Friday, April 08, 2011

HB 235 Update-Jenna's Testimony

TransGriot Note: The clock's ticking to the end of the Maryland legislative session on April 11 and HB 235 is becoming The Unjust Bill That Would Not Die     

Since the tools at PHB and elsewhere are furiously spinning for their Gay, Inc masters, and attacking anyone that doesn't adhere to their vanilla flavored groupthink, thought I'd give Jenna Fischetti of TransMaryland some equal time and get her voice out there. 

Yesterday afternoon there was a Senate hearing on HB 235. Del Pena-Melnyk got her chance to speak about her flawed bill.   But so did the opposition.   

Here's Jenna's testimony from yesterday.

My name is Jenna Fischetti. I was born and raised in Laurel, Maryland District 21 and I currently live in District 13.

For the last 5 years I had been involved with a program of the Gay and Lesbian, Community Center in Baltimore, affectionately know as The GLCCB. Through this work of facilitating the largest peer based transgender group in the State of Maryland I have been blessed to meet and befriend many members of Maryland’s transgender and transsexual community. This has been the greatest honor of my life, short of seeing my three children mature into responsible adults.

I am present today to let my voice be heard and recorded even though there has been great effort to silence the voices of Marylanders who feel as I do.

My position to not support for HB235 is based on the lack of basic human rights protections. An anti-discrimination bill needs to provide critical deterrents to the sort of real and meaningful discriminations the members of Maryland’s transgender community faces. 13 states and the District of Columbia offer such complete protections, protections which include public accommodations. Not once in the history of transgender specific civil rights has a state enacted protections for public accommodations only, once a prior law was in place.

Lisa Mottet’s own organization, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released their groundbreaking survey recently, Injustice at Every Turn. This survey included 22 pages on employment, 18 pages on housing and 32 pages to public accommodation issues. One such finding was:

• Respondents of color reported being physically attacked or assaulted in places of public accommodation at a rate of 22%.

I’ve included the entire chapter in my written testimony.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people experience grave abuses when accessing everyday goods and essential services, from retail stores and buses to police and court systems. From disrespect and refusal of service to harassment and violence, this mistreatment in so many settings contributes to severe social marginalization and safety risk. Study participants’ experiences demonstrate the overwhelming need for legal and policy protections to ensure access to essential services and prospects for living fully and moving freely in public and social settings.

• Enact strong federal, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity/expression in places of public accommodation.

HB235 departs from our long standing tradition of protecting our citizens completely. It leaves the most vulnerable among us without our most needed safeguard, the notion that violence and discrimination of any sort will not be tolerated. For when we remove public accommodations from our standards of protections, we condone the continued abuse and in fact encourage more of the same.

Glendora Hughes, General Counsel for the Maryland Commission on Human Relations, in her House Committee testimony stated.  “Yes, Baltimore City and Montgomery County covers gender identity. So now we have an inequity in the State of Maryland. Based on your geography, where you live will determine whether you have protection against being discriminated against.”

HB 235 only perpetuates this inequity. Inequity is wrong and we all know two wrongs do not make a right
We continue to urge lawmakers to support Senator’s Rich Madaleno’s public statement on HB235 date March 3, 2011:
“I have been the lead sponsor or lead cosponsor of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act for the past four years. In advance of the 2011 Session, I had a bill drafted that is identical to the bill I had introduced previously. This draft prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, our advocacy coalition asked me to not introduce the bill, preferring a strategy of pursuing a House bill alone. This approach has not diminished my commitment to enacting these much needed protections, and I urge the House of Delegates to pass HB 235, with an amendment that prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals regarding public accommodations.
Providing transgender individuals with basic protections against discrimination is long overdue. Although much of the media attention this legislative session has centered on marriage equality, we cannot let that debate overshadow efforts to enact these essential protections. Protection against discrimination, including gender identity discrimination, is a basic human right. Our state laws must reflect the values of equality and equal opportunity – values that are central to who we are as Americans.

Now is the time for Maryland to join thirteen other states, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, and Baltimore City in protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. In 2007, Governor O’Malley signed an executive order adding protections against discrimination to our state personnel policies. We now must pass a statewide law that protects transgender individuals from discrimination when seeking employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

We support nothing less.

HB235 is not a civil rights bill; it is a political bill protecting only the advocacy coalition seeking to enact it.

For these reason we ask you to return an unfavorable report on HB235.

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