Today the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit, goes into effect.
The law makes Maryland the eighteenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to protect residents and visitors against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Since 2011, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Nevada have added gender identity and expression to their state anti-discrimination laws.
HRC was a proud member of the steering committee of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality and was the leading national organization working for passage of this bill. HRC was honored to work alongside Equality Maryland and invested more than $50,000 in the effort to pass the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, including retaining top statehouse lobbyists and granting $25,000 to Equality Maryland for field organizing efforts.
HRC thanks our longtime allies Equality Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley and the legislators whose leadership helped make today’s victory possible; including Sen. Rich Madaleno, and Delegates Luke Clippinger, Bonnie Cullison, and Joseline Pena-Melnyk.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill in May and the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) will serve as the enforcement agency.
"MCCR stands ready to fully enforce the law while working with our communities to achieve equality, inclusion, and understanding," Alvin O. Gillard, MCCR Executive Director, said in a statement. "By including this particular community as a protected class, MCCR gains a valuable tool necessary to achieve our vision of having a State that is free from any trace of unlawful discrimination."
And while the law is critical and welcome, it’s important to note that transgender Americans, and in particularly trans women of color, face a seemingly insurmountable number of obstacles. Trans women of color, for instance, continue to face disproportionate levels of violence. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 72 percent of LGBTQ homicide victims in 2013 were transgender women and 89 percent were people of color. Less than two months after this bill passed, two trans women, Kandy Hall and Mia Henderson, were brutally murdered in Baltimore.
While we celebrate this tremendous advancement today, HRC also dedicates ourselves to the hard work ahead to make life better for all members of the nation’s LGBT community.