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04/19/2007


Maryland Lawmakers to Introduce Trans Rights Bill, 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Ban

Maryland lawmakers this week introduced bills to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression and also harmful "ex-gay" therapy for minors, the Washington Blade reports:

MadalenoState Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will introduce the transgender rights bill in the state Senate. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the measure in the House of Delegates, even though the chamber passed a trans rights bill in 2011.

“We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work with our House members,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote struck down a bill Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure.

Both Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) back the bill.


Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Chapter Under Investigation for Rejecting Pledge Because He's Gay

Alpha Iota, the Morgan State University chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, is under investigation at Morgan State University for rejecting Brian Stewart, who pledged the fraternity because his pastor and mentor from his youth was a member.

StewartStewart is gay, and that's the reason he was rejected he says, a fact he discovered when a friend showed him some anti-gay online banter between two frat brothers, the Baltimore Sun reports:

Brian Stewart said he dreamed of joining Morgan's chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and thought members would be impressed by his academic accomplishments — Stewart said he was a White House intern — but he was rejected the day after his interview.

He believes it is because of his sexual orientation, citing social-media messages using an anti-gay slur that someone sent him and told him were between fraternity members.

"I couldn't even be angry because I was so hurt," he said.

Added Stewart: "I didn't know I was going to have no control — that my interview meant nothing, my achievements meant nothing, because they had already made up their minds."

Neither Kappa Alpha Psi's national organization nor the local chapter would comment on the story. Stewart says he is no longer interested in pledging the fraternity but filed the complaint to raise awareness about the bigotry he experienced.


Maryland Lawmaker Who Blamed Gay Marriage for Drunk Boating Accident, Arrested Again for DUI

Conservative Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, who in 2012 had a drunk boating accident which injured four children and earlier this year blamed the drunken accident on the fact that some of his GOP colleagues voted for marriage equality, has been arrested for DUI, CBS Baltimore reports:

Dwyer“The officer was immediately concerned for the safety of everyone on the road,” said Justin Mulcahy, Anne Arundel County Police spokesman. “It was driving erratically to say the least. It crossed over several lanes of traffic multiple times, onto the shoulder several times as well, even getting in front of vehicles.”

According to the official police report, during the traffic stop, the officers could smell a strong odor of alcohol, Dwyer’s speech was slow and slurred, and his eyes were glassy and red. Police say Dwyer was traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone Tuesday morning. His car registration was expired and suspended for emissions, according to the police report. Police say he failed three field sobriety tests and refused a breath test.

Watch a news report on Dwyer's arrest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Last January, Dwyer said that a separation from his wife and the fact that Dels. Tiffany Alston, Wade Kach and Bob Costa voted for same-sex marriage, an issue he spent years crusading against, drove him to drink which culminated in the boat crash which fractured the skull of a five-year-old girl:

“That betrayal really affected me,” he said. “I was physically ill. You pour your heart into an issue like that and it’s devastating.”

Continue reading "Maryland Lawmaker Who Blamed Gay Marriage for Drunk Boating Accident, Arrested Again for DUI" »


Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO

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John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, the gay Ohio couple who last Friday filed a federal suit challenging Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage, must be legally recognized as a married couple in the state of Ohio, according to federal judge Timothy Black. Arthur and Obergefell married on a tarmac in Baltimore after they chartered a plane to Maryland especially equipped with medical staff to attend to Arthur who is terminally ill and suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Arthur, who as Judge Black put it, "is certain to die soon" wanted to be recognized as married in his home state when he dies. It appears he will get his wish. BuzzFeed reports:

"The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, unless the court extends the order at a later date.

“By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[s] the United States Constitution.”

In his decision, Black cited not only the recent landmark case, United States v. Windsor that effectively struck down DOMA, but also the 1996 Romer v. Evans case, both cases in which Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the majority opinion. Judge Black wrote,

“Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution...The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

The suit, filed against Governor John Kasich and defended by Attorney General Mike DeWine, was nonetheless not defended by the vital statistics registrar for the city of Cincinnati, Dr. Camille Jones. In a filing presented to the court, Dr. Jones stated,

Plane“The City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,but the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned.”

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Governor Kasich, in response to the ruling told BuzzFeed: “We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Many have already begun to speculate on the implications of this ruling for Ohio and the nation at large.

Watch a video of a local news report from WKEF and WRGT, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO" »


Gay Couple Challenges Ohio's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage In Federal Suit

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Last week, we reported on a gay Ohio couple, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, who flew to Maryland to tie the knot. Unlike other couples flocking to get wed following the Supreme Court's historic overturning of section 3 of DOMA, John and Jim faced a more difficult journey as Arthur suffers from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Consequently, conventional travel was out of the question. But thanks to donations from family members and others, the couple was able to charter a plane that cost $12,700 to fly to Maryland where they wed on the Tarmac.  The couple has now filed a federal suit against the state of Ohio challenging that state's ban on same-sex marriage, ABC 5 reports:

"The suit, filed by the couple, states the way the law treats marriages between opposite-sex couples is unfairly different from the way it treats marriages between same-sex couples.

'It's blatant discrimination,' said the couple's attorney Al Gerhardstein. 'It's a denial of equal protection.' The suit points to an example of a marriage between first cousins. In Ohio, it is illegal. But if first cousins go to another state and marry where it is legal, Ohio will recognize their out of state marriage as valid. 'Equal protection demands that opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples should be treated the same,' Gerhardstein said in a release. 'John and James were validly married in Maryland. If they were an opposite sex couple, Ohio would recognize their marriage. Being a same-sex couple is no longer a good enough reason to deny them equal rights.'"

Jim stressed the role that John's disease played in deciding to file the suit:

"We want nothing more than for our marriage to count in the place we call home," Obergefell said in a release. "When (John Arthur) dies, his death certificate should reflect our marriage just like the records of all the other married couples in Ohio."

The case, once heard, will come before United States District Court Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati, the couple's hometown.


Gay Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur Announces Run for Governor

Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur announced today she's running for governor of Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reports:

MizeurThe 40-year-old Montgomery County lawmaker would join Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown as an official candidate on the Democratic side in the June 2014 primary. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is expected to formally jump into the race in September. Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat, has said he is considering a run.

If elected, Mizeur would become the first woman in Maryland to serve as governor and the first openly gay governor in the nation. Along with Del. Ron George on the Republican side, she also is trying to achieve what no other member of the Maryland General Assembly has done: win a popular election as governor while serving in the legislature.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Mizeur said she would run a non-traditional campaign that emphasized public-service projects. She said she's planning such activities as repairing a playground in Silver Spring, painting a school in Baltimore and restoring a hiking trail in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge outside Cambridge.

Mizeur also spoke with the Washington Blade:

“Diversity is enormously important,” she told the Blade. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

...EMILY’s List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund are expected to back Mizeur’s campaign, but campaign finance reports indicate both Brown and Gansler have a significant fundraising advantage.

Gansler has also been a huge advocate for same-sex marriage in Maryland.


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