Council Passes Amended Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill

Bill establishing term limits for council members tabled.

UPDATED (9:07 a.m.)—A split Baltimore County Council approved a controversial transgender anti-discrimination bill Tuesday night by a 5-2 vote.

The bill, sponsored by Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals seeking housing, financing or employment.

"It's a night for equality," said Quirk. "We sent a loud message that discrimination is wrong. This bill is about equality. This bill is about human rights."

The vote went along party lines with Councilmen Todd Huff and David Marks, Republicans from Timonium and Perry Hall respectively, voting against the bill.

Huff was not immediately available for comment after the meeting and did not return a call from a reporter seeking comment.

Supporters of the bill praised its passage.

"I am proud of the hard work that the council did to come to this decision," said Mark Patro, a Perry Hall resident and president of the Baltimore County chapter of  Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians. "The Council Made the right decision."

"I would also like to acknowledge the difficult decision that David Marks made today," said Patro.

Marks, in a phone interview, said he voted against the bill because he "still had questions and this issue is being debated at the state level."

There is also the question of whether Marks new district would support the bill. The new district, as drawn late last year, is decidedly more Republican than the current configuration.

"I think voters in my district picked me to make independent decisions based on what I think is right," said Marks. "That's what I've done."

The council amended the bill Monday night in an attempt to deal with concerns about language dealing with public accommodations—specifically the use of public restrooms.

The bill as proposed did not require businesses to make such facilities available to transgender people. Quirk, in an interview last month, said he believed the bill would give businesses a choice.

Many others on the council said public outcry over that language became the biggest issue in the bill.

An amendment unanimously passed Monday night adopted language used in similar laws in Howard and Montgomery counties that protects businesses from discrimination lawsuits for setting their own rules governing "facilities that are distinctly private and personal."

Two other amendments were also adopted. The first restates exemptions already in the current county anti-discrimination law. A second amendment allows employers to establish appearance, grooming and dress standards for employees as long as they are directly related to the job and are consistent with state and federal law and the individual's gender identity.

Cathy Brennan, a Towson lawyer and lesbian activist, said the bill, as written, is anti-feminist because it re-enforces traditional gender stereotypes on women.

"That's really the feminist opposition to this bill," said Brennan.

Brennan, who has performed legal and political work on lesbian and feminist issues and helped pass a statewide law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2001, said definitions in the bill are "vague and subject to interpretation."

"Frankly, I think it's a cop out," said Brennan.

Ann Miller, a Phoenix resident and opponent of the bill, called the vote "not unexpected" and said she and others are focusing on their next step.

"We're focusing on the next phase—petitioning this bill to referendum," said Miller.

Among Miller's concerns, and those of other opponents, is the worry that the bill opens the door to curriculum changes in county schools. The law, as passed, does not require the school system to teach a transgender-focused curriculum and nothing in current law prohibits the school system from developing it now.

"This opens the door to school indoctrination," said Miller. "It gives leverage to special interest lobbies to push for it and have the backing of the law to say it woud be discrimination not to do it."

Miller said she she does not support discrimination against transgender persons but believes there are already adequate protections within county law.

"I categorically reject that," said Quirk. "That's not an accurate statement."

In other council news:

• The council voted 6-1 to table a bill sponsored by Councilman David Marks that would have set term limits for council members.

Councilman Todd Huff, a Timonium Republican who co-sponsored the bill, initially voted with the majority to table the bill. In a Wednesday morning phone interview, Huff said he made a mistake and changed his vote after the session.

The bill would have amended the County Charter and limited councilmembers to three terms, contingent on voter approval, beginning with the 2014 election.

Marks ran on the issue of term limits in 2010. After the meeting, he said the council's rejection of the bill ends the issue.

"I think I've done my best on this issue," said Marks after the meeting. "I don't intend to push this any further. I think I've done my part to address this issue."

carlton February 22, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Carlton Clendaniel This bill shows the true colores of the Democrat party, anti-God and anti-family.
Cathy Brennan February 22, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Zoe Brain! What a liar! How's your brain sex working out for you? I am happy to be transphobic if transphobic means opposing the garbage legislation pushed to enshrine stereotypes into law. You can read, yes?
Josephine Hlatki February 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Both David Marks and Todd Huff voted NO on this bill, so remember that in November. This bill is a prime example of the government's overreach to control our lives and we are not going to sit still on it. We are prepared to take it to referendum and need all the help we can get in collecting signatures, so please come forward to volunteer. We can do this, but not without lots of help. One last note Quirk, Bevans, Almond, Oliver and Olszewski.......your constituents have been very interested in your vote on this moral issue and I look forward to informing them of your vote last night. Thank you. David Marks, don't fret about your term limits bill being shot down. The Democrat votes on Bill 3-12 will give you much more than you hoped for, not 3, but 1 year in office for the Democrats.
concerned citizen February 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
He has sent many emails and phone calls to people throughout this with very threating messages. This is not ok nor should a Councilman be acting in such a matter.
Tim February 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Actualy, it shows the true ignorance of folks like you. Anti-family? LOL how. Anti -God? You mean like the people who commit crimes? Or who divorce and violate the "holy" sacrament of marriage? Look - If people want to argue the bill is worded poorly or ineffectively - I'll hear that argument and possibly even agree. Some have made fair points with that. However, I tend to vote Republican, and I agree with the concept behind this bill. The ills of this society begin with people no longer caring for one another. Religion is really effective at polarizing people - and corrupting their minds with ignorance. If that makes me part Democrat, so be it. I'd rather be that, then a heartless barbarian.
Mark Patro February 22, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Tim, your comment: "I tend to vote Republican, and I agree with the concept behind this bill", makes you a reasonable person.
Michiko Ota Eyre February 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM
If I remember correctly, Brennan's statements were centered around the definition of gender identity and that the definition involves self-identification. I agree that self-identification is wrong where it comes to the public health (restroom access) aspect of any law that relates to the rights of transsexuals. I feel that some, but not all who are forced to live under this transgender "umbrella" have a medical need to access to private and personal spaces. At the same time, I do not buy the rhetoric about a flow of "men in dresses" going to start raping women and girls in public restrooms due to this legislation. The cases I have seen cited involved men, dressed as men, invading private spaces and they did not claim any kind of "transgender protection". The equality community continues to make this a social issue, which for those who are weekend crossdressers, is a social issue but there are those who truly have a gender identity issue, they have been going through years of hormone replacement therapy and many have had surgical procedures. They have jumped through every possible legal hoop to properly align every aspect of their life with their properly identified gender. To this group, this is not a social issue, this is a medical necessity. This group must be protected. If you are in Maryland and you don't have your identification changed to be congruent with your gender, you are obviously not committed to transitioning or just not ready.
ddbs00 February 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Fair enough. Thanks for addressing my comment. You'll have to forgive my deep cynicism regarding your devotion to the bill. I've seen how the sausage is made (although not in Baltimore Co.) and very little of what I witnessed, if anything, was as it was represented.
Steve Kolbe February 22, 2012 at 05:49 PM
This discussion indicates, if nothing else, that this legislation is outside the county's area of expertise which exists principally to address matters affecting land use and neighborhood services like police/fire, water, and sewer. Moreover, the depth and breadth of resources required to develop quality legislation that involves complex issues of morality are tremendous, and are certainly greater than what Quirk devoted given the closed-minded attitude he has so clearly and consistently demonstrated in refusing to listen to constituents. The good people of this county endured Councilman Quirk's selfish grandstanding yesterday, but it is not too late. County Executive Kamenetz, a veteran of the Council, can veto this legislation. He can send a message to his freshman colleague that he stands for quality legislation and stands against such unacceptable conduct, that he stands with his large community of concerned citizens, and that he stands against the special interests that Quirk has aligned himself with.
Bill Howard February 23, 2012 at 01:15 AM
@Carlton.........very good summary!!
Zoe Brain February 23, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Unfortunately, there are those living in Maryland who were born in Ohio, Tennessee etc, who are unable to get their documentation changed. In Ohio, they just don't do it, in Tennessee, it's actually illegal. This an be a real problem for Intersex people, who have been surgically altered without their consent, commonly as infants, very rarely even as adults, because the doctors guessed wrong. There's only a handful in this situation. But some, yes.
Zoe Brain February 23, 2012 at 01:56 AM
You mean research like this: Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041 "The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder." White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. - Rametti et al, J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Jun 8. "CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated FtM transsexuals is closer to the pattern of subjects who share their gender identity (males) than those who share their biological sex (females). Our results provide evidence for an inherent difference in the brain structure of FtM transsexuals." More and more of it as time goes by, saying the same thing, Cathy. Your submission is available for all to read too, so people can judge for themselves.
Caroline Temmermand February 23, 2012 at 04:02 AM
When you go into a public bathroom you expect to see others in there, too. (Hopefully you will see all washing their hands at least 20 seconds.) You do not expect to see people in the stall with you. Nothing in this bill changes that. What is also not mentioned often enough is that this bill provides for non-discrimination against people due to their sexual orientation, too. While we all use bathrooms, I seriously doubt that most of us spend much time hanging around them. For the little bit of time I spend in bathrooms around the sink areas, as an Episcopalian, I think I can handle sharing the sink area with some Lutherans and maybe some others religions, too. (And if you don't get it, I am not really commenting on religions but on the idea that rubbing elbows a few minutes a sink should not be an affront to me or anyone else on any level)
Buck Harmon February 23, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Mark Patro, Could you please provide answers to the above...?
Buck Harmon February 23, 2012 at 01:29 PM
This law is Jiffy Lube trying to fix the trans mission....that's it....throw a party...
Buck Harmon February 24, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Still waiting for some answers Patro..
Josephine Hlatki February 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Maryland is introducing a similar bill tomorrow, 2-28-12 at 1.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT February 27, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The Governor's one man wrecking ball is tearing through the state. Maryland is about to be left in a shambles while the boy wonder moves on. Same thing happened to BMORE CITY. Hopefully someone like Peter Franchot can salvage the state. Complete and absolute embarrassment on the national network yesterday. Only in America. Obama, OMalley, OH NO!
Tim February 27, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Somewhat related note: So many men don't wash their hands it's disgusting.
Cathy Brennan March 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Maryland has protected sexual orientation since 2001. Gays gain nothing with this law. Females lose much.
Mark Patro March 06, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Cathy, I'm sure you can read the law, Baltimore County is exempt from the law passed in 2001. Go look it up.
Buck Harmon March 06, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Hey Mark, Could you have a stab at answering those questions that I asked earlier on, or have you surrendered to the fact that this jiffy lube bill will never work?
Tim March 06, 2012 at 04:19 PM
LOL at this: "The council voted 6-1 to table a bill sponsored by Councilman David Marks that would have set term limits for council members." Of course they did! Kudos to Councilman Marks again for having the fortitude to do what makes sense. If you can't get what you want done in three terms, you've failed and should be replaced anyway.
jj March 06, 2012 at 07:39 PM
It is clear that Beavis and Butthead run the Council and the State of Maryland. Now a wacky collection of mall bathroom types celebrate a victory! Where did our civilized society go?
Cathy Brennan March 06, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Mark, are you seriously suggesting that the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2001 does not apply to Baltimore County residents who eat at restaurants in the county, who work for private employers in the county or try to rent in the county? Citations please. Try here: http://mlis.state.md.us/2001rs/billfile/sb0205.htm
Buck Harmon March 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Read the law Mark...You are wrong again, why don't you provide facts to back your claims.... still can't believe that Quirk can't provide answers either..
Josephine Hlatki March 06, 2012 at 11:47 PM
The petition drive will be beginning soon. Go here to sign up to either get the petition to sign or help get signatures. http://www.firstdonoharm7.blogspot.com/ More articles and info there, too.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT March 07, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Any chance of a recall of Quirk? Can someone in that position be recalled?
Josephine Hlatki March 07, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Yes, with a reason.
angry June 23, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I've been using the female restrooms since i started transitioning and that was 6 years ago. I thought I read a threat up there. You wanna bring it bitch?


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