They were discussed Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council.
Frederick, Md (KM). Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would be prohibited in Frederick County under legislation being proposed by Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater. She discussed those two measures with her colleagues during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Currently, the list says discrimination based upon race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, familial status, or source of income is contrary to the public policy of Frederick County,” she says. “So we’re simply adding gender identity or sexual orientation to that list.”
The state of Maryland enacted a law in 2001 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and another measure in 2014 to make discrimination based on gender identity unlawful. She says the two bills she’s proposing would bring the county’s laws in line with those of the state. “And hope to make sure that we are really treating all of our residents with respect. So that’s the goal of the two bills,” says Fitzwater.
Miles Ward, the Director of the County’s Department of Human Relations, says local residents who feel they’ve been victims of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex national origin, age, marital status, and physical or mental handicaps do not have to go to Baltimore and file a complaint. They can do that in Frederick. But, he says, that’s not the case with sexual orientation and gender identity. “For the first time, we’re having to tell people ‘I’m sorry.. Our code is not up to the state law. You’re going to have to go file your complaint in Baltimore with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights,” he says.
Ward says these two proposed ordinances would allow those who are victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to file their complaints locally.
Councilwoman Fitzwater says she plans to introduce these two bills to the Council at a future date.
By Kevin McManus