Wednesday, May 25, 2011

EQMD May Be on Its Last Breath, Plus New State Gender Rights Group

Things are changing on the LGBT activist front in Maryland, following the failure of the state legislature to pass two important bills this season.

First, Equality Maryland sounds like they're about to go belly up. They sent out a newsletter this week that said:
Since late 2010, when we assumed our leadership roles on the Board of Directors, we have become increasingly aware of deficiencies in the organization. We realized early on that we had to take action to rectify these problems. At the same time, we were focused on advancing the gender identity anti-discrimination and marriage equality bills, which had their first real opportunity for success in the 2011 General Assembly. We thus attempted to manage the organization's problems through internal controls without making any changes that could undermine the viability of either bill.

As you know, the gender identity and marriage bills did not pass. However, they progressed significantly further than ever before, and are positioned for a successful outcome in the near future. For this, we owe much gratitude to all who made this achievement possible, includ ing Maryland's LGBT community, the staff of Equality Maryland, state and national partner organizations, Maryland's openly gay and lesbian legislators, and all our allied legislators and public officials.

Last month the board of Directors took a step that we had hoped to avoid, but was necessary to restore the organization's integrity and viability - we voted to remove the Executive Director. We took this action with regret, but because our duty as guardians of Equality Maryland compelled it. We also regret that the Executive Director resigned while we were in the process of negotiating an amicable separation.

We subsequently received assistance from the Equality Federation in obtaining an Interim Executive Director who could stabilize and assess the organization. Based on an analysis that revealed certain factors previously unknown to the Board of Directors, we now understand that Equality Maryland's financial status is in worse condition than we had realized.

This was signed by the Board of Directors: Chuck Butler, Patrick Wojahn, Lisa Polyak, Rosemary Nicolosi, Darrell Carrington, David Lublin, and Mark Yost.

You kind of have to wonder how they didn't know they were out of money.

They told Metro Weekly they'll have to shut down at the end of June if they can't raise twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars by then.

It seemed unbelievable when the marriage bill failed to get a vote in the House of Delegates, and all fingers pointed at Equality Maryland, who had taken the lead in orchestrating the campaign. It was a popular bill -- you're reading in the news that a majority of Americans support marriage equality, and Maryland is one of the most liberal states in the country, you can bet the percentage is higher here. This should have been easy, but our courageous Delegates were intimidated by church leaders and letter-writing campaigns from groups like the National Organization for Marriage, and the hopes of thousands of Maryland couples were thrown away.

A gender identity nondiscrimination bill met a similar fate, again under the leadership of Equality Maryland. Our brave leaders in the state Senate successfully avoided controversy and the wrath of the Nutty Ones by playing games with the bill, which would have offered protections in housing, employment and lending to the state's transgender residents.

I don't know what is going on inside the organization, but from the outsider's point of view I'd say EQMD was counting on getting some donations after a couple of legislative victories, and instead they disappointed everybody who counted on them. There was a restructuring of the Board last year, EQMD Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets was fired a month ago, and now the group seems to be without direction, momentum, or community support.

I bet I'm not the only one who wishes Dan Furmansky was still here.

The apparent disintegration of Equality Maryland and the frustration expressed by Maryland's transgender population has resulted in the formation of a new organization, Gender Rights Maryland. The rise of this group is especially timely given the beating of a transgender woman in Baltimore recently, caught on video and seen by thousands.

Metro Weekly has the story:
Activists in Maryland followed up on a statement issued by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on the hate crime indictiment of a suspect involved in a beating of a transgender woman at a McDonald's restaurant by announcing the formation of a new group called Gender Rights Maryland.

According to a press release issued on Wednesday, May 18, Gender Rights Maryland identifies itself as "a new civil rights organization focused on gender identity and expression in the State of Maryland."
"The organization will consist of a 501(c)4 political arm and 501(c)3 foundation. The organization was founded by members of the Maryland transgender community who were active this year in supporting gender identity legislation in Annapolis as well as in previous years. The organization will be formally launched in the coming weeks."

Maryland transgender activist Dana Beyer will serve as the executive director of the organization, while Sharon Brackett is listed as serving as the group's board chair.
"The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland. Gender Rights Maryland’s initial legislative goal is to see the passage of a comprehensive gender identity anti--discrimination bill by the end of the 2012 legislative session.

Activists Launch Gender Rights Maryland

GRM is asking the governor to create a commission to study gender identity discrimination in the state as a first step toward introducing and passing legislation to give equal rights to transgender individuals.

At this point all we can do is wish them luck. With the kind of courage and far-sightedness we see in our state legislature, it's going to be a tough battle. But this is the time to line up the forces, dig the trenches, and load up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maryland transgender activist Dana Beyer will serve as the executive director of the organization"

oh, what a relief

for a minute there I thought there was going to be a powerful new voice for the gay agenda

turns out, it's just Dana

the status quo lives!!

May 26, 2011 10:50 AM  
Anonymous excellent news said...

"we now understand that Equality Maryland's financial status is in worse condition than we had realized"

so the BOD of the gay agenda failed in their fiduciary oversight responsibilities?

why am I not surprised?

May 26, 2011 11:02 AM  
Anonymous the land of the incompetent President said...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Unexpectedly weak consumer spending hobbled the nation’s economy in the first quarter and fresh signs of a slowdown in the labor market pointed to a continuing struggle for the recovery.

The economy grew at an annual 1.8 percent rate in the first three months of this year, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, unchanged from an earlier estimate and weaker than most forecasts.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by 10,000, to 424,000.

Economists were cautious about forecasting a rebound in the second quarter.

May 26, 2011 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media reports in recent weeks say that Senate Democrats are considering a 3% surtax on income over $1 million to raise federal revenues. This would come on top of the higher income tax rates that President Obama has already proposed through the cancellation of the Bush era tax-rate reductions.

If the Democrats' millionaire surtax were to happen—and were added to other tax increases already enacted last year and other leading tax hike ideas on the table this year—this could leave the U.S. with a combined federal and state top tax rate on earnings of 62%. That's more than double the highest federal marginal rate of 28% when President Reagan left office in 1989. Welcome back to the 1970s.

Here's the math behind that depressing calculation. Today's top federal income tax rate is 35%. Almost all Democrats in Washington want to repeal the Bush tax cuts on those who make more than $250,000 and phase out certain deductions, so the effective income tax rate would rise to about 41.5%. The 3% millionaire surtax raises that rate to 44.5%.

But payroll taxes, which are income taxes on wages and salaries, must also be included in the equation. So we have to add about 2.5 percentage points for the payroll tax for Medicare (employee and employer share after business deductions), which was applied to all income without a ceiling in 1993 as part of the Clinton tax hike. I am including in this analysis the employer share of all payroll taxes because it is a direct tax on a worker's salary and most economists agree that though employers are responsible for collecting this tax, it is ultimately borne by the employee. That brings the tax rate to 47%.

Then last year, as part of the down payment for ObamaCare, Congress snuck in an extra 0.9% Medicare surtax on "high-income earners," meaning any individual earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000. This brings the total tax rate to 47.9%.

But that's not all. Several weeks ago, Mr. Obama raised the possibility of eliminating the income ceiling on the Social Security tax, now capped at $106,800 of earnings a year. (Never mind that the program was designed to operate as an insurance system, with each individual's payment tied to the benefits paid out at retirement.) Subjecting all wage and salary income to Social Security taxes would add roughly 10.1 percentage points to the top tax rate. This takes the grand total tax rate on each additional dollar earned in America to about 58%.

Then we have to factor in state income taxes, which on average add after the deductions from the federal income tax roughly another four percentage points to the tax burden. So now on average we are at a tax rate of close to 62%.

May 26, 2011 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats have repeatedly stated they only intend to restore the tax rates that existed during the Clinton years. But after all these taxes on the "rich," we're headed back to the taxes that prevailed under Jimmy Carter, when the highest tax rate was 70%.

Taxes on investment income are also headed way up. Suspending the Bush tax cuts, which is favored by nearly every congressional Democrat, plus a 3.8% investment tax in the ObamaCare bill (which starts in 2014) brings the capital gains tax rate to 23.8% from 15%. The dividend tax would potentially climb to 45% from the current rate of 15%.

Now let's consider how our tax system today compares with the system that was in place in the late 1980s—when the deficit was only about one-quarter as large as a share of GDP as it is now. After the landmark Tax Reform Act of 1986, which closed special-interest loopholes in exchange for top marginal rates of 28%, the highest combined federal-state marginal tax rate was about 33%. Now we may be headed to 62%. You don't have to be Jack Kemp or Arthur Laffer to understand that a 29 percentage point rise in top marginal rates would make America a highly uncompetitive place.

What is particularly worrisome about this trend is the deterioration of the U.S. tax position relative to the rest of our economic rivals. In 1990, the highest individual income tax rate of our major economic trading partners was 51%, while the U.S. was much lower at 33%. It's no wonder that during the 1980s and '90s the U.S. created more than twice as many new jobs as Japan and Western Europe combined.

May 26, 2011 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Mark Twain said that there are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Comparing a marginal federal tax rate to a combination of federal, medicare, payroll and state taxes makes no sense, and labels this article as a propaganda piece, not news.

May 27, 2011 7:54 AM  
Anonymous addressing Robomoron said...

your brain is a sieve, Robert

all these rates will be how much the tax rate will be on the next dollar, reducing the incentive to produce

the economics have been proven again and again

Obama is leading us to mediocre status, beholden to our biggest rival

is you don't believe the rising tide lifts all boats, surely you realize that a drought grounds all boats

May 27, 2011 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

The 2012 GOP candidates include Romney, Cain, Palin, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, Santorum, and Huntsman, some are already in while some are still toying with the idea.

"oh, what a relief

for a minute there I thought there was going to be a powerful new voice for the
**GOP's make-granny-pay-higher-Medicare-premiums-to-cover-more-tax-cuts-for-the-rich** agenda"!!

It's early, but is reporting that Obama beats every one of these 2012 GOP presidential candidates (except they haven't polled Obama vs. Santorum or Cain yet) by a range of 6.5% (vs. Romney) to 21% (vs. Huntsman). The only candidate who fares better against Obama than mandatory-public-health-care-Romney is "none of the above."

The venerable Gallup reports
"Mitt Romney (17%) and Sarah Palin (15%) now lead a smaller field of potential Republican presidential candidates in rank-and-file Republicans' preferences for the party's 2012 nominee. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain essentially tie for third, with Cain registering 8% support in his initial inclusion in Gallup "trial heat" polling. Notably, 22% of Republicans do not have a preference at this point."

And while Anon acts as if the revenue side of the Treasure is off the table to the conversation about fixing our economy, saner minds will prevail IMHO. I am far from alone.

Poll: Best way to fight deficits: Raise taxes on the rich
"By Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country's course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government's runway budget deficits: raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off of Medicare and Medicaid."

Anon may be surprised to learn that same McClatchy poll found 70% of Tea Partiers Don’t Want to Cut Medicare Either

Robert's right of course. Anon's WSJ editorial board member opinion piece is just another blatant Murdock/GOP scare tactic attempt to turn a 4.6% tax hike -- from 35% to 39.6% in the top bracket -- into (cue the spooky music) "a 29 percentage point rise in top marginal rates "

May 27, 2011 9:02 AM  
Anonymous addressing Beatramoron said...

our most productive citizens already pay the highest corporate rates in the world and, to add insult to energy, are taxed again when the taxed profit is distributed to them

this is wonderful for China, India and the rest of the developing world but our economy is sinking

Obama can't win with an unemployment rate so high when the country isn't even in recession

LBJ resigned on March 31, 1968

Obama needs to do so earlier to give Dems a fighting chance

May 27, 2011 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bea's brain is a kaleidoscope on acid

but there's hope

psychiatric therapy is available

May 27, 2011 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"our most productive citizens already pay the highest corporate rates in the world"

Sorry Anon, who obviously has no accounting knowledge, but all "citizens," whether productive or not pay individual taxes, not corporate taxes.

Let's talk for a minute about what it means "to add insult to energy."

"As gas prices continue to rise, so does Big Oil’s influence in Washington, D.C. This week Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing where he bent over backwards to divert blame for the soaring cost of gas from the oil companies. As the leading recipient of oil and gas industry cash on the committee, Issa’s move is hardly surprising.

But Issa isn’t the only one raking in Big Oil’s campaign cash. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who refused to include an end to wasteful oil subsidies in his recent budget bill, has also benefited significantly from the energy industry during his tenure in Congress – receiving $214,250 in contributions from oil and gas interests.

A Public Campaign Action Fund review of April filings with the Federal Election Commission showed that donations by big oil political action committees got the desired result. As Public Campaign Action Fund National Campaigns Director David Donnelly told the Huffington Post, "The pattern doesn’t get more clear than this -- those who sided with Big Oil received campaign contributions. Those who didn’t got nothing. Oil companies walk away with record profits while sticking it to Americans at the pump. But it’s really these politicians who are in the tank."

The Senate is covered too. A release from Public Campaign Action Fund and Oil Change International found that those Senators who blocked a recent vote on legislation to end taxpayer subsidies to oil companies received five times more in industry contributions, on average, than those voting to begin the debate."

If huge energy corporations make enough money to fund political campaigns like they do, they most certainly make enough money to manage their corporations *without* huge tax-payer funded subsidies and they most certainly are able to pay their fair share of income taxes on their record-breaking profits!

May 27, 2011 10:06 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Anon claimed:

“our most productive citizens already pay the highest corporate rates in the world and, to add insult to energy, are taxed again when the taxed profit is distributed to them”

Total BS.

Almost no US corporation pays the highest corporate tax rate. The ones the come close obviously need to fire their accounting department and take better advantage of the loopholes. A number of our big corporations are paying tax rates in the single digits or even getting money back from the government.
39 of the Biggest Corporations Paid a Lower Tax Rate than the Average American:
Putting U.S. Corporate Taxes in Perspective:
“The U.S. corporate tax burden is smaller than average for developed countries.[1] Corporations in 19 of the member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development paid 16.1 percent of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, on average, while corporations in the United States paid 13.4 percent.
Nevertheless, some have argued that U.S. corporate tax rates unduly burden U.S. companies by pointing to the country’s top statutory tax rate, which is 35 percent. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal editorial calling for corporate tax cuts noted that this is the second highest top statutory tax rate among developed countries.[2] While true, this gives the false impression that the corporate tax burden is greater here than in other developed countries. Because the U.S. tax code offers so many deductions, credits, and other mechanisms by which corporations can reduce their taxes, the actual percentage of profits that U.S. corporations pay in taxes — or what analysts refer to as their effective tax rate — is not high, compared to other developed countries.”

May 27, 2011 10:29 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

From 2008:

Most firms pay no income taxes:

“Nearly two-thirds of U.S. companies and 68% of foreign corporations do not pay federal income taxes, according to a congressional report released Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined samples of corporate tax returns filed between 1998 and 2005. In that time period, an annual average of 1.3 million U.S. companies and 39,000 foreign companies doing business in the United States paid no income taxes - despite having a combined $2.5 trillion in revenue.

The study showed that 28% of foreign companies and 25% of U.S. corporations with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in sales paid no federal income taxes in 2005. Those companies totaled a combined $372 billion in sales for the largest foreign companies and $1.1 trillion in revenue for the biggest U.S. companies.”

This has been going on for years. This is from 2002-2003:

The Gap Between Statutory and Real Corporate Tax Rates

Actual taxes paid by consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies now is less than half the statutory rate

“Ostensibly, the U.S. federal tax code requires corporations to pay 35 percent of their profits in income taxes.

But of the 275 Fortune 500 companies that made a profit each year from 2001 to 2003 and for which adequate information to draw conclusions is publicly available, only a small proportion paid federal income taxes anywhere near that statutory 35 percent tax rate. The vast majority paid considerably less.

In fact, in 2002 and 2003, the average effective tax rate for all of these 275 companies was less than half the statutory 35 percent rate. Over the 2001-2003 period, effective tax rates ranged from a low of -59.6 percent for Pepco Holdings to a high of 34.5 percent for CVS.

Over the three-year period, the average effective rate for all 275 companies dropped by a fifth, from 21.4 percent in 2001 to 17.2 percent in 2002-2003.”

You seem to be pissed off about the “double taxation” thing too. Well, I’m double taxed too. My income is taxed before I ever see it (except for what I squirrel away in my 401k) and then when I spend it on anything other than food, it’s taxed again, before I even get the item. Unlike corporations though, I can’t deduct any of my “operational expenses” to lower what I get taxed on.

Have a Fabulous Friday.


May 27, 2011 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"all "citizens," whether productive or not pay individual taxes, not corporate taxes"

ah, that kaleidoscopic reasoning dazzles again

quite a large segment of our population pays no tax at all and some even get "refunds" they never paid in the first place

"corporate" taxes are actually taxes on the individuals that collectively own the corporations

corporations are simply collection of individuals making a contribution to a common endeavour

if profits are made, they are distributed to these individuals and they pay tax on it

taxing the endeavour directly, by a "corporate" tax, reduces the amount that can be distributed and so taxing those individuals again when they receive the distributions, which have already been taxed, is excessive

"If huge energy corporations make enough money to fund political campaigns like they do, they most certainly make enough money to manage their corporations *without* huge tax-payer funded subsidies and they most certainly are able to pay their fair share of income taxes on their record-breaking profits!"

taxing their shareholders when they receive their share of the profits IS their fair share

taxing them twice would be unfair

why do you think they should be taxed twice while you enjoy the bounty of the forest, unmolested by excessive government taxation?

these people are actually creating jobs for America

"Total BS.

Almost no US corporation pays the highest corporate tax rate."

why should any U.S. corporation pay any tax?

their earnings that don't go to productive activity are distributed and taxed to their owners

cynco, your brain is like a wormhole to an empty, cold portion of interstellar space

"Well, I’m double taxed too. My income is taxed before I ever see it (except for what I squirrel away in my 401k) and then when I spend it on anything other than food, it’s taxed again, before I even get the item."

well, if you're bothered by that, vote Republican

"Unlike corporations though, I can’t deduct any of my “operational expenses” to lower what I get taxed on."

actually, the deduction for ordinary and necessary expenses to produce income applies to both individuals and corporations

"Have a Fabulous Friday."

well, I'll try but it's hard when you see people with sieves, kaleidoscopes and wormholes making themselves look stupid

ya just have ta feel sorry for 'em!

May 27, 2011 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Anonymous, darling

LBJ never resigned.

History can be just as difficult as math, I know.

May 30, 2011 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I obviously meant he resigned from the re-election race, you fool.

I should know. I talked him into it.

I said, Lyndon, baby, these cats aren't going to vote for you after you were so inhumane and pulled that beagle's ears!

It's history, robosieve!

May 30, 2011 9:25 PM  

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