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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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From: The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC)
Contact Person: Robyn Walters, Seattle Washington
Chair: Vanessa Edwards Foster; Houston, Texas
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 832-483-9901



The Baltimore City Council voted 18-0 Monday night, November 25, 2002, to amend the city ordinances to include "gender identity or _expression" as a protected category city's human rights code. Mayor Martin O'Malley is expected to sign the bill into law soon. Baltimore now becomes the 53rd jurisdiction to extend non-discrimination coverage to its transgendered citizens.

With the unanimous agreement of the City Council's members, the enactment of bill #02-0857 makes Baltimore the first jurisdiction in Maryland to provide non-discrimination for transgenders, intersexed and others who don't conform to gender stereotypes. The new legislation reportedly covers employment, housing and public accommodations.

"Tonight's vote is a great victory for the Baltimore transgender community," said Jean-Michel Brevelle, Interim Director for
Free State Justice.

"This is a glorious day!" said Terry Sapp, a local psychologist who also worked on the effort to pass the ordinance. "The City of Baltimore and its Mayor have finally recognized the injustice and prejudice faced by its transgendered citizens," he added. "For the first time in this city's history, transgendered men and women are no longer second-class citizens."

The success came from the combined effort of Free State Justice Committee (FSJC), and its transgendered subcommittee
Marylanders Advocating Toward Transgender Equal Rights (MATTER) and others they invited into the process. Early on,
the group brought in Mara Keisling from Pennsylvania Gender Right Coalition (PaGRC), and Donna Cartwright from Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ), to talk confer with local activists and plan the campaign to seek a city-wide non-discrimination bill.

The group later hired Brevelle with a grant from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to organize the effort, and additionally brought in Lisa Mottet of the National Gay &Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) to draft the language and oversee the process, and received periodic help from HRC's Kylar Broadus and Michael Crawford.

It's a first step back from early 2001, when the state's transgender community suffered a bitter emotional defeat. The state
legislature enacted a civil rights bill covering sexual orientation during the session. In the statewide legislative negotiations in 1999, the gender identity portion was left on the cutting room floor; and in the 2001 session, it was never considered for re-addition.

The state civil rights bill's eventual success drew harsh condemnation from the transgender community in Maryland and created a chasm between the transgender community, and the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities. The raw feelings and barbed rhetoric on both sides of the rift took time to calm. But Monday night's vote in the Baltimore City Council chambers was the initial component of what is hoped to be a march towards equality.

"[The equal rights ordinance] represents the first step in a long road back for transgender people in Maryland," said Donna Cartwright of GRAANJ, "We suffered a crushing defeat in 2001 when the state legislature enacted a non-inclusive, gay/lesbian/bisexual-only civil rights bill," added Cartwright, now a resident of Baltimore. "Tonight's action, while a huge
step forward, is only the first step."

Unfortunately, with Governor-elect Robert Ehrlich, a conservative Republican, darker days are predicted for the equality
fight. While it's likely that a cold shoulder may be all the transgender community can expect from the Maryland state legislature in the years to come, there's hope to be taken from this first victory in Baltimore.

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Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a §501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.



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