Today the Maryland State Senate passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, a bill that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of an gender identity or expression statewide. The bill, proposed by Sen. Richard Madaleno, was introduced in January, with 35 cosponsors immediately attaching themselves to the bill.
The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 32-15 and will now move to the Maryland House of Delegates, where the Government Operations Committee will hold a hearing on the proposal Wednesday. The House version of the bill was introduced by Luke Clippinger, a Democratic delegate from Baltimore.
Both local and national LGBT advocacy organizations praised the Senate's actions.
"It is critical that the Maryland legislature gets to the unfinished business of protecting transgender citizens from discrimination," Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said in a press release. "No one should ever have to worry about losing their job or accessing safe and affordable housing simply because of who they are. We hope Maryland's fair-minded lawmakers will act on this critical bill quickly."
Equality Maryland executive director Carrie Evans said in a blog post, "Today is a huge day for transgender rights in Maryland. With their vote, 32 senators stood up to say no one should be denied the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing or eat lunch at a restaurant just because of their gender identity."
Gender Rights Maryland executive director Dana Beyer, a transgender woman who last month announced that she would be running against gay senator Madaleno in the next election, lauded the measure. "After eight years of struggle, and with the active support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and the legislative magic of Senator Jamie Raskin, a comprehensive gender identity bill has passed the Senate," Beyer told the Washington Blade.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has indicated support for the bill and is expected to sign it into law if and when it is passed by the House of Delegates. Should it become law, Maryland would become the 18th state -- along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico -- to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity.