Maryland Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage


The Maryland state senate voted yesterday to pass legislation to allow same-sex marriages. The Civil Marriage Protection Act was approved by a 25-21 vote and had a strong backing by the democratic majority.

The bill now moves to the Maryland House, which is expected to begin a hearing on the bill today.

If the bill becomes law, Maryland will become the sixth state to allow gay marriage.

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Maryland Marriage Hearing Underway


Over 140 witnesses were registered to testify at the Maryland Senate hearing today on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Of course, Maggie Gallagher, the leader of the National Organization for Marriage, was there to testify in opposition.

Thankfully, a majority of the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee support the bill, so it will make it to the full Senate very soon.

Senate Repeals DADT


Several Republicans joined the Senate Democrats in supporting DADT repeal and it was passed 65-31!

Now the bill moves on to President Obama, who has promised to sign it into law!

Sometimes, my faith in our government is restored. I am so glad we are doing the right thing and allowing our LGBT soldiers to serve openly and honorably.

2010 Election Results from HRC


From HRC:

The march to equality has steps forward and steps backward. Yesterday we saw some of each. Our fight for equality at the federal level was dealt a serious setback – but there are paths forward for pro-equality bills and amendments, and there are new opportunities for progress in states across the country. If you know anything about HRC, it’s that we’re fighters. And fighting tirelessly is exactly what we’ll need to do over the next few years.

Since 2006, the U.S. House has been led by committed supporters of equality. But yesterday, a wave of anti-LGBT radicals seized control. Their leaders – Reps. Boehner (R-OH), Cantor (R-VA), and Pence (R-IN) – all received scores of zero on HRC’s congressional scorecard, meaning they’ve NEVER supported a single pro-equality bill. Key Senate seats were lost as well.

In Pennsylvania, arch-conservative Pat Toomey beat the staunchly pro-equality Joe Sestak, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal leader Rep. Patrick Murphy lost his seat. Longtime LGBT rights champion Sen. Russ Feingold lost to multi-millionaire Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who’s called homosexuality a “dysfunction” and “personal enslavement,” continues as a U.S. Representative.

But there were major victories last night as well. A record number of openly LGBT candidates prevailed, including newly elected David Cicilline (D) of Rhode Island, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) spent millions to gin up hatred and fear, and although they ousted three Iowa judges who ruled for marriage equality, many of their favored candidates lost – like Tea Party darlings Christine O’Donnell in Delaware (who founded a group to “cure” homosexuality) and Sharron Angle in Nevada (who refused donations from pro-equality companies), as well as Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California and Carl Paladino in New York. The man who likened homosexuality to alcoholism, Colorado’s Ken Buck, also went down in defeat.

The upside is that we are now better positioned to win marriage equality or other forms of family recognition in multiple states. HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage helped pick up three state senate seats, building significant momentum for a marriage equality vote. Maryland re-elected Governor O’Malley, who has committed to signing a marriage bill, and flipped a key state Senate Judiciary Committee seat. In California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Colorado, pro-equality governors will take office.

These elections also proved again that pro-LGBT candidates don’t lose because of their belief in equality. New Hampshire voters rejected the bigotry and hate of NOM and other anti-equality forces and re-elected Governor John Lynch, who signed marriage equality legislation last year.

But hey, at least the democrats maintained control of the Senate.

We Are One Step Closer To Not Being Second Class Citizens!


 

ObamaToday, President Barack Obama made good on his first promise to LGBTAmericans by signing the hate crimes legislation into law!

Today, we are one step closer to no longer being second class…

From an article entitled “President Barack Obama Signs Hate Crimes Legislation Into Law” at HRC.org:

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised President Barack Obama today for signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.  The new law gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.  The legislation was added as a provision to the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act earlier this Summer.  For a comprehensive retrospective and historical overview of hate crimes advocacy visit: www.hrc.org/loveconquershate.

“This law honors our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short because of hate,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “Today’s signing of the first major piece of civil rights legislation to protect LGBT Americans represents a historic milestone in the inevitable march towards equality.  Although this is a major step in fighting the scourge of hate violence, it is not the end of the road.  As a community, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to changing not only laws but also hearts and minds.  We know that hate crimes not only harm individuals, but they terrorize entire communities.  After more than a decade of advocacy, local police and sheriffs’ departments now have the full resources of the Justice Department available to them.”

“We applaud President Obama for signing this bill into law and thank the leadership and our allies in the House and Senate.   We also will always remember the tireless efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy on this issue.  Senator Kennedy once said that this legislation sends ‘a message about freedom and equality that will resonate around the world.’   This marks the first time that we as a nation have explicitly protected the LGBT community in the law.  And this law sends a loud message that perpetrators of hate violence against anyone will be brought to justice,” said Solmonese.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act honors the memory of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student brutally murdered in an act of hate violence in 1998, and James Byrd, an African-American man who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas, in 1998.

“We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly,” said Judy Shepard, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.  “But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.”

“We appreciate everyone who worked so hard on this bill.  My son was taken at such an early age and we hope this law will help prevent other families from going through what we experienced,” said Stella Byrd, mother of James Byrd.  “Even though we’re different colors and different sexual orientations or gender identities, God made us all and he loves us all.”

The new law also provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. It also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers, or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

This legislation was first introduced in the 105th Congress.  There have been 14 total votes in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to bring this historic legislation to the president’s desk.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Let’s keep this momentum going!  One day soon, we are no longer going to be Second Class Citizens!

Inclusive ENDA Introduced in the Senate


From the National Center for Transgender Equality:

A fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced today in the Senate with bipartisan support. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), introduced the bill, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Our goal with this legislation is clear and simple,” stated Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Hardworking transgender people deserve the right to go to work without the fear of being arbitrarily fired. We want to apply for a job and be confident that we’ll be evaluated based on our qualifications. Our work should be judged on our skills and our expertise, the same as everyone else. ENDA is simply about basic equality in the workplace and freedom from discrimination.”

A House version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank on June 24 and now has 152 co-sponsors. It is currently being considered in committee. President Obama has already declared his support for ENDA.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
This week, please take action by contacting your Senators to ask them to co-sponsor this vital legislation. There are a number of ways you can do this:

* Call your Senators. You can find the phone numbers on the Senate website;just select your state in the upper right hand corner. That will give you contact information for both of your Senators.
* Write an e-mail online with our ENDA action; it’s quick and easy and sends e-mails directly to your members of Congress.
* Go to a town hall or other public meeting in your state while your members of Congress are home in August. You may still be able to get an appointment to meet with your members of Congress or a staff member. See our ENDA Toolkit for more information about how to do this.

It is critical that members of Congress hear directly from transgender people and our families, friends and allies about the need to pass this bill. Please speak out today!