In Thanks - SB212 Passage

28 March 2014

As many of you know, SB212, The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, enacting comprehensive Gender Identity anti-discrimination protections, passed the Maryland house with an 82-57 vote and now heads to the Governor, who has stated his support, for signature.  The law will be in effect as of October 1, 2014.  I anxiously look forward to the signing ceremony.

This success is the result of many persons and cannot, and should not, be claimed by any one person or organization but I will be happy to report that it is my belief that Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD) played a key role in that enterprise.   I want to thank all persons and organizations who supported our efforts in the matter including those who perceived GRMD as “competition” in some manner.  Our methods may have been different, the goal the same.  It would be foolish, naive and arrogant, to dismiss any actions taken to further the bill.

It is so readily apparent to me that without our success in Howard County in 2011 and Baltimore County in 2012 that we would not be celebrating today.  All wins have a foundation, these are ours and cannot be ignored.

With that said I would like to offer specific thanks to individuals from my own perspective that made this success possible.  I realize it is unlikely I will be able to name all persons who came before me on this road whose efforts I am unaware of, so apologies in advance for any omissions.

In the fall of 2009 I met Morgan Meneses-Sheets and thus started my interest in getting things done in Maryland.  Morgan got me involved in Equality Maryland at the time and asked me to join their board twice in 2010.  Having recently transitioned I declined but agreed to work on 2011’s HB235 effort.  So Morgan, thank you for getting me started on this. 

I want to thank Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk for sponsoring HB235 in 2011 and our personal dialogs and insights to the workings of the house.  I also want to thank her for being the house floor manager for SB212 in 2014.  Her calm, cool, and collected demeanor made the opposition look as they truly were, fearful and panic stricken.  I found it very satisfying to see her in that role after years of hard work for our community.

I would like to thank those of us who following the defeat of HB235 in 2011 formed GRMD in response to the idea that trans persons needed to create our own organization with our own priorities. 

I want to thank policy advisory board members Heath Goisovich and Catherine Hyde for being the grains of sand in the oyster to get things moving in Howard County.  I want to thank Howard County Councilmembers Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson for sponsoring and shepherding the bill in Howard.  That was the victory that got this ball really rolling.

I want to thank Mara Drummond and Mark Patro for instigating things in Baltimore County and Councilmember Tom Quirk who had the vision and character to carry the bill forward there to success. Tom, despite vocal opposition, you never wavered once.

I want to thank Liz Seaton, who at the time was with NCLR, and became our right arm as legal advisor and counsel for both Howard and Baltimore Counties.  Liz, it was a sincere pleasure to work with you as one of the most professional people I know.

I want to thank all the members of PFLAG Howard and Baltimore Counties, including GRMD board member, Matt Thorn, for their unwavering support of our joint efforts.  We could not have done this without your troops.

I want to thank the members of our board of directors and policy advisory board for your support; in particular, Diego Sanchez, Mark Scurti, David Fishback, Mark McLaurin, Rev. Emma Chattin, Alison Gardner, and Dan Massey, for your sage advice and counsel.

I want to thank Senator Jamie Raskin for being the voice of the movement in both the Senate JPR and on the floor as the bill manager.  Without Jamie and his mastership there would have been no bill to vote on.  I want to thank Senator Richard Madaleno for his efforts as sponsor of SB212. I want to thank Senator Allan Kittleman for crossing the party line and understanding what discrimination really is. I want to thank Delegate Heather Mizeur for her passionate address to the House; it was clearly the most classy and Gubernatorial quality speech of the day.  I want to thank Delegate Bonnie Cullison for her tireless efforts to get the bill out of committee in the House.   I want to thank my own senator, Majority Leader Jim Robey, and Delegates Turner, Pendergrass and Guzzone for their unwavering support.

I want to thank our unpaid, all volunteer, legislative team. Specifically, I want to thank our legislative team chair, Jon Shurberg, for his tireless efforts bending ears in Annapolis.  Jon, your practical insights and perspectives, and knowledge of the law and how it is made, has been crucial to our success.  I want to thank the incomparable Darrell Carrington for your grand view of who’s who in Annapolis and how things get done in that town.  I am thrilled to call you both dear friends.

Lastly I wish to thank our Executive Director, Dana Beyer.  Dana has been on this crusade since the beginning and has never wavered from the goal.  She has put in thousands of hours on this effort and been paid the ripe sum of “not one thin dime” for the honor.  Words are not sufficient to cover my gratitude for her tireless efforts.  Let no one ever say her eyes were ever off the prize.

-- Sharon Brackett, Board Chair GRMD