A new poll found that Maryland residents overwhelmingly support a proposed bill that would ban discrimination against transgender individuals.
The Goucher Poll, conducted by the politics center at Goucher College, found that 71 percent of those surveyed supported legislation that would include gender identity in Maryland's anti-discrimination laws, reports The Baltimore Sun. Of those, 39 percent strongly supported the legislation.
Twenty percent of respondents were opposed.
The bill, dubbed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, was approved by Maryland's Senate earlier this month and is under consideration by the House of Delegates.
The legislation bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity but includes an exemption for religious groups, educational institutions, private clubs, small businesses and owner-occupied rentals with five or fewer units, reports The Washington Post.
It defines gender in terms of a person’s consistent and sincere expression of sexual identity based on appearance, expression or behavior, regardless of biological sex at birth.
Three-quarters of Maryland women support the bill (75 percent in favor to 16 percent opposed), while two-thirds of Maryland men support it (67 percent in favor to 24 percent opposed), according to MetroWeekly.com. The measure also enjoys bipartisan support, with Republicans supporting it by a 60-27 spread, Democrats supporting it by a 79-15 spread, and independents supporting it by a 68-23 spread.
During debate on the bill in the Senate earlier this month, opponents raised concerns that sex offenders might take advantage of the law to steal into a bathroom of the opposite sex. Others warned that the law would subject people to embarrassing invasions of privacy from transgender people in locker rooms or restrooms.
Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) said the bill does not apply to private facilities designed for people of the same gender to disrobe — in other words, a locker room. He also dismissed opponents’ concerns about transgender people in public restrooms.
“People who are transgender do go to the bathroom now and it’s working out fine,” Raskin said in the floor debate.
At least 17 other states and the District have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity. Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties, along with the city of Baltimore, have also passed such measures. In 2007, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) issued an executive order banning discrimination against transgender people in employment.