Monday, March 30, 2009

Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill Going Down – Again

For the third year in a row, a bill banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity is headed to the abyss. Why? It cannot get a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR) Committee.

In 2007, an anti-discrimination bill had 25 House sponsors and 2 Senate sponsors. It received an unfavorable report by JPR. In 2008, another anti-discrimination bill had 2 House sponsors and 3 Senate sponsors. It did not come to a committee vote in either the Senate or the House. This year’s bill has 67 House sponsors and 14 Senate sponsors. Every Montgomery legislator except Senators Brian Frosh (D-16) – the JPR Chairman – and Rona Kramer (D-14) and Delegates Ben Kramer (D-19), Henry Heller (D-19) and Herman Taylor (D-14) is co-sponsoring the bill.

The House Judiciary Committee is not the problem since 13 of its 22 members are co-sponsors. But they are waiting for JPR to act. Only 3 of JPR’s 11 members (Senators Lisa Gladden, Jennie Forehand and Jamie Raskin) are co-sponsoring the bill. And there it sits, unwanted by most of the rest of the committee. We hear that some JPR Democrats are asking - half-jokingly - whether passage of the bill means that their female secretaries will be getting mustaches or beards.

The bill probably does not have enough support to pass JPR since the lineup is the same as in 2007, when the committee did not pass it. But now that the bill has attracted massive support in the House, shouldn’t JPR Chairman Frosh at least allow a vote?