The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest advocacy and lobbying group for LGBTQ rights, is lauding Maryland for new laws protecting the LBGTQ community.
HRC has highlighted Maryland in its 2018 State Equality Index, an annual report card released last month, highlighting “how far we have come in the fight for LGBTQ equality in each state.” Each state was scored on how its laws and policies work toward achieving basic equality, building equality, solidifying equality and working toward innovative equality.
The report card showed progress in many states, including Massachusetts, which rejected attempts to undo nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, and New Jersey, which lifted the surgery requirement for gender markers on birth certificates.
Nationwide, the HRC found that 21 of 210 bills it supported passed, while only two of 110 bills it opposed became law. Maryland lawmakers introduced six bills in 2018 that the HRC lauded – including passing a law banning conversion therapy.
“Maryland’s prohibition on conversion therapy is an important affirmation to LGBTQ youth across our state,” said Mark Procopio, executive director of FreeState Justice, the Maryland-based LGBTQ social justice organization. “It unequivocally states they are perfect as they are and are deserving of every opportunity to help them thrive.”
The state of Maryland has also passed laws for transgender inclusion in sports; mandatory reporting of hate crime statistics; to ban insurance exclusions for transgender health care but inclusion of their health care in state Medicaid and state employee benefits; and name and gender updates on identification documents, including driver’s license and birth certificates.
However, the report criticized Maryland for the religious exemptions in its statewide non-discrimination laws.
In March 2014, the state voted to extend its non-discrimination laws to include protections for transgender Marylanders in employment and housing, but exemptions were given to religious organizations, along with private clubs and educational institutions.
Maryland also currently criminalizes the spread of HIV and remains one of 18 states with a sodomy law, which criminalizes consensual sex between same-sex couples. Both were classified as “bad laws” in the HRC report.