Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Loser in the Beyer Campaign is the Truth

"She told the Blade that Madaleno “wasn’t supposed to introduce” Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act because she said her organization convinced state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) to do it because he is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that in 2013 struck down a similar measure."

 To quote her board chair from 2012:
 "It has come to our attention that there is confusion over the management of SB 212, the state's gender identity bill."

The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality identified the lead sponsor, designed the legislative and grassroots/grasstops campaigns, executed those campaigns to perfection, and built the necessary relationships with high ranking leadership in Annapolis. Gender Rights Maryland chose NOT to be part of this 50+ organizational, transgender steering committee led coalition which called the shots on the bill. What Dana Beyer wanted had no bearing on the coalition as she has demonstrated being incapable of working with consensus models wherein shared decision making and resources prevail.

Beyer takes credit for those three votes....

Let's ask Ms. Beyer WHY the JPR committee vote was held on the precise day it was? A lack of being able to accurately speak to that ought to tell one something... 

Senator Stone is showing his age, so to speak, and his wife controlled him. Stone's wife would never let him vote for FAMA, even though Stone's aid was very supportive. When Senator Madaleno found out his wife was out of the office, he convinced JPR chair, Senator Frosh to hold the vote that day by special order. This was THE decisive 6th vote needs for passage. End of story. Every other YEA vote was gravy.

The pressure on Muse came from the threat of an opponent, Del. Veronica Turner, running on his potential "NO" vote on a civil rights bill. That was because of an endorsement of Turner by coalition partner Equality Maryland.

The real key to the now unnecessary 7th and 8th votes was Brochin. Muse was not going to be the only Democrat to not vote YEA in committee specifically if he will have that NO vote used against him.

So, how did Brochin move? Was it Jonathan Shurberg of GRMD? We could ask Jim Brochin the nature of his relationship with Shurberg. Maybe they have a history together.  I'll suspend that line of questioning to say, what truly moved Brochin was grassroots constituent pressure coupled with the Governor supporting a Democratic challenger to his left, and the Republican challenge to his right all working to paint Brochin into a political corner.

No amount of campaign contributions from known bigots was going to save him this session. He was in the political fight of his life. THAT heat was due in large part to the brilliant grassroots efforts organized and executed by Owen Smith and Keith Thirion. You cannot bluff in a poker game if your opponent knows you are not holding any cards of value. Gender Rights Maryland NEVER held any cards which would allow them leverage. They couldn't. They had no "threat" card wherein they could turn on constituent pressure upon legislators in an election year. They have NO organization. They have repeated said publicly they will not be doing the outreach and educating and grassroots work with constituents. That requires money, money Beyer would spend on her race to upset the true champion of FAMA, Senator Madaleno.

Beyer is spending historic amounts of money for a statewide senate race. The money she spent could fund a transgender economic empowerment initiative helping community member find gainful employment. It would fund hundreds of jobs, not just one. So much for the economic justice candidate.

 Instead Beyer fashioned herself a 'lobbyist". No "relationship" GRMD thinks they built could have any impact without the threat of the work that MCTE was doing.  They sought to usurp the efforts of MCTE by co opting the months of tremendous planning for dozens of contingencies in MCTEs legislative plan.
What gave Brochin cover to vote YEA, in the face of his past objections was Elaine McDermott, opponent of the bill, telling him, in response to his question of where are transgender people supposed to use the bathroom, " I don't care! That's their problem! They choose to be this way!"

Beyer is far afield from the truth. There are scores of advocates in and out of Annapolis, who actually participated in the successful legislative campaign who can speak truth to fantasy.

Beyer chose NOT to invest in the legitimate campaign to pass the bill, but merely take credit for it and instead invest in a campaign to defeat the champion of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. Meanwhile the trans community still struggles with homicides, homelessness, unemployment and under-representation in organizations.
Beyer has usurped upon, bullied, co opted
, and harassed our communities long enough. Come June 25th when she loses, she should do the right thing, leave Maryland politics and trans advocacy to those capable of empowering and elevating others for the good of us all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Leader Empowers, Not Disenfranchises

"A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself."  -Dr Maya Angelou

     In my time as an active member in a community of my peers, I have always felt the strong need to elevate and empower others, to create equal and level playing fields and honor the universal dignity we all share. To that extent I have volunteered as facilitator of peer support groups, building community and in the process building individual strength in our community.  These efforts saw a 600% explosion in attendance at those meetings over the years of 2006-2011. Since 2011 I have dedicated my time to being part of the coalition that came together to ensure Maryland was the next state to expand legal protections to the trans community. This spring the Fairness for All Marylanders Act was signed into law by Governor O’Malley. I know, I was there. I am also honored to have received the pen he used to ink that bill. I cherish that as a reminder of a struggle so many fellow Marylanders have endured for decades to see this day. I hold that as a reminder of the tremendous sacrifice offered by many of our community members to steadfastly assert their authenticity, even to the point of grave peril to their life, allowing others the freedom and ease of doing the same. Our heroes, our champions in and out of the community come not from access or wealth, or personal assertion of such statuses, but from the tireless dedication to educate themselves on the issues, elevating and empowering voices of impacted communities and taking strong action on such. We, the TransMaryland community have such a leader, a champion of interests and well-being, in Senator Rich Madaleno.

     Senator Madaleno will be the first to admit he continues to seek growth in his understanding and advocacy of and for the transgender community. He respects and values the dignity and rights of our fellows. Since he was elected to the Senate in 2006, he has been introducing legislation to provide protections for the trans community. In 2011, he was asked not to introduce legislation in the Senate in favor of a House only approach. This legislation was met to criticism by the transgender community for excluding public accommodations. It was at this time I first met the senator. On the streets of Annapolis, during a break, he was walking to get lunch. Hurrying over to him, I asked if he could speak with me and other advocates about amending the bill when it reached the senate. He invited us to walk with him and listened to our concerns. You see, just days before, he released a statement, affirming his commitment to a fully comprehensive bill, and called on the amending of that bill to include public accommodations. No other legislator offered such a commitment. Even his current opponent in his District 18 senate run, Dana Beyer, refused to call for the bill’s amendment to include protections in places of public accommodations. 
     Senator Madaleno met with the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, the statewide transgender led coalition of over 50 organizations, who, for the last two legislative sessions, have been the sole party responsible for managing the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. At the end of the 2013 legislative session he sat as transgender steering committee members of MCTE expressed their concerns that their legislative game plan was being tampered with by outside interests, interests which demonstrated their inability to work with others. Those interests were Dana Beyer and Gender Rights Maryland.

     Senator Madaleno took those concerns and reinvigorated his commitment to this bill, and as a result, we had 25 cosponsors in the senate where only 24 YEA votes are needed for floor passage. There is no one currently in the senate, nor running for senate that has the experience, compassion, and willingness to empower and elevate communities for success, like my friend, Rich Madaleno.