ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (Reuters) - Maryland
Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed into law a bill banning
discrimination against transgender people, the latest in a series of
progressive measures approved by the Democrat.
The measure prohibits discrimination on matters relating to
housing, employment, credit and use of public restrooms, the latter
of which drew fire from Republican opponents who labeled the measure
a "bathroom bill."
"The way this poorly-crafted law was written, allows a man, who
sincerely believes in his heart that he is a woman, to have access
to the bathroom, changing room, or locker room where there are women
and little girls," said Kathy Szeliga, a Republican member of the
state's House of Delegates. "This is just not right."
Republican opponents have launched a drive to try to repeal the
measure via a ballot initiative.
O'Malley called the measure an "important step to protect the
dignity and equal rights of all Marylanders."
U.S. attitudes on transgendered people, who identify as belonging to
a gender not represented by their born physical characteristics, are
showing signs of changing.
Maryland is the 18th U.S. state to pass a law protecting transgender
people from discrimination and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on
Sunday said the military should review its ban on transgendered
people serving in its ranks.
Maryland has increasingly passed liberal policies during O'Malley's
eight years as governor. In 2012, the state legalized same-sex
marriages and passed The Dream Act, a law that provides benefits for
illegal immigrants. Last year, legislators repealed the death
penalty and passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.