• 773 posts
    February 27, 2011 8:02 PM GMT

    Maryland Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, District 21, Prince George's/Anne Arundel Counties was convinced by beltway insiders at HRC and by their local franchise organization, Equality Maryland to introduce House Bill 235, the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, which would add gender identity/expression to the protected classes including race, religion, sex, disability, national origin, veteran status and sexual orientation (which has been included in MD since 2001, when gender identiy/expression was stricken from the bill) with one big difference. Non discrimination laws on the books currently protect all these classes against discrimination in employment, housing and public acommodation. H.B. 235 provides protection from discrimination in employment and housing, but NOT in public accommodation. Now, before you go hollerin' the "B" word, please bear in mind that public accommodation does not exclusively apply to bathrooms, but to schools, libraries, hospitals, homeless shelters, restaurants, retail establishments......the list goes on...pretty much anywhere.

    Equality Maryland is promoting the same "incremental progress" line we've heard over and over from HRC and their ilk over the years. Lisa Mottet, of the National Gay Lesbian Task Force attempted during a meeting this past Wednesday to downplay the importance of this protection, justifying its ommission by pointing out that there is no civil recourse available to plaintiffs under existing public accommodation language, and that offenders are simply subjected to a $500 fine. Well, anyone who thinks a $500 fine is no deterrant need only ask your bartender for an ash tray alongside your shot and a beer. Further, it was later revealed that this same delegate, Joseline Pena-Melnyk has also introduced a bill, H.B. 285, which actually strengthens existing public accommodation language to provide civil recourse to plaintiffs, and to stiffen penalties for offenders. This bill covers all protected classes EXCEPT FOR GENDER IDENTITY/EXPRESSION.

    During Wednesday's meeting, EQ MD staffers revealed the real reason they're pushing H.B. 235. Apparently, the theory is that EQ MD and HRC are certain that groups like the National Organization for Marriage will immediately petition for a referendum vote to repeal the recently successful marriage equality bill in MD. In order to get a referendum, a minimum number of signatures must be obtained. This is usually done at supermarkets and shopping malls, etc. We've all been approached by people with petitions. Well, the approach here, as EQ MD describes it, is to push through this bit of token transgender legislation that contains no challenging languagem thus assuring its passage, but it will be sufficiently offensive to groups like NOM to compel them to petition for its repeal also. The harried shopper at the supermarket, when approached by someone with one petition, has a bout a 50/50 chance of signing it. This same shopper, when presented with two petitions to interrupt their busy day, is unlikely to sign either one of them. So this is the rationale behind playing fast and loose with the basic civil rights of their fellow Americans.

    Hearings on H.B. 235 are scheduled for March 9. The Maryland trans community and the national trans community are motivating to convince the bill's sponsor to amend the legislation to include public accommodation language, and to actively oppose any version of this bill that does not include this language. It is unlikely that any Marylander will die if they are not permitted to marry their partner of choice, but it is almost certain that more Marylanders will die if we don't achieve full civil rights for all Americans. Equal is =, not < or >.

    Please sign this petition. Let Ms. Pena-Melnyk know that we count.[...]/hb235/
    • 2127 posts
    April 11, 2011 9:27 PM BST

    This is quite appalling but perhaps, expected...

    Why can't humans be a bit nicer to each other?

    Hugs, Katie   x