Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday said he’s “absolutely” reaching out to state lawmakers to encourage them to pass a transgender rights bill.
O’Malley affirmed his support for the measure when speaking with the Washington Blade at the White House following a meeting between President Obama and members of the National Governors Association.
“I’ve supported that bill in the past, support it again this year,” O’Malley said. “I think we should pass it, and, in fact, I testified in favor of it when I was mayor some seven years ago in the state legislature.”
Asked if he’s reaching out to lawmakers to encourage them to pass the bill, O’Malley replied, “Sure am. I absolutely am.”
O’Malley’s support for the bill could prove crucial as he was among the driving forces behind the same-sex marriage bill lawmakers approved last year. The governor also campaigned in support of the issue ahead of last November’s referendum on the law he signed.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on the bill–the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013–that would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. State Sens. Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin of Montgomery Country formally introduced the measure last month.
Dana Beyer, executive director of the statewide transgender group Gender Rights Maryland, affirmed O’Malley has been active in building support for the transgender rights legislation.
“Gov. O’Malley has been very supportive of the trans community since his days as Mayor of Baltimore, when he led the city in its creation of the state’s first anti-discrimination law,” Beyer said. “Today he is lending his full support with his colleagues in Annapolis as the statewide law begins to work its way through the Senate. We at Gender Rights Maryland applaud all his hard work on behalf of our community, and are very grateful to have our governor as our leading ally.”
The proposal died in committee last February because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it. Advocates are more optimistic the bill will pass this year, in part, because he now supports it.
NOTE: This posting has been updated to include a comment from Dana Beyer.
Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story.