by Kevin C. McCormick
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed a bill that prohibits discrimination against transgender citizens in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.
The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which was passed by the legislature on March 27 and signed into law on May 15, adds “gender identity” to the Maryland laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. The law is designed to protect any person who has or is perceived to have a gender identity or expression that may be considered different or inconsistent with his assigned sex at birth, regardless of whether the person self-identifies as transgender.
The law does not cover employers with fewer than 15 employees. Religious institutions, schools, and associations; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; and owner-occupied dwellings or apartments with fewer than five units also are exempt. Covered employers that violate the statute will be subject to the penalties included in Section 20 of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Opponents of the law have announced that they will petition for a statewide referendum on the new law, which would require approximately 56,000 signatures. If enough signatures are obtained, the matter will be placed on the ballot in the next general election.
For more information on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, see “Maryland Legislature passes transgender rights bill” on page 3 of the May issue of Maryland Employment Law Letter.