May 15, 2014 at 9:38 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
O’Malley signs Md. transgender rights bill
Transgender Rights Bill, Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, Maryland, Annapolis, Martin O'Malley, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday signed a transgender rights bill into law. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday signed into law a bill that bans discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

“We are closer today to creating an open, respectful, inclusive world that we want for all of our children,” said O’Malley before signing Senate Bill 212 — the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 — into law. “This bill gives us another step closer to that vision and to that reality.”

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) thanked state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced SB 212 earlier this year, for helping his fellow senators “evolve on the issue.”

House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County); Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; state Sens. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery County) and Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County); state Dels. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Peter Murphy (D-Calvert County) and Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County); Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans and Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer are among those who attended the bill singing ceremony.

“I’m very happy,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade immediately after O’Malley signed SB 212 into law. “I wish it had been two, three or five years ago, but it’s thrilling to know we’re taken this step forward in Maryland.”

“I applaud the governor for his completing the process by which the transgender community has risen to full legal equality in the state of Maryland,” added Beyer.

Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, who testified in support of SB 212 in March during a hearing the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee held on it, also applauded the governor.

“Today, with the signing of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, we’re taking a critical step forward in protecting all Marylanders from discrimination,” said Brown in a statement.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County), who is running against Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, noted she is among the lawmakers who voted for SB 212. The Montgomery County Democrat along with Gansler’s running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored a trans rights measure the state House of Delegates approved in 2011.

“Over the past eight years, I have had the opportunity to cast more than a few votes that will make Maryland a more fair and just place to live — this was one of them,” said Mizeur. “We all deserve to be protected equally under the law, and now we can rest knowing our transgender neighbors will have this right, no matter which corner of the state they choose to live.”

O’Malley signing SB 212 into law caps off an eight-year effort to add gender identity and expression to Maryland’s anti-discrimination act. The measure is also the latest in a series of progressive bills that include the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples, raising the state’s minimum wage and decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana that the governor has signed during his two terms in office.

“It is always an amazing moment to be present when something that so many people have worked on for so many years comes to fruition,” said Evans. “We thank Gov. O’Malley for his continuing leadership on ensuring equality for LGBT Marylanders.”

Madaleno also noted the governor’s legacy.

“It shows how much this governor cares about the LGBT community, how much he cares in general about making sure every person has an opportunity to succeed, to live their lives as who they are, to love who they choose and still have a chance to make a living, to have a house, to enjoy life in Maryland,” the Montgomery County Democrat told the Blade. “It’s a substantial record of achievement in a state where people said it could never be done.”

Maryland will join 17 other states, D.C. and Puerto Rico that have added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws once the law takes effect on Oct. 1. The state’s hate crimes statute also include trans-specific protections.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) last month announced he has begun to collect signatures to prompt a referendum on the trans rights law.

The Washington County Republican and other opponents need to collect a third of the 55,737 necessary signatures by the end of this month. The remainder of them are due to state election officials by June 30 in order for the law to appear on the November ballot.

O’Malley pointed out to the Blade during a Wednesday telephone interview that voters in 2012 approved both the same-sex marriage law and a second statute that extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants after opponents collected enough signatures to place them on the ballot. A Goucher Poll in March indicates 71 percent of Marylanders supported SB 212.

“Polls show a significant majority backs the transgender rights law,” Madaleno told the Blade. “I don’t think people want to put their names down on a public documents that says they’re in support of discrimination.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • David E. Booth, Jr.

    My mother, former Delegate Bert Booth, (R, 11th Dist, 1974-1982) would have been pleased to have seen this. She introduced the first bill for gay rights in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1976.

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