Activists from Trans Maryland and their allies held a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers reinstate language barring discrimination in public accommodations to the proposed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill in Maryland.
The bill, if passed, would bar discrimination based on gender identity in employment and housing.
Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties), a strong LGBT rights supporter who has sponsored a transgender rights bill in the legislature since 2007, said she removed the public accommodations provision after determining it was the only way to obtain enough votes to pass the legislation.
“The bottom line is discrimination is not right,” she told the Blade. “I have had this bill now for over three years and initially I introduced it with the section on public accommodations, which I believe in.”
Ashley Love, a transgender and intersex advocate attending the rally, told the Blade, “If the bill is passed in its compromised form, a transsexual woman may gain the protection to keep her job as a nurse at a Maryland hospital, but she could be denied emergency room care in the same hospital she is employed at if the staff were transphobic. For instance, Tyra Hunter was refused care for serious injuries by EMS worker Adrian Williams, and later by the physician. As a result, she died. Without public accommodations protections, this bill has no merit.”
A committee vote on the measure in the Maryland House of Delegates is expected later this month.