The Hawaii Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. The House previously approved a similar measure.

“The march towards full equality in the Aloha State continues,” said Alan Spector, co-chair of Equality Hawaii. “Providing employment protections to transgender citizens in Hawaii is a victory for civil rights and equal treatment under the law for all residents of our great state.”

The Senate voted to approve the legislation with an overwhelming 22 to 2 vote.

The win comes on the heels of the defeat of a similar bill in the Maryland Senate.

Former Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, had vetoed an identical bill six years ago. Last year, she also vetoed a civil unions bill signed into law this year by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie.

“Following the passage of civil unions for Hawaii's gay and lesbian residents, the enactment of employment protections for the state's transgender people is another step forward in our fight towards equality in the Aloha State,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate. “No one should be denied employment possibilities because of who they are, regardless of their gender identity or expression.”