by Sara H. Brosnan, Transcending Boundaries 2012 Membership Director
This is a historic time in my home state of Maryland. On March 1st, our governor, Martin O’Malley, will sign into law a bill that makes us the 8th state (9th jurisdiction including the District of Columbia) to legalize same-sex marriage. Massachusetts, where I went to college and home of the 2012 Transcending Boundaries conference, was the first.
The work for LGBT civil rights isn't over. Our country is still a scary place to be queer. Equality New Mexico, a state wide LGBT rights rights organization in New Mexico, where I lived for 4 years, just beat back efforts to pass a so-called “Super DOMA” law, which would have banned recognition of all forms of relationship rights (i.e., marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, reciprocal benefits, etc.) for same-sex couples. In the past six months, there have been an rash of attacks and murders of transgender people in Washington D.C., mostly recently the fatal stabbing of JaParker “Deoni” Jones, a transgender woman. Maryland still has no law protecting transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
To paraphrase an excellent article by Wintersong Tashlin, frequent TBC contributor, while same sex marriage isn’t the be all and end all of the LGBT civil rights movement, a vote against same sex marriage is a certainly a vote against queers in general. The vote in the Maryland legislature was particularly close. The vote in the Senate was 25 to 22, and in the House 72 to 67.
One of those voting against the bill in the House was a high school classmate of mine, Delegate Sam Arora. I’d like to close this post with a short letter to him.
I am deeply angered and sadden by your recent vote against marriage equality. It felt like a sucker punch to the gut from someone I had respected and thought I knew. When you decided to run for election to the legislature in 2010, I was excited that someone I had went to high school with was running for office. I was even more excited by knowing that you were a courageous progressive who had committed to voting for marriage equality. I knew you were deeply committed to your Christian faith, but thought it was of the same type as mine, a commitment to the seven corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, etc.). Because of your commitment to vote for marriage equality as well as your stances on a number of other issues, I went door to door to gather supporters for you and gave you money. Several of our fellow classmates, including other LGBT people, did likewise. You received an endorsement from the Equality Maryland, without which you would have never won in the Democratic primary. But then in the 2011 legislative session when marriage equality came up for a vote you waffled. And then this year you voted against recognizing the right for same sex couples to marry. You’ve never explained your reversal on this issue to me or more importantly to any of the LGBT people and their allies from your district, other than with vague allusions to your faith and to being for civil unions but not marriage. The day before the vote, I posted to your Facebook wall that I wanted you to have courage. I want our government to be filled with law makers with the courage to do what is right and just. I hope you resign from office. If you do not, I will be working tireless on behalf of your opponents in 2014.
Sara H. Brosnan