Senate quashes transgender equality bill
The Senate has ended debate for the year on a bill that would have protected transgendered people from employment, credit and housing discrimination.
"The Senate’s treatment of this legislation will be remembered for a long time by the LGBT community and Marylanders who believe in equal rights for all," Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. wrote in a statement this afternoon. A Montgomery County Democrat and the chamber's only openly gay member, Madaleno vowed to file the legislation again next year.
Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, who sponsored the bill, said in an email that she is "greatly disappointed."
"After going through the painstaking process and getting so close to passage of [the bill], the Senate shamefully voted to not even give the bill an up or down vote," the Prince George's County Democrat said. "By this action, the Senate has allowed housing and employment discrimination against a vulnerable community to go unchecked."
A 27-20 vote to send the measure back to a Senate committee capped weeks of fits and starts.
The House of Delegates gave final passage just before the crossover deadline a little over two weeks ago. But in break from protocol, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller sent the bill to the Rules Committee, rather than one that directly vets legislation. Rules did end up moving the bill to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, which in turn passed it along to the Senate floor.
Instead of being debated on the floor this morning, Sen. James E. DeGrange, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, asked that it be sent back to Judicial Proceedings. Miller and other Democrats joined 11 of the 12 Senate Republicans in voting to doom the bill.
Senators were reluctant to debate the controversial issue on the final day of legislative work. Opponents said the legislation might go to far. For example, they said, schools and child care facilities should be exempted so that parents of young children are not forced to contend with questions about gender identity before they are ready to do so.