Seen recently on Facebook:
Until 2001 it was legal to fire or not hire, to deny housing or other services to persons who were open – or even perceived to be – gay or lesbian.
That changed with the election of Governor Paris Glendening. He created a commission to document the discrimination that existed in Maryland towards our community. In 2001 we passed the Antidiscrimination Act of 2001 giving us protection against discrimination in housing, employment or other public accommodations.
Seven years ago Equality MD and advocates took a new approach.
Rectifying the immoral separate-and-unequal aspect of that 2001 law? Removing the anti-equality of non-trans gays and lesbians being able to disriminate at will against trans people but those same trans people, if accused of discrimination by a gay or lesbian, not being able to similarly plead in court ‘no such cause of action’?
Never believing at that time that we had the votes for Marriage Equality, we developed a strategy of introducing legislation that was heard in numerous committees. It was our way of educating our colleagues – again – to inequities facing same sex couples in our state.
We were successful!
In 2005 we passed Hate Crimes Penalties Act protecting the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity
Okay, while that’s not a bad thing per se (yes, I think they are a waste of time except for provoking christianists into providing ‘all crime is hate crime’-esque quotes, but if they happen and if they are legitimate – read: trans-inclusive – then so be it), I’m as unclear on how ‘educating’ about crimes against trans people was a stepping stone to gay marriage as I am on what good such a law is – either to dead trans people or to living ones who might risk outing themselves to employers who can legally fire them and landlords who can legally evict them by reporting incidents that were violations of criminal law even prior to 2005.
But maybe that’s just lil’ ol’ reality-based me.
In 2006, Health Advance Directives Registry; in 2007, Health Insurance Family Coverage Expansion and Life Insurance for Domestic Partners; in 2008, Health Care Facilities and Medical Decision for Domestic Partners, and Recordation and Transfer Taxes Exemptions for Domestic Partners; and in 2009, Inheritance Tax Exemption Domestic Partners.
Speaking of progress, 10 years ago I was the only, now we are 8 openly gay members of the General Assembly.
Last year we achieved what was believed to be unachievable; Marriage Equality passed the Maryland State Senate. As we all know the bill fell just a handful of votes short in the House. I believe this year neither house will let you down. This is the year to achieve Marriage Equality in Maryland.
Much has changed since last year. We have open and vocal support from our friends in the religious, legal, labor, and progressive communities of Maryland. We have our Governor, Martin O’Malley, and Speaker Mike Busch who are dedicated to passage of civil marriage.
I want to conclude by telling you that I believe in the power of words.
In his State of the State address in 2001, Governor Glendening included the words “gay and lesbian” in describing his hope for an inclusive, diverse, and fair community in our state.
How’s that workin’, eh? Oh…
gay and lesbian
A colleague of mine sitting next to me said that was the first time our community was included and that those words would forever change the air and atmosphere in our chamber. And they did.
Four years ago Delegate Heather Mizeur rose as many of our colleges do at the end of a day’s work on the floor to introduce her wife, Deb. I turned to the same colleague still sitting next to me on the floor and said “I think the barometric pressure of this chamber just changed”.
Today, in his State of the State address, Governor O’Malley called for equal respect and freedom for all to marry. His words were powerful and will forever change how many in the legislature view marriage. Thank you Governor O’Malley.
I did not blow by the fact that the speech was to “supporters of Equality MD and marriage equality advocates,” so I’m not oblivious to why gay marriage is in there – or even that its front and center.
But this was the heading of that speech on her website:
I see a lot in the way of “legislative progress” re: LGB – including something really big that hasn’t succeeded yet.
Yes, there’s the hate crime law.
But I seem to recall something about another bill that didn’t succeed to the same degree as the gay marriage bill didn’t.
Maggie Speaks on Legislative Progress for the LGBT Community