In close vote, Senate committee rejects Transgender Non-Discrimination Bill – Fairness for All Marylanders Act
Maryland legislation that prohibits discrimination against the LGBT community failed to overcome a major hurdle today, meaning it is unlikely the bill will
become law this year. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 5-6 against Senate Bill 449, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA) of 2013. This vital piece of legislation seeks to extend nondiscrimination protections to trans community with regard to public accommodations, housing and employment.
Task Force Senior Field Organizer Bex Ahuja has been working with the field leadership team to increase turnout for lobby visits and community actions in hopes to secure both legislative and public support for the equal treatment of Maryland’s trans community. For the hearing two weeks ago, the Task Force provided testimony supporting the bill, as well as assisted the bill sponsors with legal analysis and talking points. The Task Force has been a proud member of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, the primary coalition working in support of the bill.
Presently, 16 states in addition to Washington, D.C., have statewide prohibitions on gender identity discrimination. Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and Montgomery County already have these laws on the books, but many transgender Marylanders are still vulnerable from a lack of coverage, making a statewide bill necessary.
The Task Force’s groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, found that Maryland transgender and gender non-conforming people were being fired, harassed, passed over for promotion, and not hired simply for being who they were: 71% experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and 18% had lost their job because of their identity. Likely due to this discrimination, transgender Marylanders experienced poverty (making under $10,000 per year) at a rate nearly three times the national average.
Also probably due to troubles with employment discrimination as well as housing discrimination, 12% of transgender Marylanders experienced homelessness. Seventeen percent (17%) were denied a home or apartment due to being transgender. Twenty-two percent (22%) had to find temporary spaces to stay in an attempt to avoid homelessness. More than half (54%) experienced harassment and mistreatment in public accommodations.
The Task Force is saddened that Senate Bill 449 is unlikely to pass this year. The transgender community deserves and needs these basic protections.