Council Takes Testimony Tues. On Anti-Discrimination Bills

They would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity.

 


Frederick, Md. (KM) There was testimony Tuesday night before the Frederick County Council on two anti-discrimination bills. The measures would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to housing, public accommodations and employment. They would also give authority to the County’s Human Relations Department to investigate these types of discrimination complaints County ordinances already prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability and familial status

In 2001, the Maryland General Assembly adopted legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation;  and in 2014, it approved a bill adding gender identity as a protected class.

Kris Fair, the Board Chairman of the Frederick Center, spokes in favor of the two County bills during a hearing Tuesday night. “From an administrative aspect, this update will create a county resource for folks who feel aggrieved,” he said. “The language will now mirror the state language, tie its definition to state definitions, and empower our local Human Relations Commission to investigate and support LGBTQ people.”

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

Liz Barrett, whose  a part of the LGBTQ community,   said passing these two bills sends a message. :”You’re saying that Frederick County is welcoming and inclusive,” she said. “And that’s different from tolerance. And it’s different from acceptance. It means we’re welcoming and inclusive.”

Richard Kaplowitz of Frederick took issue with opponents of rights for gays and lesbians  who often quote the Bible to justify their opinions. “I’m here because the Bible calls me to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute, speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy,” he said. “Because I find the opponents are picking and choosing from the Bible.”

All of the citizens who spoke up were in favor of the two bills, including Gene Stanton, a former member of the Human Relations Commission. “Thank you from the gay community for everything you’re doing to tell us that we are very much a part of this county, just as much as anybody else,” he said. “That we are just as important as anyone else. We’re not any more important, not any less important, but we are part of this county. And thank you for making this happen, all of you.”

The Council is expected to take a vote on these two bills at a later date.

 

By Kevin McManus

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