Rundown, Queer 411: Maryland’s First Lady Apologizes, Utah Anti-Discrimination Bill + Group Moves to Appeal SB48 in CA

An LGBT activist’s view of entertainment and world news.

As an LGBT activist, the promotion of queer rights is #1 on my homosexual agenda. This weekly column serves as a forum for me to comment on issues and causes currently affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. My “rundown” of these topics is from the perspective of an LGBT activist; it is my goal that by keeping our community informed, we can all help contribute to the battle for equality.

Maryland’s First Lady Apologizes
Maryland’s First Lady may have unintentionally put the marriage equality bill at risk of passing because of something she said at a gathering of LGBT activists in Baltimore. The Associated Press reports that Katie O’Malley made a comment to attendees this past week at the Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference that “cowards” had prevented a marriage equality bill from passing during the last legislative session. She has since issued an apology, saying she got carried away. But some lawmakers told the AP that her words might have done irreparable damage.   “Obviously, they think it’s hurt them too,” Republican delegate Don Dwyer told the AP. “Otherwise, she wouldn’t have issued a retraction.” But Democratic senator Nathaniel McFadden predicted, “individuals will vote their conscience,” not in reaction the First Lady’s comment.

Utah Anti-Discrimination Bill
Utah businesses, including, eBay, and 1-800-Contacts, called on state lawmakers this week to pass an anti-discrimination law that prevents employers from firing anyone just because they are gay. The lack of guaranteed protection from discrimination creates the perception among potential LGBT employees that they aren’t safe or welcomed in Utah, according to news reports from a forum held at the state capitol. Leaders from the businesses, which each have large employee bases in the state, were taking part in an event sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber — which included implementing the new law in its 2012 Policy Guide, released this week.  But not all the lawmakers in the audience were immediately receptive to the message.  “You are, in fact, picking a special activity and creating a class of people out of that,” said Scott Jenkins, the Senate majority leader, according to video from Fox 13 News. “I can’t fire somebody now because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. I don’t know what that is, that’s the point. I don’t know what it is. And unless they announce it or tell me about it or bring it on to me or put it on their job application, or some way informs me of it, I don’t even know what that is.” State senator Ben McAdams, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, is sponsoring the anti-discrimination bill, which is modeled after an ordinance passed in Salt Lake City and then emulated by 11 other local governments in Utah.

Hate Group Moves to Appeal SB48

An effort to repeal the California law that mandates the teaching of historical contributions by LGBT people moves closer to qualifying for the ballot as opponents now have until June to collect half a million signatures.  The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday it is allowing the effort against SB48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act, to advance. The antigay Traditional Values Coalition now has until June 25 to collect the 504,760 petition signatures needed to get the issue on the November ballot. There’s at least one other right-wing effort to do away with SB48. The bill, passed after a rash of LGBT youth suicides, is seen as a way to ensure that students know the contributions of people like Harvey Milk and Ellen DeGeneres.

That’s all folks and I hope you tune in next week!

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