Don't open ladies room doors to men
Instead of focusing their attention on critical issues such as how to pay pensions and balance the budget, Maryland's legislators recently used our tax dollars to hold several days of hearings on a special interest proposal to enact controversial statewide "Peeping Tom/Gender Identity" legislation (HB474/SB566).
Similar legislation was passed in Montgomery County by legislators who denied that it would allow men to enter women's bathrooms and shower facilities until after the bill was passed. A Montgomery County referendum on the bill was blocked on the basis of technicalities by legal actions of Equality Maryland.
As asserted by the testimony even of the supporters of HB474/SB566, the proposed legislation would allow men into female bathrooms and locker rooms. Whether a man asserts a female identity, or just exhibits a female behavior such as walking into the female bathroom, they would be covered by the bills' generous definition of female based on "appearance, expression, or behavior … regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth."
Changes to Maryland's anti-discrimination law in 2007 added a "private cause of action." If gender identity is added as a "protected class," any cross-dresser or "drag queen" who wants to dress on the job and feels their rights have been denied can sue their employer. Employers already rocked by the economic crisis now have to worry about lawsuits from their employees for failure to deny their birth sex, use the right pronoun or for trying to protect the safety of women in restrooms. Employees would be empowered to sue for damages up to $400,000 plus punitive damages and operators of public accommodations can be heavily fined for simply trying to protect women and children's safety and privacy rights.
At this critical time for Maryland's economy, shouldn't legislators be helping employers instead of endangering them?
Ruth M. Jacobs, M.D., Rockville
The writer is president of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government.