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Maryland Senate committee approves transgender-equality bill

With eight Maryland state senators voting "yea," the

, which seeks to include transgender people in the state's anti-discrimination laws, emerged with a favorable report from the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 20. Three senators – James Brochin (D-42nd District), Anthony Muse (D-26th District), and Norman Stone (D-6th District) – switched from their "nay" votes in prior years, joining the bill's earlier supporters – Brian Frosh (D-16th District), Lisa Gladden (D-41st District), Jennie Forehand (D-17th District), Jamie Raskin (D-20th District), and Bobby Zirkin (D-11th District) – to move the bill on for full Senate consideration. The committee's three Republicans – Stephen Hersey (36th Distrtict), Nancy Jacobs (34th District), Christopher Shank (2nd District) – voted against it. According to a press release from the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, which rallied support for the bill, three amendments were attached to gain the needed support. One exempts religious employers, as is the case with anti-discrimination laws involving sexual orientation and religion; another exempts facilities that provide transgender locker rooms that are equivalent to those for non-transgender people; and a third tweaks the legal definition of "gender identity," the term used to describe those the bill seeks to protect. Here's the definition as passed:

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And here's what it was in the introduced bill:

The press release provides a statement by Jenna Fischetti of Trans Maryland, who says the amendments "represent a small concession to unsubstantiated fears."

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