A bill which seeks to prohibit
discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit and public
accommodations on the basis of gender identity or expression cleared
the Maryland Senate on Tuesday morning.
The measure, known as SB 212, cleared
the state's upper chamber with a mostly party-line vote of 32-15.
A similar measure died in the Senate
after passage in the House in 2011.
This year's effort was boosted by an
amendment aimed at derailing the argument that such a law would allow
men claiming to be women access to womens' restrooms. The amendment,
approved unanimously, defines gender identity as being “sincerely
held as part of the person's core identity.”
Dana Beyer, executive director of
Gender Rights Maryland, applauded
the vote in a statement.
“After eight years of struggle, and
with the active support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller,
Jr. and the legislative magic of Senators Jamie Raskin, a
comprehensive gender identity anti-discrimination bill has passed the
Senate,” Beyer said, adding that supporters are “rightfully
feeling elated this day.”
The bill now heads to the House of
Delegates. Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, who signed the
state's marriage equality bill into law, has pledged his signature.