The 82-57 vote on Senate Bill 212 – the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 – took place after lawmakers debated the measure that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced in January for more than two hours.
“What we are about to do today is important,” said state Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) as she referenced the exclusion of trans Marylanders in a 2001 anti-discrimination bill that only included sexual orientation. “This is an important group of people today who frankly we left out 11 years ago. They’re beat up. They’re ridiculed. They are suffering and they need to hold their head up high just like I do.”
State Del. Michael McDermott (R-Wicomico and Worcester Counties) described trans Marylanders as “confused” as he spoke against SB 212.
“We are a confused state, voting for a confused bill,” said the Eastern Shore Republican.
State Del. Anthony O’Donnell (R-St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties) introduced a proposed amendment to SB 212 that sought to ban anyone from asserting their gender identity and expression to “enter a place of public accommodation for the purpose of committing an illegal activity.” House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) put forth a proposal that would have exempted bathrooms from the measure.
“Please protect women,” she said. “Please protect little girls.”
Lawmakers defeated both proposed amendments.
State Del. Gail Bates (R-Howard County) and McDermott introduced proposed amendments that sought to exclude “distinctly private and personal” places and “private facilities” from SB 212’s public accommodation provision.
Lawmakers rejected both proposals and others that sought to provide the public accommodation provision from the measure.
State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) and O’Donnell on Wednesday unsuccessfully sought to delay the second reading on SB 212 by a day. Szeliga sought to remove the measure’s public accommodations provisions, but she withdrew her two proposed amendments.
State Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick County) recently said in a letter to her constituents that HB 1265 would “normalize abnormal behavior.” Parrott referred to the measure as the “bathroom bill” in a post to the website he runs under the banner “Do you want men going into the ladies room?” with a graphic that shows a man appearing to look at a woman in a restroom stall.
“What we could see could be a naked man in a girls locker room at a public pool,” said Afzali. “This is a bad bill. This does not protect women. This does not protect children.”
State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) noted she has “never been more disappointed” during her eight years in the House as she said she has been listening to the debate over SB 212.
“We are talking about people who are suffering real harm in this state,” said the Montgomery County Democrat who is running against Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown in this June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. “We are talking about our brothers and sisters.”
The vote caps off an eight year effort to add gender identity and expression to Maryland’s anti-discrimination act.
The House in 2011 approved an anti-trans discrimination bill that did not contain protections in public accommodations. The Maryland Senate earlier this month passed a measure approved SB 212.
The House Health and Government Operations Committee on Tuesday approved a nearly identical bill to SB 212 that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to accomplish another big victory for fairness and equality in the state of Maryland,” Madaleno told reporters after the vote. “It’s remarkable how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.”
“It took eight years, and a great deal of tenacity, perseverance, patience and skill, but today the Maryland transgender community can celebrate its equality, and feel like full partners in the LGBT community,” added Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer. “Maryland joins with seventeen states, D.C. and Puerto Rico in providing comprehensive LGBT equality.”
Brown is among those who also applauded SB 212’s passage.
“Nobody should ever be forced to endure this kind of discrimination or harassment, and that’s why we’re taking this important step to protect all Marylanders,” he said.
Gansler, who submitted testimony in support of the measure, also praised lawmakers who supported it.
“Today 82 delegates voted against gender identity discrimination and for what is just and fair,” he said. “With their votes, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act can now become law, and our state can move much closer to ensuring equal protection for all. I congratulate all the legislators who worked so hard, led by Sen. Madaleno in the Senate and Del. Clippinger in the House, for the passage of this milestone legislation.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign SB 212 into law in the coming weeks.
Observers expect Parrott and others who oppose the bill will try to prompt a referendum on it once the governor signs it.