A Baltimore County councilman plans to introduce a measure next week to prohibit discrimination against transgender people.
Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, said the bill would add both gender identity and sexual orientation to the county's existing anti-discrimination laws. He plans to introduce it at the council meeting scheduled for Jan. 17.
Last April, a videotaped attack on Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman, at a Rosedale McDonald's drew national attention. Quirk said his reasons for pushing the issue are broader than the McDonald's attack.
"To me, the bottom line is the majority of people want to make sure that people are hired and fired based on their job qualifications, period," Quirk said. "It's about respect."
Quirk said the he wants to focus on the issue of discrimination in the workplace, adding that he is still working out details of how the legislation would address discrimination in housing and public places.
The planned legislation was first reported by Patch.com.
Maryland state law bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, but efforts to add gender identity have failed. Howard County passed transgender protection bill last month, joining Baltimore City and Montgomery County, which have similar laws in place.
"It's about treating people with respect and on an equal playing field," he said.
Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond said she plans to co-sponsor the legislation.
"I feel it's the right thing to do," said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat. "I just think that freedom's for everyone."
The two Republicans on the seven-member council said they are still weighing the issue. Quirk has not released a final draft of the bill.
Councilman Todd Huff of Lutherville said he would examine the implications of the legislation once Quirk finishes writing it. Huff added that he believes "every constituent of Baltimore County should feel safe."
Councilman David Marks of Perry Hall said he is "keeping an open mind" about the issue.
"I do think that the county needs to make a strong statement about discrimination," Marks said. "There are complex issues associated with this, and I want to hear all sides, and I also want to talk to the business community to see their perspective on this."
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