PHB Calls Out Madaleno
Lurleen at Pam's House Blend takes Madaleno on this morning for ignoring the "T" in LGBT and not supporting a state gender-identity nondiscrimination bill similar to the one that was passed in Montgomery County.
Maryland state Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18) posted "Rich Madaleno's Equality Agenda" over at Maryland Politics Watch on Monday. Saying he is "proud honor Dr. King's legacy through two civil rights initiatives I am working to pass this year in the Maryland General Assembly", he lists the marriage equality bill and...the Maryland DREAM Act. What's glaringly absent from that short list is the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act. Senator Madaleno, you're forgetting something.
Equality Maryland has assured us that the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act is on their equality agenda. But one wonders why it isn't on Senator Madaleno's agenda because Senator Madaleno isn't some rabid Republican bigot. He's an openly-gay pro-equality Democrat who invokes MLK, Jr. but fails to champion a non-discrimination bill that MLK, Jr. surely would have dubbed a no-brainer. Senator Madaleno, aren't you forgetting something?
Our Montgomery County officials have been courageous in tackling hard problems even when they don't have a vested interest in them. You shouldn't have to be gay, for instance, to realize that discrimination against gay people is wrong. Our County Council and Executive understood the injustice of discrimination against transgender citizens even though none of them are transgender. It's just wrong, and they passed a law to empower transgender people to protect themselves.
There is clearly a surge in favorable attitude toward marriage equality. More and more people realize that it's unfair, unkind, and counterproductive to prevent same-sex couples from marrying and starting a family. Politically it is not an especially risky or bold thing to propose, especially for someone like Madaleno who is clearly associated with gay rights already.
There is not the same surge in favor of transgender rights. This is probably because the proportion of transgender people in the population is quite small, most people have never met a transgender person and are completely unaware of the difficulties they face. But many transgender individuals suffer a constant stream of abuse when they go out in public, they have difficulty being hired for jobs they are qualified for, they have problems with police and even paramedics, they face discrimination everywhere they go.
It may be unfair to argue that because Madaleno is gay and supports gay rights that he should automatically support gender-identity rights as well. Though he is a friend to the LGB population he is not especially looked upon as a very progressive politician in general. Maybe Pam's House Blend is wrong to focus on him, expecting him to stand up for a group that he does not apparently identify with.
LGB people may not identify with transgender people as a group, but they face exactly the same kind of prejudice -- I would bet that most homophobes can't tell the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. We are not surprised when a politician avoids controversy, but Madaleno is in a unique position to accomplish something good here. Let's see if he rises to the challenge.