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AmericaBlog Gay: Why is MD State Senator Brian Frosh Blocking The GI Anti-Discrimination Bill?

Update: The gender bill was the ONLY bill among the 94 sent by the House to the Senate that was put in Rules Committee purgatory.  Read the EQMD email after the fold.

From Metro Weekly‘s Maryland Gender Identity Bill Moved to Senate Rules Committee — “This is not a normal process” (emphasis added):

When the Maryland House of Delegates voted in favor of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235, advocates of the measure were immediately concerned about the bill’s movement in the Senate.

In the past, a similar version of the bill has died four times in the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, where the bill was expected to go.

Metro Weekly has learned that H.B. 235 will not be going to that committee. Instead the bill received its first reading in the Senate’s Rules Committee on Friday, March 25, and a hearing is expected to be scheduled in the coming days.

Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) chairs that committee, with Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) serving as its co-chair….

From the Washington Blade‘s All eyes on key lawmaker as Md. Senate considers trans bill (emphasis added):

As the Maryland Senate prepares to debate a bill that would bar discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment and credit, some supporters are concerned about the role Sen. Brian Frosh will play in its fate.

Frosh, a Democrat from Montgomery County, chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which must vote to report the bill to the floor. The legislative session ends April 11, so time is running short and any delay in committee could doom the measure this year.

“I would encourage the LGBT and allied community to put their energy and focus on Sen. Frosh, who year after year has bottled up this bill in committee,” said Dan Furmansky, former executive director of Equality Maryland who has been working full time for the past month with pro-LGBT organizations in Annapolis on behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association. “Things are fluid … I wouldn’t be surprised if he schedules a late hearing so time runs out.”

Furmansky said that Frosh refused to bring a similar bill to a vote in 2009, even though Equality Maryland had requested it. Now that the full House has passed the measure, Furmansky said he hopes Frosh will schedule a committee vote as soon as possible.

“We were willing to take our chances in 2009 because we felt it was time for legislators to be on the record,” Furmansky said. “Frosh must take this vote and not wait until the end of the legislative session so Sen. Mike Miller can find the time to schedule a floor vote.”

From AmericaBlog Gay‘s Why is MD State Senator Brian Frosh Blocking The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill? (emphasis added):

…Well, there’s a delay. And, it looks like Frosh is part of the problem — again.

Metro Weekly’s Yusef Najafi has the latest from Annapolis. He reports that the legislation will not follow the regular procedure and be heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. It is being heard in the Senate Rules Committee, which Frosh co-chairs.

That’s not good:

According to transgender activist Dana Beyer, who has been monitoring movement of the bill, the switch is bad news.

“It’s bad,” Beyer says, adding that there’s also no explanation given as to why the bill is going to the Rules committee.

“We don’t trust Frosh and this seems to be his way of killing it and leaving himself with clean hands,” Beyer says. “Bills don’t go to Rules Committee unless there’s a problem with them. This is not the normal process. There really is no reason for it. I would say this doesn’t look good, and there’s no excuse for it.”

Another activist in Maryland who has been lobbying for the legislation, Cathy Brennan, says the move means that the bill is “dead.”

“The legislation appears dead for this session and a key issue for activists is to determine why Brian Frosh insists on being such an obstacle for this legislation,” she says.

Why does Frosh insist on being an obstacle?

So why does he?

Dear Laurel,

This past Saturday – the Maryland House of Delegates passed the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 235) by a vote of 86-52. The vote outcome shows that approval for this bill was well above a simple majority and included bi-partisan support.

CLICK HERE to contact Sen. Frosh and Sen. Klausmeier to keep HB 235 alive!

We made our case to the members of the House of Delegates and they agreed by a significant majority – House bill 235 will add critical protections for transgender Marylanders in the areas of housing, employment, and credit.

Laurel – This bill will literally save lives.  

Even though HB 235 was passed by the House with ample time to be assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, an extra hurdle was imposed on a bill that 60% of the House of Delegates voted to send to the Senate.

Of the 94 bills that were passed by the House of Delegates on Friday and Saturday – the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act was the ONLY bill that was not sent to the appropriate committee for further consideration.  Our bill was sent to the Rules Committee – which is tantamount to procedurally killing the bill for this year.

NO committee hearing – no committee vote – No Senate consideration for a bill that passed with a 60% Majority! Contact Sen. Frosh and Sen. Klausmeier now and urge them to move this bill out of the Rules Committee to be fairly considered by the Senate.

Laurel, We played by the RULES.  But it seems like there may be special rules for only 1 of 94 bills that were passed by the House of Delegates this weekend.  TELL THE SENATE TO LET THIS BILL OUT OF COMMITTEE!

This bill deserves a hearing and a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Time is of the essence – there are only 2 weeks left in this legislative session.  We need EVERYONE in the LGBT and allied community to take action today and help keep this important bill moving.

CLICK HERE to tell Senator Kathy Klausmeier (Chair) and Senator Brian Frosh (Vice-Chair) to move this bill out of the Rules Committee TODAY!

Senator Frosh is also the Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee where we expected the bill to be sent.  We believe that we have the votes to get it to the Senate floor, but we need the Rules Committee to let it out!

There are less than two weeks left in the 2011 Session, Please Cathy, act today to help take this important first step in ending discrimination against the transgender community by passing HB 235 this year!

Will you speak up for fairness? CLICK HERE to take action right away!

Yours in Equality,

Morgan Meneses-Sheets

Executive Director

PS – Today, Congress re-introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will provide job protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Let’s make sure to lead the way here in Maryland by passing HB 235 this year!

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