Thursday, March 14, 2013

The arc of the moral universe doesn't bend towards Maryland

With the largest number of bipartisan co-sponsors in recent years, with the Governor supporting the bill, with the Senate President clearing the way, it is over. It is dead in committee. Senator Jim Brochin had received overwhelming calls and emails from constituents in support of SB 449, yet in the end, they thought he didn't understand, but he just didn't care.  His NO vote sealed the fate of a bill had a clear pathway to the Governor's desk and a signature.

Some publicly stated that this bill was a done deal in committee and that the bill would never even be brought to a referendum. The advocates working on this bill knew better, and spent weeks targeting key senators via constituent contact to persuade their legislator to do the right thing. On February 26th the bill received its hearing where three and a half dozen people signed up to speak concerning the bill and proponents outweighed opponents 5 to 1, yet they though he didn't understand, but Senator Brochin just didn't care.

The Judicial Proceeding Committee met today March 14 and after much back and forth, the bill failed by a 5-6 vote. Voting in favor of the bill were, Senators Raskin (D), Forehand (D), Frosh (D), Gladden (D) and Zirkin (D). Voting against the bill were Senators Stone (D), Muse (D), Jacobs (R), Brochin (D), Shank (R) and Getty (R).  According to Equality Maryland, a coalition partner with the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality,

It is terribly disappointing that this committee failed to stand up for fairness and protect transgender Marylanders.  In the past month more than 300 people visited their legislators in support of this bill. Additionally, more than 400 constituents called their senators on this committee and almost 2,000 constituent letters, petitions and postcards in support of SB 449 were given to the 11 members of the committee. 
We are particularly incensed with Senator Jim Brochin’s vote. He had at least 1,000 constituents contact him asking him to support this bill. Despite this, he turned his back on these voters. It ironic that transgender people in his own district [Baltimore County] have protections yet he wouldn’t cast a vote to extend these protections to individuals in the 20 counties that aren’t so fortunate.” 
The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality includes the following 38 organizations:

 ACLU of Maryland, Advocates for Youth, Baltimore Black Pride, Black Trans Men, Bois of Baltimore, CASA of Maryland, Christ Congregational Church UCC, Equality Maryland, FreeState Legal Project, Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc., Gender Empowerment Maryland (GEM), Hearts and Ears, Hollaback Baltimore, Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ Humanist Council of Baltimore, Maryland Black Family Alliance, Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women), Metro Area Gender Identity Connection (MAGIC), Metropolitan Community Churches/Global Justice Institute, Montgomery County Young Democrats, NARAL Pro-Coice Maryland, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Open Door MCC Church, PFLAG, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Pride At Work, Baltimore- Washington Chapter, Progressive Maryland, Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), SEIU 500, SEIU 1199, Trans Maryland, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region, Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore, Unity Fellowship Church of Columbia, Women’s Law Center of Maryland