Update from Laurel: The bill has been sent form the Rules Committee to the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Press release below the fold.
There has been a very unexpected development in the Maryland’s HB 235 — the gender identity bill. The following letter was sent by the House of Delegates’ LGBT caucus to State Senate President Mike Miller (D-District 27):
March 31, 2011
Dear Mr. President,
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.
Senator Katherine Klausmeier
Senator Brian Frosh
Basically, the LGBT caucus in the House of Delegates has made an ask of Sen. Miller — they, as a group, are asking him to ensure that the gender identity bill goes to the Senate floor for a vote.
There are now seven lesbian and gay Maryland delegates that are now strongly on record in favor of cvil rights based on gender identity. No matter what one’s opinon is of HB 235, having seven lesbian and gay Maryland Delegates who previously weren’t on record as an LGBT caucus for cvil rights based on gender identity who now are on record as an LGBT caucus — well, that’s a positive for future legislative years.
For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters and their allies in Maryland this year, this is now an important time to contact one’s State Senator, as well as contact Senator Miller‘s office. Civil rights are a LGBT community issue that is deserving of our attention and efforts.
GENDER IDENTITY BILL MOVES OUT OF RULES COMMITTEE
Equality Maryland celebrates overcoming significant hurdle to keep critical protections moving
ANNAPOLIS, MD, APRIL 5, 2011 – Today, members of the Senate Rules Committee, lead by Senators Kathy Klausmeier and Brian Frosh, voted to send House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where given the public commitments made by committee members, it is expected to pass. HB 235 would prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing and credit.
Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director of Equality Maryland
“With today’s vote, the Senate Rules committee stood up for fairness. Discrimination is unjust, regardless of who experiences it and should never be tolerated. With the Rules Committee vote, we’re one step closer in passing vital protections for Maryland’s transgender community. Currently, 1 in 5 transgender Marylanders are fired because of who they are. In these tough economic times, no one should live in fear that they’ll be discriminated against in the workplace.
We are hopeful that after thousands of emails and hundreds of calls that HB 235 will continue to advance, but we will not rest until the final minutes of this legislative session. Equality Maryland is joined by our coalition of partners and activists throughout the state in launching a full court press on this critical legislation. We need to keep up the hard work as we look towards a potential floor vote. This bill is about people’s lives and livelihood. We are committed to doing all that we can o ensure that transgender Marylanders are provided job and housing protections this year. It is long overdue.”