Coalition responds to effort to petition Fairness for All Marylanders Act to referendum
April 29, 2014
BALTIMORE - Today Delegate Neil Parrott of MDPetitions.com announced an attempt to repeal the Fairness for All Marylanders Act by collecting petitions to place it on the ballot in November. The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, passed by overwhelming majorities in the Maryland Senate (32-15) and the House (82-57), updates Maryland's anti-discrimination law to include gender identity.
"Delegate Parrott will have an uphill battle to convince voters to repeal fairness for all Marylanders. The majority of Marylanders believe that everyone should be treated fairly, including having the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing and get served lunch at a restaurant. A recent Goucher poll showed that 71% of Marylanders support including transgender people in our anti-discrimination law," said Keith Thirion, Director of Advocacy and Programs for Equality Maryland.
The definition of gender identity in the Fairness for All Marylanders Act provides that a person's gender identity may be demonstrated by the "consistent and uniform assertion" of their gender identity or any other evidence that the gender identity is "sincerely held as part of the person's core identity." Numerous elected officials from local jurisdictions that protect transgender people from discrimination testified throughout the legislative session that the scenarios posed by opponents had not occurred.
"It is disappointing that anti-transgender activists are still telling Maryland citizens the same myths that fair-minded Maryland legislators have already seen through and rejected by a wide margin. The reality is that the Fairness for All Marylanders Actdoes not weaken state law on ogling, indecent exposure, or sexual assault in any way. Delegate Parrott's misleading comments about bathrooms would almost be comical if he weren't using these scare tactics to confuse the public and oppose basic civil rights protections in employment, housing, services, and public spaces," said Jer Welter, Managing Attorney of FreeState Legal Project.
The Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality, which includes the ACLU of Maryland, previously announced a public education campaign called Stand for Fairness to educate voters about the facts of the law.
"For 15 years, I've witnessed our community denied jobs, thrown out of establishments, refused an apartment and turned down for credit due to discrimination. Those acts are now forbidden with the passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Actand 71% of our fellow Marylanders agree, that All Marylanders deserve Fairness. We've had these protections covering nearly half of our state's residents since 2002 without any of the ill effects claimed by those opposed," noted Jenna Fischetti of TransMaryland.