Lawmakers on Friday approved Senate Bill 212 – the Fairness for All Marylanders Act – by a voice vote on its second reading. They also backed an amendment to the measure state Sen. Joseph Getty (R-Carroll County) introduced that clarifies the definition of gender identity and expression.
“Everyone agrees we want fairness for all Marylanders,” said state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County).
State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced SB 212 last month, applauded his colleagues for “their support in strengthening and approving the Fairness for All Marylanders Act” the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved last week. The Montgomery County Democrat also praised Equality Maryland, the Human Rights Campaign and other members of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality for their efforts in support of the measure.
Observers expect that SB 212, which has 24 co-sponsors in the state Senate, will pass.
“We’ve come too far in the fight for civil rights in Maryland to exclude a vulnerable group of citizens from their right to equal treatment under the law,” said Madaleno. “Now is the time for full equality for all Marylanders.”
Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties currently include gender identity and expression in their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville in December became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.
All three Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur – support SB 212. Brown is expected to testify for the measure next week on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) also back SB 212.
“In case anybody wants to know, I’m going to vote for the bill,” said Miller on Thursday before senators moved to delay the measure’s second reading by a day.
Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.
The Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee on March 5 is scheduled to hold a hearing on a trans rights bill that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced. The chamber approved a similar measure in 2011.
“I fully expect the Senate to finish the job and pass this important legislation early next week,” said Madaleno.