ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill in the Maryland Legislature aimed at banning discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations is expected to die in committee on Monday, ending chances for passing it for the sixth year in a row.
The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act, SB 212, is stalled in the legislature’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, with no indication that Senate leaders plan to bring it up for a vote by March 26. That date has been long established as the deadline for one of the legislature’s two bodies to approve all bills in time for consideration by the other body.
“I actually feel the political atmosphere has improved markedly for gender identity civil rights,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), one of the lead sponsors of the bill.
“But the problem is we did same-sex marriage and for some unfathomable reason people seem to think we can’t do both of these bills in the same session,” Raskin told the Blade. “As a number of members said to me, we can’t do two gay bills in one session.”
Raskin was referring to the Maryland Legislature’s approval earlier this year of the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which calls for legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. That bill is expected to come before voters in a referendum in November.
Raskin and other longtime supporters of the transgender bill say they have tried repeatedly to dispel the view that the trans measure is a “gay” bill or that it’s linked to same-sex marriage.
Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a statewide transgender advocacy organization that led efforts to pass the trans bill this year, blamed Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) for the bill’s demise. According to Beyer, knowledgeable sources at the state capital in Annapolis say Miller put out the word that the bill should not come up for a vote.
Beyer noted that Miller’s stance is the opposite of the posture he took on the marriage bill. Miller voted against the marriage bill but allowed it to come up for a vote and reportedly blocked efforts to derail the bill with a filibuster.
“If Miller doesn’t want it, it doesn’t happen,” Beyer said. “It doesn’t matter what the other senators want.”
Other advocates for the bill, who asked not to be identified, said they believe Miller was blocking a vote on the bill in committee because he believes it doesn’t have the votes to pass and he prefers not to have Democratic leaders lose on a controversial vote like this one.