Friday, February 24, 2012

Maryland 8th State for Marriage Equality

With a very close vote will now be legalized in state of Maryland.  It is on its way to Governor O'Malley's office to be signed into law.  Now of course the opponents of same sex marriage claiming that that their religious freedoms are in peril.  That is total nonsense.  The religious freedoms are protected insomuch as if the religious organization does not condone same sex marriage or partners then that is their domain to shy away from.  In other words if such church do not wish to marry same sex couples then that is their right based on their religious faith or doctrine.  What really fluffs my feathers is how these anti gay organizations use the bible and the church as a base for allowing inequality.  Governor O'Malley introduced the bill SB241 to actually appease the churches and the doctrine to insure their rights are protected at the same time granting equality to LGBT.

But such organizations are now planning on going for a referendum to repeal the bill.  Now that is gonna go over really well because precedent has already been set by the Federal Court when California went through the same battle not too long ago. The precedent was set by Judge Vaughn Walker of 9th U.S. Circuit Court whom ruled that the referendum known as Proposition 8 was unconstitutional for the citizens to deny LGBT Rights that has been afforded to them by the State Legislature.  and has been appealed further up and was upheld in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a three judge panel. The battle in California started in 2008 and the opponents of same sex marriage are still trying to take the rights of LGBT away that was already upheld in State Supreme Court. So tax dollars and other peoples moneies are continually being wasted to fight LGBT couples who just want rights as heterosexual couples are afforded when the money can be used to take care of more important issues such as high unemployment so we can get people back to work, fighting rising gas prices at the pump.

If Maryland opponents take it to referendum like California did then the opponents then are doomed to repeat the same mistakes that they did in California. Once the governor signs the bill Maryland will become the 8th state to legalize same sex marriage.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 a Hot Year for LGBT Equality

With the Marriage Equality bill (SB241) which was introduced by Maryland Governor O'Malley close to passing in the Senate in my beautiful home-state of Maryland but the religious organizations and other anti gay persons or groups are claiming that passage of such bill as well as the anti discrimination (SB212) is in violation of religious rights.  The question is, how is that so when the bill has nothing to do with religion or whatnot.  If a Church or denomination whether they be Catholic, Methodist, Baptist or any of the many other denominations.  If the faith and creed of that church is strict and does not allow for any same sex relationships or marriage then they can just turn the other way and have nothing to do with the LGBT community.  SB 241 even has clauses in it to make sure that Church cannot be held liable for refusal to marry same sex couples or other services afforded to heterosexuals. These clauses has been inserted into the marriage equality bill so a same sex couple cannot raise any lawsuits or churches cannot be forced to marry same sex couples.  There are religious organizations within Baltimore/D.C. area that are LGBT Friendly and some have gay or lesbian pastors/ministers that most likely will be performing the same sex marriage services and there is also the old courthouse option that has always been open  since the inception of marriage licenses. SB 212 anti-discrimination bill just simply adds "gender identity" to the language of the already existing law that has been protecting sexual orientation

Maryland is not the only state pushing Marriage Equality, anti discrimination or other pro LGBT Laws in the first Legislative Session of 2012.  Alaska, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington that I am aware of.  LGBT Legistlation seems to be a very hot ticket item in the state houses across the nation. If you know of other states with pro gay legislation going on that is not mentioned here please feel free to post it in comments below to let other readers know.  Also in related news the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of Marriage Equality there for upholding the lower courts declaring Prop. 8 unconstitutional.

Our time is coming ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake about it.  The roads are coming through for the LGBT American where we are Just as equal as our heterosexual counter parts.  One day in the future we will be looking forward to LGBT people never having to hide in the closet again and just be ourselves making the country a better place for everyone without fear off retribution for simply being true to ourselves. There are already gay friendly cities within our country today.  Keep in mind that just because a city government passes pro gay ordinaces that protects us out there does not necessarily the city is all that friendly.  Of such cities in among the cities I have traveled to I believe that Pittsburgh, PA is truley the most gay friendly city in the country.  I am able to walk the streets and shop in Pittsburgh as transgender female of course presenting and dressed as such with no one actually bothering me in any way shape or form.  Yes I  may get some looks from others and all but they do not voice themselves in discriminatory manner. I have become comfortable with myself in that gay city and proud of it.  Now my hometown in Western Maryland isn't all that safe for the LGBT Community or myself to present myself in the manner that my sexuality (Gender Identity). Most of the LGBT Community is still in the closet around here the closest LGBT Resource is over an hour away in either Morgantown, WVA, Hagerstown, Maryland or Winchester VA.  Only exception to that is the fact that Frostburg State University has a LGBT Support Group on campus but that is for the students attending school there not the general population of LGBT Americans.
Times are a changing and I look forward to being able to be in a relationship with that special someone and not have to hide it anywhere here in Hometown. Until then all I can do is watch and wait while venting and writing about what I feel and write about what is going on out there as an outlet for my mind and soul.

Lets hope for many successes across the nation in the states that are working towards Equality for all. Till next time I say to you BE YOURSELF.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Maryland Battle for LGBT Equality

Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley introduced SB241 to the state house.
SB241 is Marriage Equality Bill that no longer defines marriage as just man and woman, but the language now says Man and Woman or Individuals hence clearing the way for same sex marriages. This bill was passed by the Senate but failed in House of Delegates in 2011 legislative session but this year once specific change that may help it pass is the fact no longer the clergy are not held accountable if they refuse to marry or grant services to same sex couples if it is not allowed within the churches doctrine. There are still religious communities throughout Maryland that are opposed to such legislation. However there seems to be more people on board this year than last year including many churches that do support it, even the Maryland State Bar Association in in support of marriage equality. It is in my opinion that the religious community that is opposing it now just don't want anything to happen and don't believe in compromise. They should be happy that the do not have to be pressured into marrying same sex couples and do not have to worry about lawsuits against them for refusing to marry.  There are plenty enough of same sex friendly churches now that it is still possible to marry in a church if the couple wishes to do so but as always since the dawn of time in legal marriages we can still go to the courthouse and see the marriage through after being licensed by the state.  Maryland courthouses win also with increased revenue from marriage licenses with the most increase on or about October 1st of these year when the bill will be in effect if passes then will see a drop in licenses but still foresee a signification increase compared to just heterosexual marriage licenses. On the same token gay friendly churches will also see increased revenue as well. To the parties that are so closed minded and unwilling to waiver or compromise. One way or another all these civil rights and liberties that heteros have taken for granted will come to pass for the LGBT Americans.

In other news SB 212 Bill also was introduced to the state house as anti-discrimination legislation to add gender identity to the language of the already existing law.  For quite some time now the law read that no one can discriminate based on  race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, GENDER IDENTITY, or disability. It even goes to explain what gender identity is.  This law is to be in effect on October 1st 2012 along with the marriage bill if all passes. Basically what this means is that discrimination against transgender community is illegal with in places of employment, housing and pretty much every where so that makes transgender females like myself  would be able apply for a job or work in a job presenting myself as female and the "boss" cant do anything about it.  It also includes protections for harassment in the work place which means the employer must take appropriate action if said employee is being harassed for his or her gender identity.

These to bills in the 2012 legislative session are major turning points for LGBT American equality. I commend Governor O'Malley for his support by introducing these on our behalf being right on the front lines.  I also give some serious kudos to his wife First Lady Catherine O' Malley for which she stood up and called the state delegations that opposing the bills cowards than later apologized.  If it were me I would not have apologize because I call them as I see them.

Readers wishing to view the SB 212 and SB241 may click on the two links below. These are in PDF format.

SB212-Anti discrimination

SB 241-Marriage Equality