The Maryland House of Delegates voted 82–57 Thursday afternoon to approve the Fairness for All Marylanders (SB 212), which adds gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination protections, ensuring that transgender people will have equal access to employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations. The Senate previously passed the bill 32–15, so it now heads to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has promised to sign it.
Opponents of the bill trotted out hackneyed claims that transgender people are somehow responsible for sexual abuse in bathrooms. Multiple amendments were filed during the debate in an attempt to remove the public accommodation protections and otherwise derail the bill, but they all failed.
The legislation has been proposed numerous times over the past eight years, but never survived passage in both chambers. Sexual orientation has been protected under the law in Maryland since 2001. When the law takes effect, Maryland will be the 18th state (plus the District of Columbia) to protect transgender residents from employment discrimination. Firing people based on their sexual orientation remains legal in 29 states and based on gender identity in 32 states.