Tag Archives: Equality Maryland

Repeat a Lie Often Enough, It Becomes True

March 18, 2013

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In another lifetime, when I was young, I was very active in the effort to amend Maryland’s anti-discrimination law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. I believed then, as I believe now, that sexual orientation discrimination is, in fact, sex discrimination. However, my feelings on this are irrelevant, as Maryland law made quite clear that sexual orientation discrimination and sex discrimination were two different things. So, many hundreds of people, over the course of many years, worked doggedly to change the law.

Looking back on this effort now, this History that is also “my life,” myths abound about what happened in Maryland during the mid-1990s to early 2000s.

One of the Great Myths about Gender Identity legislation in Maryland is that there was a secret Gay plot to strip Gender Identity protections from a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Secret Plot Myth gets repeated even today.

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If you repeat a lie often enough, does it become true?

January 24, 2013

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Americans gave up the idea-or tried to, or pretended to-that there are certain characteristics and qualities that are essentially black and essentially white a long time ago. At the very least we can say that it would be considered wildly offensive and thoroughly idiotic to articulate ideas like that now. Yet somehow we don’t think twice about wanting to be ‘like a man’ or unlike a ‘girly-girl.’ As if those ideas even mean anything. Like which man? Iggy Pop? Nathan Lane? Jesse Jackson? Jesse Helms? It is a staggeringly unsophisticated way to think about being a human being, but smart people do it all the time.

Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs, p. 108

I received an email from Equality Maryland today!

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Can you find the typo?

It asked me to sign up for its Lobby Day in Annapolis in February.

Now, I like a good lobby day as well as the next person. I read on.

“While 2012 was an incredible year for Maryland’s LGBT communities and our allies our work is not done. Transgender Marylanders remain unprotected in state law from discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accomondation (sic) and credit.”

Um.

Well.

No, that’s not entirely true. [...]

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Show Up, Pariahs

December 30, 2012

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Tonight in Baltimore, about 40 people gathered at the foot of the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon, Baltimore’s Gayborhood. Activist Meredith Moise and the Baltimore Guardian Angels organized  the gathering to condemn anti-gay violence in response to the beating of Kenni Shaw, a gay man,  in East Baltimore on Christmas Day.

This is what the men who attacked Kenni did to him:

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Organizing For Our Lives

January 15, 2012

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For all of my adult life, I’ve self- identified as a “Gay Activist.” I became politicized while attending a Jesuit university in New York City, where I worked in a progressive student’s organization and loosely affiliated with the newly emerging gay student’s organization. The virulent homophobia of other students on the campus politicized me and made me a dedicated advocate for all things Gay (remind me to tell you about the time I asked my dad to pick up a crate of condoms for me during finals at Gay Men’s Health Crisis).

A funny thing has happened, though, since the Halcyon Days of the 1990s. Despite aligning with the LGBT Movement and its “goals” for much of my adult activist life, I’ve been consistently disappointed in how Gay men – as a group – seem unable or unwilling to take on Female-specific concerns. A Lesbian who voices a Female-specific concern, be it concern about initiatives that reinforce sex stereotypes or the fact that a Gay Organization’s board is top-heavy with men, is quickly silenced and shamed.

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A Way Forward

December 13, 2011

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Late last month, a small group of concerned folks gathered in front of the KAGRO building at the corner of Maryland and North Avenues in Mt. Vernon.  After a few minutes, another small group joined the assembled people, having just marched from Maryland Institute College of Art. The reason for the gathering? A series of violent attacks against gay and transgender people in Baltimore City.

The impressive organizer of the “Silence No More” event – Sandy Rawls of Trans-United – reached out to some of the usual players in the LGBT acronym world of queer politics. Anthony McCarthy, an occasional also-ran in local elections and a successful media personality, spoke, as did Morgan Meneses-Sheets, the petite but fiery leader of Equality Maryland (“EQMD”), the lobbying arm of our community.

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Group Protection vs Individual Rights

December 13, 2011

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Last April, the world watched in horror as video of Teonna Brown and a juvenile beating Chrissy Polis at a Rosedale McDonald’s aired repeatedly on major national and international media outlets and spread virally over the World Wide Web. In response, a number of local activists, including me, organized a rally against hate and violence. There is no doubt – and it cannot be debated – that the attack on Ms. Polis was brutal, wrong and criminal.

Now, Ms. Brown stands charged with first degree assault, a felony, and a raft of misdemeanor assault charges. She also stands accused of a hate crime based on Ms. Polis’ “gender identity.” Ms. Brown faces these charges in Baltimore County no less, which has the dubious distinction of sending more people to death row – most of them African-American – than any other county in Maryland.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

December 13, 2011

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Recently, Stonewall Democrats of Central Maryland announced its dissolution. Over the several years of its existence, Stonewall worked to endorse candidates that supported a “LGBT Agenda.” Like many LGBT political organizations, Stonewall apparently struggled to reconcile a Gay Identity with other interests important to individual gays and lesbians. What Stonewall wanted to be may never have been fully realized, but I commend the volunteers who labored for the organization, including President Alice Kennedy.

The loss of Stonewall also means that Equality Maryland stands as the only significant political organization that claims to advance a LGBT Agenda in the Baltimore area. This lack of competition for gay and lesbian political time, effort and dollars can breed complacency, a dangerous thing as we head into the 2012 election cycle and the almost-certainty of a marriage referendum (assuming all gay hopes and dreams come true for the legislation’s enactment next legislative session – a debatable assumption.)

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Betting the Farm on Gay Marriage

December 13, 2011

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Fifteen years ago, a University of Maryland law student named John Pucker worked diligently to promote marriage equality for gay folks. At that time, working to defeat anti-gay marriage bills took up most of the time Pucker’s Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Coalition (with its fantastic acronym “SSMAC”) dedicated to the cause. As a result of the heads up defensive advocacy of SSMAC and many elected officials, most notably then-Delegate Sharon Grosfeld, Maryland remains on the list of states that did not adopt an outright ban on permitting a gay couple to marry in Maryland.

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