CommunityMy FDL

Incremental Human rights then and now a Broken Promise to broken dreams

Cross posted from planetransgender by kelli(no sock puppet) Busey

I just finished a call with Morgan Meneses-Sheets executive director of Equality Maryland. This was one exhausting and frustrating hour beginning with a conversation and ending in argument.

She will not be convinced Maryland’s HB235 without public accommodations provisions is a bad thing. She stated that transgender people can gain equality incrementally comparing our need to use public facilities of human necessity to the incremental want to move from civil unions to full marriage equality.

Published by Dana LaRocca at Baltimore OUTLoud that puts things into perspective.

“Lessons from Black History”.

Written by  Dana LaRocca

“Gloria Richardson’s role in the struggle for black equality is a story of conscience. In the 1960’s white liberals and self-proclaimed leaders crafted a bill leaving her county, Dorchester, exempt from laws banning discrimination in public places. Gloria Richardson organized an adult run affiliate of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC).

At stake was a referendum that if passed would have ended discrimination in public accommodations in Cambridge, Maryland. Ms. Richardson and CNAC agreed that such discrimination was wrong; what they did not concede was the right of a handful of liberals and youth activists to put their civil rights up for auction. In a counterintuitive move she went door to door telling her neighbors and friends not to vote.

So outraged is the transgender community that some have also reacted in what could be perceived as negative way publishing the undecided legislators phone numbers and asking transpeeps to call them and ask they not vote for the marriage bill until a bill is in the house including public accommodations.

During my conversation with Morgan Meneses-Sheets I asked her ‘are transgender people not of equal value to all other minorities? She agreed with me we are but……

The referendum failed. The Cambridge riots took their place in that grand stratagem known as the civil rights movement.

My pleading fell on deaf ears. She fails to place the transgender struggle for equality on the same level as the black struggle years past.

In 1961 Ambassador Adam Malick Sow of the Republic of Chad was denied service at a restaurant as he traveled through Maryland to meet President Kennedy. Nine incidents involving African diplomats had recently embarrassed Maryland and angered the international community. Compromise in the General Assembly left eleven counties untouched by public accommodations legislation.

Gay life February 2, 2011 “Lynda Dee, lawyer and executive director of AIDS Action Baltimore, urges supporters of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to “have a back-up plan. Sometimes you have to compromise.”

“One such compromise could look promising to those weary of the marriage equality debate. State Senator Allan Kittleman (R-9) has stated he will sponsor legislation legalizing civil unions in Maryland. This bill would “preserve the sanctity of marriage” and give same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of a marriage-but without the dreaded “m” word.”

“Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, quickly responded to this announcement. It’s marriage or bust. We are not going to accept anything less.”

When questioned about the prospects of a transgender bill including public accommodations passing the House lead sponsor of the current bill striped of public accommodations bill HB235 responded “This is the year for gender identity and marriage equality. Legislative leaders have been educated. They are messaging affirmatively in the press,” declares Polyak. She remains optimistic about the chances for both bills in the upcoming General Assembly and ends with a call to action for our community.

Morgan Meneses-Sheets was indeed uncompromising about full marriage equality so she bargained away our dignity instead.

“Black citizens were not consulted in making the back room deal. Some black incrementalists, as they were called then, were pushed in front of the camera in a sixties version of spin control.”

See the rest of the best of this article at

Personally I believe that there are many parallels to be drawn. The transgender community has not consulted past a close knit group by Equality Marrland. Equality Maryland then used those voices in lobbying the house which is resulting in outrage from the trans community.

Morgan Meneses-Sheets is refusing to listen to our community and in pressing forward with our repression which undoubtedly will result in protests and perhaps more.

History replayed.

This is in so many ways a replay of the events leading to the Cambridge riots forty years ago.  

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