Nevada Lawmakers Send Trans Bill to Governor

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday May 18, 2011

Nevada lawmakers have sent a bill to protect trans workers from discrimination to the state's governor, Brian Sandoval, a Republican. Unknown is how the bill will fare, reported the Advocate on May 17.

"Gender identity and expression would be protected classes in state employment protections should AB 211 pass," the Advocate reported. "According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sandoval aides have remained mum on what the governor will do with the bill."

"The Nevada legislature has rightly recognized that everyone should be treated equally in the workplace, and Governor Sandoval should sign this bipartisan measure into law," Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a May 17 news release. "Being free from discrimination based on gender identity or expression, judged solely on your merits and quality of work, is the most common-sense approach to employment policies," added Solmonese.

"Today is a great day for all residents of Nevada," HRC board member Josh Miller, who hails from Nevada, said. "Providing employment protections based on gender identity or expression is a victory for civil rights, and we urge Gov. Sandoval to sign this legislation.

"The people of our state should be judged on the quality of work they do and not on who they are," added Miller.

The HRC release noted that the Nevada state senate had also approved a bill that would ban discrimination in the area of public accommodation both on the basis of sexual orientation and on the basis of gender identity. Another bill would add similar protections for trans people in the area of housing.

The state assembly has yet to vote on either of those bills, noted the Advocate. All of the state assembly's Democrats voted to advance the trans workplace protections bill, with several Republican assembly members also supporting the bill.

The HRC issued a statement of support and encouragement for the additional bills.

"The state legislature is blazing the trail to full equality in Nevada," Solmonese said in the May 17 release. "We urge them and Gov. Sandoval to continue to fight for what's right and pass these important protections in employment, housing and public accommodations."

The Nevada state senate killed a bill last month that would have provided hate crimes protections to trans individuals, an April 26 Associated Press article reported.

In Maryland, a state that does have hate crimes protections on the books, state lawmakers derailed a bill earlier this year that would have protected trans people in the area of housing, but not public accommodations. Advocates said that without language relevant to public accommodations, the bill would be inadequate. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that he will work to promote more comprehensive protections for sexual minorities in the wake of a young transwoman's beating at a McDonald's in Rosedale, MD. Hate crimes charges have been handed up in that case.

There are no federal level employment protections for GLBT workers. A bill to provide such protections, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has been introduced in the House of Representatives almost every year since 1994. The measure had strong support just before the midterm elections, but this year was reintroduced with only about half as much support as it had in the last Congress.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.