- Montgomery County Council Passes LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights
Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact an LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights, the first of its kind in the state of Maryland. Initially proposed by the Council’s first LGBTQ+ member, Evan Glass, the law will expand existing anti-discrimination codes to include gender expression and HIV status.
Included within gender expression-based discrimination are willful failure to use an individual’s preferred name or pronouns and discrimination against an individual because of their clothing, hairstyle, behavior, voice, or similar characteristics.
The law also aims to protect LGBTQ+ seniors by banning LGBTQ+ discrimination in healthcare settings and nursing homes. Half of all people living with HIV are above the age of 50, and with the county’s rapidly growing senior population, healthcare protections are becoming increasingly vital.
“Too many go back into the closet as they enter situations like long term care settings, so we hope that this legislation will give them some measure of hope, and will empower them to know that if the worst should happen that they actually have some rights” says Aaron Tax, Director of Advocacy at LGBTQ+ elders advocacy group Sage.
The legislation will go into effect 90 days from when it is signed by County Executive Marc Elrich.
“Montgomery County is the first place to protect LGBTQ+ seniors, hopefully in the next year or two all Marylanders will have the same protections,” says Councilmember Glass.
By Alicia Clanton