Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - Antidiscrimination

Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - Antidiscrimination

Statement to the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee

Re: Senate Bill 212

Submitted February 28, 2012

This statement of opposition to Senate Bill 212 is conveyed on behalf of the Maryland-serving Catholic bishops and their Baltimore, Washington, and Wilmington dioceses.

Consistent with our long-standing advocacy on behalf of society’s most vulnerable and marginalized persons, the Church recognizes the intent of this legislation to uphold the dignity and value of every individual. In keeping with that principle, the Church firmly opposes undue harassment or discrimination against any person.

That principle does not, however, warrant creating an entirely new class of protected individuals in the state’s antidiscrimination statute, especially when the extension of the law would presumably apply to only a small number of individuals. Such an expansion of the statute could just as reasonably apply to individuals who suffer ill treatment for a variety of reasons related to their physical characteristics or appearance. The impossibility of clearly defining “gender identity” as a newly protected category in law, and the practical application of this legislation is also highly problematic. The bill also omits any exemption for religious institutions, and is therefore inconsistent with other sections of antidiscrimination law that do contain such exemptions.

Our greatest concern regarding this legislation, however, rests in our opposition to the bill’s attempt to enshrine in law a distinction between one’s “gender identity” and one’s “assigned sex at birth.” Such a distinction manifests a fundamental violation of our society’s basic understanding of the human person, and the complementarity of the sexes bestowed by nature that lies at the foundation of all human society.

Regardless of its intention, SB 212 would undermine in law a recognition of the inextricable link between a person’s human nature and his or her identity as a man or woman. We urge you to oppose this legislation.