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Dozens testify at Md. House hearing on marriage bill

Backers fear needed support may be eroding; referendum threat looms

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Dozens of witnesses testified for and against a same-sex marriage bill before a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis on Friday as the bill’s sponsors cautioned supporters not to become complacent.

Among the first to testify for the bill were the five lesbian members and one gay male member of the House of Delegates, who gave personal accounts of how they and their partners are considered “strangers” under the current Maryland law that bars same-sex couples from marrying.

Many of the same-sex marriage bill’s opponents, while testifying against that measure, testified in favor of a separate bill under consideration at the hearing that was introduced by Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County). Dwyer’s bill calls for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples, was approved one day earlier in the Maryland Senate by a vote of 25-21, prompting LGBT activists to celebrate what they called a historic victory.

But officials with the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Maryland expressed concern that an expected vote on the bill in the House of Delegates within the next two weeks appears much closer than originally expected.

Backers said that as of this week, the number of delegates who have publicly declared their support for the bill was just short of the 71 votes needed in the 141-member House.

“There’s an effort to derail this bill like none I’ve seen before,” said gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), the author and one of the lead sponsors of the marriage equality bill in the Senate.

In a telephone news briefing on Friday, Madaleno said the mainstream media have repeatedly reported an earlier assumption that support for the bill was greater in the House than in the Senate, and approval of the measure in the Senate guaranteed its passage in the House.

With opponents, including the Maryland Catholic Conference and the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage, applying enormous pressure on wavering delegates, Madaleno and Equality Maryland officials said support in the House might be in jeopardy.

A warning signal that support in the House could diminish surfaced earlier in the week when Del. Melvin Stukes (D-Baltimore City), a co-sponsor of the marriage bill for the past four years, withdrew his sponsorship.

Stukes told the Baltimore Sun he thought the bill would have given same-sex couples the right to obtain civil unions rather than marriage. Once he realized the measure would allow gays to marry he determined he made a mistake, he told the Sun.

“I’m very sorry that I got on the bill,” he said.

Activists said privately that they were baffled over Stukes’ change of heart on the bill because he represents a progressive-leaning district in Baltimore where the majority of residents would not object to his support for allowing gays to marry.

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County), one of the House’s five lesbian members, said concern over possible erosion of support among delegates prompted supporters to scrap an earlier strategy calling for bringing the bill up for a vote at the very end of the House of Delegates session in April.

Doing that would shorten the time opponents have for gathering petition signatures needed to place the bill before voters in a referendum, making it more difficult to pull off a referendum.

Under Maryland’s referendum law, the clock begins for obtaining petitions when a bill is passed by both houses and the governor signs it. The state constitution sets the deadline for turning in the required number of petition signatures — 3 percent of the registered voters in the state — by June 1 following the adjournment of the legislature, which usually takes place at the end of April.

Thus by passing the marriage bill in the House in early March, as supporters now hope to do, opponents could get more than a month of additional time to obtain the petition signatures than if the bill passed at the end of the session in late April. Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign the bill if it reaches him.

If opponents succeed in gathering the required number of valid petition signatures, the bill is put on hold. It would not become law unless voters defeat the referendum question submitted by opponents, which would call for defeating the bill and defining marriage in the state as a union only between a man and a woman.

“Momentum is important,” said Mizeur, in discussing the decision to put the marriage bill on a fast track in the House. “If we had the luxury of 83 public commitments to voting on this instead of 69 of the 71 that we need, sure, we could wait. But at this stage of the game, we need to just get it passed and worry about the referendum later.”

Backers of the same-sex marriage bill also expressed concern about an e-mail that Dwyer sent to churches and religious groups that included an attached pamphlet called “What-same-sex ‘marriage’ has done to Massachusetts.” The pamphlet describes a series of school-related programs and discussions for elementary and high school students touching on same-sex marriage that LGBT activists in Massachusetts say are distorted and sensationalized to draw opposition to same-sex marriage.

A second pamphlet that Dwyer attached to his e-mail, called “Little Black Book: V 2.0 Queer in the 21st Century,” was prepared by an AIDS group and funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Heath as a safe-sex and “coming out” guide for gay youth. It includes graphic drawings of how to put on a condom and describes the level of risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases for various sexual acts.

The first pamphlet calls the “Black Book” pamphlet a “hideous work of obscene pornography” that the first pamphlet’s author, Brian Camenker, says was a result of the pro-homosexual climate created by the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Similar to a hearing on the bill three weeks ago before a Senate panel, more than 100 witnesses signed up to testify before Friday’s hearing by the House Judiciary Committee. Also similar to the Senate hearing, House committee officials did not release the list of witnesses and their affiliations on the day of the hearing. The number of opponents appeared to outnumber the supporters by a small margin.

Like the earlier hearing, different religious advocates and clergy members testified on both sides of the issue. Many opponents argued that the bill lacked sufficient exceptions to allow individuals and businesses to refuse to provide services and accommodations related to a same-sex wedding if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

Several witnesses testifying before the House panel, such as Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization of Marriage, also testified at the Senate hearing.

“None of us have the right to redefine marriage,” Gallagher testified on Friday. “You need to bring together male and female to keep the human race going.”

Derrick McCoy, president of the Maryland Family Alliance, said he would not object to providing same-sex couples with the same benefits that married couples receive, but the benefits should be given through a means other than marriage.

“This is not a civil rights issue,” he said.

At least a half-dozen witnesses testifying against the marriage bill identified themselves as ex-gays who left the gay “lifestyle” through counseling and embracing God. Among them was Anthony Falzarano, a former D.C. resident who helped found Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays.  He said he now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he formed a new group called Parents and Fiends Ministries.

Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), who won election to the House last November as an open lesbian, testified as part of a panel at the start of Friday’s hearing with the five other out lesbian or gay House members.

Washington, who is black, said she views the campaign for the right to marry for lesbians and gays as being no different than the civil rights campaigns waged by other groups in earlier years, including the black civil rights movement.

The other lesbian or gay delegates that testified were Mizeur; Anne Kaiser and Bonnie Cullison, both Democrats from Montgomery County; and Maggie McIntosh and Luke Clippinger, both Democrats from Baltimore City. Each said marriage equality for lesbians and gays would strengthen families and end a longstanding form of discrimination against same-sex couples.

Clippinger, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, walked from the witness table to the dais to join fellow committee members and Del. Joseph Vallario (D-Prince George’s County), the committee chair. He presided over part of the hearing.

Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Equality Maryland’s executive director, was among those testifying for the same-sex marriage bill. Others testifying for the bill included parents of gays and lesbians, ministers, and lesbian and gay couples.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Lisa Polyak

    February 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

    LGBT folks in Maryland — Please take note !!! NOM and Delegate Dwyer have joined forces, and NOM is pouring money into Maryland to do robo calls, send negative mailers to constituents of swing legislators, and foment hate and lies in religious communites. We must turn out with OUR CALLS and EMAILS to let elected officials know that we care, we vote and we want them to allow our families a civil marriage. Take action here: http://www.equalitymaryland.org/takeaction We are so close — but if we fail to win the vote in the House of Delegates — this opportunity will not come again for 4 years !!!

  2. Tim

    February 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    As much as I like the idea of putting the vote off until the last minute to deny the anti-equality forces time to get the required signatures to place the law on the ballot in a referendum; I have to worry about the sell-out Dems in the House of Delegates who may very well betray us at the last minute and vote against same-sex marriage. The delay also gives the NOM criminals and homophobic members like Delegate Dwyer time to build opposition to the bill. At this point, maybe they should move for quick passage if they can’t be sure they will have enough votes later. Either way, can’t they get a whip count for the vote and figure out who is actually with us on this?

  3. Syd Diamond

    February 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I think they should wait as long as possible. Why give Dwyer and friends more time to stop the law?

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Comings & Goings

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Troy Cline, gay news, Washington Blade
The 'Comings & Goings' column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Shin Inouye, gay news, Washington Blade
Steven McCarty

Congratulations to Steven McCarty on being named president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. He said, “I’m honored to be installed as the president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and to be able to shepherd our programs and volunteers to impact youth where they are needed most. Our club’s new partnership with SMYAL has already turned a portion of their Youth Center in Southeast D.C. into the first Clinical Services Department in the District that offers free and affirming mental healthcare to LGBTQ Youth. As an openly gay man, I’m proud to further our club’s mission with radical empathy and inclusion.” McCarty has also recently been awarded Kiwanis’ highest honor, the George Hixson award.

McCarty is a Technical Program Specialist at stac labs in D.C. He is also founder and campaign manager at Abolish Racism 2020. He worked as a Senior Customer Success Manager,  Crowdskout. He was a workplace equality intern at Human Rights Campaign and a summer fellow at Michigan State AFL-CIO, in Lansing, Mich. 

McCarty earned his bachelor’s in Political Science and Communications Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Congratulations also to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund said, “We are thrilled Shin Inouye will be taking on even greater responsibilities on our senior leadership team. His incredible talent and commitment to this organization and our work are truly outstanding, and his strategic leadership will no doubt continue moving us forward in the fight to protect and advance civil and human rights.”

Inouye has held a number of positions with the organization including Managing Director of Communications. Inouye also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and served as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets, including LGBTQ, AAPI, Native American, Youth/College, Faith, and Jewish press. Prior to that Inouye was Communications Director in the Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and has also worked for the ACLU and as a summer intern with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. 

Inouye received a number of honors including being named One of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and One of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Shin Inouye
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Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality

Va. gubernatorial candidate says issue ‘legally acceptable’ in state

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(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state.

“I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018.

Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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D.C. school board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards

Sweeping resolution proposing content in curricula approved unanimously

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Gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards for the city’s public schools that “reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The two-page resolution, which was introduced by gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang, who represents Ward 2, cites national research showing that students who have access to LGBTQ+ curricula in their schools “are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school.”

The resolution states that research also shows that multicultural education, including the teaching of LGBTQ topics, “helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities.”

LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered the local D.C. government through its mayor and City Council to be highly supportive of the LGBTQ community. But Chang and other supporters of the resolution approved by the board Wednesday night say their research shows that D.C. public schools, while supportive of LGBTQ students, are far behind the school systems in several other states in the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in school curricula.

As an example, supporters of the resolution point out that curriculum standards for social studies classes in the D.C. school system include only one mention of LGBTQ people in a teaching section related to victims of the Holocaust.   

Unlike most other cities and states, under current D.C. law, the school system is controlled by the mayor through the D.C. Department of Education, which is headed by a Deputy Mayor for Education and who, in turn and in consultation with the mayor, appoints a State Superintendent of Education who oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Under a change in the education statute approved by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, the school board, which was renamed the State Board of Education, became a mostly advisory body on education matters with some statutory authority to approve education standards on which school curricula are based.

Thus, the resolution approved by the board on Wednesday “advises” and “recommends” that the State Superintendent of Education develop school curricula, guidance for teachers, and school-based leaders and staff “in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the State Superintendent of Education conduct a survey of students within two years after the Oct. 20 adoption of the resolution “to establish baseline data and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.”

Chang and other members of the State Board of Education noted at the Oct. 20 meeting, which was virtual, that Will Beckerman, who graduated this year from D.C.’s School Without Walls High School, played an important role in conducting the research used to prepare the LGBTQ standards resolution and helped in the drafting of the resolution.

Chang noted that much of the background information used to draft the resolution came from Beckerman’s senior year school research paper and advocacy project that focuses on the topic of LGBTQ-inclusive education.

In comments supporting the resolution, Chang also spoke about how the very limited LGBTQ content he encountered during his high school days helped him accept himself as a gay youth.

“As a student myself, I don’t remember a single mention of any LGBTQ people in any of my classwork until I read Thomas Mann in my senior year in high school,” Chang said. “And in Death in Venice, this Nobel Prize winner touches upon his struggles with homosexuality but never actually names it explicitly,” Chang told fellow board members.

“And I remember holding on to this novella despite the self-hatred that’s woven throughout this story because it was the first time that I saw this aspect of my identity reflected in my class work,” he said. “My hope – and I think this hope comes true with this resolution tonight – is that future generations of LGBTQ students have more opportunities to see themselves reflected in their class work and to feel less isolated by their class work than I did growing up.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will endorse the school system changes proposed by the resolution approved by the State Board of Education.

The full text of the resolution follows:

State Board of Education Resolution

On LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards

SR21-7

WHEREAS, the 2019 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students make up 15.9 percent of high school students in the District and transgender students make up1.9 percent of District high school students;

WHEREAS, in the District, these students, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, experience double the rate of bullying on school property, report higher rates of being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, and are more than twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation;

WHEREAS, national data shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are significantly more likely to receive grades of D or F than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to be truant;

WHEREAS, consistent research suggests that students with LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in their schools are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school—and this safety leads students to report higher attendance, higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging in the school community, and higher educational aspirations;

WHEREAS, research shows that multicultural education helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities ; 

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recognizes the need to have revised social studies standards that create “windows and mirrors” so students see themselves and people like them reflected in the content of standards and curriculum, as well as having the opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, places, and experiences unlike themselves—explicitly noting that the current standards emphasize the lives of presidents and other figures who held/hold power and under-represent or lack representation of people and groups like those identifying as LGBTQ+, and their respective histories;

WHEREAS, in the State Board of Education’s review and revision of the social studies standards, the State Board called upon the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to “seek standards writers who reflect the demographics and experiences of District students and of the communities they are writing about” sharing a list of examples that included writers identifying as LGBTQ+;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education is committed to ensuring students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens in a diverse democratic society; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has a commitment to promote equity, introduce policies to reduce disparities between students, and create safe school environments for all students.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, upon the next revision of any District of Columbia state education standards, the State Board of Education should adapt standards, when appropriate, that reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to provide guidance to teachers and school-based leaders and staff on creating inclusive lessons in science and English language arts (ELA) classes that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA standards, respectively;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) implement professional development for teachers and school-based leaders and staff to aid them in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms, such that that the professional development includes: workshops for local education agencies (LEAs) and teachers to draft curriculum related to LGBTQ+ topics in their subject areas, lessons on use of inclusive language in the classroom, lessons on ensuring LGBTQ+ students’ safety and confidentiality while maintaining respect for their name and pronouns, and mandatory diversity training related to the LGBTQ+ community; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) survey students within two (2) years of adoption of this resolution to establish baseline date and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.

https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/2019%20DC%20YRBS%20Report.pdf

Brikett, Michelle et al. “Sexual-orientation disparities in school: the meditational role of indicators of victimization in achievement and truancy because of feeling unsafe.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 104, 6 (2014): 1124-8. doi: 10.2105/AJHP.2013.301785

Kosciw, Joseph G., et al. “The 2019 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” GLSEN, GLSEN, 2020, glsen.org.

Camicia, Steven P. Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints. Routledge Focus, 2016.

Camicia, Steven P. “Prejudice Reduction through Multicultural Education: Connecting Multiple Literatures.” Social Studies Research and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp. 219–227.

socstrpr.org/files/Vol%25202/Issue%25202%2520-%2520Summer%25202007/Action%2520Research/2.2.6.pdf

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