Delaware Governor Jack Markell on
Wednesday signed a transgender protections bill into law.
The measure (Senate Bill 97) bans
discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the areas
of employment, housing, insurance and public accommodations.
The Senate approved the measure earlier
this month. On Tuesday, it cleared the House. However, passage of
an amendment introduced by Democratic Representative Bryon Short
meant that the bill needed to return to the Senate.
Shortly after 5PM, the Senate, with an
11-9 vote, approved the amended bill. Less than two hours later,
Markell signed the bill into law.
“Discrimination on basis of gender ID
is inherently wrong,” Markell tweeted to his more than 12,000
followers. “Legislation to prohibit it is inherently right.”
Short's amendment is meant to assuage
the fears of opponents, who warned that the measure would invite sex
offenders to lurk in public restrooms, endangering public safety.
To make its point, the Christian
conservative Delaware Family Policy Council, which is leading the
lobbying effort to kill the bill, released an online video showing a
scruffy-looking man following a young girl into a restroom.
“This bill makes no legal distinction
between someone who is transgender and any other person who claims to
be of the other sex, including predators, exhibitionists, peeping
toms,” said Jordan Warfel of the Family Policy Council.
Short's amendment defines gender
identity as a “consistent and uniform assertion” that is not
“asserted for any improper purpose.”
Delaware is the seventeenth state, plus
the District of Columbia, to approve similar laws protecting