Supporters and opponents of House Bill 1265 that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced in January testified before the Health and Government Operations Committee.
“All Marylanders deserve to be treated and protected equally under the law,” said Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown as he spoke in support of the measure on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.
State Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) testified in support of HB 1265 alongside Jenna Fischetti of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, Gender Rights Maryland Board Chair Sharon Brackett, Carrie Evans and Keith Thirion of Equality Maryland, Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado, Maryland Commission on Civil Rights Acting Executive Director Cleveland Horton, Hyattsville City Councilman Patrick Paschall and others. Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) – who are running against Brown in the Democratic gubernatorial primary – also support HB 1265.
“I have not had a job in my chosen career in nearly 10 years,” said Fischetti, telling lawmakers a suburban Baltimore car dealership fired her in 2004 because of her gender identity and expression.
The Maryland Catholic Conference, Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Wilmington (Del.) that includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore are among the groups that oppose HB 1265. State Del. Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel County) asked Sister Jeannine Gramick, executive coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, about the Vatican’s decision to sanction her because of her LGBT-specific advocacy.
“It’s opposite to the position of those bishops,” said Gramick after she testified in support of HB 1265.
Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government cited five reports of attacks and assaults committed by men in restrooms during her testimony against HB 1265. She also described Chrissy Lee Polis, a trans woman who was attacked at a Baltimore County McDonald’s in 2011, as a “prostitute.”
“This bill is unfair to me,” said McDermott. “My facilities should not become an open place, a free for all.”
The hearing took place one day after the Maryland Senate by a 32-15 vote margin approved a trans rights bill – Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 – that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced in January.
“I was very happy to see the bill come out of the Senate,” Clippinger told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “We’ve got great momentum to get the bill out of the House.”
Clippinger, Evans and others continue to applaud Madaleno for introducing SB 212. Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced her candidacy against the Montgomery County Democrat in January, has repeatedly praised state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) for his efforts to secure the measure’s passage last month in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
State Sens. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County), James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) are among the committee members who voted against a trans rights bill in 2013. They backed SB 212 last month when Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee moved to advance it to the Senate floor.
“We’re pleased to see this is becoming a common sense issue that several senators on JPR who voted against the bill last year voted for it this year,” Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign told the Blade last week. “They can see it is where we are headed as a country which is ensuring that everyone is treated fairly under the law.”
Baltimore City, Hyattsville and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties have already enacted trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances.
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 in 2011 approved a trans rights bill with 86 votes. It subsequently died in a Senate committee.
The House Health and Government Operations Committee is expected to vote on HB 1265, which has 61 co-sponsors, on March 12.