The Maryland House on Saturday approved
a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender people, DC
gay weekly Metro
The measure was approved with a 86 to
52 vote. The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where
it will be carried by Senator Richard Madaleno, the chamber's only
openly gay member, and Senator Jamie Raskin.
If approved, the bill would ban
discrimination based on gender identity in the areas of employment,
housing and credit.
The gay rights group Equality Maryland
has been criticized for supporting a compromise to drop the the
bill's public accommodation protections.
The measure's lead sponsor in the
House, Delegate Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk, defended her decision to
remove the public accommodations.
“I did so because the political
reality is I could not have gotten the bill out [of committee],”
she said, “look at the discussion here today.”
“You have to forgive me I told them,
it's not what you want, it's not perfect, but it gives you
Republican Delegate Michael McDermott
told lawmakers he opposed the bill because transgender people “don't
have a compass, they're not sure which direction points up.”
Opposition to such laws in other states
has centered around the inclusion of public accommodations.
During debate on a similar bill in
Massachusetts, opponents warned that such protections would invite
sex offenders to lurk in public restrooms, endangering public safety.
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a
transgender protections bill.