Cumberland Times-News


March 16, 2014

Calling act a ‘Bathroom Bill’ misrepresents its purpose

COLLEGE PARK — I am writing to correct a misunderstanding that may have been promulgated by a recent letter to the editor (“Maryland citizens should join fight against ‘Bathroom Bill,’ ” March 13 Times-News).  

I teach a course in social policy at Frostburg State University in which I try to help students examine policies objectively and use credible research findings to inform their position. It is in this spirit that I am writing this letter.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act (SB 212/HB 1265) is a measure designed to protect the rights of persons in housing, employment, and public accommodations who may be targets for discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

If this measure passes, Maryland will join 17 other states and over 140 local jurisdictions in protecting these rights.  Already two counties in Maryland and Baltimore City have adopted similar measures. This bill seeks to codify these rights under state law.

In passing the measure, the Maryland State Senate amended the bill’s language to exempt religious entities, thus, Pastor McBride’s church will not have to comply with the law if its provisions are not in keeping with his church’s religious tenets.

Characterizing this bill as a “bathroom bill” grossly misrepresents its purpose and provisions.

Doing so is reminiscent of the failed Equal Rights Amendment that was first introduced in 1972 to protect the rights of people on the basis of gender discrimination.

Opponents of the ERA also characterized that policy as a “bathroom bill,” and consequently, generations of women in this country have been relegated to a lifetime of unequal pay (even for equal work), a “glass ceiling” which prevents them from advancing in their workplaces, and discrimination in virtually every arena including health care, politics, and, religious vocations.

Do we really want to subject other persons to the same kind of discrimination that women have endured and continue to endure? I should hope not.

In closing, readers should note that the word, “bathroom,” does not appear in either the amended Senate or the House version of the Fairness for All Marylanders bill.

Kathleen H. Powell, Ph.D.


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