TALKING TO FAMILY: Maryland Black Family Alliance Supports Equality

Guest Blogger: Lea Gilmore

Marriage is a fundamental right. Marriage is love. Love is universal.

The Maryland Black Family Alliance (MBFA) is an alliance African American straight-allies who are professors, elected officials, pastors, medical professionals, social workers, artists, college students, engineers, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers and more who dementedly believe in fairness, justice and equality for all families. Further, we adamantly believe that love and commitment are the essence of family and that family is the foundation of strong Black communities. Therefore, we seek to ensure that all Black families -- including those headed by lesbians and gay men -- have the full protection of the law.

MBFA recognizes that one cannot discuss fairness and equality without acknowledging the deep history of oppressions, MBFA recognizes itself as a holistic organization that understands the intersection of racial justice and marriage equality. We understand and never diminish the significance of race and its meanings in our society. In our outreach and advocacy, we collaborate with and seek to educate those who need a greater understanding of civil marriage and marriage equality, but also work within the greater LGBT community to facilitate a deeper understanding of the many dynamics that inform the opinions and social mores of communities of color, in particular Maryland's Black community.

As we continue to acknowledge and celebrate the 8oth birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we embrace his words – injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
As African Americans, we know that discrimination is wrong and that it damages us all when we exclude any group of Americans from the protections that other Americans enjoy. Therefore, with an integrity inspired by our past, and as we commemorate this Freedom to Marry Week, we seek fairness, justice and equality for all families.

Lea Gilmore is program director of the Maryland Black Family Association. She and her husband have long been allies for LGBT rights.

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O’Malley Seeks Wider Benefits

Washington Post
February 3, 2009
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced yesterday the introduction of a proposal that would extend health insurance protections to domestic partners of gay and lesbian state employees. The plan is expected to be approved by Md.'s legislative committee. [Link]

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‘It’s hard to endure’

Washington Blade
September 12, 2008
One year after Maryland’s high court upheld a law banning gay and lesbian couples' marriages, gay couples remain angry, yet many are confident that their dream is within reach. Lisa Polyak, who lives in Baltimore with her partner, Gita Deane, and their two children, said she still feels the sting of the court ruling 12 months later. “I think it’s fair to say we’re still extremely saddened by the court’s action, and I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that will leave us for a long time since it continues to wound our ability to take care of our family,” she said. [Link]

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Equality Maryland releases grades for state lawmakers

Washington Blade
August 29, 2008
The scorecards were designed to help legislators better address the needs of their district and help constituents decide who to vote for at reelection time and who to back with financial support.“We’re getting ready for 2010 when they are all up for reelection, so we decided to start early, and let them know that we’re really watching,” Carrie Evans, policy director for the organization, said. [Link]

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In Maryland, Less Bingo, More Health Coverage Start Today

Washington Post
July 1, 2008
Gay and lesbian couples will have new rights, as 189 laws take effect in Maryland. (Link)

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EDITORIAL: Untying the Not

Baltimore Sun
May 18, 2008

The Baltimore Sun backs the California marriage ruling and points out that the Maryland court's decision should have done the same, but it didn’t, and now the legislature should step in. (Link)

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From the altar, a vow of protest

Baltimore Sun
March 31, 2008
A Baltimore rabbi joined a small but growing band of clergy who have decided that they won't sign any marriage licenses as agents of the state until it allows gays and lesbians to marry. Some rabbis and ministers in states including Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan and Connecticut have told their congregants that when it comes to weddings they are in the business of religious ceremonies - only - and they have redirected couples to the local courthouse for the paperwork. [Link]

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Geography of taxes

Washington Blade
March 28, 2008
Regardless of your political affiliation, one debate that usually inflames passions in the Washington Metro Area is whether it’s best to live in D.C, Virginia or Maryland. The question becomes more important if you are a same-sex couple. For example, let’s say you’ve saved $1 million in your retirement account, which you planned to leave to your partner at death. In which jurisdiction would the taxes be the lowest on your estate: D.C., Virginia or Maryland? If you said D.C., you’d be wrong. Maryland? No, guess again. The answer is Virginia. Yep, that’s right, the anti-gay Commonwealth. [link]

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Baltimore City Council backs equality

The Advocate
March 20, 2008
The Baltimore city council became the fourth Maryland jurisdiction to pass a resolution supporting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The resolution was passed by a 9-3-3 vote on Monday. [Link]

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MD lawmakers urged to avoid civil union ‘disaster’

Washington Blade
March 7, 2008
Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, told Maryland legislators, “the New Jersey civil union law is a disaster. It is not working like marriage. It is proving that civil unions are no compromise.” (Link)

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