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Transgender employment rights bill introduced by Maryland lawmakers

Anyone who watched President Barack Obama's inauguration last week likely heard the president's unexpected announcement of his support for gay rights. That proclamation has swiftly been followed by a call to action by gay rights activists, and one of the first things asked of the president has been that he ban federal contractors from practicing sexual orientation discrimination. Many might be surprised that this type of discrimination is not already outlawed in employment.

Many states, including Maryland, have issued bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the federal government has been slow to make this update to employment law. Here in Maryland, our state's lawmakers are furthering attempts to cast out discrimination and this week a bill was introduced that would outlaw transgender discrimination in employment as well as in housing and public accommodations.

The bill is called the Fairness of All Marylanders Act of 2013 and it has more than 20 co-sponsors. Last April, the same bill died in a committee when two state senators blocked a vote on it, but one of these two senators has now stood behind the proposal.

Maryland would not be the first state to afford such protections to those who are transgender. In fact, 16 states and Washington, D.C., already have bans against this type of discrimination in place.

It will be interesting to see how the state's lawmakers act on this bill. Regardless of the outcome, it is important that people are aware that transgender discrimination would likely overlap with many existing laws, such as laws against sex discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, harassment and more. It is always wise to seek legal counsel after experiencing any type of discrimination as there may be a claim available under an overlapping law.

Source: Washington Blade, "Maryland lawmakers introduce transgender rights bill," Michael K. Lavers, Jan. 29, 2013

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