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Transgender Rights Bill Awaits Final Vote in Maryland House

Opponents said the bill's wording could enable sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms.

Transgender refers to a person who does not identify with conventional notions of male or female. (Credit: Iowa City Patch)
Transgender refers to a person who does not identify with conventional notions of male or female. (Credit: Iowa City Patch)
By Melanie Balakit, CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

A bill that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, commonly known as the transgender rights bill, will move on to a final vote in the Maryland House of Delegates as early as Thursday.

If the bill passes through the House and is signed into law, Maryland would join at least 17 other states and 140 local jurisdictions that have passed similar legislation, according to a legislative analysis. The state Senate passed the bill with a vote of 32-15 on March 4.

Similar proposals have been introduced in the Maryland legislature since 2007, but none have made it as far as the recent Senate bill. The current measure would protect transgender people from housing, public accommodation and employment discrimination.

Opponents argued Wednesday that the wording of the bill might enable sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms.

Delegate Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore County, said she plans to propose an amendment that would remove the words "public accommodation" from the bill.

Szeliga said it’s possible that predators and pedophiles could enter women’s bathrooms by claiming to identify as a woman.

"This is about protecting women and children," said Szeliga. "Predators and pedophiles could take advantage of this loophole."

Supporters said that removing "public accommodation" from the bill would gut the bill because public accommodation extends beyond just bathrooms. Examples of public spaces include restaurants and movie theaters.

Baltimore City became the first jurisdiction in Maryland in 2002 to pass legislation protecting transgender rights. Montgomery County passed similar legislation in 2007, Howard County in 2011, and most recently, Hyattsville in 2013.

Related: Maryland Senate Passes Bill to Protect Transgender Rights
Mark March 27, 2014 at 09:53 PM
Methinks that angry conservatives like Buck and "Civil Citizen" need to have special legislation enacted to protect their minority-minded way of thinking. That, or a special retreat off the grid in the new state of Western Maryland is a-waiting.
amark March 28, 2014 at 07:06 AM
Mark when I read stories like this and comments like yours that idea of secession sounds like a great idea.
Buck Harmon March 28, 2014 at 08:48 AM
I have developed more of a Libertarian view Mark...we have been screwed enough by both sides of this equation...maintaining the divide can only end in a bad way. Both sides should simply surrender the silliness and let nature take it's course. What on earth could be wrong with that concept?
Buck Harmon March 28, 2014 at 08:50 AM
Don't be so quick to slap on the labels there Mark...)
Alan Burdette Jr. April 07, 2014 at 07:28 PM
With all the major problems looming in our government, I can't believe that the time has been wasted on this issue.

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