Posts Tagged As: Maryland

Third Maryland GOP Lawmaker Announces Support for Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2012

Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner breaks the news that Del. Wade Kach (R-Baltimore County) has just announced that he will support the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which will provide marriage equality in Maryland, when it comes to a vote in Maryland’s House of Delegate. Vote counters believe that his vote is the one vote needed to put marriage equality over the top in the lower house. Kach joins fellow Republicans, Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Carroll, Howard counties) and Del. Bob Costa (R-Anne Arundel County), in supporting the bill.

The House is in recess until 5:30 p.m. this evening. When the session resumes tonight, the bill’s second reading is expected, during which amendments could be offered. A vote on the bill could come as early as tomorrow.

Maryland marriage bill out of committee

Timothy Kincaid

February 14th, 2012

Reuters:

The House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee and the Health and Government Operations Committee approved the measure 25-18 in a joint vote, a judiciary panel spokeswoman said. The measure is expected to go to the full House on Wednesday, she said.

Happy Valentines Day

I want to take a moment to thank Rev. Al Sharpton. On the issue of equality, Sharpton is not just saying the right words, he’s putting action behind them.

In Maryland, the factor holding back equality is race. Although Democrats control large majorities of both houses, there is a large black caucus. And in Maryland, black voters are not allies of the gay community and refuse to view disparities in treatment of citizens as discrimination or mistreatment under civil law as a civil rights matter unless the discrimination and mistreatment is directed towards racial minorities. The most vocal opponents of equality have been black ministers and there is about a 30 point polling difference between white Democrats and black Democrats on the issue.

Although the underpinnings of this hostility are old and have many complex contributors, anti-gay activists such as the National Organization for Marriage have deliberately played up and encouraged feelings of resentment. Falsely equating “civil rights” with “black rights”, they are deceptively seeking to suggest to black Marylanders that recognizing the equality of gay citizens is the same as unfairly grabbing what they have had to work so hard to achieve.

And the gay community is, like much of America, inadequately equipped to speak to the specific concerns of African Americans in an authentic voice. If we are to make inroads and find commonality and alliance with other communities, including the black community, we are stuck relying on the generosity of others.

And right now, Al Sharpton has stepped up and is using his voice and his reputation to lobby the Black Church and to speak to Maryland’s African American community. He is speaking not just as an activist, but as a civil rights advocate and, perhaps even more importantly, as a Baptist minister. Having someone of Sharpton’s status stand in for us may be the one ingredient that can make marriage a reality in Maryland.

I am very grateful.

WaPo Poll: half of Marylanders support equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2012

According to the latest Washington Post poll,

Maryland marriage bill in committee hearing today

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2012

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear the marriage bill today at 1:00 pm. Governor O’Malley will attend to speak on the bill’s behalf.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller must go

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2012

Earlier today, Senate President Mike Miller, Democrat from Calvert & Prince George’s Counties, said that mixed race marriages were an attack on the family. He also discussed how from a historical perspective Jews were a threat to civilization.

Actually Miller didn’t make those statements. And if he had, it would be the lead story in every news venue. In fact, had Miller spoke against equality for any sub-population of the this country – Muslims, undocumented immigrants, inner-city youth, any subpopulation at all – using language suggesting that these people were a threat of any sort, Democratic Party leadership would have immediately called for his resignation.

But instead, Miller said that gay marriage is not a civil rights issue but an “attack on the family, an attack on traditional families”, based on him being “a historian” that “studies civilizations” and that while he will “let democracy prevail”, he would be voting against equality. He lamented that Catholic Charities isn’t able to use public funds to discriminate against gay taxpayers in Washington DC and expressed his opinion that despite a poll a year ago showing that a majority of Marylanders favor equality, “a coming together of Evangelicals, Catholics, African Americans are going to go to the polls and I think it’s going to be defeated”. Oh, and undoubtedly he also counts on the “historian” vote.

So far, Stonewall Democrats have failed to call for his resignation. HRC has not commented. GLAAD is silent. I’ve not heard a single Democratic leader who has found that Miller’s statements disqualify him from leadership.

Until slurs and slanders against gay people are treated with the seriousness given to slurs and slanders against other minority groups, then we cannot hope for equality. For as long as we allow it to be more acceptable to hold anti-gay positions than other animus-based positions, then we give permission to discriminate against us.

Anti-gay slurs are abhorrent and have no legitimacy anywhere. But they especially have no place in Democratic Party leadership. Mike Miller needs to step aside and allow someone who does not champion bigotry to take his place.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TZswoKhGVE[/youtube]

MD Anti-Marriage Delegate Charged With Stealing To Pay For Her Own Wedding

Jim Burroway

September 26th, 2011

Marriage for me but not for thee.

That’s the kind of headline I dream of writing, and today my dream came true. Maryland Delegate Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George’s Co), had cosponsored a bill to legalize marriage equality, but then abruptly changed her mind and voted against the bill she had cosponsored last spring when the bill went down to defeat. At around the same time, she indulged herself in the very same right that she denied other residents of her state by getting married. And to top it all off like like a cheap plastic figurine on a garish wedding cake, we learn that to help pay for that wedding — because she values marriage so much — Alston allegedly stole $3,560 in campaign funds:

Among other charges detailed Friday in a five-count indictment filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court (PDF: 876 KB/5 pages), Alston faces a charge of felony theft, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. She also is charged with one count of misdemeanor theft, one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and two election law violations. The misdemeanor charge also carries a potential 18-month prison term.

“I emphatically deny any criminal wrong doing and look forward to the appropriate opportunity to address the accusations lodged against me,” she said in the statement.

We look forward to that as well.

Transgender Customer Beaten at Baltimore McDonald’s As Employees Watch

Jim Burroway

April 22nd, 2011

A McDonald’s employee captured the melee on his cell phone, but offered not assistance. Warning: the video is extremely violent:

In the first part of the video, someone who appears to be a security guard appears to try to break the fight up, but he doesn’t appear to render aide to the victim. Later, when the victim is assaulted again, there is not security guard in sight. One older lady appears to be trying to intervene, but in one pan-away, McDonald’s employees are seen looking on and laughing. Toward the end of the video, one of the assailants lands a severe blow to the victim’s head, and she appears to have a seizure. You can then here a man tell the assailants to run because the police are coming as the victim continues to convulse wildly on the floor.

The assault began when the victim tried to use the restroom. Maryland has seen a significant rise in anti-trans rhetoric in the recently failed attempt to pass an anti-discrimination bill in the state legislature. Opponents of the measure stoked bigotry over the bill by warning of “men” in women’s restrooms and referring to it as “the bathroom bill.”

The victim, whose name is not yet available, was identified as transgender by the man who video’ed the event and posted about it on his Facebook page.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the attack occurred on April 18. Two women were arrested. A 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile, and charges are pending against an 18-year-old woman. The victim, whose identity has not yet been released, is reported to be in fair condition at Franklin Square Hospital Center.

McDonald’s has issued a statement:

“We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees in our restaurants. We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter.”

Maryland’s equal marriage bill does NOT pass

Timothy Kincaid

March 11th, 2011

In a legislative body with 98 Democrats and 43 Republicans, in a state that already recognizes same-sex marriages conducted next door, supporters of the Maryland marriage equality bill were unable to round up 71 votes. (WaPo)

The effort to legalize gay marriage in Maryland died for the year Friday after supporters said they could not find enough votes to pass the measure in the House.

House leaders avoided a final vote on the bill and returned it to the House Judiciary Committee after it became apparent they did not have the 71 votes needed for approval. The bill to make Maryland the sixth state to allow gay marriage had already passed the Senate, and the governor said he would have signed it.

Baltimore Raven calls for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2011

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5IpTdbE5ts[/youtube] 

Yes! This is a welcome image and message at this critical time.

Maryland House moves closer to marriage; NOM offers bribe for votes

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2011

Today the Maryland House of Representatives took a step closer towards passing marriage equality. (DelawareOnline)

The House advanced the bill today on a voice vote.

Gay marriage supporters rejected four amendments to the measure — any of which could have sunk the bill’s chances this year — including one which would have put the issue on the ballot in 2012.

The measure —which would make Maryland the sixth state to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples — now moves to a final vote in the House, which could come as soon as Thursday.

In response, the National Organization for Marriage has publicly offered a bribe to legislators: If you vote the way we want, then we will spend a million dollars on your reelection.

The National Organization of Marriage today announced that it will form the “NOM PAC Maryland” in the state. NOM pledges to spend at least $1 million in Maryland to support Democratic State Legislators who cast their votes to defend the traditional marriage and oppose any Republican Legislators who vote to redefine marriage.

I’m not sure, exactly, how that differs from an illegal bribe; it ties one specific vote to a promise of cash. But I’m sure NOM wouldn’t care one way or the other about the legality of their action.

Arora Goes Clintonian

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2011

It looks like Maryland delegate Sam Arora got an earful after he tried to pull an Arora yesterday, in which he pulled back his support for a bill allowing marriage Equality that is making its way through Maryland’s lower house. Until this week, he had not only co-sponsored the bill, but campaigned (and accepted campaign donations) on the promise that he would support marriage equality. Then he announced that he would screw his LGBT and LGBT-supportive constituents who helped get him elected by voting no on the measure. Then today, we get this:

I have heard from constituents, friends, and advocates from across the spectrum of views and have thought about the issue of same-sex marriage extensively. I understand their concern—this is a very serious issue, and one that many people feel passionately about. As the vote drew nearer, I wrestled with this issue in a way I never had before, which led me to realize that I had some concerns about the bill. While I personally believe that Maryland should extend civil rights to same-sex couples through civil unions, I have come to the conclusion that this issue has such impact on the people of Maryland that they should have a direct say. I will vote to send the bill to the floor because it deserves an up-or-down vote. On the floor, I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls. I think that is appropriate.

That has got to be the most convoluted mess of a statement I’ve ever seen. But the bottom line is that when Maryland’s House Judiciary committee finally voted to send the bill to the House floor, Arora voted yes.

As recently as February 21, Arora told his constituents that he passionately believed in marriage equality. According to Joe Sudbay, Arora was still privately speaking of his support for the bill as late as Sunday. But two days later, he started tweeting that he was walking back his support. Along the way, something or somebody definitely got to Arora.

So now, we have his yes vote — and yes, that part is with my thanks and with gratitude — along with this strange, disturbing, Clintonesque statement that continues to raise red flags. You remember what happened when President Bill Clinton went Clintonian on LGBT rights: we got DOMA and DADT. So now we have Arora trying to pull off the same thing. He is now against marriage equality, thinks we should have civil unions instead, and wants to get this bill to the governor as quickly as possible to NOM can gather signatures for a referendum so that our rights can be put up to a vote. Just so you know what he’s talking about, this is how that referendum process would work:

According to Maryland’s State Board of Elections, opponents of the marriage bill can start collecting signatures for a statewide referendum immediately after the passage of the bill in the House of Delegates, before Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs the bill. A total of 55,736 signatures are required on the petition and must be submitted to Secretary of State John P. McDonough (D) by June 30. One third of those signatures are due on May 31.

This sets up a strange dynamic. The longer the House can delay the vote, the less time signature gatherers would have to collect signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. But the longer the House delays, the more time there is for Arora and others with a similar lack of integrity to change their minds and vote against the bill. You would think that with Democrats holding a 98-43 majority in the House, this should be an easy shot. But you would be wrong. Such is the moral cowardice of far too many Dems who were elected with LGBT support.

Marriage passes Maryland judiciary

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2011

By a vote of 12 to 10, the House Judiciary has supported the marriage equality bill. So it looks like the three or so Representatives who did acrobatics in the political circus this week finally did vote in favor.

Now on to the full House of Representatives. Why am I fearing even more theatrics?

UPDATE: Alston voted “no” but Vallario, who was not a co-sponsor, voted in favor. Someone send him roses.

How Do You Define “Arora”?

A commentary

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2011

Benedict Arnold’s name has become an adjective. How do you define Arora?

The lead sponsor of the marriage bill in Maryland’s House of Delegates was also the first person to endorse Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) in his 2010 election. Now, however, Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery County), says that Arora’s decision to vote against the bill is “a shock.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Barve tells Metro Weekly this evening of Arora’s decision to vote against the marriage bill that he once co-sponsored, once it makes its way to the House floor, something Barve says Arora told him personally.

“He told me that he was going to vote against it on the floor,” Barve says. “I’ve been in the legislature for quite a while and nothing is a reality until you actually push the button. And these are hard issues. But he came to me and told me that he was having difficulty with the concept of it.”

Democrats control the Maryland House with a 98-43 majority, yet the marriage equality bill’s sponsors are having a tough time coming up with the votes to pass it the bill. Part of the problem is with people like Arora, who had not only co-sponsored the bill, but campaigned (and accepted campaign donations) on the promise that he would support marriage equality. He even earned the support of Maryland Equality in the past election, where he wrote this addendum on their questionnaire:

I am a former law clerk to Attorney General Doug Gansler. I publicly supported his decision to recognize out-of-state marriage licenses for same-sex couples and immediately put out a release praising his findings. For me, it’s simply a matter of equal rights under the law.

But now that he’s been elected, all that has changed. He not only says that he will vote against it, but he is trying to wipe out his previous boasts that he was a co-sponsor. His facebook friends aren’t having it (John Aravosis saved a few choice responses in case Arora decides to “Arora” his facebook page as well.) Meanwhile, campaign donors are demanding refunds from the moral coward who lied through his teeth to get elected.

Here is his contact info. You know what to do.

Twitter: @Sam_Arora
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sam-Arora/334183772314
(410) 841-3528, (301) 858-3528
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3528 (toll free)
e-mail: sam.arora@house.state.md.us
fax: (410) 841-3011, (410) 841-3528, (301) 858-3528, (240) 245-0018

Now, about that definition of “Arora”… (I’m relaxing enforcement of our comments policy for this post only. Simply because Arora deserves it.)

Maryland’s Alston proposes ‘no marriages for anyone, civil unions for all’ compromise

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2011

As surmised, Tiffany Alston’s boycott of the marriage vote on Tuesday had far far less to do with other issues that were not receiving adequate attention and far more to do with pressure she is receiving from religious African-American anti-gay activists.

So Alston is wanting to propose a compromise (myfoxdc.com):

“I believe, as a government, we should issue something that is the same for everybody,” Alston explained in a hallway outside the House Judiciary Committee. “And I think, if we wanted to issue a license to everybody and call it a civil union license. And then everybody in the state – whether heterosexual or homosexual – would get the same exact license.”

Alston said religious groups could then hold their own ceremonies – some would include gay nuptials, some would not.

Ideologically, that argument does make a certain amount of sense. It would get around the “marriage is a sacrament” belief that has been instilled by attending weddings and watching movies and seems to lodge somewhere in the back of our subconscious thinking. And considering the number of churches across the nation (and internet ministers) that would delight in granting same-sex couples “marriage” status, it would not serve as an impediment to the status found in that term.

But pragmatically, it’s impossible. If Maryland’s residents were to separately and solely determine that no one in their state has “marriage” as a legal status, then chaos would result. Federal law does (irrespective of the unconstitutional DOMA) rely on state marriages for its determination of marriage for federal purposes. And as it is abundantly clear that legislators do not see civil unions as the same as marriage (ask New Jersey and Hawaii), there is no way that Maryland’s representatives are going to go back to their constituents and announce that they’ve down-graded their marriages to civil unions.

And, let’s face it, it’s not a compromise that the anti-gay folk would ever accept. They don’t really want to protect their right to define marriage for their own congregation; this is all about forcing their definition of marriage on those who don’t go to their church.

But it does seem clear that Alston ‘gets it’ that laws which provide different treatment based on what group you are in are discriminatory. And let’s hope that, like Maryland Republican Senator Allan Kittleman who proposed the same thing, this will result in a vote for marriage equality.

Meanwhile Jill Carter is back on board the marriage train with a brand new explanation as to why she boycotted Tuesday’s proposed vote. (Investigative Voice)

“I didn’t block the vote ” Jill Carter (D-41st) told Investigative Voice in a telephone interview early Thursday morning. “We didn’t have the votes.”

The leadership “didn’t take a whip count, she explained, and I know we were at least two votes short” of passage.

But Carter is not available for a vote today, either.

Jill Carter is sick.

Maryland House committee update

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2011

Tiffany Alston – who had, along with Jill Carter, withheld her vote on marriage equality by not attending the committee – had not been as public or blatant in her extortion issues. And, consequently, had not caught the full brunt of the media’s ire.

But surely she saw the writing on the wall from how Carter fared in the public view. Not only did we express our contempt for Carter, but so did some of the mainstream media. (Baltimore Sun Editorial)

Her action reduces a question about fundamental human rights — legislation she co-sponsored — to petty horse trading. What had been ennobling about the debate over this issue so far had been the sincerity of arguments advanced on both sides, but Ms. Carter has chosen to put political expediency ahead of the interests of thousands of Marylanders and her own avowed beliefs, and she is acting as if that is a virtue. She cheapens the honest and difficult decisions her fellow legislators have made.

Even the coverage that did not exactly excoriate Ms. Carter questioned why she signed on to sponsor a bill if she didn’t think it was all that important.

So Alston has now discovered that she is ready to vote and most analysis assumes that she will support the bill. And some reports say that Carter has resolved her concerns.

But meanwhile another supporter discovered to his amazement that the marriage equality bill is about marriage. (Todd Eberly)

In other development, Del. Melvin Stukes of Baltimore withdrew his sponsorship of the bill explaining that he thought the bill only provided for civil unions and not for civil marriage. In the spirit of full disclosure, I know Del. Stukes and have the utmost respect for him, but the text of the bill has always been clear with regard to legalizing civil marriage.

Eberly also speculates on the cause of the derailing:

So what’s happening in the Maryland House? Why are co-sponsors of the bill flaking out? The most likely explanation is that they sponsored the legislation based on the assumption that it would never pass in the Senate and they would never be called upon to cast a vote in favor of it. Now, there is a very real possibility that the bill will become law and these lawmakers were not prepared for the pressure of actually casting a vote.

It is likely more than a coincidence that the three delegates referenced are African American and represent predominantly African-American constituencies. As reported by the Washington Post, African-American churches and religious leaders have emerged as a strong voice of opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage (as have Catholic churches and leaders). No doubt Dels. Stukes, Carter, and Alston have been hearing much of that opposition.

Let’s hope that strong supportive voices rise up in Maryland’s African-American community to counter the anti-gay fervor being whipped up by some in the black churches.

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