February 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
O’Malley ‘absolutely’ building support for Md. trans bill
Steve Elmendorf, Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says he’s ‘absolutely’ reaching to lawmakers to pass trans rights bill (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Can anyone tell us why neither the Exec Director or Board Chair of Gender Rights Maryland was at the Lobby Day rally last week in Annapolis for the gender identity bill ? Why do they refuse to affiliate with the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality ?

    And why does the Blade only ever solicit quotes from Gender Right MD folks — when there is an entire coalition of organizations working on this bill ?

  • “And Justice”. I can assure you, the Maryland transgender and allied communities are in complete support of the efforts to pass SB 449.A “Live Feed” of the hearing was offered by the Maryland General Assembly. Recordings of those proceedings should be up shortly( within a few days). Members of Gender Rights Maryland board testified on behalf of SB 449.

    I can only suggest familiarity in respect to soliciting quotes. Dana Beyer has contributed Op-Eds for the Blade in the past, and Gender Rights Maryland was the lead on last years bill.

    I don’t believe any of that is relevant. We are all working towards the singular effort of bring comprehensive protections for all Trans Marylanders.

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  • Jenna,
    Thanks for you thoughts. But the questions remain unanswered. Why do the leaders of Gender Rights MD refuse to participate with events organized by the Coalition ? Seems like they are quick to claim credit (Dana responsible for the DSM and Stonewall ? Sharon responsible for County gender identity ordinances ?). Can anyone explain why they claim theirs is the statewide org representing the T community, when they don’t seem to want to participate or organize with the other orgs in support of the T community ?

  • “And Justice”. There is a lot of work being done to pass an anti-discrimination law in Maryland, All of us have our part. The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality did approach our legislators about presenting this year’s bill, and have taken a lead legislatively on that task, but there are plenty of tasks throughout the community being undertaken to insure the passage of SB449. Each is just as important as the next. They fit into powerful mosaic of community diversity which unites us, not divides us. The remaining weeks of this session will continue to show not only that diversity, but that strength.

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