Baltimore Pride History Lesson

Every June, gays and lesbians across the country celebrate Pride, an event marked by festive parties, parades, and copious amounts of alcohol consumption. The current incarnation of Pride has seemingly lost much of its sense of history as a time to recognize the progress made politically by gay and lesbian people since the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969. Yes, Virginia, we have Pride to commemorate political advances and political power, not to help you get your rocks off with as many people as possible (although, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, you can do that in private with willing adult partners without fear of arrest!). Both Maryland and Baltimore City have a rich tradition of efforts to advance the political and civil rights of lesbian and gay people and, more recently, transgender people.

In 1977 – less than ten years after the Stonewall riots in New York – a group of gay Baltimoreans founded the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore to give Baltimore-area gays a resource and a support network. Shortly after the forming of the GLCCB, the Baltimore City Council considered a measure to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, which it ultimately passed in 1988, marking the emergence of gay political power in the city. Also during the 1980s, AIDS wracked the Baltimore gay community, as it did with gay centers across the country. What is now viewed by Generation WTF as a manageable condition was a death sentence in the early days of AIDS, and gays and their allies organized to create resources against this new threat. The founding of the Baltimore Alternative in 1986 by Bill Urban, who later succumbed to complications from AIDS, resulted in timely chronicling of the crisis.

The 1990s kicked off in Baltimore City with two significant developments. The Baltimore City Circuit Court quietly began to grant second-parent adoptions for gay couples, marking the beginning of the “Gay Family” movement in the state. Perhaps more importantly, the Baltimore Justice Campaign spearheaded efforts to amend Baltimore City’s law to extend domestic partnership recognition to Baltimore City employees and their families. Baltimore Justice Campaign worked to have both then-councilman Martin O’Malley and perennial mayoral candidate Carl Stokes co-sponsor a bill that broadly covered both gay and straight unmarried couples. Expectations ran high that the bill would pass. However, church leaders eventually pressured several co-sponsors to withdraw support. Instead of admitting that he folded under this pressure, Stokes introduced legislation to limit domestic partnership to lesbians and gay men only, an effort widely seen as a cynical “divide and conquer” move. Ultimately Stokes did not vote for the bill, and it failed – to the bitter disappointment of Baltimore City’s gay community – in 1994. Some years later, city workers did secure domestic partnership benefits, but the rift forged from this defeat had a lasting impact on the Baltimore and Maryland political scene.

After the domestic partnership debacle, Baltimore gay activists played a key role in helping ensure the election of Martin O’Malley as Mayor, as the GLCCB’s ad hoc political action committee endorsed O’Malley – and not Stokes – for Mayor in 1999, in part because of O’Malley’s support of domestic partnership battle. O’Malley’s election meant that the community had enhanced access and power, which it exercised on a number of occasions, including asking O’Malley to testify in favor of the statewide law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. That effort took on renewed urgency when then-Governor Parris Glendenning appointed a number of Baltimore activists, including Ann Gordon, Shannon Avery and Carlton Smith, to a commission that held hearings throughout the state, soliciting details of the discrimination faced by gay and lesbian Marylanders. The commission issued a report that helped support the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Act in 2001, capping off almost two decades of effort to pass a statewide anti-discrimination law. Shortly thereafter, O’Malley became the first elected official in the state to sign a law banning discrimination against transgender people, thanks in part to the efforts of Baltimore City gay activists.

Subsequent to the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the ACLU, which sued the state over its laws criminalizing gay sex in 1999, fought off an attempt by an anti-gay organization to repeal the law at the voting booth. The ACLU continued its commitment to equality for gay and lesbian Marylanders by taking the lead on marriage equality, filing suit in 2004 challenging Maryland marriage law and discriminatory as same-sex couples. Although the lawsuit came to a bitter end in 2007, the ACLU continued to work – in partnership with Equality Maryland and other organizations, to fight for marriage equality.

So, as you down kamikazes and dance to whatever summer anthem fuels your Pride party, remember that literally hundreds of people worked – and continue to work – to secure the rights non-LGBT folks take for granted.

Friday, 17 June 2011

July 20, 2001


  1. Baltimore Sun, June 18, 2001 501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278 (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… ) ( ) 2Dlocal %2Dheadlines

    Mayor welcomed at Pride Festival

    In wake of Graziano incident, task force on gay issues created

    By Heather Dewar, Sun Staff

    The winter’s chill that marred relations between Mayor Martin O’Malley and his supporters in the gay community was all but forgotten in yesterday’s bright sunshine at Druid Hill Park, where cheers and applause greeted the mayor at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore’s annual Pride Festival. O’Malley took the festival stage to announce the creation of a Gay and Lesbian Task Force, made up of eight community activists and representatives of every city agency. The task force will meet four times a year to help frame city policy on issues raised by gay and lesbian activists, O’Malley said, and it will also serve “a trouble-shooting function” to prevent misunderstandings between the gay community and City Hall. The administration is also planning task forces to act as liaisons to the city’s Hispanic and Korean communities, the mayor said. O’Malley said the task force was inspired by a controversy in January. When newly appointed Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano made insulting and sexually graphic remarks about gays in a Fells Point bar, O’Malley rebuked the commissioner but did not fire him, saying that alcohol was a “mitigating factor” in his behavior. Many members of the gay community demanded Graziano’s firing, but O’Malley instead ordered the commissioner to enroll in a monthlong alcohol treatment program. Graziano publicly apologized, and O’Malley apologized, too, agreeing with activists who said he should have condemned Graziano’s behavior more publicly and forcefully. “When that came up, we all agreed there was a need to have a group like this task force,” O’Malley said yesterday, “so we have a way to communicate as problems arise.” The mayor’s fence-mending efforts appeared to have paid off. Yesterday’s crowd, estimated by organizers at between 22,000 and 25,000, greeted O’Malley warmly with applause and cameras snapping away. “If you have friends around the country, tell them Baltimore is a city on the rise,” O’Malley said to loud cheers. “Please spread the word that Baltimore is a welcoming place.” Task force member Cathy Brennan, who serves on the community center’s board of directors, said gay and lesbian voters overwhelmingly backed O’Malley in the 1999 mayor’s race and still support him. She said most gay activists have gotten over their anger involving the Graziano incident. “That incident was a learning experience for the administration,” Brennan said. “They’ve been very positive on our issues.” Brennan said the task force will begin work by drawing up a list of the city services that are most needed in the gay and lesbian community.

  2. Baltimore Sun, July 20, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    Gay rights law set for referendum
    Groups gather required number of petition signatures
    ‘A sense of relief’: Anti-bias measure in limbo until vote next year
    By David Nitkin, Sun Staff
    A coalition of religious and family-values groups has gathered
    voter signatures to force a referendum in November next year on a law
    prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals, state elections
    said yesterday.
    The successful petition drive by means
    that an
    anti-bias law approved by the General Assembly this year will not take
    effect Oct. 1 and will be in limbo until the referendum vote.
    The measure was adopted in March after an arduous 10-year
    campaign by
    supporters, who were led in recent years by Gov. Parris N.
    Glendening. It
    now returns to the political fray and could affect next year’s
    “It’s a sense of relief,” said Gary Cox, head of Family
    Matters, the Frederick-based group that helped collect signatures.
    process we have to go through now is to get the message out to the
    It becomes a regular, political election year-type issue.”
    Cox and others collected 47,539 valid signatures, said Donna
    director of the state election management division. They needed
    voters’ signatures to trigger a vote, or 3 percent of the total votes
    for governor in 1998.
    Backers of the anti-discrimination initiative said they were
    disappointed that their fight must continue, but predicted victory at
    ballot box.
    “While this is a temporary setback for Maryland, we fully
    expect that
    voters will uphold the law and will provide a strong mandate against
    discrimination,” said Cathy Brennan, a board member of the Gay,
    Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central
    “A broad coalition of individuals across the state worked hard to
    this, and that same coalition will be working to protect the
    This year, Maryland became the 12th state, plus the District of
    Columbia, to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. The
    Anti-Discrimination Act of 2001 made it illegal for sexual status to
    considered in buying or renting a house or apartment, applying for a
    job, or
    seeking public accommodations such as hotel rooms and restaurant
    A similar ban is on the books in Baltimore and Howard,
    Montgomery and
    Prince George’s counties, covering nearly half of the state’s
    To appease wavering lawmakers, the law was amended to state
    explicitly that it “not be construed to authorize or validate” same-
    marriage or require employers to offer health benefits to unmarried
    The impending debate has the potential to color the
    election and other races next year, political observers say.
    “Everybody will be asked about it, and everybody will have to
    take a
    position on it,” said Carol Arscott, a GOP pollster. “It’s not going
    to be
    something you will be able to duck. And most candidates would
    prefer to duck it.”
    How important the issue becomes in next year’s campaign depends
    largely on the extent of media coverage, Arscott said.
    A statewide poll conducted for The Sun and two Washington-area
    outlets released in January found that 60 percent of Marylanders
    favor gay
    Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the early favorite in the
    governor’s race, has been far less outspoken than Glendening on the
    Her chief of staff, Alan Fleischmann, said yesterday that she
    supports the governor’s position. “She does believe it is important
    to have
    tolerance, inclusion and fairness,” he said.
    Opponents of the law say they are undaunted by polls and that
    government should not support homosexual behavior
    “This campaign has demonstrated that the state’s politicians
    are out
    of step with the majority of Marylanders who believe that homosexual
    behavior is immoral and dangerous, both to the individual and to
    the Rev Matthew Sine, pastor of Allentown Baptist Church, said in a
    statement last month when the coalition submitted its final
    The law’s supporters accuse’s leaders of
    misinterpreting its impact.
    “We’ve already seen tactics to distort what the bill does,”
    said Mike
    Morrill, a spokesman for Glendening. “The point that the governor and
    others who helped pass the bill will make is that this law extends
    the same
    basic protection that so many of us take for granted to all
    Marylanders. It
    does not create special rights.”

    Baltimore Sun, July 19, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    Letter: Prejudice forces gays to seek public protection
    If gay men and lesbians weren’t called names, didn’t have
    things written about them on bulletin boards at work and weren’t
    behind our backs and discriminated against in housing and employment
    would have no reason for a “gay agenda” (“Keep public sexual identity
    out of
    the public arena,” letters, July 13).
    If gay and lesbian couples were given the right to the same
    status as straight couples in marriage, we would have no reason for a
    Whether people are gay by nature or nurture, we were created
    by the
    same God who created others. And I doubt any gay person who has
    changed his
    orientation was ever a homosexual in the first place.
    – Tim Sharman, Baltimore

    Letter: Christian right wastes its energy on hatred (July 20, 2001)
    If the Christian right, which professes to follow a loving,
    forgiving, gentle savior, put as much energy into ending violence and
    ridding the streets of illegal weapons and drug dealers as into
    hating gay people, the world would be a much better place.
    What would the founder of their religion (the “love thy
    “forgive trespasses,” “turn the other cheek” dude) think of their
    quest to
    dehumanize and isolate a whole segment of the population through
    and fear, rather than working for the good of all?
    Not much, I should think.
    – Michael S. Eckenrode, Baltimore

  3. Baltimore Sun, November 22, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )

    Gay rights now law
    Md. bill takes effect after foes concede failure of petition bid; ‘A
    of fairness’; Measure’s backers had filed lawsuit contesting names
    By Michael Dresser and Andrea F. Siegel, Sun Staff
    A bill banning discrimination against homosexuals became state
    yesterday after organizers of a campaign to overturn the legislation
    admitted they did not gather enough valid signatures to force a
    The measure took effect at 3:31 p.m., when Judge Eugene M.
    Lerner of
    Anne Arundel Circuit Court approved an agreement reached by opponents
    advocates earlier in the day.
    “I’m glad you were able to work it out,” Lerner said, shaking
    hands of lawyers Charles J. Butler and Dwight H. Sullivan, who
    gay rights organizations. Attorneys for the law’s opponents did not
    the four-minute huddle around Lerner’s desk.
    Brian Fahring, an attorney for opponents of the law, said his
    conceded after “an honest appraisal” of the evidence forced them to
    they had no chance of prevailing in a lawsuit brought by supporters
    of the
    gay rights legislation.
    “It’s the simple acknowledgement of what in fact is true,” said
    Fahring, who represented, which sponsored the
    referendum drive.
    The General Assembly approved the anti-discrimination
    this year after a determined lobbying effort by Gov. Parris N.
    who made its an enactment a top priority.
    Glendening, in a statement celebrating the legal capitulation,
    “With this law now in effect, Maryland begins the 21st Century as a
    of fairness, justice and inclusion. We move forward in the new
    knowing that every Marylander will be able to reach his or her full
    potential without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or whom they
    happen to
    The law in effect adds gays and lesbians to the groups,
    women and minorities, protected by state law banning discrimination in
    housing, employment and public accommodations.
    Four Maryland jurisdictions – Baltimore City and Montgomery,
    and Prince George’s counties – have gay rights laws, but no statewide
    statute existed until yesterday. Eleven states and Washington have
    A co-founder of said the new law will
    gay rights groups to seek legislation liberalizing adoption practices
    establishing gay marriage.
    “It has opened the door wide open to what is clearly a pro-
    agenda,” said the Rev. Matt Sine, a Baptist pastor in Prince George’s
    The deal to end the fight for a referendum was sealed in
    Annapolis chambers, with two of the General Assembly’s leading
    advocates of
    the bill looking on.
    House Majority Leader Maggie L. McIntosh hugged the
    lawyers. “It’s a
    great day,” the Baltimore Democrat said.
    “This is an historic occasion,” said Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg,
    Baltimore Democrat, comparing the legislation with civil rights laws
    of a
    generation ago.
    The bill was supposed to become law Oct. 1, but the referendum
    delayed its effective date.
    After the General Assembly session, religious conservatives
    to collect the 46,128 signatures necessary to put the issue before the
    voters. They claimed success in July when they turned in 56,557 to
    state elections board. The board certified 47,730 as valid, enough
    to force
    a referendum.
    The American Civil Liberties Union and gay rights groups
    with a lawsuit charging that many of the certified signatures were
    A special master appointed by the judge found that hundreds of
    signatures – enough to knock the question off the ballot – did not
    stand up
    to legal scrutiny.
    The opponents’ case crumbled after lawyers for gay rights
    took depositions in which some petition circulators acknowledged that
    hadn’t witnessed each signature as it was collected.
    Fahring, an attorney with the American Family Association for
    Law and
    Policy, said his clients were disappointed with the result. “When we
    in to the litigation, we had a good, firm belief we could prevail,”
    he said.
    The lawyer said that in the process of discovery and
    deposition-taking, it became clear that “missteps” on the part of
    circulating petitions would leave the law’s opponents short of the
    number of signatures.
    He said he knew of no further legal steps the law’s opponents
    take. That would leave repeal by the General Assembly as their only
    possible route, and that would require a seismic shift in Maryland
    Sine of held out hope.
    “I believe it will be a major issue in the next election,” he
    “A lot of Maryland citizens are very upset at their elected officials
    Butler, lead attorney for gay rights advocates, said the
    “vindicates our position.” He and the ACLU’s Sullivan represented
    State Justice, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore and
    Jason Young, spokesman for Free State Justice, said Maryland
    is a
    safer place to live and work because of the law. “Someone asked if
    we were
    tickled pink,” he said. “I said we were tickled purple.”
    Cathy Brennan, a board member of the community center, called
    outcome “a tremendous victory, not only for the gay community, but
    for all
    Marylanders who value civil rights.”
    She noted that the law protects not only homosexuals, but also
    heterosexuals who are perceived as being gay. The law would also
    protect a
    straight person who was discriminated against by a gay employer or
    Fahring criticized the state’s “extremely onerous”
    requirements for a
    referendum challenging an act of the General Assembly.
    The Tupelo, Miss., attorney said Maryland law does not leave
    time after the General Assembly acts to mount a petition drive. He
    said the
    failure to gain enough valid signatures could be attributed to “people
    trying to meet deadlines, trying to do their level best and in the
    making missteps.”
    Deputy Attorney General Carmen Shepard said courts have struck
    referendums because of invalid signatures before, but she said she
    knew of
    no such cases since the 1960s.

  4. Washington Blade (glbt), November 30, 2001
    Washington, DC
    (E-Mail: forum@… ) ( )
    Surprise success
    Marylanders on both sides of ballot issue reflect on long journey to
    by Kara Fox
    ANNAPOLIS – The group seeking to invalidate Maryland’s
    anti-discrimination law that protects gays conceded a legal challenge
    to its
    repeal drive last week out of concern that the legal process could
    negative information about its signature-collection process, an
    attorney for
    the pro-gay side told the Blade this week.
    Charles J. Butler, who represented two Maryland organizations
    and a
    group of activists challenging a November 2002 referendum effort by
    conservative group Take Back Maryland, said he told that
    lawyer that a motion Butler intended to file on Nov. 19 “contained
    that would not look favorable to Take Back Maryland and they didn’t
    that to get out.” Brian Fahling, the Take Back Maryland attorney,
    reportedly told Butler that he “strongly recommended to [Take Back
    to accept the stipulation.”
    Fahling did not return a reporter’s call seeking comment.
    Butler’s motion sought “summary judgment” on the lawsuit –
    asking the
    judge to rule on the case’s merits without a trial.
    “We didn’t think they were going to give in,” he said
    acknowledging that asking for the stipulation was a long
    shot. “[But] they
    could sense that we were going to win.”
    The anti-discrimination law, passed by Maryland’s legislature
    signed by Gov. Parris Glendening this spring, was scheduled to take
    Oct. 1, but was put on hold after Take Back Maryland submitted
    signatures to
    put the issue on the November 2002 ballot. Because of the outcome of
    lawsuit last week, the law took effect the afternoon of Nov. 21,
    after Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Eugene M. Lerner certified the
    stipulation that the two sides signed. The stipulation acknowledged
    the group seeking the referendum vote had not gathered enough valid
    signatures to proceed.
    Tres Kerns, chair of Take Back Maryland, had contended from the
    beginning that his organization had gathered enough signatures, but
    week he admitted defeat.
    “We can all honestly say we were outgunned and outmaneuvered
    in the
    court system,” Kerns said. “The ACLU, Free State Justice, and Mr.
    had a lot more resources than we did and it became apparent that we
    going to win. . To be honest and fair, we were beat.”
    Said Butler, “The evidence just eventually came out. We
    didn’t have
    any fancy legal argument. They just didn’t get the petition
    properly. It
    was still a surprise [that they agreed to a stipulation.] A part of
    me is
    disappointed – it would have been a fun court fight. But the
    thing is that the law went into effect – that was the important
    Blake Humphreys, managing director of the statewide gay civil
    group Free State Justice, said, “This was a surprise that they
    conceded, but
    it wasn’t a surprise that they didn’t have enough valid signatures.”
    Free State and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender
    Center of Baltimore & Central Maryland were the two organizations
    behind the
    lawsuit, along with a group of Maryland citizens.
    After the law went into effect, Glendening, a Democrat who
    backed the civil rights law, released a statement hailing the victory.
    “With this law now in effect,” Glendening wrote, “Maryland
    begins the
    21st century as a beacon of fairness, justice and inclusion. We move
    forward in the new economy knowing that every Marylander will be able
    reach his or her full potential, without regard to race, gender,
    or whom they happen to love. . Today the people of Maryland indeed
    reason to be thankful as we take a new step toward achieving the
    vision we
    have set for ourselves as a nation and as a people.”
    Take Back Maryland’s Kerns reflected that his group recognized
    the facts were against the referendum effort, but criticized the
    process for bringing an issue before voters.
    “There were not enough valid signatures to keep on going,” he
    “We needed more signatures – we needed more time. The whole process
    be geared for the typical citizen. . The homosexual movement is well
    organized and methodical. We have a lot to learn. . I hope both
    sides can
    learn from this.”
    Kerns said he has contacted Dwight Sullivan from the American
    Liberties Union, who was on the legal team representing the gay
    advocates in
    the lawsuit, for help in restructuring the state’s referendum law.
    “We learned the pitfalls and the deficiencies in the
    referendum law.
    For example, Maryland is one of the only states where you only have
    60 days
    [between when a law passes to when petition signatures need to be
    in],” Kerns said. “We will probably go to the General Assembly
    session to
    improve the referendum law. We need to spell out some areas where
    messed up. The average citizen had a hard time following the rules.
    going to make a recommendation on extending the time.”
    Butler, who is an attorney with Washington-based law firm
    Covington &
    Burling, said that even though petition circulators admitted to not
    following state procedures while gathering petition signatures, he
    would not
    pursue the case any further and would not release any evidence he has.
    “We can’t control whether the state decides to prosecute these
    people. We can’t control what they do, but we’re not pursuing
    ourselves,” Butler said. “As far as we are concerned, this case is
    unless Take Back Maryland starts misrepresenting why they went along
    the stipulation.”
    Assistant Attorney General Michael D. Berman, who represented
    state, said he signed the stipulation because “when both parties
    that agreement, we had no reason to dispute that.” When asked
    whether the
    state will seek to prosecute the petition gatherers, Berman said he
    had no
    Observers noted that the upset to the referendum drive in
    Maryland is
    the first statewide court win of its kind.
    Deputy Attorney General Carmen Shepard told the Baltimore Sun
    Maryland courts have struck down referenda because of invalid
    before, but she said she knew of no such cases since the 1960s. Seth
    Kilbourn, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, the
    national gay political organization, said other gay-related referenda
    been overturned in courts, but not on a statewide level.
    “On a statewide level, this is the first time signatures have
    invalidated by the court,” Kilbourn said.
    He noted the success in Maryland comes on the heels of ballot
    successes for the gay community in Michigan and Miami, painting a
    picture for gays. Two pro-gay ballot measures in Miami Beach, Fla.,
    won by
    large margins; three cities in Michigan voted down anti-gay ballot
    “When you look at it all together, it paints a picture that the
    backlashes don’t work,” he said. “We as a community are becoming
    better at
    the ballot box and [at fighting these battles.]”
    Free State Justice’s Humphreys said he hopes the win in
    Maryland will
    help other states that go through similar referenda.
    “I do see this as a historical event,” Humphreys
    said, “especially
    combined with the elections in Michigan and Florida. . I hope other
    will look at how Maryland was fighting this. We were blessed to have
    won in
    the courts.”
    Kilbourn added that the gay community needs to develop the
    to be ready to fight these kinds of battles across the country.
    “The work of Free State Justice and the resources and help of
    ACLU and partnerships that were formed with HRC and other groups –
    kind of partnerships worked really well there,” he said. “We need to
    that in other places as well. That is a good model to replicate.”
    Humphreys noted that this was only the “first step in our civil
    rights struggle in the state of Maryland,” but that the next focus
    will be
    on the upcoming November 2002 Maryland general election.
    “We will be focusing on next year’s election to make sure fair-
    officials are elected and to support the overwhelming majority of
    legislators who supported us.”
    Other activists agreed.
    “This should be a time for the community to reflect and think
    what they want,” said Cathy Brennan, a gay civil rights
    activist. “The
    community needs to be smart about their next step. Our job is to
    those [legislators] who voted in our favor. If we don’t vote those
    office] who are friendly to our community, this law could be
    Brennan said she didn’t think the gay civil rights issue would
    be a
    talking point in upcoming campaigns, except by “fringe” groups and
    “This is an issue of fairness,” Brennan said.
    The law that took effect last week makes it illegal to
    on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of employment,
    housing, and
    public accommodations across the state. Maryland now joins 11 other
    states and the District of Columbia in enacting anti-discrimination
    laws that
    protect gays.

  5. Baltimore Sun, August 16, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    Letter: Little logic attends Kane’s criticism of gay rights statute
    I am dismayed by the unvarnished bigotry expressed by Gregory
    Kane in
    his column “Gay rights law opponent says logic, not hate, is issue”
    Having served on the Governor’s Commission to Study Sexual
    Orientation Discrimination, I learned of the extent of discrimination
    on sexual orientation throughout our state.
    Mr. Kane’s presumption that all gay people have high-paying
    jobs and
    fabulous lives is wrong. Gay and lesbian people come from all walks
    of life
    and struggle with the same problems as everyone else.
    Stereotypes are destructive, whether positive or negative. The
    positive stereotype that all gay people are wealthy white men with
    incomes and loads of disposable cash is dangerous. It helps create
    impression that members of such a group must be controlled and do not
    experience discrimination.
    Sweeping generalizations like the ones Mr. Kane expressed
    about gay
    men and lesbians are false and harmful. Mr. Kane’s column is also
    insulting to gay people who don’t fit that stereotype and struggle to
    ends meet.
    These are the people who lose their jobs and their homes, and
    rejected by their families. These are the people who need protection
    – Shannon Avery, Baltimore
    The writer is vice chairwoman of the Baltimore City Community

    Gregory Kane’s veiled anti-gay hostility is a perfect example
    why the
    gay-rights law passed by the legislature is needed.
    In the column, Mr. Kane describes the anti-discrimination law
    being “crammed down the throats of Marylanders by our wacky
    According to The Sun’s own polling, more than 60 percent of
    support gay rights.
    Even more absurd is Mr. Kane’s assertion that Tres Kerns, head
    of, which opposes the law, is “a guy who doesn’t
    want to
    know what sexual activity his neighbors engage in behind closed
    – Robert L. Meyerhoff, Baltimore

    Gregory Kane’s column “Gay rights law opponent says logic, not
    is issue” (Aug. 8) lacks logic. And the selection of Tres Kerns’
    does little for the column’s credibility.
    Mr. Kerns says, “It’s a little insulting to compare somebody’s
    orientation with things they can’t help like their skin color,”
    being gay or lesbian is not an immutable characteristic.
    Have we forgotten that our civil rights laws protect us on the
    of other things, including religion, and that Americans have the
    right (and
    often exercise the right) to change their faith?
    Shall we throw out religious protections as well to ensure
    application of the notion that only immutable characteristics deserve
    – Timothy Carson, Parkville

  6. BALTIMORE SUN, July 3, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    Count of same-sex couples jumps past 11,000 in state
    Gays, lesbians say census falls short
    By Frank D. Roylance, Sun Staff
    More than 11,000 Maryland households were headed by same-sex
    last year, according to new data released today from the 2000 census.
    The count of same-sex “unmarried partners” constitutes barely a
    half-percent of the state’s nearly 2 million households. Members of
    the gay
    and lesbian community believe the figure falls well short of a true
    count of
    their numbers.
    But it also represents the Census Bureau’s first deliberate
    effort to
    recognize and include long-term gay and lesbian relationships in its
    decennial portrait of American households.
    “That’s progress,” said Janet Goldstein, 37, who has lived
    with her
    47-year-old lesbian partner for 12 1/2 years in Baltimore, where they
    own a
    house together. “Whether or not you approve of same-sex
    relationships, it
    doesn’t do anybody any favors to undercount or to misrepresent.”
    Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology at the Johns Hopkins
    University, agreed that the Census Bureau’s count likely missed many
    and lesbians.
    “There have to be some people who are hesitant to divulge their
    sexuality,” he said. In the meantime, these “seem to be the most
    numbers to start with.”
    Census officials stress that they weren’t trying to count
    people by
    sexual preference.
    “In no sense of the word are these questions even attempting
    to get
    an estimate of the gay and lesbian population,” said Martin
    O’Connell, chief
    of the bureau’s fertility and family statistics branch.
    Unmarried “partners” are defined only as two unrelated people
    living quarters and a “close personal relationship.” They’re
    from roommates, who share space simply to save money.
    The data, he said, “are meant to provide an estimate of how
    see themselves in the household, how they relate to each other and
    how the
    household functions.”
    Nevertheless, gay rights advocates are seizing on the numbers
    evidence that gays and lesbians live in all Maryland counties, rural
    urban, and need statewide legislation to protect them from
    discrimination in
    jobs, housing and public accommodations.
    “Protection from discrimination should not be an accident of
    geography,” said Shannon Avery, political action chairman of the Gay
    Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore.
    A Maryland advocacy group,, is
    petitioning for a
    referendum to block a new state law that would extend such
    protections to
    gays and lesbians, effective in October.
    The new batch of 2000 census data also includes hundreds of
    pages of
    statistics on age, race, household relationships, home ownership and
    Among the findings for Maryland:
    The percentage of Marylanders living in owner-occupied homes
    from 68 percent to 71 percent during the 1990s. Blacks were
    more than twice as likely as whites in 2000 to be renters.
    The population of Maryland’s state prisons grew by almost 25
    to 22,924 during the 1990s. The state population grew by less than 11
    percent. Seventy-two percent of adult inmates in Maryland, and 64
    percent of
    those in state juvenile facilities, were black.
    The number of Maryland children who are living in a
    home increased from 102,000 to nearly 118,000 during the 1990s.
    That’s a
    jump of more than 15 percent. Statewide, nearly 67,000 black children
    in a grandparent’s home, compared with 43,000 whites.
    The 2000 census counted 110,335 Maryland households headed by
    “unmarried partners.” About 90 percent were of the opposite sex;
    nearly 10
    percent were same-sex partners.
    On the surface, the Maryland numbers suggest a significant
    since 1990 in the number of same-sex partners – up from 3,028 in
    1990, to
    11,243 in 2000. Comparable jumps have been noted in other states
    where data
    have been released in recent weeks. National figures are not yet
    But Census Bureau officials warn that the 1990 data cannot be
    compared directly with the 2000 figures.
    In 1990, officials invalidated responses from households who
    living with “spouses” of the same sex. “Federal law recognizes only
    opposite-sex marriages,” O’Connell said.
    But by 2000, a growing number of court cases and legal
    seeking recognition of same-sex unions produced “a much more cognizant
    awareness on our part of changes in the living arrangements of people
    in the
    1990s,” he said.
    The bureau still could not recognize same-sex “spouses,” he
    But, after checking for obvious errors, officials routinely recorded
    same-sex “spouses” as “unmarried partners.”
    “Many couples, not legally, but culturally and religiously, are
    married, and that’s how they refer to themselves,” said Paula
    director of family policy for the National Gay and Lesbian Task
    Force. “I
    think they [Census Bureau officials] now understand they have the
    data to
    count these people, and they’re willing to do it.”
    People in the gay and lesbian community say many people are
    fearful of revealing their relationships to the government, so the
    count may
    be too low.
    “I would at least triple it,” said Shirley Hartwell, 66, who
    shares a
    home in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood with her partner, Tammy
    Borkowski, 37.
    “We are both so ‘out,'” said Hartwell, who retired from her job
    repairing computers for IBM. Even so, “we thought twice about how we
    going to fill it out. We decided to be truthful about it, because
    that’s the
    only way we’ll be visible. … But I would think there were a lot of
    who decided the other way.”
    Jared Christopher, 53, and his partner of seven years, Dr.
    McCann, 46, reported themselves to the 2000 census as same-sex
    Twenty-five years ago, Christopher said, many gay couples kept
    separate bedrooms and dual phone lines to keep up a public pretense
    of being
    just roommates. “It’s changed a lot for the better,” he said.
    Ettelbrick credited the Clinton administration for
    improvements in
    attitudes toward gay and lesbian couples.
    Even so, same-sex couples don’t yet enjoy job benefits equal to
    married couples. Goldstein said gays can’t even enter some “family
    hospital facilities to be with their partners.
    And while Goldstein said she “never really had any fear of
    coming out
    to people, or being discovered,” she remains guarded about her
    personal life
    when traveling in parts of rural Maryland. She also said her partner
    in the Baltimore City schools and has to be very circumspect.
    The Maryland data released today show that same-sex couples –
    least those who decided to report their relationships on their census
    form –
    can be found in every county.
    Garrett County in Western Maryland had the fewest, and the
    percentage – just 21 among a total of about 11,500 households.
    Baltimore City had the largest number – 2,118 – even though it
    is the
    state’s fourth-largest jurisdiction.
    Sixty-five percent are in the city or Montgomery (2,070),
    George’s (1,680) and Baltimore (1,538) counties. Only 17 percent live
    outside the metropolitan counties.
    Gays and lesbians “gravitate to cities because they can meet
    people like themselves,” Goldstein said. And like many other people,
    also choose cities for the anonymity they offer.
    Last year’s census did not reveal any city neighborhoods that
    fairly be described as “enclaves” for same-sex couples.
    Bolton Hill had the largest number, with 63 – just 2 percent
    of the
    households in that census tract.
    Hartwell said that some neighborhoods are nevertheless
    well-recognized within the community as lesbian-friendly. “It used to
    Waverly 30 years ago,” she said. “Now it’s Lauraville,” just
    northeast of
    Lake Montebello.
    The 2000 census counted 43 households with same-sex partners,
    out of
    more than 2,000 households in the two census tracts that include
    Twenty-nine of them were female.
    For a more accurate figure, she said, “multiply by five.”

  7. Baltimore Sun, July 1, 2001
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    Gay rights foes deliver petitions for referendum
    Group seeking repeal of law confident it has enough valid signatures
    By Michael Hill, Sun Staff
    Leaders of a group seeking a referendum on Maryland’s new gay
    law delivered their petitions to the secretary of state’s office in
    Annapolis yesterday, confident that they had more than the 46,000
    “We are very pleased,” said Tres Kerns, co-founder of, the group seeking to abolish the law. “We had
    from every county in the state involved. People might be surprised
    to learn
    that our largest number of signatures came from Baltimore County,
    where we
    had over 8,500.”
    Kerns and about 20 members of his group delivered four boxes of
    petitions yesterday evening to the state office, which was darkened
    by a
    power failure from a thunderstorm. He said the petitions contained
    signatures. Added to those already certified, that brings the total
    to more
    than 54,000.
    The petitions were accepted by Nikki B. Trella, the secretary
    state’s legal officer, who said they will be sorted by county and
    sent to
    the boards of elections, where signatures will be checked against the
    registered voter rolls. If, after nonregistered voters and
    duplicates are
    eliminated, there are at least 46,128 signatures — 3 percent of the
    votes c
    asts in the last gubernatorial election — the measure will be put on
    2002 ballot.
    Matt Sine,’s other co-founder, said the
    will now “begin the process of educating Maryland voters about what
    this law
    The gay rights bill was passed by the General Assembly this
    year, the
    third year that Gov. Parris N. Glendening had lobbied for an
    extension of
    the state’s anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing and
    public accommodations to gays and lesbians.
    In backing the bill, Glendening often referred to his brother
    who had to keep his sexual orientation secret during a 19-year career
    in the
    military. Bruce Glendening died of AIDS in 1988.
    Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill said that if there are
    signatures to put the measure on the ballot, the governor is certain
    the law
    will not be overturned.
    “The people of Maryland strongly support fairness and justice
    inclusion,” Morrill said. “We are confident when they realize that
    this is
    an effort to leave people out or leave them behind, that they will
    basic fairness for all.”
    A poll commissioned by The Sun backs that view. Taken before
    year’s General Assembly session, it showed more than 60 percent of the
    state’s residents supported outlawing discrimination based on sexual
    Supporters of the referendum drive could go to the Web site and download blank petitions, get them
    and turn them in at locations across the state, mainly Christian
    “We’ve had a lot of petitions come in here,” said Scott Selby,
    manager of His Way Christian Book Store in Glen Burnie. Selby said
    representatives of have been stopping by twice a
    day to
    collect petitions.
    “We’ve got about 15 here now waiting to be picked up,” he said
    yesterday afternoon.
    The drive met its first deadline May 31 by handing in 17,024
    signatures — 1,647 more than were needed at that point.
    Peter LaBarbara, a spokesman for, said
    the group
    tried to get a recommended buffer of 20 percent more signatures than
    required, which would be a total of more than 55,000. But LaBarbara
    the group was encouraged that only about 10 percent of its initial
    batch of
    signatures was disqualified.
    “We did hear that some of the gay groups, maybe just the
    were deliberately turning in petitions with invalid signatures,”
    said. “We don’t know how organized these dirty tricks were, but they
    have to be pretty extensive to keep us from getting on the ballot.”
    Shannon Avery, chairwoman of the political action committee of
    Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, said she had been in
    with gay and lesbian groups across the state and had heard of no such
    “And I assure you that if I did hear of anything like that, it
    have nothing to do with our organization,” Avery said. “We have made
    concerted effort to respect the constitutional process. Now we are
    going to wait and see how that process unfolds.”
    The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, passed in its third
    before the General Assembly after amendments were added making clear
    that it
    did not endorse gay marriages or require inclusion of gay issues in
    curriculum. Religious groups are exempt, as are Boy and Girl Scouts
    businesses with fewer than 15 workers.
    “We feel confident that if Maryland voters have an accurate
    understanding of what the law does and doesn’t do, they will support
    legislation passed by the General Assembly,” Avery said.

  8. Baltimore Sun, January 15, 2002
    501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278
    (Fax: 410-332-6977 ) (E-Mail: letters@… )
    ( )
    City delegate discloses she is gay
    McIntosh, the new House majority leader, is first Md. legislator to
    do so
    By Sarah Koenig, Sun Staff
    Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, has become the
    Maryland legislator to disclose that she is gay.
    McIntosh, the new House majority leader in Annapolis, has been
    spokeswoman for legislation important to gays in the past, but she
    has not
    made those issues publicly personal in her nearly 10 years as a
    That changed in an October speech to the Women’s Law Center of
    McIntosh spoke about the state’s new law to protect gays and
    against discrimination, which was then threatened with reversal by a
    possible referendum.
    No press covered the event, but an account was published last
    week in
    the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper.
    McIntosh, 54, said yesterday that she was moved to discuss her
    private life after visiting friends in her Kansas hometown. She
    noticed a
    sadness in one, she said, and asked her about it.
    “She said, ‘Growing up in a small town, and gay, leaves a
    McIntosh said.
    Conversation haunted her
    The conversation haunted her for weeks, she said, and forced
    her to
    think about the protection the anti-discrimination statute would give
    people who aren’t surrounded by tolerance.
    At the law center event, she told her friend’s story and ended
    saying that she, too, was from that town and gay.
    She said yesterday that she still considers her private life
    from her political duties and she will not change the way she works or
    McIntosh, a former teacher, is known as a progressive
    She sponsored bills last year about education for incarcerated youth,
    gun-safety training for children, mortgage lending and election law,
    ‘None of my business’
    Asked about the significance of McIntosh’s decision, House
    Casper R. Taylor Jr., an Allegany Democrat, said, “First of all, I
    it’s very personal. And it’s none of my business. That’s it.”
    Gay activists said they are proud of McIntosh and eager to
    claim her
    as one of their own, but stressed that what defines her in Annapolis
    is her
    political skill.
    “Coming out the way that she did is a tremendous boost to the
    collective self-esteem of our community,” said Catherine Brennan, a
    activist from Baltimore. “But the fact that she is the first woman
    leader in some ways is more significant.”

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