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Maryland Homeland Security Classifies Gay Rights Group as Terrorists


Maryland State Police's Homeland Security and Intelligence Division classified peaceful gay activist group Equality Maryland as a "security threat" in its databases, the Washington Post reports:

"...the Homeland Security and Intelligence Division...also kept dossiers on dozens of activists and at least a dozen groups. Police kept files on Equality Maryland's plans to hold rallies outside the State House in Annapolis to press for legislation reversing the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Police plan to purge the files. The files were revealed yesterday at a news conference, where a dozen Democratic lawmakers announced plans to introduce legislation to prevent future surveillance of nonviolent groups. Police would need 'reasonable articulated suspicion of actual criminal activity' before they could conduct surveillance, the legislation's sponsors said. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) also plans to call for a similar bill. The measure also would prevent police from keeping files on citizens, unless the information is part of a legitimate criminal investigation."

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  1. Because there's nothing that threatens homeland security more than marriage equality!

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 23, 2009 10:34:25 AM

  2. I've lived in Maryland for five years now. The people who run this state are idiots. Another reason to relocate.

    Posted by: Jack W | Jan 23, 2009 10:41:31 AM

  3. Jack: I think saying that the people that run MD are idiots is a bit much. Remember, MD is one of the states that actually outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    That said, this is one of the reasons why we cannot give any government, federal or state, an unfettered license to spy on its citizens. It is also an example of why we need to avoid being overly trusting of government.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 23, 2009 10:50:44 AM

  4. Maryland was originally a Catholic state.

    Posted by: Lars | Jan 23, 2009 10:51:17 AM

  5. I don't see why they can't keep information on people that they've acquired legally. I can observe people and write things about them if I want to, the government should have that same right. It's not like they're wiretapping...

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 23, 2009 11:42:47 AM

  6. "Police plan to purge the files."

    As somebody that works in a corporate office, files are never completely purged. The info will always be there hidden away.

    Posted by: michael | Jan 23, 2009 11:43:06 AM

  7. Eric: this story originally came out maybe a year ago or more so I don't remember all of the details and if this was "legal." My issue with the government collecting information is that information that is collected has the potential to be used. In a perfect world where people acted responsibly, I can see someone saying yeah, so what if they have the information. But, who knows what the government might do with that information. What if it gets leaked? Let's say you're not out to your employer but you volunteered with equality MD a bit. What happens if your name gets leaked and you lose your job as a result. I am afraid of people using that information a la the "outing" of Valerie Plame.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 23, 2009 11:59:46 AM

  8. Perhaps instead of politely asking for the rights we deserve we need to get a little terrorist up in here. MD can file that one away with my full permission.

    Posted by: Donald | Jan 23, 2009 12:07:22 PM

  9. @ Jack W and LARS, you’re both idiots. Being a life long resident of Maryland, it's a great state and while it may still have some old fashioned southern hospitality tucked away in rural corners it's far more progressive than any of it's sister colonies south of the Mason Dixon line. While Maryland was named for the Catholic Queen Mary of England (not the Mary, Queen of Scots) as a colony for Catholics that never actually materialized and while there are strong Catholic influences, myself being Catholic, there has never been majority Catholic population. So might I make the friendly suggestion that you both hush your mouths and go do your homework before inserting your other foot.

    Posted by: Bojo | Jan 23, 2009 2:26:23 PM

  10. I think they got the idea from Alabama (who got the idea from Pennsylvania, apparently)

    Alabama state's website warnings on "terrorism" draw complaints

    "An Alabama state Web site that stated domestic terrorists are found in many environmental, anti-abortion, gay rights, anti-war and other movements has been taken down to be "tweaked" after it sparked controversy across the Internet.
    The site sparked a flood of blog comments and e-mails to the Alabama Department of Homeland Security accusing the department of using the terrorist label to widely. Homeland Security Director Jim Walker said that, while he didn't agree with the complaints, the site is being revised.
    The information was intended to help people spot terrorists. The Web site said that, in addition to hate groups and separatist groups, domestic terrorists are found in many single-issue movements. Among them are anti-government groups that believe the "current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution."
    "In general, these terrorists claim that the U.S. government is infringing on their individual rights, and/or that the government's policies are criminal and immoral," the Web site stated. "Such groups may hold that the current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution and that a new world order is attempting to enslave humanity."
    Walker said the information was borrowed with permission from an anti-terrorism site sponsored by the state of Pennsylvania. That site is still operational.
    The information was posted for years without a complaint, Walker said. It was taken down earlier this month."

    I *loved* the line: "The Web site said that, in addition to hate groups and separatist groups, domestic terrorists are found in many single-issue movements. Among them are anti-government groups that believe the 'current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution.' "

    Under that definition, the *ACLU* is a "terrorist organization". As is the Supreme Court of the United States of America. And as long as they are pointing out "domestic terrorists [who] are found in many single-issue movements", why did they not mention "Focus on the Family", "Exodus International", the "ex-gay" fraud artists or the RNC?

    Pretty selective finger-pointing, I'd say.

    Posted by: Nathanial | Jan 23, 2009 4:47:01 PM

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