News (USA)

Maryland Senate Committee approves transgender rights bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland senate panel on Thursday advanced a bill that would add gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination law.

MarylandThe Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 8-3 in favor of the “The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014,” a measure that would update the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations to include transgender individuals.

During mark-up and debate on the bill, an amendment was adopted to add “gender identity” to existing laws which exempt religious employers.

“In its written testimony on SB 212, the Maryland Catholic Conference pointed to this as one of the reasons they opposed the bill,” said Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland. “With this amendment, I hope they will consider supporting this bill in the House of Delegates.”

Another amendment would require facilities that include locker rooms to provide equivalent private space for transgender individuals to be exempt from the law.

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“As a transgender woman, I know trans Marylanders have waited too long to be afforded critical protections in seeking and maintaining employment, finding, securing and keeping housing, and the just and proper access to the public fruits of life,” said Jenna Fischetti at Trans Maryland.

“The changes legislators made while in deliberation of this bill represent a small concession to unsubstantiated fears, and we look forward to success on the floor of the Senate,” said Fischetti.

The measure will now be considered by the full Senate where observers say it has the support needed to pass.

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