WaPo Picks Up the Story

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I’m naturally pleased that the Washington Post picked up the story on the controversy over Aisha Braveboy and her lack of support for LGBT rights in the General Assembly, including a lengthy quote from the post on this blog.

At the same time, it’s frustrating that they linked to Del. Braveboy’s defense of her position and missed the actual controversy. Specifically, Del. Braveboy’s story over her change of heart is not credible because the incident that she describes as the “defining moment” in her “evolution” occurred 11 months after the marriage equality referendum in which she claims to have voted yes.

Moreover, now Del. Braveboy is claiming that she really supported marriage equality but just not this bill:

“I look at nearly every bill and I make judgments based on the policy and they way the bill was drafted and written,” Braveboy said Tuesday. “While I may have supported the concept, I didn’t support the bill.”

Odd since she was viewed as a leader of opponents in the House of Delegates and certainly had no interest in passing a pro-marriage bill, or even milder pro-LGBT legislation in earlier sessions. If she “supported the concept,” she hid it well.

So while I am grateful to the Washington Post for giving the issue more coverage, it feels like a swing and a miss.

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UPDATE on Leventhal Post

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal gave me a call because he wanted to set the record straight on two things regarding my earlier post today. They’re not about the video of the budget hearing at the top of the post but two other issues mentioned in the final paragraph.

SEIU Endorsement Interview

George says it’s categorically untrue that he was asked to leave his interview with SEIU. In his view, all of the endorsement conversations with the unions were tough but this just didn’t happen. Based on additional information, I have little reason to doubt George’s word. Even Lou Peck’s highly negative reportage does not say George was ejected.

CASA Criticism

Additionally, George also says he was being very careful not to criticize CASA during the budget hearings and that also didn’t happen. The hearing mentioned here occurred on April 10th in advance of CASA’s endorsement . Rather than debate or assess its contents, I thought I’d post it here so anyone reading can make their own judgement. It was a hearing for the Health and Human Services Committee on the FY15 Operating Budget held on April 10th.

Source: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/OnDemand/index.html and click on committee worksessions and then click on “video” for the one of HHS on April 10th starting around 1:08.

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MoCo At-Large County Council Forum

Incumbents
Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, Hans Reimer (Democrats)

Challengers
Beth Daly and Vivian Malloy (Democrats) Robert Dyer (Republican) Tim Willard (Green Party)

Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m.

4-H Center
7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase

Cosponsors: Chevy Chase View, Chevy Chase Village, Chevy Chase West, Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, Edgemoor Citizens Association, Garrett Park, Rollingwood Citizens Association, Town of Chevy Chase, Town of Somerset, Village of Chevy Chase Section 3, Village of Chevy Chase Section 5, Village of Martin’s Additions, Village of North Chevy Chase

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Leventhal Loses It

Watch. My thoughts below.

The Washington Post is highlighting George Leventhal’s loss of temper on May 6th when he hectored Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Hughes from the dais at a Montgomery County Council hearing.

Frustratingly, the Post doesn’t say what it is about–the County’s outdated and unsupported computer system–but it almost doesn’t matter. The optics are terrible. In the clip, George loses control as he disrespectfully berates the Budget Director. At one point, he says he doesn’t like her “body language.”

While undoubtedly not giving the answers he wants to hear, the Director testified professionally. No one will like how George looks here but my guess is women will hate it. Viscerally.

As I mentioned in my write-up on the at-large Council race, George “is perceived as quick to anger and express disdain.” Apparently, he is still teed off at CASA and criticized them during a budget hearing. George was asked to leave his candidate endorsement interview with SEIU because he was being belligerent.

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Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy Part III

Aisha Braveboy had such an profound change of heart on marriage equality that it affected her vote before it happened.


Part I publicized Del. Braveboy’s response
to the questions raised about Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund’s 100% rating in light of their question on marriage quality and Del. Braveboy’s past staunch opposition. Similarly, Part II posted PPMW’s press release.

Today, I explain why both responses are problematic.

Memory Lane

As PPMW outlined in their response, Del. Braveboy has a long history of opposition to not just marriage equality legislation but many other earlier efforts to advance LGBT equality.

In 2008, she so strongly opposed even basic LGBT rights that she even voted against hospital visitation and decision making rights for domestic partners. Del. Braveboy also voted against exemption from the property transfer tax for domestic partners in 2008. She voted against inheritance tax exemption for domestic partners in 2009.

And of course, Del. Braveboy voted against marriage equality in 2012, capping a long established record of consistent and emphatic opposition to equality for LGBT Marylanders.

Evolved or Expedient?

Del. Braveboy describes her views as having “evolved” like those of President Obama. Except that President Obama had a history of support for other LGBT rights besides marriage. He further had a public record of advocacy for treating LGBT individuals with basic dignity–not implacable opposition to LGBT rights and an array of negative public statements.

Moreover, President Obama “evolved” in advance of the 2012 referendum on the Maryland marriage equality legislation and his own reelection. In contrast, Del. Braveboy’s public change of heart occurred only after the referendum at a politically convenient moment for her attorney general bid. Sounds more like a Damascene conversion than evolution.

Additionally, Del. Braveboy explained her opposition to marriage equality in terms of her consistently expressed belief that it should be left up to the voters. An odd position for a candidate running for attorney general with the tagline of “Justice for All Marylanders” to suggest putting rights up for a vote.

And her story doesn’t add up. Del. Braveboy says that she changed her mind in advance of the referendum and cast her vote for marriage equality. She ascribes her change of heart to her experience during her pro bono representation of “a same-sex couple in a case where a cooperative housing association attempted to force one of the partners out of their family home and refused to recognize their familial relationship.”

Except that a search of the Maryland Judicial Database reveals that the case, Village Green v. Carroll, cited by Del. Braveboy as a “defining moment” in her evolution on the issue, was filed in October 2013–well after the 2012 referendum:

BraveboyCase

Aisha Braveboy had such an profound change of heart on marriage equality that it affected her vote before it happened.

Planned Parenthood’s Response

PPMW deserves kudos for including the marriage equality question on their questionnaire and, more importantly, their steadfast support for LGBT rights. Additionally, their statement is at pains to indicate that Del. Braveboy’s opponent, Sen. Brian Frosh, has a far superior record on this issue.

And I agree with their view that we should welcome politicians who evolve toward more favorable positions. Nonetheless, since all of the Democratic candidates for AG are legislators in the General Assembly, asking a question based on how they voted on Question 6 in the privacy of the voting booth was a mistake.

The votes cast in the legislature were of far greater moment and also verifiable. That’s why virtually all interest groups develop legislative ratings based on roll-call votes. In this case, there is also no evidence of public support before the election when it might have helped in the fight to win the vote. Interest groups should care far more about actions than private thoughts.

Two Thought Experiments

Would Del. Braveboy–who consistently opposed LGBT rights and argued that it should be up to the voters–now be presenting herself as a supporter of LGBT rights or saying that we need to respect the will of the voters if the vote on Question 6 had gone the other way?

How would PPMW rate a candidate who had always opposed abortion rights but in a questionnaire just before the election said that she had a change of heart on the issue?

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Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy, Part II

PPMW LogoPart I of this series presented Attorney General Candidate Aisha Braveboy’s response to the controversy over Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund puzzling 100% rating. The questionnaire asked a question about support for marriage equality legislation–opposed by Del. Braveboy in the General Assembly.

While the Part III analyzes the problematic response by Del. Braveboy and PPMW, this part publishes PPMW’s statement on the matter:

PPMWAF Public Statement on Delegate Aisha Braveboy’s Candidate Questionnaire

Washington, D.C. – The Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC Action Fund (PPMWAF) would like to take the opportunity to address the discussion around Delegate Aisha Braveboy’s questionnaire and 100% score, which was posted on www.ppmwaf.com. We received Del. Aisha Braveboy’s questionnaire, noted that it included a “Yes” response for all questions asked, and accordingly, scored the questionnaire at 100%. After the score was posted, PPMWAF was made aware that there appeared to be some inconsistency between Del. Braveboy’s “Yes” answer for Question 8b, and her previous votes and statements regarding same-sex marriage in Maryland. Specifically, Del. Braveboy cast some older votes in 2008-2009 against LGBT domestic partner rights, trans* rights and marriage equality, sponsored and voted for an amendment in 2011 prohibiting same-sex marriage legislation (SB 116) from taking effect unless a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage failed at the ballot box in the 2012 general election, and voted against the 2012 same-sex marriage legislation (HB 438) that ultimately became law after it triumphed at the ballot box as Question 6.

Our questionnaire’s Question 8b asked, “Did you vote or would you have voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland in 2012?” The question confined its analysis to Question 6, and intended to get at a candidate’s support for same-sex marriage. PPMWAF asked Del. Braveboy to add some context and explanation to her Yes answer, and here is the explanation she provided:

[see Del. Braveboy’s response in previous post]

Braveboy also answered “Yes” to Question 8c, in support of trans* rights, and she voted for the relevant legislation, SB 212, this year, as well as for HB 235 in 2011.

Del. Braveboy’s opponent, Brian Frosh, also got a 100% score, marking “Yes” for Questions 8b and 8c. Further, he has demonstrated a firm commitment to LGBT rights, including support for domestic partner hospital visitation rights in 2008. In 2011, he voted for marriage equality legislation (SB 116) and again in 2012 for the legislation that ultimately became law (HB 438). He also cast two supportive votes in 2011 for gender identity discrimination legislation (HB 235), and cosponsored SB 212 this year and helped lead the charge to pass the bill. Frosh has been endorsed by Equality Maryland this year, who lauded his commitment to LGBT issues and noted that “he worked with Senate leaders and advocates to shepherd the bill through the Senate,” and that “his leadership was instrumental in achieving the 8-3 vote for the bill in the Judicial Proceedings Committee which he chairs.”

PPMWAF has a deep commitment to civil rights and reproductive justice, and included in that is our commitment to LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and trans* equality and non-discrimination. That is precisely why we chose to include this question in our questionnaire, because we believe that all of our patients, including those who identify as LGBT or Queer, must be free from discrimination and have equal rights in order to be able to best make their reproductive health decisions. PPMWAF opposes any vote that leaves an integral civil rights decision in the hands of voters. PPMWAF also welcomes a legislator’s evolution in views, and applauds when, after previously expressing ambivalence or opposition on an important issue, a legislator comes to share our values. However, we at PPMWAF hold in highest esteem when a legislator has long-held and steadfast progressive beliefs and values, and demonstrates them in action by leading the charge on progressive legislation.

Here is a PDF copy of the press statement: 5-15 MD Braveboy questionnaire press statement

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Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy, Part I

In a previous post, I raised questions about Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund’s puzzling decision to award a 100% rating to Attorney General Aisha Braveboy. PPMW’s questionnaire asked a question on support for marriage equality and Del. Braveboy had been a trenchant opponent while in the House of Delegates.

This is the first in a three-part series on the problematic responses issued by Del. Braveboy and PPMW. This first part publishes Del. Braveboy’s addendum to her questionnaire in light of follow-up questions from PPMW in light of the controversy:

Addendum to Question 8(b)

b. Did you vote or would you have voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland in 2012?

I voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act when it was on the ballot in 2012. While I don’t make it a practice of sharing my votes, as a citizen, I will make an exception in this case because it may appear inconsistent with my votes as a legislator. I supported letting voters decide the issue of same sex marriage and my votes and proposed amendments in the Maryland House of Delegates were made with the intent to allow voters to directly decide the question.

Much like President Obama, my personal views on same sex marriage have evolved over the years, and I fully support the rights of same sex couples to marry and to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples. In retrospect, I realize that these basic civil rights should not be left up to the will of voters. A defining moment for me came when I served as an attorney (pro-bono) for a same-sex couple that were victims of discrimination. In Village Green v. Carroll (Prince George’s Dist. Ct.), I represented a same-sex couple in a case where a cooperative housing association attempted to force one of the partners out of their family home and refused to recognize their familial relationship. Witnessing the discrimination experienced by my clients had a lasting impact on me and made me realize that my clients were as much of a loving family as my own mother and father, and their relationship should not be left up to the whim of voters. I successfully defended their right to be protected as a couple and later attended their marriage ceremony. As Attorney General, I would fight to ensure equal justice under law for all Marylanders.

Braveboy questionnaire addendum

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FAMA Bill Signing Photo

Transgender_Rights_Bill_signing

Read the full article in the Washington Blade. The three signers of the bill are Senate President Mike Miller, Gov. Martin O’Malley, and House Speaker Mike Busch.

Legislators I noticed in the photo include Sen. Rich Madaleno, the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. Other legislators present included Jennie Forehand, Roger Manno, Susan Lee, Bonnie Cullison, Maggie McIntosh, and Jamie Raskin. Equality Maryland’s Carrie Evans and Keith Thirion, who worked tirelessly on the bill, are also in the photo.

 

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