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Transgender Protections Bill Moves Toward Passage

Amendment to remove controversial public accommodations language has enough votes to pass. Readers can weigh in on the subject in our poll.

The Baltimore County Council appears set to approve a bill but it will likely pass with an amendment governing the use of public accommodations, including restrooms.

A bi-partisan coalition has joined Democratic Councilman John Olszewski Sr. and Republican Councilman Todd Huff on an amendment that clarifies provisions governing the use of private and personal facilities, including bathrooms, in a bill sponsored by Councilman Tom Quirk.

Quirk's bill seeks to prevent discrimination against transgender persons in employment, housing and finance. It's similar to one .

The bill as proposed did not require businesses to make such facilities available to transgender people but the councilman said he believed the bill would give businesses a choice.

The amendment clarifies that the law does not apply to bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms or other facilities that are designated for male or female use. The change would essentially protect business owners from discrimination lawsuits.

Olszewski, a Dundalk Democrat, said, "The bathroom issue is probably the biggest issue" related to the bill. He said he introduced his amendment with the idea that both sides could work out a compromise.

"If (the amendment passes) maybe it can be worked on and a solution can be reached," said Olszewski.

Olszewski's amendment is one of four amendments given to reporters after the hearing.

A second amendment, sponsored by Bevins, a Democrat, and Perry Hall Republican Councilman David Marks, adds language that restates exemptions to the law that are already part of county code.

Another, sponsored by Olszewski and Marks, allows employers to establish rules governing appearance in the work place while allowing employees to dress in a way that is consistent with their employee's gender identity.

A final amendment, sponsored by Quirk and Bevins, seeks to define the term "gender identity and expression" as a "persistent, bona fide gender-related identity and the consistent public manifestation of that identity" in the appearance of an individual regardless of the person's sex at birth.

Quirk's bill has three co-sponsors, enough to assure passage.

The amendment sponsored by Olszewski and Huff  has three co-sponsors, including Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a co-sponsor on Quirk's bill, and Marks.

The council is scheduled to vote on the bill and amendments Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Old Courthouse in Towson.

Olszewski discussed his amendment following more than two hours of testimony on the bill Tuesday. The hearing marked the third time opponents and proponents of the bill descended on the council to speak on the legislation in the last three weeks.

Bevins, , said she supported Quirk's bill but had growing concerns about the public accommodations portion of the bill. After the hearing, the councilwoman said she heard little to change her opinion.

"My district has been calling me overwhelmingly about the public accommodations," said Bevins, an Oliver Beach Democrat. "I've heard from a lot of business owners in my district. I didn't hear anyone here who was from my district."

Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond had also expressed concerns over the public accommodations portion of the law. Following the hearing, Almond said she felt comfortable with the bill.

"I'm really trying to remember that this is legislation about equality and rights," said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat. "I really don't think the bathroom issues is that big an issue. The bill is bigger than that."

For many business owners and county residents, concerns about public accommodations became a key issue with many testifying that the law could lead to lawsuits or criminal acts committed by men dressing as women in order to use restrooms designated for women.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, in a letter to the County Council, said his county has had no criminal issues related to passage of a similar bill in his county.

Keith Scott, president and chief executive officer of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, said business owners are just "want to know how this is going to affect them and what they need to do."

"It's enough that we have to deal with Annapolis and all the tax increases we're seeing," said Scott. "The last thing we want to have to figure out is who we have to let in our bathrooms and who we don't let in out bathrooms."

Johnny Angel, a Dundalk business owner, said the bill creates problems for him.

"I would not allow a transgender man or woman to work for me or use the facilities of another (sex)," said Angel, who also brought his 7-, 6- and 5-year old children with him to testify that they would be concerned about using a bathroom with a transgender person.

Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, said that nationally, corporations including "153 Fortune 500 companies protect transgender employees." He added that 3,000 other companies and universities and labor unions nationwide offer similar protections.

"It's corporate America that really has led the way in the protection of transgender employees," Quirk said.

Owen Smith, a transgender man, said he moved to Dundalk from Wisconsin with the desire to become an emergency medical technician. After graduating top of his class at the Community College of Baltimore County, Smith said he encountered difficulties in interviewing in person.

"They would see my face is different from my application," said Smith, who now works for Equality Maryland, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. "My drivers license is female and my name is Heidi but I have a beard and go by Owen."

Smith said one in five transgender people have lost their jobs because their are transgender. About 12 percent have been homeless.

Smith said he lost his job because he is transgender.

"I am those statistics," he said.

Mark Patro, a Perry Hall resident and president of the Baltimore County chapter of  Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians, compared the bill to the federal legislation protecting African Americans.

"Think for a moment about what this country would be if we passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act without allowing African Americans to use the restrooms," said Patro. "Think about that seriously. That's where we're going if you pass this amendment you're talking about."

"If you want to be Strom Thurmond or you want to be Jesse Helms then vote against this bill and the same reputation will follow you," said Patro.

Josephine Hlatki February 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Just had to post this last link to lots more....you be the judge as to what is real and what is not. http://www.myinterwebz.net/2011/07/07/some-men-wear-dresses-guys-get-over-it/
Paul Amirault February 17, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Anita, I would recommend you be careful about painting a whole group of people for actions of a small group that may not be part of the group and are just criminals. Which it appears is what you are doing by referencing crimes. The other edge of that sword is very sharp.
Sara February 17, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Hi, Buck. Yeah, I really was formally a Biblical scholar although nowhere near the level of some of my teachers. My family has always been deeply devoted to the Catholic Church, so it was only natural that I took advantage of the gifts of my Jesuit professors. I hope I was able to give something back in return. First thing I learned is that studying the Bible to discern God's will is both so simple a child can do it and yet so complex that some details that appear at first glance to contradict each other take decades of person hours to research, including corroborating with external documents and yes, prayer for guidance. My apologies, Buck, if I lumped you in with people misusing their own primary text. Insofar as legislators wasting time and money on unenforceable legislation, well that's often what equality bills are. There are no bathroom patrols that work out of the police department. But having a law that protects people isn't intended for that sort of enforcement, is it?
Josephine Hlatki February 17, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Paul Amirault, Someone said there have never been any crimes by men dressed as women. I'm just supplying what I found on that subject. Not painting anyone any color. My point is, how are we to know who is actually a Transgender and who is just a peeper, a rapist, or whatever in a dress to get his jollies. We can't tell, can we? Will we be lifting men's skirts to look underneath to make sure that thing has been changed? That will go over really well with more than fights going on in bathrooms and locker rooms.
Paul Amirault February 17, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Anita Schatz, I understand exactly why you did that. Sadly, my point is no one ever knows what may be hiding behind a robe or in another person's mind until it is too late.
Sara February 17, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Anita, this has nothing to do with sexuality. If it did, there'd be people railing against gays and lesbians being allowed to use restrooms out of fear, too. But they don't always look different enough, do they? Completely off track, but the part of whole point of Jesus' ministry was that he was actively opposing Hebrew traditions, including the Hebrew Bible. His whole, "love thy neighbor", his (by today's standards) Leftist, Progressive, Socialist politics and teachings...blasphemy to the Jewish leaders of His day. That's basic stuff, Anita, and crucial to understanding both Testaments and the relationship between them. Unless it's understood, Christians tend to forget the teachings of Jesus that were intended to modify the original Hebrew laws. One place He confirmed the Prophets was when he specifically referred back to one of my favorites, Isaiah, and confirmed that God wants us to include trans people of all forms in our Love and in the Church. It's backed by another very lengthy passage in Acts that refers to both the prior ones. That's a powerful message, not just a one sentence proclamation against women wearing pants. Insofar as Genesis goes, no human is purely male or female, man or woman. There are men with female bone ratios and women with so much testosterone they grow beards (and 100's of other examples). But Genesis and Deut.32:1 was why Jesus confirmed Issiah, to clarify God's Will. As was the purpose for much of His Word.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT February 17, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Are you going to rally at his business office on Frederick Road?
Josephine Hlatki February 17, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Yes. Bring folks with you.
Sara February 17, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Anita, why do you keep recommending the Sex Disorders Clinic at John Hopkins? It was started by Paul McHugh, as you pointed out on another thread, and had as one of it's first purposes to protect child molesters and train them to evade prosecution by law enforcement. "McHugh…is the man whose report to the court in one case stated that a defendant’s harassing phone calls were not obscene - including the call that detailed a fantasy of a 4-year-old sex slave locked in a dog cage and fed human waste. At least eight men have been convicted of sexually abusing Maryland children while under treatment at the “sex disorders” clinic McHugh runs at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - abuse the doctors did not report, citing client confidentiality. When Maryland law was changed to require that doctors report child molestation, the clinic fought it and advised patients on how to get around the law. The memo to patients suggested that molesters report their pedophilic activities to their lawyers, who could in turn tell staff; attorney-client privilege would then protect the molesters from being reported. This memo was fully approved by the boss - Dr. Paul McHugh…” Btw, he went on in 2000 to be brought in as an adviser to the Vatican right about the time the priest molestation scandals broke...
Sara February 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Forgot to mention, McHugh started that Sex Disorders Clinic at Hopkins after he shut down the Gender Clinic. He mentioned in his book that even before he set foot in his new job, his goal was to shut it down...
Buck Harmon February 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Please provide the address of the meeting on Fredrick Road...Thanks
Buck Harmon February 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I am a Methodist... After many years of intense study of the Wesleyan theology, I came to understand where the term Methodist came from....what ever method works.. Religion is man made, not God made, and is~ has been the most divisive structure on this planet. Differences in religion or religious beliefs have no place in this matter. I would suggest a more caring, loving approach in sharing your well studied, well versed opinion of the matters at hand here. This situation has nothing what so ever to do with religion, and the fact that it keeps getting thrown in the mix here seems to be a surrender to facts associated with this very bad law. God would never smile at this silly behavior. Each time you read the bible a different meaning or interpretation can be found.... because a certain "method" of interpretation works for you, does not mean that it's Gods law. Religion is not necessarily a good thing. Please tell me exactly why you believe that transgender human beings are in need of special protection law, that is not currently offered. Why should any group of human beings be afforded special treatment over the rest of the population? So far...over 135 comments... not one person has made a solid argument as to why special treatment is necessary. Quirk, Almond have their heads stuck in the sand at this point. Why, If this is so darn important, have they not provided some input to this blog? Weak leaders without the facts to justify their inappropriate actions..
Donald Bixby Stexe February 18, 2012 at 02:11 AM
All this brouhaha over using the bathroom!! If a transvestite/transgender went to the men's room, she's gonna get beaten up. Now, they dont want to let her in the ladies room. Where's a girl supposed to go to use the toilet, for heaven's sake?
Sara February 18, 2012 at 05:17 AM
So is the "guy with a beard in women clothing" an assumed woman taking testosterone or an assumed man taking estrogen? A: Could be either. Do you prohibit both from using any bathroom, then? Where do they get to go? What about a woman with PCOS that has facial hair (a beard) because her body produces too much testosterone on it's own? Does she get to use the women's room or will she be forced to use the men's room? Sounds like just so long as someone looks like they fit in, they are allowed to use the bathroom they are in. Is that about right?
Josephine Hlatki February 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Councilman Tom Quirk's Office 754 Frederick Road Catonsville, MD 21228
Josephine Hlatki February 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
That's the point......most TRANSGENDERS AND NO TRANSVESTITES ARE GIRLS OR WOMEN. THEY ARE MEN IN WOMEN'S CLOTHES or if you want to see it from our perspective, WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. Where do you think they've been going to the bathroom now.....the men's room or unisex bathrooms? They want this open to ANY SEXUAL DEVIANT DRESSED AS A WOMAN TO LEGALLY BE WITH women and little girls not just in BATHROOMS, BUT SHOWERS, DRESSING ROOMS, LOCKER ROOMS, ETC. So, Donald, to keep you big strong men from being tempted to beat one up, you'd much rather subject the much weaker sex and children to the sexual moods of these men. Click on some of the links I provided earlier on the various cross dress related sex crimes by them and tell me you still think this is silly. I've done a lot of reseaerch and when I read about how some of them get turned on by the sound of a women peeing in the toilet, I would not be able to go to the bathroom, knowing I could be exciting one of them....let alone knowing some little girl is triggering some deviant sexual behavior. At the work session Tuesday, they were keeping an eye on me and when I had to go to the ladies room, suddenly one of them had to go, too. I know he followed me in there because of who I am, just to intimidate me into creating another Chrissy Polis incident and used the stall next to me when the one closer to the door would have been more convenient. I got through that, but don't want to again. Next see link.
Josephine Hlatki February 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Read this link and see why we don't want these people in these private areas with women or worst yet, children. http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Transgender
Josephine Hlatki February 18, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Buck, you want to get Quirk's or Almond's attention or any of the Dems for that matter, be the one to announce you are holding the rally at their office. Your phone will ring off the hook and you'll get personal e-mails, trying to get you to cancel it. That's what is happening to the person who scheduled the rally.
Donald Bixby Stexe February 19, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Well, the priests ad the nuns at my parish are for the bill, so I have decided to side with them in this thing. I don't approve of discrimination against anyone.
Bart February 19, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I have been pretty "hands-off" on this topic, because of the retoric form both sides. However, I have to say that Anita is one of the most hateful, angry and bigotted persons I have ever had the displeasure to read on these boards. All they are asking for is what all of us take for granted.....to be allowed t hold a job, rent an apartment, buy a house. Anita can't get out of the bathroom.
Buck Harmon February 19, 2012 at 03:37 AM
This is not about discrimination...It's about creating a law that will not be able to be enforced without discriminating.
Josephine Hlatki February 19, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I’ve wasted enough of my valuable time trying to reason with unreasonable people. I've proved my point and am leaving this conversation. You can all knock yourselfs out now, badmouthing me. You just can't take the truth so you fight back. It's understandable. I've learned that the only thing the proponents of this bill have is the ability to shout loudly and make the most outrageous allegations against those who don’t agree with them. No amount of documented proof will satisfy them. My focus from the start has been protecting the most innocent who can’t speak for themselves who will be the most harmed by this...the children. All that is left is to pray for your misguided souls.
Paul Amirault February 19, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Prejudices are what fools use for reason. Voltaire Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/v/voltaire_6.html#ixzz1mqII1PCT
Bart February 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Gee, Anita: "shout loudly and make the most outrageous allegations against those who don’t agree with them" Sounds a lot like someone who will assemble a mob to demonstrate at a person's place of business.
Kate February 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Hear, hear Bart! It is so interesting that the loudest and most outrageous person on this board does not see herself in the comments she makes about others. No need to pray for my misguided soul, thanks. I'd prefer to take care of my own....
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT February 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Or Occupy Wall Street. If those on the board are correct and Anita is wrong, her group assembling at Mr. Quirk's office would be the best advertising ever for his business. You would think Mr. Quirk would want this. Why would he fight this?
Paul Amirault February 20, 2012 at 06:50 PM
RMI, would you view a demonstration by those that oppose her in front of her home the same way? Demonstrating in front of Mr. Quirk's place of business appears to be an attempt to intimidate him. Demonstrating in front of her home would be also. Mr. Quirk's political headquarters is fair game. If that is the same as his place of business, enjoy your demonstration there.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I am intimidated by the fact that reckless, poorly worded, laws will create more problems than currently exist. Could someone please explain the exact reason for the need of this perceived additional protection? How does this proposal plan to effectively and fairly enforce it's contents. Putting the cart before the horse is typical of wanna be law maker with little experience. Seeking facts, not cute little ditties here... has anyone that posts in favor of this silliness actually read the proposal??
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Elected public servant officials that create difficult situations with hopes of advancing their own agenda need to be held to the highest degree of accountability. Takin it to the streets... even home or business is the responsibility of the citizenry. Allowing too much government control over the personal lives of the citizens leads where?? There is no clearly defined arena in the constant fight for our freedoms. Freedom is not passed down through generations, inherited, or even gifted. Too many bad laws , do however, tend to erode and diminish many.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT February 20, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Details of Occupy Wallstreet activities and the "glittering" of Republican candidates which seem to get a chuckle by the liberal pundits are a bit off topic. But, Mr. Quirk cleary believes his legisltatiion is correct, and his political area is generally very Democratic. My guess is many people are unaware of this proposal. I would think Mr. Quirk would want the attention of the protesters. This would bring more media and more attention to the proposal, which would lead to more support to his bill. So why does he not want this? Do you think he does not want more people reading this proposal? I believe the demonstration was at his political office, but not sure.

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