A bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, licensing and commercial leasing against transgender Marylanders was scheduled to be voted on today in the Maryland House's Health and Government Operations Committee. The vote, however, did not happen due to a "procedural hold" brought forth by Republican Del. Susan Krebs (Carroll County).
According to a staffer from the Health and Government Operations Committee office, Krebs said she needed a definition of "transgender," one that was approved by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (D), before voting on House Bill 235. That request, according to the staffer, was placed Wednesday, March 23.
A committee vote has been scheduled for H.B. 235 for Friday, March 25, but the office did not have information as to what will happen with the vote if Gansler has not responded by then.
Kreb's did not immediately return a request for comment. A spokesperson in the attorney general's office, meanwhile, was unable to provide any immediate information about the status of request when contacted by Metro Weekly this evening.
Speaking to Metro Weekly about today's developments, Equality Maryland executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said she is confident that the bill will make it through committee, even without Kreb's support, and land on the House floor before the end of this year's legislative session, which is April 11.
"It will go up for a vote tomorrow and we will still have plenty of time to get it out of the House," she says.
"In no way do I think the bill is dead. It's going to come out of committee tomorrow and then they're still working all day tomorrow, Saturday, Monday, they have multiple sessions everyday -- there's plenty of time."
Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk's (D- Anne Arundel, Prince George's) is the lead sponsor of the bill, but -- with ongoing floor proceedings late today -- she was unavailable for comment this evening.
Currently, Baltimore City and Montgomery County provide protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity with regard to housing, employment and public accommodation. Supporters of the statewide legislation argue that often times people are unaware of these local protections. Opponents of the legislation include members of the LGBT community who argue that the bill is inadequate because it only provides some, not all, protections by excluding "public accommodations" on a state level.