Today marks the crossover date in the Maryland General Assembly for bills to move from one house to the other. It is unfortunate that we cannot report that SB212 is among those in consideration for that process. Unlike efforts last year, SB212 was never put up for a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. There are multiple reasons for why this is the case but for GRMD it comes down to one — Senate President Miller does not want this bill. It is unfortunate that a single person, despite the will of the people of this state, can decide the fate of so many Marylanders on such life and death matters as the basic civil rights of employment, housing and public accommodation.
Since the end of the 2011 legislative session events in Maryland had clearly indicated that there was strong support for this bill. Governor Martin O’Malley had publicly endorsed the measure in response to the prosecution of a hate crime against Chrissy Lee Polis’ attackers in 2011. Polling results show that 63% of Marylanders support civil rights for trans people. And yet we cannot get forward movement in the Maryland Senate.
That climate did however bear fruit with those legislators that seem to be more closely in tune with their communities. Howard and Baltimore Counties were brave enough to put forward these civil rights for their residents. GRMD was an integral part of those efforts and we are proud of the addition of gender identity protections for over one million additional Marylanders in 2012. This brings the total coverage to 2.6 million Marylanders. This should be considered remarkable progress considering that momentum in this space has been dormant since 2007. GRMD is proud to have played a strong role along with PFLAG and other allies in moving this legislation to law.
Despite this significant disappointment, GRMD and allied activists and organizations have a lot to be proud of. Together in just the last year they managed to get anti-discrimination protections passed in Howard County and Baltimore County, as well as secure the support of Gov. Martin O’Malley for a statewide bill. The work continues.