Monday, April 8, 2013

Sine Die 2013..Same as it ever was... almost

Sine Die. noun  [sin-ey-dee-ey{ < Latin sine diē without (a fixed) day >

The Maryland General Assembly (MGA) is adjourning without fixing a day to reconvene.  This means the MGA is adjourning without executing its obligation to attend to the safety and well-being of the nearly 14,000 transgender Marylanders.  An obligation they have avoided for 13 such Sine Die. Senate Bill 449 was their charge.

In Maryland a 2011 survey found alarming rates of discrimination against transgender Marylanders. The study found that among transgender individuals, 18% had lost a job, 42% had experienced an adverse job action at work, 17% reported being denied a home or apartment and 54% of transgender Marylanders reported being harassed in places of public accommodation (such as restaurants, stores and movie theaters) because of their gender non-conformity.

According to the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE) , the statewide coalition founded by trans Marylanders for the purpose of  working to advance equal rights for transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people in Maryland:

When discrimination prevents or hinders a person from gaining or keeping employment, many other problems can develop which can lead to chronic unemployment, or homelessness, and can render its victims more vulnerable to violence. Transgender individuals may be denied access to social services like shelters or rape crisis centers, refused treatment, ridiculed, or denied recognition of their gender identity by health care professionals, or refused service at restaurants or stores.


Ironically we heard from some folk not in the coalition telling our community that this year was different, that all the stars were aligned and that this was the year.  This person even stood up at a community town hall and told the audience that our bill was going to not only sail through and be signed by Governor O’Malley, but that we wouldn't even see a referendum.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now they wish to blame this on “a single act of the Maryland Senate president upon the beginning of the new year that settled the fate of this bill. “. It was even suggested that in the back story there was “the usual collection of personality quirks and family secrets that contributed directly to the unfavorable report.”

No one has time for the blame game.

The trans advocates working in collaboration with our allies and legislative champions believe it came down to one vote, one very non independent vote. A vote that was not swayed by the over 1000 constituent contacts in favor of a measure (as opposed to the three (3) contacts against the measure) a measure their jurisdiction already enjoyed. Instead it was swayed by prejudice, by ignorance and by money. That vote could have been yes without affecting a single constituent. The only thing that will change that, is changing the occupant of that seat.

To that extent, most advocates know the value of getting involved. There are some who believe you simply place your name on a ballot and you automatically ascend to office.  It doesn't work like that. Try that once or twice and see if you feel otherwise.  Involvement in the political process at the direct campaign level is the most proven way to get recognized and respected.
I can recall my own personal experience in working on the Mayor of Baltimore’s campaign in 2011. It was an honor to work with so many other committed folks from such diverse background who value collaborative efforts.  When one knocks door for an elected official, those elected officials remember you. Trust me on that.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake can spot me in a room, and the expression in her eyes tells me, she not only knows who I am, she values what I've done for her. This is something I hear from nearly every advocate I've been fortunate to meet all over this country.

Now as Sine Die is upon us, our dear legislators are free to begin full campaign mode. In 2014 we may well have new delegates and senators, but we will positively have a new governor. Who’s basket are you putting your eggs in?

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