Sorry Equality Maryland: HB-235 Does Not Protect the Homeless and Morgan Meneses-Sheets’ Recycled 2001 Brennanism Ain’t Gonna Fly (or Even Flap its Wings)

This is a follow-up to Michiko’s piece about the emptiness of ‘Equality’ Maryland’s 2001-ish 2011 claims about how homeless shelters factor in to HB 235.

Surprisingly, in its original place of publication, Pam’s House Blend, her piece was promoted to the front page of the blog.  However, there it picked up an editorial comment from, well…you can imagine who:

Yes, Laurel “Lurleen ‘Laurel Ramseyer’ Blogovitch” Ramseyer decided to preface Michiko’s piece by making a declaration: “According to the fascinating exchange in the comments, HB 235 does indeed protect the homeless.”

Now, there are a couple of different ways to interpret that statement – but the most obvious is that she is declaring that an exchange has taken place in the comments section which has yielded a definitive result, and t hat result is that HB 235 does indeed protect the homeless.

As of right now – almost two full days after Michiko posted her piece – there are a total of 18 comments to it at PHB.  Only three of them support ‘Equality’ Maryland’s position.

Wanna take a wild guess as to who all three of those comments are from?

So this is what the sockpuppet uses to declare that a conclusive case has been made against the claims that HB 235 is even more worthless than we originally thought: three citationless comments, one of which is just a clarification that one section of Maryland statutory law has changed numbers recently.

So, for those who can’t make out her emptiness from the screen snaps, here’s the first one - annotated:

There have been some questions regarding the housing provision in HB 235 and shelters.  It is unfortunate that those who had questions did not seek clarification from EQMD as to what our sources were for this opinion prior to writing a blog.

I guess its equally unfortunate that we didn’t kiss your ring.  I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you don’t get to control who has access to what actually is Maryland law.

1) The Maryland Human Relations Commission (MHRC) is the agency that monitors and enforces our state’s anti-discrimination laws.  Glendora Hughes, the General Counsel for MHRC has stated that the housing provisions cover shelters.  

Citation to something other than your claim that she may have said that this is an  accurate statement of the law (much less that it may actually be an  accurate statement of the law)?

2) The federal Fair Housing Act has also been interpreted to cover sheltes by the courts and Maryland as a state complies with the federal interpretations.  

Citation to, well…, anything?

Laws are not simply the statutes themselves, but also the way in which they are interpreted and enforced.  We often rely on the counsel of lawyers who practice in these areas (i.e. Ms. Hughes) or we seek out case law to determine precedent for the way in which the laws have been interpreted (i.e. the federal Fair Housing Act).  

Did Cathy Brennan write this for you?  If so – or even if not – are you aware that even if the Maryland Human Relations Commission has the most trans-friendly attitude imaginable on this issue, courts still have the last word?

We at Equality Maryland have NEVER argued that public accommodations are not important and necessary and have been very vocal about our commitment to keep fighting for these important protections.  

Next time, save energy and just type “Incremental progress, yadda yadda yadda….”

The issue at hand seems to be a difference in strategy.  One of the elements that in fact persuaded us to consider working with the sponsor on a bill focused on jobs and housing was the fact that shelters would also be included.

No, the issue at hand is that (1) a decade ago Maryland’s gays and lesbians openly and blatantly lied about the degree to which trans people were covered under existing Maryland law – lies fortified with fluffy, aspirational platitudes about potential positive interpretations of federal law and other states’ laws and, of course, personal opinions of people who had some connection to the MdHRC – in order to make Maryland legislators okay with leaving us out of all areas of civil rights, (2) people such as Morgan Meneses-Sheets are unwilling to acknowledge the lies, deceit and duplicity that went into making her enjoy the full protections of Maryland civil rights law today, and (3) trans people in 2011 have the temerity to remember and publicize what the liars and con artists of a decade ago did and we actively encourage all people to take that into account when deciding whether or not to believe anything that anyone connected with ‘Equality’ Maryland – which, whether it likes it or not, is the predecessor organization of Free State Just Us, which ramrodded (that’s just for you Cathy!) the anti-trans, gay-only rights bill through the Maryland Legislature a decade ago.

If folks have questions, it may be helpful for us to actually talk rather than making assumptions about motives, intent or results.  We can be reached at info@equalitymaryland.org or 410-685-6567              410-685-6567      .

Take her up on that offer.

Call them.

Ask them about history.

Oh…

And you might want to ask her why she thinks that all of her citationless blather will be a counterweight to the statutory sections that Michiko found (and that I doublechecked) should a trans shelter case ever make it to court.

Now, here’s the meat of her second comment:

Fair housing laws cover “dwelling” units, which are defined as any building, structure or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy. Fair housing laws also cover entities which control or have an affect on housing choice. Whether a non-profit or a for-profit, private or governmental agency, their housing activities are covered by fair housing laws. Examples include, but are not limited to, transitional housing, permanent placement housing, shelters, and housing vouchers.  

Shelter, transitional housing, and permanent placement housing providers need to be aware of and develop fair housing policies in accordance with the federal principles, which work in concert with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.  Court cases should also be taken into account.

So, yet again, the diseased philosophy of the overly-privileged, Marriage Derangement Syndrome-addled gays and lesbians of Maryland shows through – and reveals itself to have not changed one iota from 2001: gays and lesbians get the clear, concise statutory mandate and trans people get pipedreams, wishes, three card monte and layers of Maryland administrative sand piled on top of an amorphous federal bubble.

Fuck you.

You deserved to lose the marriage vote.

My only wish at this point is that trans people could legitimately take credit for killing the marriage bill. 

Come to think of it, perhaps we should anyway.  That’s how the play-ah organizations work, isn’t it?  How many times has the Human Right Scampaign swooped in and taken credit – or deceptively made itself appear to take credit – for something that it had nothing whatsoever to do with?  Yeh – that’s the ticket! And send me some money too. Your ‘gift’ will be, ummmmmm….lets see…..ummmmmmmm, an empty diet coke bottle that I will guarantee was once used by a homeless trans person as an impromtu toilet.

Appletini!

8 Responses to Sorry Equality Maryland: HB-235 Does Not Protect the Homeless and Morgan Meneses-Sheets’ Recycled 2001 Brennanism Ain’t Gonna Fly (or Even Flap its Wings)

  1. The most recent federal case on the question of whether a shelter is a “dwelling” is Woods v. Foster, 884 F. Supp. 1169, 1173-1174 (N.D.Ill. 1995) which held that because shelter residents were not “visitors” such as “motel guests” and they had “nowhere else to go,” the shelter was a “dwelling” under the Fair Housing Act, which has the EXACT same language that the Maryland housing discrimination law has. Here is an excerpt from the decision:

    “The Court concludes that the building, or portion thereof, in question here is a dwelling for the purposes of the FHA. The Shelter is provided for those in need of shelter; the homeless are not visitors or those on a temporary sojourn in the sense of motel guests. Although the Shelter is not designed to be a place of permanent residence, it cannot be said that the people who live there do not intend to return-they have nowhere else to go. As recognized by the Hughes and Baxter courts, the length of time one expects to live in a particular place does is not the exclusive factor in determining whether the place is a residence or a “dwelling.” Because the people who live in the Shelter have nowhere else to “return to,” the Shelter is their residence in the sense that they live there and not in any other place.”

    To address the concern is that MD’s “rent or sell” language does not include people who are receiving housing for free, one should read the section further, that explains in 20-705, that says “a person may not … otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any person because of race, color….. [add gender identity].” The Woods v. Foster court also considered this question, and decided that the “otherwise make unavailable” language did apply to shelter residents. It said:

    “To Otherwise Make Unavailable or Deny

    Plaintiffs argue that the reach of section 3604(a) goes beyond sales and rentals because of the inclusion of the prohibition of “to otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling” for improper reasons. Plaintiffs’ argument is supported by the analysis of many courts, including this one, that have interpreted the phrase to be “as broad as Congress could have made it.” See, e.g., Steptoe v.

    Beverly Area Planning Association, 674 F.Supp. 1313, 1319 (N.D.Ill.1987) (quoting Zuch v. Hussey, 366 F.Supp. 553, 557 (E.D.Mich.1973)). Furthermore, the Seventh Circuit has interpreted the prohibition against otherwise making unavailable or

    denying dwellings to reach conduct outside the sale or rental of housing. See N.A.A.C.P. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 978 F.2d 287, 297-301 (7th Cir.1992) (insurance redlining), cert.denied, 508 U.S. 907, 113 S.Ct. 2335, 124 L.Ed.2d

    247 (1993).”

    Maryland’s law and the Fair Housing Act include exactly the same language and Maryland’s courts look to how the federal law is interpreted to guide their interpretation as well. Therefore, legally, homeless shelters are fully covered as “housing” under Maryland’s non-discrimination laws.

    • Katrina Rose says:

      Maryland state case law?

      Fourth Circuit case law applying Maryland law?

      Bugs?

      2001s?

    • Katrina Rose says:

      Hey Cathy! I’ve even located a decision where a particular entity was found to be a “dwelling”

      But, of course, there are details – things that you snakeoil-flavored kool-aid theory-peddlers aren’t interested in.

      We start, as always, with the language of the statute. The statutory definition of “dwelling” turns on the meaning of the word “residence,” see United States v. Columbus Country Club, 915 F.2d 877, 881 (3d Cir. 1990), but neither the statute nor the regulations define the word. A regulation promulgated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), however, defines the term “dwelling unit” this way:

      Dwelling unit means a single unit of residence for a family or one or more persons. Examples of dwelling units include: a single family home; an apartment unit within an apartment building; and in other types of dwellings in which sleeping accommodations are provided but toileting or cooking facilities are shared by occupants of more than one room or portion of the dwelling, rooms in which people sleep. Examples of the latter include dormitory rooms and sleeping accommodations in shelters intended for occupancy as a residence for homeless persons.
      24 C.F.R. § 100.201 (emphases added). Although this definition provides some examples of dwellings covered by the FHA, it too relies on the undefined word “residence.” Because there is no statutory or administrative definition of “residence,” we look to its ordinary, everyday meaning. See, e.g., Nat’l Coal Ass’n v. Chater, 81 F.3d 1077, 1081 (11th Cir. 1996) (“Terms that are not defined in the statute . . . are given their ordinary or natural meaning.”); see also Columbus Country Club, 915 F.2d at 881 (looking to the ordinary meaning of “residence”).

      Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (2002) defines “residence” as, among other things, “a temporary or permanent dwelling place, abode, or habitation to which one intends to return as distinguished from a place of temporary sojourn or transient visit[.]” In other words, as the administrative definition of “dwelling unit” suggests, the house, apartment, condominium, or coop that you live in is a “residence,” but the hotel you stay in while vacationing at Disney World is not. Compare Robinson v. 12 Lofts Realty, Inc., 610 F.2d 1032, 1036 (2d Cir. 1979) (noting that “dwelling” “clearly” includes “cooperative apartment buildings”), with Schneider v. County of Will, 190 F. Supp. 2d 1082, 1087 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (holding that a bed-and-breakfast is not a “dwelling”); Patel v. Holley House Motels, 483 F. Supp. 374, 381 (S.D. Ala. 1979) (holding that a motel is not a “dwelling”).

      Although the scope of the term “residence” may be clear at the ends of the spectrum, many buildings fall somewhere in between. Nevertheless, we think the differences between a home and a hotel suggest at least two relevant principles: (1) the more occupants treat a building like their home — e.g., cook their own meals, clean their own rooms and maintain the premises, do their own laundry, and spend free time together in common areas — the more likely it is a “dwelling”; and (2) the longer the typical occupant lives in a building, the more likely it is that the building is a “dwelling.”

      So, even if this Florida decision, Schwarz v. City of Treasure Island, 544 F.3d 1201, 1214-15 (11th Cir. 2008), somehow becomes binding authority on all federal and state courts in Maryland, the question of whether a particular homeless shelter is a “dwelling” – and, as such, housing – or a non-HB235-ish public accommodation is not even something that can be decided on a blanket basis by the Maryland Human Relations Commission; it is fact-specific to each given case. (Oh…and don’tcha loooooooove the references to plain old ordinary dictionaries? Don’tcha just figger that while they’re looking at that thingee for dwelling-type definitions they might just wander over to “sex” for determination of where homeless trans people should get filed?)

      All of this, of course, means what trans people (at least of the non-ice-chalet-mongering, ‘I’d rather concern my pwetty littew head with the theoretical possibility of keeping trans people out of homeless shelters than worring about the gritty realities of the fact that at least some may end up there’ variety) have always known: that Maryland gays and lesbians can always be counted on to demand the certainty of statutory specificity for themselves while expecting trans people to subsist on pipedreams, wishes and secret handshakes among people whose opinions will, when the time comes, be irrelevant.

      Stick that in your bug and sockpuppet it.

  2. This citation derby is meant to make those not familiar with the abbreviations used think that there is actual controlling authority in support of EQMD’s assertion that HB 235, which grants protection from housing discrimination, but denies protection from public accommodations discrimination, would apply to homeless shelters.

    Leaving aside the fact that, as Katrina already noted, EQMD’s comment cites only cases that are (a) not controlling authority in Maryland because they are either District Court cases like Woods v. Foster[and thus not controlling authority anywhere] and/or decisions from courts from foreign jurisdictions, and/or (b) not directly on point (the Supreme Court decision), EQMD have not addressed the most important issue:

    MARYLAND STATE LAW EXPLICITLY REGULATES HOMELESS SHELTERS AND OTHER “TRANSIENT LODGINGS” UNDER THE LAW OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.

    This, it bears emphasising, is the central point. Maryland courts will interpret Maryland statutes. They may decide, if they are so inclined, to look to the decisions of foreign jurisdictions (“persuasive authority”), but it is the Maryland courts that have the last word on the matter. Either a Maryland state court has decided – against the plain language of the statute – that homeless shelters are ‘dwellings’ for housing discrimination purposes, or EQMD’s assurances are pure cack.

  3. Cathy Brennan says:

    Otto – your hatred of women is unparalleled. Best of luck!

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