One of the measures gives the Human Relation Department Authority to investigate these types of discrimination cases.
Frederick, Md (KM) In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Frederick County Council approved two bills which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The County already has ordinances which prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, age and marital status. These new bills just add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater sponsored these two bills. “I think we heard really great support for the bill at our public hearing last week, a lot of very compelling testimony,”: she said. “I’m proud we’re moving this forward and getting ourselves in line with state law which already exists, and showing that Frederick County is a welcoming and in inclusive community for all of our residents.”
State law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but that was not the case with the county’s law.
The legislation also gives the Human Relations Department the authority to investigate these discrimination cases. Previously, complainants had to take their cases to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights in Baltimore.
Even though he voted for the two bills, Councilman Steve McKay said the county could face discrimination complaints when it comes to public accommodations. “My concern that it also makes it easier for people to bring discrimination claims against Frederick County for not providing suitable public accommodations, specifically, unisex bathrooms,” he said.
“The state law does not require gender-neutral restrooms,” Fitzwater responded. “Or require that the county has to provide gender neutral restrooms. It does allow separate facilities for males and females.”
She also said individuals can use the public restrooms which align with the gender identity.
“I think it’s nice that we have a bill like this that is so non-controversial,” said Councilman Phil Dacey. “I think it’s really a testament to how far we’ve come as a society on these issues.”
By Kevin McManus