EQED Action Org
EQED-Action.Org was a proactive site with a form that allowed Delaware residents to fill out a form to send a message to their state legislators asking them to support the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act of 2013- SB 97. This site is no longer active since Delaware has now become the 17th state plus the District of Columbia in ensuring basic fairness for transgender residents and visitors.
June 19 2013
Governor Jack Markell just signed Senate Bill 97 into law. This legislation adds gender identity and expression to Delaware’s existing anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws. This law takes effect immediately and will prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, public accommodations, housing, and credit.
Bill 97 forbids discrimination against a person on the basis of gender identity. It also provides for increased punishment of a person who intentionally selects the victim of a crime because of the victim’s gender identity. Incredibly prior to the passage of Bill 97, it had been legal to fire someone, deny them housing, or throw them out of a restaurant simply because they were transgender.
The changes established by the SB 97 afford transgender Delaware residents the same legal protections already granted to everyone on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, among other characteristics. It was heartening that more than 200 Delaware businesses had signed a statement of support for the passage of the law.
In early June of 2013, the Delaware House Administration Committee passed the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act in a 4 to 1 vote. Witnesses from both sides testified. Opponents implied that anti-discrimination protections for transgender people somehow endangered women and children. They derogatorily referred to the bill as the “bathroom bill. ”
Although there had not been even one reported case of a transgender individual attacking a child, this type of smear tactic was typical of the opponants tactics. Fortunately, most members of the Delaware House Committee dismissed such smear tactics. Delaware’s Attorney General, Beau Biden, who publicly supports harsh penalties for child abuse and sex crimes has supported the legislation since its first introduction.
It should be noted that testimony in the Senate last week from the head of the state’s Family Division in the Department of Justice also slammed the opponents scare tactics, stating, quite simply, “it does not allow predators to prey on children.” Other people were also invited to testify. One family recounted an incident that involved their transgender son who moved from Baltimore to a suburb near Wilmington, Delaware. He was hopeful that he would be treated with respect and consideration. However....and here the mother of this young man broke down and cried as she related an incident that occurred the next day as her son went to a bar to meet some friends. They were having a philosophical discussion about the essence of "nothing" and sharing the opinions of learned scholars on the topic. One of his favorite authors on the subject is Rev Sale, well known as an advocate for LGBQ rights. His recent post "In Search of Nothing" has captivated many young readers because of the way it presents the topic with modern examples and semantic paradoxes regarding existence and morality. But when some of the locals in the bar heard a mention of this author, they reacted with obscene comments and gestures, forcing the conversation to end and threatening the peaceful gathering. Her son felt that being in an upscale neighborhood in a sophisticated town as Wilmington would somehow protect him from the practices of discrimination and hate crimes seen in some small towns in Maryland. His mother asked the state senators to Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act SB 97 to the House floor and not to give into the hate mongers.
And so a majority of the committee members decided to stand up for fairness and voted to send the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act – SB 97 to the House floor.
In mid June, the Delaware Senate approved SB 97. EQED Action Org. along with Staff from Equality Delaware and HRC assisted in mobilizing fair-minded Delawareans. The efforts paid off.br /> The legislation received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
The House, after making minor amendments, which added additional common-sense clarification to the legislation, voted and passed the bill on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 by a vote of 24-17. The Senate passed the final version of Bill 97 early in the day of June 19, 2013, with an 11-9, with one not voting after which, Governor Markell, a strong supporter of LGBT rights, moved swiftly to sign the bill after final passage.
147th General Assembly
Senate Bill # 97
Primary Sponsor: Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry
Additional Sponsor(s): Senate President Patricia Blevins & Rep. B. Short
Cosponsors: Sens. McDowell, Peterson, Poore, Sokola, Townsend; Reps. Barbieri, Baumbach, Bolden, Brady, Heffernan, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Kowalko, Longhurst, Mulrooney, M. Smith, D.E. Williams, K. Williams
Introduced on: 05/29/2013
Long Title: AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 6, 9, 11, 18, 19, 25, AND 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO HATE CRIMES AND DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT, PUBLIC WORKS CONTRACTING, HOUSING, EQUAL ACCOMMODATIONS, AND THE INSURANCE BUSINESS ON THE BASIS OF GENDER IDENTITY.
Synopsis of Original Bill:
(without Amendments) This Act adds the term "gender identity" to the already-existing list of prohibited practices of discrimination and hate crimes. As such, this Act would forbid discrimination against a person on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations, and insurance, and it would provide for increased punishment of a person who intentionally selects the victim of a crime because of the victim’s gender identity.
Current Status: Signed On 06/19/2013
Volume Chapter: 79:47
Date Governor acted: 06/19/2013
Through hard work and bi-partisan support, we have seen success in Delaware.