Category Archives: LGBT

Kefalas Calls for Pence “to Show that he is accepting of all Americans — including LGBT Americans”

Republican Chrys Kefalas outlines just how extreme Gov. Mike Pence is on LGBT rights in an excellent column in the Washington Post:

During his public career, Pence has been an outspoken opponent of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. In Congress, he opposed efforts to encourage foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality and sought to block the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. As a governor, he stood against not only marriage equality, but civil unions as well. He also opposed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace and signed one opening the door to wide-ranging discrimination against these residents of his own state under the guise of religious liberty.

On their own, such actions would signal that Pence would work to reverse the progress that has been made and stand in the way of efforts to advance the equal dignity and opportunity of all Americans, efforts which so many other Republicans fully support. But it is his past support for, and failure to repudiate, the heinous practice of conversion, or reparative, “therapy” that raises an even more disturbing concern: Pence doesn’t just seem to disagree with advocates for equal rights on issues of law. His record suggests that he personally believes LGBT people are abnormal and unworthy of the equal protection of the law.

As a candidate for Congress, Pence went so far as to endorse a proposal to divert money from a program to help those with HIV/AIDS to organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Bravely, Kefalas explains why he knows how bad conversion “therapy” can be:

For almost nine months before my 30th birthday, I had the relationships that I most valued questioned and my life demeaned by the use of techniques, including shock therapy, with no basis in science or medicine.

Kefalas is not some liberal bringing the news. Beyond working in the Ehrlich administration and for the National Association of Manufacturers, he just finished a highly credible, if unsuccessful, bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. In his own words, he supports the “conservative principles that make America exceptional: free enterprise, personal freedom, equal opportunity and fiscal responsibility.”

Indeed, Chrys is typically American is so many ways. Being gay is a normal, integrated part of his life. On an average Facebook day, Chrys is likely to tout his family’s restaurant, his pride in his Greek heritage (My Big Fat Greek Wedding has nothing on Chrys) and what’s going on at work. And yes, he may well mention the guy he loves too. Why any of this is a threat to America escapes a fast growing majority of Americans.

Republicans need to listen to this guy if they want any hope of saving their party. From a purely practical political perspective, Pence is way behind the curve. A majority of Americans now support marriage equality. For that matter, a majority of young Republicans support marriage equality. Never mind conversion therapy, the “go ahead an hate your neighbor” agenda just doesn’t work anymore.

More importantly, any effort to reconstruct a new positive and moral agenda from the wreckage that is the formerly Grand Old Party will require a focus on freedom. Accepting that government should not legislate against LGBT Americans would be a good start.

Herman Taylor on LGBT Rights

The contest for the vacant delegate seat continues to heat up. While the District 14 delegation, Muslim Democratic Club, and MD NARAL PAC have backed Pam Queen, the Montgomery County Democratic Clubs of Color, Councilmember Nancy Navarro, and the NAACP Political Chair are behind Herman Taylor.

Taylor has defended his record on abortion rights vociferously in response to attacks on his past voting record in the House of Delegates by MD NARAL PAC. Backed by supporters, Taylor promises a 100% pro-choice voting record. Competing records on LGBT rights may well become the next issue to come under scrutiny as the Central Committee fills the vacancy this evening.

In 2008, almost all Montgomery County delegates received perfect ratings of 100 from Equality Maryland’s PAC. Taylor tied with Luiz Simmons, defeated in his 2014 bid for the Senate, for the lowest score in the House delegation at 60. Taylor stood out in the MoCo delegation one of only three delegates not to sponsor marriage equality. No votes were held on the issue, so sponsorship was a key signal of support.

Taylor again tied Simmons for the lowest score among Montgomery delegates in 2009. He was one of the few legislators in the County not to consponsor either marriage equality or the bill to add gender identity to existing state law prohibiting discrimination. Again, votes were not held, so sponsorship was a key signal of public support.

As anti-LGBT bills continue to surface in the General Assembly, I hope the Central Committee asks not just Herman Taylor but all of the candidates good questions on their views regarding protections for LGBT Marylanders.

Here are the complete 2008 and 2009 scorecards from Equality Maryland PAC:

Support for Marriage Equality at 67%

The Williams Institute released a report dog-bites-man story that support for marriage equality continues to increase across all 50 states and DC. Support is currently at 67 percent in Maryland. (The purple numbers show the outer bounds of 95%  confidence intervals. True public opinion has a 19 in 20 chance of falling within these bounds.)

ssmarriagesupport

Support for Marriage Equality
Source: The Williams Institute

 

MoCo Young Republicans Attack Madaleno Letter

“Indiana may have taken our Colts; they cannot be allowed to trample our principles.”

Indiana Letter

The Montgomery County Young Republicans have attacked Sen. Madaleno for his letter:

mocoyr

Interesting that the Young Rs view the letter as somehow an attack that needs response. I wonder how in tune they are with their members, as surveys routinely show that younger Republicans heavily favor LGBT rights.

These tweets seem particularly ill-timed since the budget just passed the Senate with bipartisan enthusiasm. If you’re unhappy about taxes and debt, Republicans now own it as much as the Democrats.

Equal IVF Treatment for Same-Sex Couples Passes Senate

Sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17), SB 416 requires insurers to give equal coverage for in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination to lesbian couples. The bill passed third reading in the Senate by 37-10.

While 36%, or 5 of 14 Republicans, voted for the bill, it won support of 97%, or 32 of 33 Democrats. The Republican split on the bill shows how far support for same-sex rights has progressed even since the 2012 referendum on marriage equality. Republicans may be beginning to realize that they win more when they focus on economic issues.

A corresponding bill, HB 838, has been sponsored in the House by Del. Terri Hill. Here is the vote on the bill in the Senate (Republicans are in italics):

Voting YEA (32D, 5R)
Miller
Astle
Benson
Brochin
Conway
Currie
Edwards
Feldman
Ferguson
Gladden
Guzzone
Hershey
Jennings
Kagan
Kasemeyer
Kelley
King
Klausmeier
Lee
Madaleno
Manno
Mathias
McFadden
Middleton
Montgomery
Muse
Nathan-Pulliam
Peters
Pinsky
Pugh
Ramirez
Raskin
Rosapepe
Serafini
Waugh
Young
Zirkin

Voting NAY (1D, 9R)
Bates
Casilly
DeGrange
Eckardt
Hough
Norman
Ready
Reilly
Sailling
Simonaire

Anti-LGBT GOP Strategy Extends Beyond Peroutka

Earlier this week, I detailed how Anne Arundel Republican County Council Candidate Michael Peroutka is using robocalls from a fake group “Marylanders for Transgenders” to call attention to his opponent’s sexual orientation in a negative way.

Unfortunately, this approach does not appear limited to Peroutka, a man that advocates southern secession and belongs to the extremist John Birch society. Another Maryland Republican is using similar attacks against openly gay candidates.

In Harford County, a public letter posted on daggerpress.com attempts to support Republican County Council Candidate Curtis Beulah by linking his opponent, out candidate Joe Smith, to sexual predators and pedophilia:

In addition, Smith is a founding member of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Maryland, a gay rights activist organization. These are the kind of groups that gave us the recent ”Bathroom Bill”. This statewide law is so poorly crafted that it allows sexual predators to claim sexual identity confusion, thereby ushering them into the public restrooms of any gender they choose. A pedophile’s dream come true.

Can we expect more of the same should Mr. Smith have a hand in policy making for Harford County?

The real question is how many more of these smear attacks can we expect from Maryland Republicans?

FAMA Passes Committee

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, the bill to promote transgender equality sponsored by Del. Luke Clippinger, has now passed the Health and Government Operations Committee in the House of Delegates. Del. Bonnie Cullison was especially helpful in seeing the bill through the committee.

Next step to final passage is the full House, though it still has to go through the amendment process and a final vote there. Any changes would require compromise with the Senate, which has already passed the legislation.

Voting YEA on the bill were: Hammen, Pendergrass, Bromwell, Cullison, Hubbard, Kelly, Morhaim, Nathan-Pulliam, Oaks, Peña-Melnyk, Reznik, Tarrant, and Turner.

Voting NAY on the bill were: Costa, Donoghue, Elliot, Kach, Kipke, Krebs, McDonough, and Ready.

Delegates Murphy and Frank did not vote.

All of the yes voters were cast by Democrats and all but one of the no votes were from Republicans. Del. John Donoghue (D-2, Washington) was the only Democrat to vote no.

Note: An earlier version reported Frank voted yes. My intel was off.

Trans Marylanders Make Their Voices Heard

The following are excepts from testimony by Trans Marylanders from the committee hearing in the House of Delegates:

Zane Walsh is a trans teen:

Things about me– I’m not a dirty prostitute or a pervert lurking in the men’s bathroom which is the image that comes up in a lot of people’s minds when the word ‘trans’ is mentioned. I am a normal kid. I love animals and rock music. I play drums and I sing. I cherish my dog Bebe. I love punk music and Billy Idol.

Maybe I love playing music so much because it does not judge based on appearance, like so many bigots do. The people who are watching me in concert don’t care about my sexuality or what gender I was assigned at birth, just my music. I LOVE dogs.

I am not that different. I get up, I eat breakfast, I take care of Bebe, I go to school, I come home, I eat, I listen to music and play with Bebe and sometimes even play with my sister who by the way has more rights than me which is downright unfair.

We are normal children so why don’t you support us?

Jennifer Fischetti spoke about being fired from her job:

The tension that week broke at 8:30am Wednesday as I arrived for a managers’ meeting and was pull out by a peer. I was to find out; it was his job to terminate me. I was being let go for what was described as performance deficiencies. I could easily refute any allegation with facts and stats, for I had to keep those records, but the peer who dismissed me simply shrugged his shoulders as if to say “It’s out of my hands”.

Yet when I filed unemployment, the agent at unemployment was astonished at the fact the company did not contest my claim. They replied I was dismissed for lack of work; that they could not afford to pay me because business was off. Yet the very next day someone else occupied my old office, holding the same capacity as I had just held. The auto industry is a very small and close-knit. Word traveled quickly and I have not held a position in my given career of 19 years since. That was nearly 10 years ago.

Blake Wideman is a police officer in Prince George’s County who worries about losing his job and ability to support his family:

I was born African American in Baltimore City which seemed to be a curse that I learned to turn into a gift. I grew up in poverty and learned to persevere through all the discrimination and hatred I had to face on a daily basis because my skin was darker, even darker than the average black person. My black features were prominent and afforded me many opportunities to be ostracized from jobs and housing that were rightfully mine. All adversity aside I and many like me not only survive but thrive.

At a very young age I knew that I was different, and not due to the color of my skin but because I had a burning desire to become great in every facet of my life. And honestly for a while I did very well, I was the first of my mother’s children to graduate high school and attend college. I have no criminal record, and even more exciting I am a part of the law enforcement sector. Every day I wear that bullet proof vest, gun, and badge to serve and protect a state and city that will not protect me because I am Transgender.

Even though I currently have a job. I work in Prince George’s County a jurisdiction that does not currently protect me from discrimination based on my gender identity. I am afraid what might happen to me and my family if I get a supervisor that doesn’t like transgender people.

I put my life on the line. I am a law abiding citizen. I pay taxes. Yet I am not protected by Maryland’s anti-discrimination laws.

Dem Gov Hopefuls Testify for FAMA

govhopefulsDel. Heather Mizeur, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and AG Doug Gansler

We’re fortunate that all three of the major Democratic candidates for governor are strong supporters of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, the trans equality legislation. I know many appreciate their united support despite other differences, so I thought I’d share snippets of their testimony.

Today, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will testify before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in support of the bill. He issued a press release stating:

“No Marylander should face discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientaion,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “By passing the Fairness for All Marylanders Act we will take an important step forward for equality and provide Marylanders with the assurance that here, in our State, all citizens will be afforded equal rights and protections under the law.”

Attorney General Doug Gansler advocated for marriage equality long before it become fashionable. Here is a portion of the testimony he submitted to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee:

The Constitution’s command to provide “the equal protection of the laws” applies to “any person” within a state’s jurisdiction, regardless of that person’s identity. We deprive our citizens of that equal protection when we allow discrimination against them on the basis of their gender identity. Inequality for any person is inequality for all of us. Gender identity, like race, sex, sexual orientation, and creed, must not be tolerated as a ground for denying any person the opportunity to obtain employment, housing, and public accommodation.

Del. Heather Mizeur is a member of the LGBT Caucus and a longtime advocate for this legislation. As the Washington Blade reported, she advocated strongly in favor before the Senate committee:

Baltimore County and City, Montgomery and Howard Counties – four of our state’s larger jurisdictions have stepped up to provide nearly half of our state’s residents protection from gender identity discrimination.

But protection against discrimination shouldn’t depend on your zip code.  We need a statewide law.

And we cannot wait.  Real people are suffering real consequences of our inaction.

Fear and prejudice are not acceptable reason for assigning a vulnerable group of Marylanders to a future of discriminatory practices in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

17 states and the District of Columbia have stepped forward to do this.  The Chrissy Lee Polis’s in Prince George’s County, Southern, Northern, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore are expecting us to do the right thing – to prove to them that Maryland really is the Free State where everyone – EVERYONE – gets protected equally under the law.

There can be no exceptions. And there are no excuses.

The House has passed a version of this bill previously. Now that the blockage in the Senate has cleared, we should “get it done” as Heather put it in her testimony and to me.

Fairness for All Marylanders Act Passes Senate

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA) easily passed the Senate on a 32-15. Sponsored by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D 18) and strongly supported by floor leader Sen. Jamie Raskin (D 20), the bill protects the rights of transgender Marylanders.

The bill was earlier amended by the Senate to strengthen it after it had been weakened, though passed, by the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill now heads over to the House of Delegates, which has passed versions of this legislation in previous sessions.

The passage of marriage equality and then the referendum vote by the people of Maryland in favor of it seems to have taken the sting out of LGBT legislation. There is a lot lest angst about voting for this relatively straightforward anti-discrimination bill now that the tide has turned on the LGBT issue which attracts the most press.

Sen. Kittleman (R 9, Howard) was the only Republican to vote yes. Four Democrats voted no: Sens. Astle (D 30, Anne Arundel), De Grange (D 32, Anne Arundel), Dyson (D 29, Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s), and Mathias (D 38, Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester).

Kittleman voted for the marriage bill and is probably the Republican who represents the most pro-marriage Republican district, as Howard voted strongly for marriage equality. More surprising are the no votes by two Anne Arundel Democrats. Anne Arundel also voted for marriage equality, and presumably more strongly in areas prone to elect Democrats.

The no votes by two Democrats hailing from southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore shock less. Marriage equality lost in both of their districts, though with more support than one might expect. Here is how the Senate voted:

YEA: Miller, Benson, Brochin, Conway, Currie, Feldman, Ferguson, Forehand, Frosh, Gladden, Jones-Rodwell, Kasemeyer, Kelley, King, Kittleman (R), Klausmeier, Madaleno, Manno, McFadden, Middleton, Montgomery, Muse, Peters, Pinsky, Pugh, Ramirez, Raskin, Robey, Rosapepe, Stone, Young, Zirkin.

NAY: Astle (D), Brinkley, Colburn, De Grange (D), Dyson (D), Edwards, Getty, Glassman, Hershey, Jacobs, Jennings, Mathias (D), Reilly, Shank, Simonaire.