SVoss-Madaleno08Maryland could soon become the 17th state to pass laws that ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression in the workplace, housing market, and public accommodations.

Openly gay State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced the “Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013” Tuesday along with co-sponsor State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County). The bill had more than 20 co-sponsors upon its introduction, just a vote shy of the total required for passage.

A similar piece of legislation failed to make it past a Senate committee last year. But advocates are optimistic this year given Maryland’s historic marriage equality vote last November, and the strong, early support the measure has garnered so far.

“Put simply, the process of passing a bill requires that you line up the votes you need to make it through a chamber,” Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, told the Washington Blade. “That process is eased considerably when those legislators are willing to sign on as co-sponsors. I am very pleased we can show this degree of support in the Senate, which I attribute to the diligent work of Senators Madaleno and Raskin and their staffs. The trans community should be very hopeful that this is the year.”

The bill will head to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in the coming month, where it is expected to pass easily. It will then go to the Senate floor for a vote (assuming Senate President V. Thomas “Mike” Miller permits it on the floor), followed by a full hearing in the House.

Photo: Steven Voss