Back in December, we outlined some of the legislative priorities that prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups in Maryland had identified for the 2015 legislative session.
As we pointed out last month, Maryland has same-sex marriage and more transgender protections than ever, but still has lots of room for improvement when it comes to LGBT equality and protections in its legal code, according to a recent national Human Rights Campaign study.
Well, the session is now well underway, and bills relevant to LGBT residents' lives -- and some that address gaps noted in the HRC study -- have entered the hopper.
Equality Maryland, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, has outlined six laws on its radar so far this session on its website, which are worth noting.
First, the three bills the group has outlined as its top priorities.
- SB 402/HB 577: These companion bills would allow a court to grant "de facto" parental status to an adult who is in practice parenting a child but is not biologically related to the child. The bill would help protect many lesbian and gay couples raising children together.
- SB 416/HB 838: These bills would require health care providers and insurers to offer the same benefits covering expenses related to in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination procedures to married lesbian and gay couples as those provided to straight couples.
- SB 743/HB 862: These bills would require the state to create new birth certificates for transgender individuals that reflect their gender identity, in consultation with the individual's health care providers.
Second, two other bills the group has announced its support for:
- SB 40/HB 385: These bills would require certain employers to provide employees with "sick and safe leave."
- HB 42: This bill would heighten the liability of employers who violate laws banning workplace discrimination by clarifying the definition of a "supervisor" in the law.
Third, one bill the group opposes:
- SB 405/HB 487: These bills would provide tax credits for contributions to private pre-kindergarten, primary and secondary school activities. Equality Maryland opposes the measure because such schools are not required to comply with state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
We'll be keeping an eye on these bills as they progress through the legislative process.
Do you know of any other bills you think are relevant to the LGBT community in one way or another? Let us know.
In other LGBT-related news:
- Some LGBT Catholics from the Maryland-based organization New Ways Ministry received VIP treatment at the Vatican this week after one of the group's cofounders wrote to Pope Francis, reports the Washington Blade.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has apparently taken up the interpretation that Title VII already protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination, and should be applied as such to discrimination claims, reports BuzzFeed News.
- LGBT advocates are praising the selection of Eric Fanning, who is gay, as chief of staff for new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter.
- Want to sign your name to a brief in support of same-sex marriage that will eventually land before the Supreme Court as it considers the issue? Through March 1, you can do just that here.