Md. House passes name change bill

A bill that would require judges to waive the publication requirement for transgender people, domestic violence survivors and anyone else who seeks to legally change their name passed in the Maryland House of Delegates last week.

House Bill 39, sponsored by state Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery County), passed on Feb. 11 by a 131-4 vote margin. The House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8 unanimously approved it.

“HB 39 has now passed for a second time with an overwhelming show of support by members of the House of Delegates,” Shetty told the Washington Blade in an emailed update on the bill’s progress. “This demonstrates the strong support of my colleagues to ensure the safety of members of the trans community and survivors of domestic violence who are disproportionately harmed by the existing name change procedures.”

The bill previously passed the House last year, but failed in the Maryland Senate due to a session that was shortened by the pandemic.

Shetty told the Blade this year there are precautions in place, such as legislators voting on the floor, gallery and annex in order to conduct business according to guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I look forward to continued coordination with the Senate bill lead, Sen. Hettleman,” Shetty said. “To pass HB 39 and (Senate Bill) 581 through both chambers.”

State Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) is scheduled to present the bill to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 26.