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Marks, Huff say unanswered questions spurred 'no' vote on transgender bill
Both say constituent views influenced stance
By Jon Meoli, jme...@tribune.com
February 22, 2012 | 8:31 p.m.
When the much-debated bill that inserted gender identity and sexual
orientation into the county's current anti-discrimination law passed
at the Baltimore County Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, it did so
without the vote of council members Todd Huff and David Marks.
"This was the toughest vote I've had to cast since I was elected,"
Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson, said
Wednesday. "I think every person deserves access to a job, to
training, to banking, to housing, but at the end of the day, I just
had too many unanswered questions, and I just felt compelled to vote
Likewise, Huff, the 3rd District councilman whose district includes
Lutherville-Timonium and Cockeysville, said the bill was not clear
enough in his mind.
The two were the negative votes in the council's 5-2 decision.
"There were just too many unanswered questions to it, feasibility
aspects to the business community," Huff said. He also cited the
educational impact of the bill.
"I'm not for discrimination by any means," Huff said. "It was just too
broad, and anybody, for any reason, is protected under the standard
laws that we already have on the books."
Huff noted that those people charged with the beating of a transgender
woman who was assaulted at a Rosedale McDonalds after attempting to
use the restroom were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"This legislation would not have changed any of the outcome of that
situation, as tragic as it was," he said.
Likewise, Marks said courts have already ruled that you can't
discriminate by sex, and that the state General Assembly would likely
tackle the issue in the future.
Marks emphasized that he told supporters of the bill before the vote
that they would get a "clean bill" without amendments they deemed
unacceptable — even if it meant it would pass without Marks' support.
"I heard from a lot of constituents that opposed it," he said. "I
heard from those that consider themselves liberal and had problems
with technical aspects of the bill, and I decided to vote against it."
Huff's constituents, many of whom are conservatives from northern
Baltimore County, influenced his vote as well.
"I represent the conservative base of the county, and we ran the
numbers," Huff said. "The vast majority of my constituents were not in
favor of it, and I represent my constituents."
That Marks and Huff, the lone dissenting votes on the bill, are also
the two Republican members of the council is no coincidence.
"I would be lying if I didn't say that a lot of Republicans expressed
concerns with the bill," Marks said. "There are some issues,
unfortunately, that sometimes fall along partisan lines. Term limits
did, this did, and speed cameras did. ... In Baltimore County that
doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes it does."
Marks' measure on term limits fails
Marks suffered a defeat at Tuesday's meeting when a bill he sponsored
that would have subjected council members to term limits did not pass.
"I campaigned on term limits, I brought it to a vote and it failed,"
Marks said. "I view my role in this as finished. I'm going to be
turning my focus to other things."
Despite the setback on the issue and the opposition his fellow council
members publicly expressed, Marks doesn't see their difference as a
"I think this County Council has worked very well across partisan
lines to address a number of development and community issues, and
that is going to continue to be my focus," Marks said.