Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Equality Maryland Does A Walkback - Sort Of - On Giannetti (SEN-21)

The following was forwarded to me by Crablaw/Free State Politics reader "B", for which many thanks. From Equality Maryland (not apparent to date on website):
Equality Maryland PAC has made the decision to endorse Jim Rosapepe in the
General Election as our choice for the next senator in District 21.
Equality Maryland PAC endorsed Sen. Giannetti in the primary, based upon his
opposition to a constitutional amendment banning equal marriage rights for
same-sex couples, his solid voting record on LGBT issues, and his
sponsorship and stewardship of a bill to add sexual orientation and gender
identity to the state's existing hate crimes statute.

In recent days, Sen. Giannetti announced that he is becoming a Republican.
Equality Maryland is a non-partisan organization that appreciates allies
from all political perspectives. However, it appears that the LGBT
community is being used as a political pawn and wedge issue in the District
21 race by members of the Republican Party who are backing Sen. Giannetti.

Sen. Giannetti was recruited by rabidly anti-gay State Senator Alex Mooney
of Frederick. Another anti-gay senator, Nancy Jacobs of Harford County,
told the Baltimore Sun that "He's so much in line with a lot of what we
believe in." John Stafford, the Republican Primary winner in District 21,
told the Baltimore Sun that he declined the nomination in favor of John,
"noting Giannetti's credentials as an opponent of abortion and gay

Equality Maryland PAC is deeply troubled when minority groups are used as
political footballs to garner votes. Attacks on LGBT Americans continue
unabated across the country and must be condemned.

Equality Maryland PAC has asked Sen. Giannetti to reiterate his opposition
to writing discrimination into the Maryland Constitution and to publicly
condemn the attacks on LGBT Marylanders by his Republican supporters. He
has failed to do so, calling into question our trust in his support of
fairness and justice.

We believe that former delegate Jim Rosapepe will be a solid ally of the
LGBT community. A former U.S. ambassador to Romania, Rosapepe was a friend
to ACCEPT, the first Romanian non-governmental organisation established to
defend and promotes LGBT rights at the national level in that country. He
is opposed to constitutional amendments to ban marriage for same-sex
couples, and supports domestic partner benefits for state employees, a
statewide transgender anti-discrimination law, and an equal benefits in
state contracts law. For these reasons, Equality Maryland PAC is endorsing
Jim Rosapepe for State Senate in District 21. We look forward to working
with him next January.
Several thoughts.

1) Equality Maryland's website still has John Giannetti as an endorsed candidate as of this date October 4, to wit:

Senator Ida Ruben for re-election: www.senatoridaruben.com
Delegate Gareth Murray for re-election: www.friendsofgarethemurray.com
Delegate Sheila Hixson for re-election: www.sheilahixson.us
Heather Mizeur for Delegate (open seat): www.heathermizeur.com
Tom Hucker for Delegate (open seat): www.tomhucker.org

Senator John Giannetti for re-election: www.johngiannetti.com
Delegate Barbara Frush for re-election
Delegate Brian Moe for re-election
Ben Barnes for Delegate: www.votebenbarnes.com
So not only has Giannetti "punk'd" Equality Maryland into an endorsement despite his well-known Republican-grade opposition to marital equality, but Equality Maryland's own website is punking Equality Maryland. Brilliant.

2) Endorsing the superior candidate only after endorsing the inferior if not outright destructive endorsee has "punk'd" you, only proves your organization's irrelevance. Jim Rosapepe has no reason to return Equality Maryland's phone calls, ever, as Equality Maryland directed (and now still directs on its website!) its supporters to fund Rosapepe's bitter rival. Amateur hour. Ditto Jamie Raskin, who is probably asking himself why he needs friends like Equality Maryland. Ah - he doesn't, he is MORE pro-equality than Equality Maryland, far more passionate and effective.

3) A more general point. I will come out of the closet now as a straight non-transgendered man. Yes, I had to tell my mother, she was okay with it. Especially once she learned that it would not stop me from bringing her grandchildren.

Unlike probably 90% of non-GLBT men, I am actively pro-same sex marriage. My cousin married her wife up on top of a mountain in New Mexico a few years ago. My aunt and uncle disapproved and shunned her for some time. I did not attend, but that was a financial matter when I was flat broke. The State of New Mexico does not recognize their union. My best man at my wedding was an HIV+ gay man who, during a break in a political convention, took me for a cultural experience in an Eagle leather bar. (Mildly freaky, but a lot less so than I expected.) My first business partners were a gay couple in East Baltimore. My two closest friends from college are a gay man and a bisexual man. To me, GLBT identity is not so much something to celebrate as, well, something ordinary and, if anything, maybe boring. Yawn.

But I don't have a real stake in GLBT life. My livelihood, my health insurance, my children's welfare, my mortgage note cannot be affected directly by the effects of public policy on the GLBT community. So I feel a little like some kind of half-assed amateur keyboarding Jack Greenberg, or maybe the naive college student in the film Malcolm X.

Who's Jack Greenberg? The non-black man who once headed the NAACP. Many black leaders thought that a white man should not be the visible head of a black civil rights organization, that it did not give the organization the sense of dignity, pride and mission that it needed. Greenberg was not a bad man or a bad leader, but he had no stake.

In Malcolm X, a blond college student walked up to Malcolm X and asked him what she could do to assist his mission which she greatly respected. Malcolm X, portrayed brilliantly by Denzel Washington, looked at her and coolly replied "Nothing" and walked away.

Moral: breeders like me cannot lead this war. Most of us don't want to. I don't want to, it's not my issue. And it shouldn't be, I lack the required moral stake. Yet who in the GLBT community is cracking heads on this? Who will take the blame for punishing Jamie Raskin - a married man with kids - for being an amazing, forceful friend when endorsee Ida Ruben did not care, was not effective and lost by 30 points? Who will take responsibility for getting played the fool by a Republican in Democratic clothing, whose opponent Jim Rosapepe Equality Maryland had a solid record for equality in multiple countries but still got (and on the website, gets!) backhanded!?

Everyone screws up. I screw up. But I don't expect a free pass for a felony level screw-up. If I commit legal malpractice, I expect to be fired, grieved, sanctioned and sued. Where does the buck stop? Who will turn in a resignation at Equality Maryland over this sort of incompetence? At a minimum, there should be an admission of error, an act of contrition, an effort to heal the damage inflicted and preventive steps (staff changes, continuing education for the decision makers, better investment in political intelligence, etc.) If not now, then late in the second week of November.

If you think that this is unfair, that Equality Maryland has handled these matters with professional competence, feel free to state your case in the comments.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home