Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still Concerned About The Flawed MD Trans Rights Bill

I still have serious concerns about HB 235, the flawed Maryland trans rights bill that doesn't cover 'public accommodations.'

And to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here's the legal definition of 'public accommodations, why I'm harping on it, and why I'm not happy that language has been left out of the flawed Maryland Trans Rights bill 

A place of "public accommodation" is defined as “an establishment either affecting interstate commerce or supported by state action, and falling into one of the following categories: (1) a lodging for transient guests located within a building with more than five rooms for rent; (2) a facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including such facilities located within retail establishments and gasoline stations; (3) any place of exhibition or entertainment; (4) any establishment located within an establishment falling into one of the first three categories, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that establishment; or (5) any establishment that contains a covered establishment, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that covered establishment. Bishop v. Henry Modell & Co., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104830, 39-40 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2009)

Any civil rights bill ever written has that no brainer language in it, including the ones that the GL community cut us out of that cover them.   But yet Equality Maryland drafted and submitted HB 235 to the Maryland legislature, admitted they did so, and is pimping the 'incremental rights' mantra at the trans community while they settle for nothing less than full blown same sex marriage for themselves.

GL community, if legislative 'crumbs' aren't acceptable to you, they aren't for me and my community either, especially in light of the fact it's trans POC's who are taking the brunt of the trans hate casualties and the discrimination.

And no amount of obfuscation, lying, and spin by you GL peeps can change the fact that this is a bad bill.

Even though it isn't my state, what is being done in Maryland will have deleterious effects on the rest of us trying to petition our legislators in our states for redress of grievances and trans discrimination.

And putting Sandy Rawls' face up on your blog as a spokesperson for that flawed bill not only pissed me off, but doesn't lessen my concerns about how fracked up the bill is.

I had a chat with Sandy, and understand as a local trans leader who had no input in writing the bill she's in a no win situation.   But it also isn't going to keep me from criticizing a bad bill either when I see it.

Yes Maryland trans peeps, Lord knows I understand how badly you want trans rights coverage along with everyone else shouting from the rooftops that this bill is flawed. But better to insist on an airtight and properly written trans rights bill from the outset, even if it takes a few more years to pass than settle for a bad bill now.

Your trans cousins elsewhere in the country are concerned that when it's glaringly obvious HB 235 won't work to stop trans discrimination and give us the legal recourse we need to combat said discrimination, legislators will not feel the fierce sense of urgency we'll feel to fix it.

EQ MD will be too busy planning their weddings, assuming the marriage bills they get through aren't subsequently spiked by the upcoming  statewide referendum that will be designed to repeal them, to give a rats anus about it either once they get what they want.

We have the previous 2001 history of the GL rights only bill we got cut out of in Maryland to judge them by that EQ MD is repeating already by submitting a subpar trans rights bill.

We also feel a bad precedent is being set in terms of trying to pass a statewide trans rights law without public accommodations language.

So the eyes of the trans Texan are trained on the legislative maneuvering in Maryland along with other people who also have concerns about this flawed bill and how it's fairing vis a vis the same sex marriage push.


Abby said...

Monica, I believe that the definition of "public accommodations" that you quoted is from the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because of the limited scope of the Commerce Clause, under which that federal law was enacted, that definition is considerably more limited than the definitions in most state laws.

For example, Arizona Revised Statutes Sec. 41-1441(2) defines "public accommodations" to mean "all public places of entertainment, amusement or recreation, all public places where food or beverages are sold for consumption on the premises, all public places which are conducted for the lodging of transients or for the benefit, use or accommodation of those seeking health or recreation and all establishments which cater or offer their services, facilities or goods to or solicit patronage from the members of the general public." In other words, it includes any business or other organization that offers goods or services to the public.

Abby said...

Interestingly enough, according to what I have been able to find online, the Maryland law that prohibited discrimination in public accommodations based on race, sex, sexual orientation and other categories (Md. Code Art. 49B, secs. 5-8A)was REPEALED in 2009. See this link: http://michie.lexisnexis.com/maryland/lpext.dll/mdcode/292b1/292b8/292ba?f=hitlist&q=%22public%20accommodations%22&x=Advanced&opt=&skc=80000002000292BB&c=curr&gh=1&2.0#LPHit1. If this is true, the argument that trans people in Maryland should have the same antidiscrimination protections as gays and lesbians is moot, since we already have the same protections, i.e., none whatsoever.