at Work – AFL-CIO
“Many transgender and gender-different people continue to suffer from chronic unemployment or underemployment, and many others who retain their jobs have seen the door closed to further career development.”
“Transgender workers are often handicapped in seeking employment by the lack of documentation appropriate to their gender presentation…By enacting this bill, Maryland would send a critically important signal.”
What isn’t included in this press release are statements from lesbian and gay legislators as individuals, or a statement from the group of lesbian and gay legislators who identify themselves the LGBT Caucus.
By the day of the hearing, it appears that only two of the seven lesbian and gay Maryland legislators – now eight with Del. Peter Murphy (D-Charles County), coming out this week as gay — spoke out in favor of the gender identity bill prior to its committee hearing. The five other lesbian and gay delegates who apparently didn’t speak out on the gender identity bill prior to the hearing are:
• Maggie McIntosh – House of Delegates, District 43
• Anne Kaiser – House of Delegates, District 14
• Bonnie Cullison – House of Delegates, District 19
• Heather Mizeur – House of Delegates, District 20
• Luke Clippinger – House of Delegates, District 46
In my mind, that means these six lesbian and gay legislators who apparently haven’t spoken about the gender identity civil rights bill are 50% on speaking out for, and working for, the passage of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) legislation submitted to the Maryland legislature this year.
And, this is of course after the self-identified LGBT Caucus — made up of lesbian and gay Maryland legislators — definitely didn’t publicly speak out either late last year or early this year against the removal of the public accommodation antidiscrimination component from this year’s gender identity civil rights bill.
How utterly sad. How utterly disgusting.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
* Delegate Mary Washington’s Testimony On The Maryland’s Gender Identity Bill
* Senator Rich Madaleno’s Statement On HB 235 – The Gender Identity Civil Rights Bill
* Sen. Madaleno’s Continued Silence To His Constituents On Maryland’s Gender Identity Bill
* Maryland’s Seven LGBT Legislators Need To Speak Out As A Caucus For Transgender Equality
* Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination bill introduced in Maryland House
* ENDA: The LGBT Community Has Ceded The “Bathroom Bill” Argument Without A Fight
* ENDA: An 800-Pound Transgender Elephant – With Issues – In The Room
* Guest column by Kerry Eleveld – The False Choice: ENDA v. Marriage Equality