Bil Browning

Maryland Trans Rights Bill Dies in Senate Vote

Filed By Bil Browning | April 11, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Maryland, procedural move, state senate vote, trans rights bill, transgender rights

Supporters of a Maryland bill to provide housing, credit and employment protections to transgender people were shocked today when the bill was sent back to committee for reconsideration. Today is the last day of the Maryland legislative session so the action effectively killed the bill. It had already passed the House of Delegates.

270px-Map_of_USA_MD.svg.pngIn an e-mailed statement Equality Maryland's Executive Director, Morgan Meneses-Sheets, said, "Six Senators who committed to support HB 235 took a walk on justice and fairness today and turned their backs on the most vulnerable members of our community. We are appalled that lawmakers continue to play politics with much needed protections for the transgender community.

"We must not forget all the positive strides we accomplish as a community this year overcoming significant hurdles, including getting this legislation out of the Senate Rules Committee. Supporters of this critical legislation made hundreds of phone calls and sent thousands of emails to their legislators. Countless members of the transgender community shared their very personal stories of discrimination. We are grateful to them for their courage and to every supporter who made their voice heard on this important bill.

"Progress takes time. Today's result was not fair or right, but we will keep up the fight to make the Free State truly free."

Supporters currently don't know why Senators who had committed to voting in favor of the bill ultimately ended up killing the legislation. The Maryland House of Delegates used the same procedural move to kill a marriage equality bill earlier this year, but supporters of that bill urged it be sent back to committee instead of losing a direct floor vote. (img src)

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Caroline Temmermand | April 11, 2011 6:18 PM

As a supporter of this bill it was disappointing to watch what happened during its final stages. As a TG participant in the process to help get it this far I was impressed with many of our elected officials, our partners in labor and religious groups, and especially proud of the teamwork and leadership of Equality Maryland who helped bring together people from walks of life to support our cause.

Sadly there are a sparse few in the TG community who would spend more time criticizing our allies rather than focusing their efforts on the small number of elected officials who refuse to stop bigotry and hatred in its tracks. Luckily for us is that they are being replaced by younger and smarter officials.

What brought me together with many strangers was our common cause. And now as we take a pause in our fight, I count many as friends that I admire deeply. I often say how much they have awed and inspired me and after seeing their character now, I know that they will influence me that same way in the years to come.

We will be back and our support will continue to grow.

Which 6 senators was it?

Why are the trans voices who opposed this law being oppressed? It should be worth mentioning that there was a battle against the bill for excluding public accommodations. The passage of this bill would set a dangerous precedent that would blatantly state it should be legal to discriminate against the trans community.

This seems to be the strategy against those in the community who opposed the bill. I've heard charges of out of state carpetbaggers opposing the bill instead of them focusing on the transgender community in MD including TransMaryland who opposed this bill. I truly hope that EQMD has gotten the message loud and clear that excluding PA did nothing to get this bill passed. I hope they support a fully inclusive bill that would unite not divide the GLBT community. I am not transgender myself but stood with those in the community here in MD who were opposed to PA being dropped.

As one of the out-of-state "carpetbaggers" who called for an amendment to the bill to put back the public accommodations piece that was left out, but, once the bill had passed in the House of Delegates ws not opposed to having it pass in the Senate (provided senators and delegates made a commitment to get the public accommodations piece passed as a priority for the next session, and asking EQ MD to put that ahead of marriage in its priority list for 2012), I don;t see myself as a "carpetbagger." I visit or pass through Maryland on both the I-95 and US-13 corridors, and I could very well be at least theoretically adversely impacted by the lack of public accommodations coverage.

Public accommodations is not just bathrooms - and the lack of coverage means that trans people can be refused service in any business, hotel, restaurant etc. It's not even "separate but equal" it's a matter of potential denial of service.

One not-fully-passable trans woman stopped at an I-95 rest area in MAryland, and was entering the ladies' room, when a state trooper told her, "sorry, but you can't go there." Reluctantly, she turned to make use of the men's room facility, but again the trooper told her she could not use that restroom either.

I was once in a retaurant with a group (not in Maryland, but in another jurisdiction without protection). Not everyone "passed" perfectly. After sitting at a table for an hour, it dawned on us that none of the waitstaff was going to provide service. It wasn't an outright "you can't come in here" but the effect was similar.

Public accommodations protection is an essential part of the human rights equation.

Now, while calling for the bill to be amended, I was cognizant of the fact that even the flawed bill was better than no bill at all, which is why, once the bill passed by a wide marin in the House of Delegates, I was careful to be not in opposition to the flawed bill passing, but continued to call for the public accommodations piece to be either added, or prioritized for the next session.

I can only speak for myself - I am aware of others whose strategic opposition to the flawed bill was on the basis that it could have an adverse impact on bills in other states.

One thing everyone should have learned is that there is no point in compromising with evil - the public accommodations piece was driopped in order to eliminate the false and malicious "bathroom bill" hysteria being whipped up by the evil people who oppose human rights and dignity for the trans community - and guess what: the opposition still played the "bathroom bill" card, and apparently scared the politicians into a hasty retreat.

The bill could have done better with the public accommodations piece restored - it would still have had the same opposition, but support would not have been weakened because of the incrementalist appeasement flaw.

I got a an email notification that Joann Prinzivalli posted a comment but it isn't here. It was simply incredible. Not sure why it isn't posted!

Om Kalthoum | April 12, 2011 4:40 PM

Not incredible. If you one doesn't sign up for an account, one's comments do not post immediately; they are held for moderation by Bil or someone else.

You know, until just now I didn;t realize that I had already registered - I promise I will try to remember to sign in in the future.

And I was proud to be one of the 'out of state carpetbaggers' who at the invitation of Trans Maryland and Trans United, spoke out against this travesty of a civil rights bill as well.

Just as you GL folks can, will and do speak out about any anti-gay legislation regardless of whether you live in that area or not, trans Americans have the same rights to do the same thing.

I dare anyone cis, trans or gay to tell me I don't.

And since the voices of African-American trans Marylanders were being ignored in this contentious debate in a state with a 30% AA population, I was honored to be asked to use my big mouth, writing skills and award winning blog to speak for the folks who have been disproportionately affected by anti-trans hate and discrimination.

HB 235 was a bad bill which is now thankfully dead. Now you have the time Marylanders to follow the examples of 13 other states plus the nearby District of Columbia and craft trans protective civil rights legislation with teeth.

For anyone not familiar with the situation, here's a summary of the arguments for and against. There's been some good people on both sides.

"Right now it is a fact that 1 in 5 transgender Marylanders were fired and 12 percent have experienced homelessness because of who they are. More than 70 percent have been harassed on the job. This is unacceptable and must end this year," Meneses-Sheets writes.
All true.


But commenters aren't convinced. "HB235 provides necessary protections regarding employment and housing. It also explicitly legitimises forcing trans people to be put at the back of the bus, refused service at lunch counters, refused treatment by medics, and refused access to any restrooms at all, not just 'white only' ones," one commenter weighs in. "Other minorities can't be treated this way, HB235 explicitly states that Trans people can."
Also true. I'm "one commenter".

The bill was a mess. There'd be one long section dealing covering the rights not to be discriminated against for pretty much everyone, based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation etc etc etc etc.....all minorities but one in fact... then another, shorter, abridged version, just for trans people. Repeat over and over again. "Legislative intent" to allow such discrimination was absolutely clear.