Maryland Transgender Non-Discrimination Bill Dies In Senate
April 11, 2011 4:05 pm ET by Equality Matters staff
Maryland’s House Bill 235, which would have prohibited employment, housing, and credit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, has been sent back to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 27-20, effectively killing the bill for the remainder of this year’s legislative session.
A senate whip count for the bill recently indicated that HB 235 had at least twenty-seven votes, three more than the twenty-four needed for passage but a couple short of the twenty-nine needed for cloture.
The fate of the bill had been a topic of intense speculation over the past few weeks. After passing the state’s House of Delegates by a 86-52 vote in late March, the bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee, also known as a “graveyard” for controversial bills. The move sparked outrage from many supporters of the bill, including Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk, the bill’s lead sponsor in the House. Pena-Melnyk criticized Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller for singling out the bill to be sent to the Rules Committee, saying the move was “a tremendous, gross disrespect to the community.”
Last week, however, Metro Weekly reported that the bill had made it out of the Rules Committee. Equality Maryland executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets credited community activism for reviving the bill and moving out of Rules:
We've literally had thousands of emails and hundreds of calls made to get it out of Rules... and we are very fortunate to have wonderful allies within the General Assembly who have been working on this. This was a very difficult hurdle, yet we also know there's been a lot of hard work here in Annapolis to continue to support this bill.
On Saturday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 7-4 to approve the legislation after only 90 minutes of debate.
The bill won’t be able to come up for a vote again until 2012.