O'Malley will back transgender rights bill

January 23, 2012|by Annie Linskey

Though it won't be part of his legislative agenda, Gov. Martin O'Malley told reporters this morning that he will back a bill to extend employment, housing and other rights to transgender people.

"I support it wholeheatedly," O'Malley said. "I do support it. It won't be a part of the legislative package, there are only a few things in the legislative package."

Dana Beyer, of Gender Rights Maryland, said the group did not expect O'Malley to introduce this year's bill -- but she's hoping the governor will mention it during the Feb. 1 state of the state address.

Beyer said the bill will put transgender people in the same protected class as minorities, people with disabilities and people who are gay. The proposed law would make it illegal for anyone deny housing, employment or a loan to a person because they are transgender. Also, transgender people could not be denied access at restaurants, lunch counters -- or bathrooms.

Last session a transgender equality bill passed in the House but stopped in the Senate. It did not garner the same attention of other high profile social bills last year like in-state tuition and same-sex marriage.

The governor took up the cause in May -- after the session was over -- when two females were accused of attacking Chrissy Lee Polis, a ed woman, outside a women's restroom at McDonalds in Rosedale. The fight was captured on video, became a YouTube sensation and brought attention to issues faced by transgender people.

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