As the former communications and development director for Equality Maryland, I’ve been following the marriage fight in Maryland very closely. In the wake of the vote to recommit the bill, our community is grappling with what went wrong and, of course, pointing fingers.
As someone who worked for two years to advance marriage equality and transgender antidiscrimination, I have a unique perspective on the fight.
The staff, board and volunteers of Equality Maryland are some of the finest people I know. They are dedicated, hard working individuals who put their personal lives on hold to advance equality for our families. Don’t believe me? Ask my ex-boyfriend.
Members of the LGBT General Assembly Caucus: Rich, Maggie, Heather, Anne, Bonnie, Mary, Luke and now Peter (Welcome, Peter, we always knew, but it’s great to have you!) are dedicated public servants who gave their all to pass this bill. Don’t believe me? Listen to the audio recordings of their floor speeches and try not to reach for the Kleenex.
Sam Arora and Tiffany Alston have no business serving in the House of Delegates. Your word is your bond. When you run as a marriage equality advocate, raise money from the LGBT community and then abandon your principles in the face of political pressure, you’re a coward. Don’t believe me? Google Benedict Arnold.
Thoughtful people in our community can disagree on strategy. That’s to be expected. I agree with Mark McLaurin, as Lou Chibbaro Jr. quoted him in his recent Blade article (“Strategic blunder of monstrous proportions,” March 16) saying that we should have called for a vote. I believe that we often let folks off the hook when they commit to us in private but then abandon us in the public square.
But to use McLaurin’s language, inflammatory comments like his are pure “poppycock.” Grandstanding does nothing to advance the fight for equality. What we need to do is take this time and regroup, lick our wounds and come back stronger next year. This should be a galvanizing moment for our community. We passed the bill out of the Senate. We came up a few votes short in the House. We have a governor who’s committed to signing the bill. No other state is in this same unique position.
Delegates on the fence should hear from us every single day. They should know the names of the gay middle school student in their district who is bullied for being different. They need to meet the lesbian moms living down the street raising four kids. They need to see first hand what it’s like to be kicked out of your home for being transgender.
The blame game will continue. But it in the end it really doesn’t accomplish anything. We will win this fight and anyone who disagrees is on the wrong side of history.