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Maryland Senate kills trans rights bill

Several who’d vowed support backed off, state group says



In a development that stunned LGBT advocates, the Maryland State Senate voted 27-20 on Monday to recommit the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act to committee, effectively killing the bill for the year.

The bill, which calls for banning discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and credit, including bank loans, had been approved last month in the state’s House of Delegates by a vote of 86 to 52.

Initial head counts of senators led supporters to believe they had the votes to pass the measure in the Senate. But activists working with the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland said that, to their great disappointment, a number of Democrats backed off from earlier commitments to support the bill.

Of the 27 senators voting to send the bill back to committee, 16 were Democrats and 11 were Republicans. Democrats hold a majority in the Senate by a 35 to 12 margin.

Of the 20 voting against the motion to send the bill to committee to kill it for the year, 19 were Democrats. Just one Republican, LGBT rights supporter Allan Kittleman, voted no on the motion to send the bill back to committee.

“Of the ones that voted to recommit, there were at least seven that we felt we had that had committed to us that they were going to support this and then they back out,” said Dana Beyer, a Montgomery County transgender activist and former House of Delegates candidate who worked closely with Equality Maryland to lobby for the bill.

“It’s always a guess,” said Beyer, when asked why supporters turned against the bill. “It’s shocking because we didn’t expect this. There are a thousand ways to kill a bill. This is one way to do it, and I have to lay it at the hands of the Senate leadership.”

Among those voting to send the measure back to committee was Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties).

Miller became the target of an aggressive lobbying campaign by Equality Maryland and an informal coalition of transgender activists after he diverted the bill to the Senate Rules Committee following its approval by the House of Delegates. With the Rules Committee viewed as the graveyard for bills out of favor by the Senate leadership, activists backing the bill viewed Miller’s decision to single out the trans bill for diversion to the Rules Committee while clearing dozens of other bills for the normal route to standing committees was viewed as a clear attempt to kill the bill.

But Miller backed down amid a barrage of e-mails and phone calls to his office and to the office of other senators demanding that the bill be released to the Judicial Proceedings Committee for a vote. After a 90-minute debate, the Judicial Proceedings panel voted to approve the bill on Saturday and sent it to the Senate floor, leading supporters to believe they had a fighting chance to see it through a full Senate vote.

Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Equality Maryland’s executive director, said she was especially disappointed that several senators that voted to recommit the bill to committee had assured the group of their support for the measure.

“I wish I had a why,” she said when asked why supporters turned against the bill. “This means that we really need to examine our steps moving forward. But I must emphasize that we got so far this year,” she added, noting that the bill was killed in committee for the past four years without ever reaching the floor of the Senate or House.

“We are thankful to every legislator who did do the right thing,” she said. “We are so thankful to every constituent who wrote a letter and made a phone call, and especially to the transgender people of Maryland who came out and told their stories, who shared their very personal need for job and housing protections.”

“We will continue to fight every day. We will continue to analyze how we can get these important protections in place. But we are shocked and frankly appalled by this action today,” she added

The vote by the Senate came on the last day of the Maryland Legislature’s 2011 session and followed less than 10 minutes of debate. Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) asked whether the bill would have an impact on private citizens seeking to choose a roommate in a private home. Muse also asked whether a ban on employment discrimination would force the Boy Scouts organization to hire a transgender person.

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), one of the lead sponsors and supporters of the bill served as floor manager for what was expected to be a lengthy Senate floor debate. Raskin told Muse the bill would not cover people in private homes looking for roommates.

Raskin said the bill would cover the Boy Scouts organization for employment purposes, but said a transgender person seeking a job with the Boy Scouts would have to meet all other requirements for the job, including appropriate dress codes. He said the Boy Scouts, like any other employer, could not refuse to hire someone solely because of their status as a transgender person.

Immediately after Muse and Raskin completed their exchange, Sen. James DeGrange (D-Anne Arundel) offered a motion to recommit the bill to committee, saying he believed many senators did not feel they were ready to cast a vote on the bill. Raskin rose to oppose the motion.

Miller then called for a recorded roll call vote on the motion. When the Senate chamber’s electronic board showed the motion had passed by a 27-20 vote, expressions of shock could be heard in the chamber, especially by supporters seated in the visitor’s gallery.

Supporters who gathered outside the state capital building following the vote noted that a motion to recommit a same-sex marriage bill to a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates led to the death of that bill this year. However, activists following that development noted that supporters of the marriage bill called for recommitting it to committee when they determined they didn’t have the votes to pass it.

They chose to send it back to committee — against the strong wishes of some LGBT activists who supported the bill — under the premise that it would improve the chances of passing the bill next year by avoiding a direct losing vote.

In the case of the transgender bill, nearly all of the bill’s supporters wanted an up or down vote and opposed sending it back to committee. Supporters noted that the vote to recommit the bill to committee most likely represents the same breakdown of “yes” and “no” votes had the bill itself come up for a vote.

Some transgender activists, including members of the group Trans Maryland, called on the Senate to defeat the bill on grounds that it lacked a provision banning discrimination based on public accommodations. Backers said they could not have gotten the bill out of committee in the House of Delegates if that provision was included in the bill.

“Equality Maryland remains committed to fighting against discrimination and injustice targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at every turn,” the group said in a statement. “Progress takes time. Today’s result was not fair or right, but we will keep up the fight to make the Free State truly free.”

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  1. Kat

    April 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    ” Backers said they could not have gotten the bill out of committee in the House of Delegates if that provision was included in the bill.”

    When you aim low and shoot lower, what do you expect?

  2. Alice

    April 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Shut up and go away Kat. You are sickening.

  3. The Boy Scouts Didn't Hire Me

    April 12, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Oddly enough I applied for a position with the Boy Scouts in their Web Development department and I am a trans person. I knew they wouldn’t hire me but I was definitely qualified to do the job. After the interview I never heard from them again. No surprise there. They were living in the past, like the 50’s I’d say. I don’t think they’d hire anyone that wasn’t extremely conservative no matter what their qualifications. I can’t wait for the day they’re required to hire trans people if they’re qualified for the job. The lies will abound. “You’re too tall” You’re too small” You’re too liberal” You’re too homo!” They can take that job and stick it!

    • Frankie James

      April 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      I don’t think that day will ever come. Didn’t the Supreme Court give them the ok to descriminate?

      • Kat

        April 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        Yes – that would be the Boy Scouts v. Dale case.

        There has been subsequent litigation regarding whether public entities can bar the Boy Scouts from public facilities based on their discriminatory policies, but the Boy Scouts’ right to discriminate is (unfortunately) settled law.

  4. Veronica

    April 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Alice, your ad hominem insult adds no substance to the debate.

    Kat is right. Without including language for public accommodations, there are serious safety issues that people like me face.

    The big national LGB organizations fought hard to get a feather in their caps with this bill; they showed little regard for throwing T-folks under the bus in the process, by continuing to support the bill, even after the most essential language was stripped.

    Apparently, the big orgs were really working in their own interests, rather than those of the marginalized minority they claimed to support.

    • Rainbow

      April 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      This is based on incorrect facts. National groups were not involved in this bill and it was a legislator’s decision not to include PA.

    • Kat

      April 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you Veronica. I had to look at Alice’s statement – and then mine – several times to figure out exactly what I said therein that would be “sickening” to anyone – given that it was precisely the same criticism that more than a few LGB and T people have made not only regarding the Barney-Solmonese-Obama Administration failure to make any real progress on any real issue that affects living non-militarists but also about the Obama Administrationin general for its ‘negotiation’ methodology with the Republicans on healthcare, taxes, et. al.

      Methinks that with but eight words Alice managed to doth protest too much.

  5. Peter Rosenstein

    April 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I am sorry to see this bill defeated and I consider it being recommitted to committee a defeat. Progress even if not total progress is still progress. We need to get legislatures to move on our rights. Some have complained that the bill now going through the Delaware legisature for civil unions isn’t good enough because it is not a marriage bill. I support the civil unions bill because that is what can get through now and it will provide many rights to gay and lesbian couples they now don’t have. The same could be said for the bill that just got defeated in Maryland. It would have guarenteed many rights to transgender persons they aren’t guarenteed now. It is shameful that the Maryland legislature didn’t pass this bill. I applaud Dana Beyer for all her hard work trying to get this bill passed and am sorry not more of the LGBT community in Maryland got out there fought with her.

    • Kat

      April 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      “”It would have guarenteed many rights to transgender persons they aren’t guarenteed now.”

      A legitimate, trans-inclusive civil rights bill in 2001 would have also.

      “It is shameful that the Maryland legislature didn’t pass this bill.”

      No. It is shameful that there was still a need for a trans rights bill at the close of the 2001 session of the Maryland Legislature given that, even by Free State Just Us’s own propaganda of the time, half of Maryland’s gays and lesbians already had civil rights protections at the beginning of the 2001 session.

      Would all trans people in Maryland have had to wait if only 40% of gays and lesbians had then lacked coverage? 30%? 20%?

      What exactly is the acceptable exclusion ratio?

  6. Tim

    April 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    What a surprise, the Dems in the Maryland General Assembly betrayed us again. It should be obvious now that we need to run Pro-LGBT Democrats against these sellout Dems in the primary season and replace them with supportive Dems who will vote for Same-sex marriage and Transgender protections.

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Bistro du Jour transports you from Wharf to Seine

New casually sophisticated restaurant a welcoming, inclusive space



The owners of Bistro du Jour say, ‘Our restaurants are intended to be welcoming to all guests of all backgrounds, beliefs and demographics.’ (Photo by Rey Lopez courtesy Bistro du Jour)

Delights run morning to night at The Wharf’s new Bistro du Jour, a casually sophisticated French outpost sliding into a prime waterfront space.

Courtesy of gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design, this new restaurant flaunts a menu born from a Seine-side bistro, serving coffee in the morning hours to Champagne in the evening. Its all-day culinary oeuvre begins with coffee (from La Colombe) and omelettes, and ends with items like a towering and meaty bi-patty cheeseburger L’Americain.

Taking over the sweet spot vacated by Dolcezza, Bistro du Jour is a sister to Mi Vida and The Grill, KNEAD group’s two other Southwest waterfront locales. The group also runs several other formal and large-format restaurants they have populated across the city.

Why bring French to the Wharf?

“We have been here for almost four years and we knew what the area was missing and acted on it,” says one of the co-owners, Jason Berry. “We wanted something where people could come in at all hours of the day and find something they wanted, from coffee and pastry to a full-on sit down at night.”

The Bistro opens at 7:30 a.m. serving that local La Colombe coffee, plus flaky, buttery pastries from KNEAD’s partner Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery. Breakfast service starts at 8 a.m. with brioche doughnuts, quiches, a “massive” Belgian waffle, and French toast topped with a blueberry compote and sweetened whipped cream.

Executive Chef Treveen Dove – transferred after three years at another KNEAD spot, Succotash Prime) – oversees the offerings, a tour of the “greatest hits” of a typical Parisian bistro.

“Oeufs Sur Le Plat is to die for, with the griddled buttered bread topped with a sunny side up egg, sautéed mushrooms and a Mornay sauce… It’s so rich and delicious.”

By 11 a.m., the Bistro transitions to other traditional French fare, like French onion soup, tuna Niçoise salad, steak frites, mussels in a white wine and garlic butter, and a croque madame sandwich dripping with gruyere and creamy Bechamel. One unique offering is whipped brown butter with radishes and crostinis. There are also gougeres, warm cheese puffs shot through with gruyere.

Come 4 p.m., the dinner menu fills out even more, with additional dinner items confit de canard (duck leg with green lentils and red wine shallots); and a robust, earthy coq au vin (braised chicken with bacon, mushrooms and mashed potatoes); and a lamb shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes that would be at home on a French Alps farm.

Due to space limitations, the Bistro lacks a sit-down bar. Yet beverage director Darlin Kulla, who has been a part of the KNEAD family for more than four years, has put together a focused menu of six craft cocktails. You’ll find not only a French 75 (gin, lemon verbena, lemon, bubbles), but also a Manhattan and a “Champs Elysees” with cognac, chartreuse, lemon, and bitters.

The bar itself carries only one brand of each liquor: one gin, rum, and vodka. “ If you want vodka, you’re having Grey Goose,” notes Reg with a smile.

Given the cuisine, there is a considerable French wine list topping 60 bottles, leaning heavily on Champagne and sparkling wine. There are almost 20 red, white, rose, and Champagne options by the glass and carafe, as well. The bar rounds out its stock with French aperitifs and bottled beer.

Notably, the majority of the restaurant’s seating is situated on the building’s exterior, in a newly constructed all-season patio enclosure with almost 70 seats. The owners designed the space to maximize waterfront views, capacity, and flexibility. During warmer days, the Potomac breeze is welcome to flutter around coffee-sippers; in the colder months, the windows roll down for a fully enclosed and conditioned space. The patio’s banquettes arrived directly from France, and twinkling strung lights sway from the ceiling.

The interior is done up in Mediterranean greens, pinks, and creams. Big windows welcome in daytime natural light, but allow for a dim, mood-lit atmosphere in the evening. Traditional bentwood bistro chairs dot the space and antique-style tin tiles reflect a classic Parisian flair. Over at the bar, the glassware display was created from a single panel of antiqued brass. At the rear, a daytime counter offers coffee, pastries, and drinks.

As Bistro du Jour’s owners are both gay men, they note that, “Our restaurants are intended to be welcoming to all guests of all backgrounds, beliefs and demographics. We cater to everyone, which is the only way to lead a hospitality organization.”

“When you’re part of a minority group in society,” they say, “the only way to lead your restaurants is as inclusive, welcoming, and hospitable leaders.”

Though smaller than their other ventures, a French bistro right on the teeming, pedestrian-heavy Wharf “was the perfect fit,” they say. 

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Real Estate

Dining without a dining room

Today’s hosts are likely more casual than in the past



The large formal dining room is a thing of the past. Here are some tips for a more modest Thanksgiving set up.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, you may be thinking about gathering your loved ones and kindred spirits to celebrate the positive things in your life, praise your higher power, pay homage to indigenous people, or just stuff your face and fall asleep in front of the television at the traditional Thanksgiving after-party: the football game.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. The elegant table in the formal dining room was adorned with a crisp, white tablecloth, “the good china,” sterling silver place settings, a variety of serving dishes for the forthcoming bounty, and a cornucopia centerpiece containing dried fruits and vegetables.

My dad, Ozzie, would carve the turkey and my mom, Harriet, would bring out the pecan and mincemeat pies for dessert…wait a minute…did I really grow up in a 1950s sitcom? Yup, I did, although Ozzie was Don and Harriet was Grayce.

Sometimes we would visit my maternal grandparents in Maine, whose formal dining room was less so – an extended part of the living room in the 1940s version of an open floor plan in their three-bedroom apartment over the general store and gas station that my grandfather owned.

On occasion, we would go to Massachusetts to spend a day or two with my paternal grandmother and her extended clan. There was nothing “formal” about the dining room there. Dinner took place on a litany of card tables set up on the jalousied porch off the kitchen.

When dinner was over, my grandmother would rise from the head of the table and declare, “I made the dinner. Now you do the dishes.” My father and his sisters would scurry like baby chicks to adhere to her demand.

As I grew older, I rarely lived near family. Every so often, I would be invited to dinner as the obligatory guest – the girlfriend of whatever young man I was seeing at the time. Later, I would become part of the restaurant holiday dining crowd.

For several years, I had a standing date with a good friend for dinner and a movie on Thanksgiving Day. We would choose restaurants that advertised dishes like Lobster Thermador, Champagne Ravioli, or Boeuf Bourguignon, but would invariably select the traditional turkey dinner with dressing and all the trimmings from the prix fixe menu.

Fast-forward to 2020 and we may not have gathered at all, content to have Whole Foods or Door Dash deliver Thanksgiving dinner to be eaten in front of the television while watching Hallmark movies.

Now here we are. The formal dining room has gone the way of the good china and the sterling silver. For most of us, they are simply not necessities in our lives any longer. So how do you host a dinner party when there is no room specifically designated for dining?

First, you don’t need to purchase things you have no room to store later. Although “rent” can be a four-letter word to a real estate agent, a party rental company’s website allows you to select items online and have them delivered and removed at a fraction of the cost.

Are you trying to seat a large group for dinner? Let’s start with the premise that all your guests do not need to be at a banquet table. Consider having several tables for two or four placed around the room. It will give you the ambiance of your favorite bistro and still allow for conversation among your guests.

You can also rent folding chairs, linens, place settings, and stemware. Once your order arrives, just set the tables and add candles or your favorite centerpieces to complete a festive look.

If you have no room for a seated event, you can order standing cocktail tables. Your breakfast bar or kitchen counter will make a perfect buffet line.

Better yet, have an open house, inviting guests at slightly different times so you see everyone without feeling like you’re in the middle of a crowded concert.

Is your style even more casual? Rather than worrying about recycling plastic cups and sporks, pick up a bunch of Oftast dinner or dessert plates for 79 cents each at Ikea. Add a 6-pack of Svalka wine glasses and cutlery service for four from the Mopsig collection for $5 each. Pull out some pillows and eat while sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by family and friends.

Some of us may have trouble getting back up, but we’ll be in perfect position to fall asleep during the football game.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Fun holiday gifts for car fans

Something for everyone, from Bentley trikes to a Mercedes tree topper



For all those gear heads in your life, here are some fun holiday gifts to get their motors running. Many of these stocking stuffers are affordable. Others, well, not so much.

Bentley Trike for Tykes

Leave it to Bentley to create a fancy fuchsia trike ($500). With six modes, from stroller to tricycle, parents can adjust this three-wheeler as a toddler gets older. Along with the “Big B logo,” the Bentley name is emblazoned on the down tube. Yes, there are more subdued colors, but why bother?

Ford Sherpa Blanket

Cuddle up with a warm and fuzzy Sherpa blanket ($30), made of 100% polyester and the Ford logo embroidered in the corner.

MINI Travel Bag

For quick weekend getaways, MINI has a large soft-luggage travel bag ($190) with extendible handle, two wheels, large main compartment, outer pocket and removable zipped pockets.

Porsche Table-top Clock

The alarm tone on this tabletop clock ($250) sounds just like a throaty Porsche 911 engine. Includes Martini Racing design, as well as a countdown function and analog/digital display.

Rolls-Royce Portable “Pursuit Seat”

Rolls-Royce, known for its relentless pursuit of perfection, now has a portable “Pursuit Seat” ($8,800) — perfect for any derriere. The adjustable seat is anything but old school, made of carbon fiber, polished aluminum and cushy leather (tastefully embossed with the Spirit of Ecstasy insignia, of course).

Mercedes Tree Topper

What better tree topper than a Mercedes three-pointed metal star ($52), which measures 8 inches across. Post on social, and dare anyone to top that!

Aston Martin Wrestwatch

Just in time for the holidays, there’s the Laureato Chronograph Aston Martin Edition ($18,000). Made by Girard-Perregaux), this ritzy wristwatch has a high-grade stainless-steel case, finely polished edges on the bezel, sapphire-crystal pane on the back, and racing-green paint applied to the dial 21 times.

Jaguar Suitcase

Simple but elegant, Jaguar’s compact suitcase ($282) has a polycarbonate shell, aluminum frame and multidirectional wheels that look like real alloy car wheels. Two larger suitcases also available.

Subaru Holiday Sweater

Just shy of being an entrant at some ugly-sweater contest, this festive Subaru holiday sweater ($70) is 100% acrylic and incredibly comfortable.

Front End of a 1962 Ferrari 268 SP

Only one 1962 Ferrari 268 SP race car was ever built, and now there’s a full-scale replica of the front end ($22,000). A pedestal is available, or enthusiasts can mount this work of art on the wall.

Ferrari Vintage Steering Wheel

For more frugal fare (kinda sorta) Ferrari offers a vintage three-spoke steering wheel ($4,010). Such steering wheels were used in Ferraris between 1959 and 1965, and this full-scale repro—made of mahogany and polished aluminum—features the iconic prancing horse in the center.

Bentley Heritage Bear

Many automakers offer cuddly teddy bears, and Bentley is no exception. The limited-edition Heritage Bear ($57) is decked out in snazzy fleece jacket, suede-like helmet and racing goggles. There’s even a dust bag with drawstring for safekeeping.

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