We've been hearing a lot about the marriage equality bill in Maryland (which was today recommitted to committee), but very much less about HB 235, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in housing and employment…but not in public accommodations, which has become a bit of a sore point for some (for a little understatement).
It must also be noted that the expression “public accommodation” does not apply exclusively to public bathrooms, showers and changing facilities. Public accommodation also includes schools, libraries, hospitals, restaurants and retail establishments. It is not an exaggeration to characterize lack of protection from discrimination in public accommodation in the same way as one would the idea of segregated lunch counters. Segregated lunch counters in 2011. In Maryland.
There is a petition to add public accommodations to the bill, but I fear that boat has slipped its moorings…once it was traded away for support of the bill, a protection has rarely been brought back.
Baltimore passed a city ordinance that provided similar protections to the state bill in 2002, except with public accommodations included. Montgomery County enacted similar protections effective February of 2008. GLB residents of the states gained protections in 2002.
Know what? It rarely happens. Especially in this case, because the whole attempt would be labeled "The Bathroom Bill".
Need a case study?
We all know that Massachusetts is a leader in equality for GLBT people, right? Except not so much for the T, it turns out. While the Governor has protected state workers who happen to be transpeople, the protections do not spread to the general populace. An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes failed to pass in 2007 and failed again in 2009. The Gay Rights Bill, on the other hand, was signed in 1989 by Governor Michael Dukakis.
Twenty-two years. But soon, I'm sure. I know we are waiting. And more than waiting.
For a history of what has actually been happening...behind the scenes, if you will...I direct you to Know Thy Neighbor: Massachusetts and Maryland.
The City of Boston currently protects transgender youth and adults on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in the city’s non-discrimination ordinance and has done so through ordinance since 2002; and Massachusetts transgender youth, adults, and their families continue to face pervasive discrimination and violence because of widespread prejudice.
The Boston City Council goes on record in support of ’An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights."
An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights is the new name of An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes.
And transpeople have been speaking out, to show that we are people just like you…and don't deserve to be locked in a closet like the one in Omelas…and be forced to see otherwise good people be the ones who walked away.
But just not being personally involved discriminating is no longer enough. To help, you can try here: Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, ACLU.