Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why HB 235 Is An Unjust Law

To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.'

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr 'Letter From Birmingham City Jail, 1963
I've called HB 235 an unjust law.   You may be asking yourself what's the difference between a just law, an unjust law and why is HB 235, the Maryland GINDA bill an unjust law? 
The opening quote I started the post with by Dr. King neatly summarizes what an unjust law is.  The following quote by the Drum Major For Justice is what a just law is: 
A just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself."
HB 235 is an unjust law because the majority cis population in Maryland would not only NOT follow it themselves, but would rebel if a similar law they knew with absolute certainty didn't protect their civil rights were imposed on them in the manner that GINDA is being forced on the trans community. 
Based on the 2001 law they passed for themselves that has public accommodations language in it that they cut transpeople out of back in the day, I would submit that the GL community of Maryland would not be satisfied to willingly follow GINDA either.
HB 235's fatal flaw is that because of the missing P/A language, it will not protect us from discrimination as  Equality Maryland (who wrote it) and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (the legislator who sponsored it) claim it will do.   Despite the protestations of EQ MD, Del. Melnyk and its supporters, HB 235 will not protect the rights of the trans people of the state, much less give us the legal tools to fight any discrimination that occurs against us if it passes at the same level of civil rights coverage that cis residents of Maryland get.
They need to stop pretending that this unjust trans rights bill will meet those parameters.   If it does, are you gay and lesbian EQ Maryland people willing to remove public accommodations language for the bill you passed for yourselves in 2001?  
Didn't think so.   But you want transpeople in the Free State to settle for civil rights 'crumbs' in the name of 'incremental progress'..
The Maryland trans community that will be negatively affected by HB 235 has repeatedly asked for public accommodations language to be amended into it.   EQ MD and Del. Pena-Melnyk have obstinately balked at doing so.  They continue to refuse to comply with that reasonable request in light of increasing legal evidence bolstering the trans community's position on the bill.    
Their refusal to do so raises questions in the minds of the trans community of Maryland, the nation and our social justice minded allies as to why a legislator and an organization that purports to be an ally to trans people continue to push a flawed bill.   
Their insistence on doing so means that Equality Maryland has forfeited the moral high ground they had going into this legislative session. In addition, the EQ Maryland forces are using immoral tactics, obfuscation, silencing of trans people's voices sounding the alarm about their reprehensible behavior and outright deception in order to gain support for this unjust law
Can Equality Maryland, Morgan Menenses-Sheets and Del Pena-Melnyk look themselves in the mirror and say with a straight face that HB 235 uplifts the human personalities of Maryland's long suffering trans people?
Based on the contentious debate occurring over this bill, I would submit the answer to that question would be no.  The sad part is that it won't take much to turn this unjust law into a just one.   All they have to do is amend the bill.    
The question at this point is will they do so? 

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