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Maryland Senate Passes Transgender Rights Bill in 32-15 Vote

Madaleno Maryland

The Maryland Senate voted 32-15 to approve a bill protecting transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas.

SB212, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, was introduced by State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) earlier this year.

The bill now moves on to the House.


'The New Black' Looks At How the African-American Community Grapples With Gay Rights: VIDEO

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A trailer has been released for The New Black, the upcoming documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community responded to Maryland’s marriage equality ballot measure back in 2012, as well as how the community continues to grapple with the broader push for gay rights nationwide. 

From the film's site:

The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

The film opened this week and is playing in NYC through Tuesday.

Continue reading "'The New Black' Looks At How the African-American Community Grapples With Gay Rights: VIDEO" »


Maryland Teen Makes History as Openly Gay Eagle Scout

Pascaltessier

Pascal Tessier was blown away last night when he became one of, if not the first openly gay youths to receive his Eagle Scout ranking. The resolution allowing gay scouts, which passed last May, went into effect on January 1st, and many people believe that Tessier, a member of Troop 52 in Chevy Chase, MD, is the first to achieve the prestigious ranking while being completely open about his sexuality.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task, requiring twenty-one merit badges, a community service project, and a meeting with a board of review, and Tessier's road was even more difficult to traverse. The teenager spoke, and was open about being gay, to media last year while participating in a demonstration prior to the Boy Scouts of America's vote regarding gay members. The outcome was positive, but Tessier easily could have jeopardized his standing with the Scouts, who still will not allow openly gay adults to participate.

The Washington Post reports:

“It’s just really amazing, and it honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Tessier, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. “We didn’t know if it was going to happen at all.”

Both Zach Wahls, outspoken executive director of Scouts for Equality, and Eric Andresen, father of Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle Scout rank due to his sexual orientation just last year, commented on Tessier's achievement.

“I don’t know of any other Scouts out there who have said, ‘I am gay and I defy BSA to kick me out’ — and Pascal has done that,” said Eric Andresen...

“The fact that Pascal is now able to get his award is directly because of what Ryan unfortunately went though,” Andresen said...

“We certainly think this is a day to celebrate,” Wahls said. “As we see more Pascal Tessiers coming up though the program, getting their Eagle Scouts, other scouting parents and other scouting leaders who might be a little more conservative will see there is nothing to be afraid of, that Pascal is a phenomenal young man and people like him make scouting better.”

Tessier and his mother, Tracie Felker, were overjoyed at the news, but hesitant about the limitations still placed on gay scouts. And for good reason: Tessier's older brother, Lucien, is also an openly gay scout.

Even as he celebrated Monday night, Tessier was well aware of how the partial policy change could affect him. He will turn 18 in August.

“It’s kind of a backhanded acceptance: We accept you for now,” he said. “It says to you you’re a monster of some sort.”

...

Felker said the problem with the Boy Scout’s new policy is that it suggests something changes in her children once they hit 18.

“What no one really wants to talk about is the suggestion that gay adults are child abusers, and that is infuriating,” she said.

“It’s impossible to believe that the creme de la creme of the Scouts, just because they turn 18, are no longer suitable to participate in the programs,” Felker said.

For now, though, Tessier sets an amazing example of what openness and honesty can achieve. A formal ceremony will be held for him and other Eagle Scout honorees in June. Congratulations, Pascal! 


Maryland Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed in Utah

Maryland's Attorney General Douglas Gansler says the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court stay on a lower court ruling striking down the state's ban, the WaPo reports:

GanslerThe Human Rights Campaign has been seeking assurances that the marriages in Utah would be recognized in states such as Maryland, where gay nuptials are allowed.

“If any of them were to move to Maryland, we would recognize those marriages as being valid,” Gansler said in an interview Friday afternoon.

In a letter to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, Gansler, who is running for governor, said “we are witnessing a historic change in how the American people regard same-sex marriage.”

“Maryland has been on the forefront of this change since 2010, when I issued my opinion concluding that same-sex marriages that are valid in the state in which they were performed would be recognized as valid here in Maryland,” Gansler wrote.

Gansler's announcement comes on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement earlier today that the federal government would recognize the Utah marriages.


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.


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