Measure sought to combat discriminationBy JOSHUA LYNSEN | Mar 26, 5:26 PM
Maryland legislators have voted down an effort to bar discrimination against the state’s transgender residents and workers.
By a 6-5 vote, the Senate judicial proceedings committee on Friday rejected a measure that sought to outlaw discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.
Although the vote came largely along party lines, Sens. Norman Stone Jr. (D-Baltimore County) and C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) opposed the bill.
Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, said he was surprised and disappointed by the outcome.
“We’re disturbed, disgruntled, hurt and angry that such a common-sense piece of legislation, with practically zero opposition, became bogged down by political maneuvering,” he said.
Furmansky said Equality Maryland lobbyists, members and supporters worked frantically in the runup to last week’s vote to force committee action on the measure.
He said the judicial proceedings committee chair, Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), was reluctant to call for a vote on the bill despite a 2006 campaign pledge to support such legislation.
“Senate leadership did not want this bill on the floor for fear of a filibuster,” Furmansky said, “which we think was highly unlikely.”
Frosh ultimately voted to send the measure before the full Senate, where activists expected it to pass.
“We had the vote count on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate,” Furmansky said. “We had the votes.”
But last week’s vote effectively kills the bill for this session, which ends April 9. Given the Senate committee vote, a companion House bill is unlikely to undergo further consideration.
Sen. Lisa Gladden, the bill’s author, said this year’s measure nonetheless was a valuable step forward.
“Although this bill was voted down, we made tremendous progress on educating the committee and the members of the General Assembly on this important issue,” she said, “and we will reintroduce and pass this bill next year.”
Equality Maryland board member Dana Beyer, who is transgender, agreed.
“We will be back,” she said. “We will be working on this for the next 12 months and we will get it done next session.”
Joshua Lynsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org