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MD Governor Ehrlich Signs the Hate Crimes Penalties Act

Maryland Becomes the Ninth State to Enact Trans-Inclusive Hate Crimes Legislation

The National Center for Transgender Equality is pleased to report that Maryland has just become the third state in 2005 to enact a major trans-inclusive law. Today, May 26, 2005, Maryland Governor Ehrlich signed the Hate Crimes Penalty Act. This act passed the State House by a vote of 93-41 in March and the State Senate by a vote of 31-13 in April and ensures that crimes against the transgender community, in addition to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, will be fully investigated and prosecuted as hate crimes.

Maryland is the ninth state to pass hate crimes legislation that is inclusive of trans people. The other states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Maryland also joins Illinois and Maine in making 2005 a record year for the transgender community in terms of inclusion in state legislation. Illinois and Maine have both recently amended their Human Rights Ordinances to protect against discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

"Hate crimes send a message not only to the victims, but to entire communities of people, that their lives, identities, bodies are not acceptable and will be subject to violence. Transgender people, and other marginalized people, live in fear of this violence," said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. "Enacting the transgender-inclusive Hate Crimes Penalties Act sends a strong message that violence against trans people is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in the state of Maryland.

In March 2004, Keisling testified in favor of the Hate Crimes Penalty Act before the Maryland State Senate. Her testimony is available here.

Governor Ehrlich also signed into law HB 407, the Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005. This act requires incidents of harassment or intimidation against students in public schools, including harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, to be reported to the Department of Education. It also requires the State Department of Education create a standard victim of harassment or intimidation report form.

NCTE congratulates the Maryland advocates, especially Equality Maryland and their transgender advocacy committee, for their hard work on this legislation and their unfailing commitment to maintaining trans-inclusion in the bills. NCTE also applauds the efforts of the transgender activists and allies who have made 2005 such an exceptional one for the trans community.

Contact: Mara Keisling

Center for Transgender Equality
1325 Massachusetts Ave, NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
202.639.6332 (v)
202.393.2241 (f)
[email protected]

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