Maryland House Passes Gender Anti-Discrimination Bill

The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation, on Saturday, that would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing and credit. The bill, which cleared the house by a 86-52 vote, was split along party lines with all Democrats and one Republican supporting the bill. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for a vote, where there remains much work to be done. “We still have work to do,” Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive direct of Equality Maryland, told reporters. “We’ve got to get it through the Senate. But we are overjoyed with the outcome today,” she continued. According to the Washington Blade: A few of the delegates opposing the bill pointed to the 1970s television program M.A.S.H., which included a character named Maxwell Klinger. They noted the Klinger character dressed in female clothes at a U.S. Army installation in Korea during the Korean War as a ploy to obtain a “Section 8” psychiatric discharge from the military. [Rep. Joseph] Minnick said the gender identity bill could hurt businesses by allowing cross dressing “scammers” like the Klinger character to create problems at the workplace and file a lawsuit if the employer sought to fire the person. Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), who served as floor leader for the bill, disputed claims that it would impact public bathrooms, saying the legislation did not include a public accommodations provision and would make no changes in the availability of public bathrooms to transgender people. When asked by opponents whether transgender employees protected under the bill’s employment non-discrimination provision would have access to workplace bathrooms, Morhaim said that would be left to the discretion of an employer. Del. Kirill Reznick (D-Montgomery County), a supporter of the bill, said that while public bathrooms were not covered in the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act, transgender non-discrimination laws that do include public accommodations protections have not created problems — either related to bathrooms or at the workplace. “The reality is 12 states have passed broader protections that this bill,” he said. “A hundred and thirty-four jurisdictions — counties and cities across this country — have broader protections than this bill. And we have not heard of one instance where businesses have had to build a third bathroom... not one case in 10 years,” he said. GLAAD was on the ground to media train spokespeople to share their stories about the importance of transgender inclusive policies and to illustrate the concrete harms of employment discrimination. GLAAD will continue to monitor the media coverage as this bill wends through the Senate.