HRC Praises State Activists For Advancing Bills In Three States To End Discrimination

On March 29th, The Human Rights Campaign praised activists in Maryland,

Delaware, and Illinois for advancing bills on Tuesday through their

respective legislatures that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual


“This was a week that saw great progress due to the outstanding

efforts of activists in Illinois, Maryland and Delaware,” said HRC Field

Director Seth Kilbourn. “We know it will be a tough road, but we hope that

these legislatures will continue to stand up for equality and vote these

bills into law.”

Maryland has the best chance of becoming the twelfth state to ban

anti-gay discrimination. On Tuesday the state Senate voted for a measure to

prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, public

accommodations and employment. With continued lobbying from the LGBT group

Free State Justice, the House is also expected to pass the bill as early as

this week. Gov. Parris Glendening, a major advocate of the

Anti-Discrimination Act of 2001, will sign the bill into law if it reaches

his desk.

“The Senate vote makes this a historic day for civil rights,” said Blake

Humphrey, managing director of Free State Justice, the state’s gay rights

lobby. “Maryland senators listened to their constituents and voted to end

discrimination. In voting by such a wide margin, senators also sent a

message that bias and hate will not be tolerated in the Free State.”

The Illinois House, on Tuesday, approved a measure that would add sexual

orientation to a state law that bans discrimination against people for jobs,

housing, public accommodations or credit. It now heads to the more

conservative Senate. But supporters of the bill got a boost this week as

Senate President James “Pate” Philip said he plans to give the issue a

committee hearing instead of delaying it.

“I want to express my gratitude to my colleagues in the House for their

support,” said Illinois’ only openly gay state representative, Larry McKeon,

(D) who sponsored the bill. “I strongly encourage the Senate leadership to

allow the bill to be moved to the Senate floor for a vote by its leaders.”

The Delaware House of Representatives also passed a similar bill on

Tuesday that would ban discrimination based on real or perceived sexual

orientation in employment, housing, public works contracting, public

accommodations and insurance. The bill now heads to the Senate, and Gov.

Ruth Ann Minner has pledged she will sign the bill if she gets the


“Hopefully today brings us closer to a time when our differences are

not seen as reasons for division and strife, but as opportunities for

education and celebration,” said Peter Medwick, state coordinator, Delaware

ACLU Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Project.

If these bills become laws, these states would join Hawaii, California,

Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island,

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Nevada as states that already outlaw this

type of discrimination.

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