2 washingtonblade.com • january 7, 2011
Ebbin, Englin planlegislation to toughenstate’s existing laws
By JOEY DiGUGLIELMOjoeyd@washblade.com
Two members o the Virginia House oDelegates — one gay, one a straight ally— have introduced two anti-bullying billsthat, i successul, will be major accom-plishments in the coming legislative ses-sion considering how dicult activistsand elected ocials there have oundgetting pro-LGBT legislation passed.Del. Adam Ebbin, who represents Virgin-ia’s 49th House District, which includes partso Arlington County, Alexandria and FairaxCounty, has introduced legislation that wouldmake bullying a class one misdemeanor,give victims the right to sue bullies who aresanctioned or ound guilty, provide or expul-sions or bullies and require that any bullyingthat causes injury be reported to the state’sattorney. Ebbin is the only openly gay mem-ber o the House o Delegates.Del. David Englin, who represents thestate’s 45th House District which includesparts o Arlington and Fairax counties andAlexandria, has introduced the “Anti-Bully-ing Responsibility Act,” which would addspecicity to the codes o student conductalready required o state school districts, re-quire schools to have procedures in placeto separate victims rom bullies, make bully-ing intervention a requirement or teachers,require incidents to be reported to superin-tendents and hold administrators respon-sible or their local policies.“No child should be araid to go toschool and every child has a right to asae learning environment,” Englin said.“We need to make sure that school is asae environment or all our children.”Forty-seven states have anti-bullyinglaws in place and 35 states have takenaction against cyber bullying, includingVirginia. Ebbin said these new laws, ipassed, would “add teeth” to existing laws.Ebbin’s bill, or instance, adds sexualorientation and gender identity to thedenition o bullying even though somedistricts, such as his, already have thatspecied. He said having those areasidentied is important because in someparts o the state, educators don’t takeanti-gay bullying seriously.“Even some teachers have been knownto use anti-gay epithets in class,” Ebbinsaid. “This law would make it so that even inareas where there isn’t a strong policy thatmakes it clear that’s not OK, this would.”Ebbin said he was inspired to intro-duce the legislation in part because othe late Christian Taylor, a 16-year-oldreshman at Graton High School in Yor-ktown, Va., who committed suicide lastMay ater enduring months o bullying.He hung himsel in his bedroom. Hismother told reporters they had reportedthe bullying to school administrators andpolice but nothing was done. Police saidthey looked into the situation but turned itover to the school when they determinedno crime had been committed.Ebbin said one bully told Taylor, “youneed to just go commit suicide and get itover with.”Ebbin admitted, considering Virgin-ia’s poor track record o passing LGBT-riendly laws, the sexual orientation andgender identity provisions in his bill couldhinder it but he said it’s still important totry to get it passed that way.Equality Virginia, o course, supportsthe legislation but said its sta and lob-byists have yet to nalize their legislativepriorities or the year. The board o itslobbying arm is meeting this weekend todecide its members’ goals.“We haven’t nalized anything but ob-viously a law protecting LGBT employeesbased on sexual orientation and genderidentity has been on the top o our wishlist or about three years,” said James Par-rish, the organization’s deputy director.Parrish also said provisions or partnerso gay state employees and having sexualorientation and gender identity as protect-ed classes in the state’s human rights actwill likely top the organization’s “wish list.”And i Del. Bob Marshall introducesa bill — which he said he’s drating —to ban gays rom serving in the VirginiaNational Guard, Parrish said deeating itwould be among his group’s top goals.
says his state needs tougher laws to deter bullies. He introduced legislation thisweek that has provisions or gender identity and sexual orientation.
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Virginia officials introduce anti-bullying bills
Valentine’s Day picked forlobbying on both measures
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.firstname.lastname@example.org
The same-sex marriage and transgen-der non-discrimination bills pending inthe Maryland Legislature cleared anotherhurdle last week when the speaker o theHouse o Delegates appointed a majorityo supporters o the two bills to the com-mittees that must rst approve them.House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) had been expect-ed to retain a majority on the House Judi-ciary Committee in avor o the marriageequality bill as he has in past years, anddid so again on Dec. 29.But ocials with Equality Maryland,the statewide LGBT advocacy organiza-tion, were less certain about the makeupo the House Committee on Health andGovernment Operations. That panelhas jurisdiction over a pending bill thatwould ban employment discriminationbased on gender identity and expres-sion, which would protect transgenderpeople. In past years, the panel has nottaken a vote on the transgender bill.Equality Maryland Executive DirectorMorgan Meneses-Sheets said the groupwas delighted with Busch’s decision onDec. 29 to also name at least 13 sup-porters o the transgender measure tothe 23-member Health and GovernmentOperations Committee. The action en-sures that the bill will be reported out ocommittee or an up or down vote in theHouse o Delegates.In early December, a majority o pro-marriage equality members were namedto the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Pro-ceedings Committee, ensuring or therst time that a same-sex marriage mea-sure would clear that key panel andreach the Senate foor or a vote. Up untilnow, the Judicial Proceedings Commit-tee has blocked the marriage bill romcoming to a foor vote.“We want to move the marriage bill rstin the Senate and the gender identity billrst in the House,” Meneses-Sheets saidin discussing the timetable planned orthe bills among a coalition o supporters.She said urther renement o thetimetable or moving both measures wasto be discussed Wednesday in a coner-ence call between Equality Maryland o-cials and all seven members o the leg-islature’s gay and lesbian caucus.Similar to past years, Meneses-Sheetsand others advocating or the two bills be-lieve there appear to be enough votes topass the marriage bill in the House. Sup-porters in the Senate believe they havethe 24 votes needed to pass the marriagebill on an up or down vote but were lesscertain over whether they have the 29votes needed to stop an expected libus-ter by same-sex marriage opponents.“The question is whether we can getcloture to break a libuster,” said Sen.Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County),who supports both the marriage equalityand transgender non-discrimination bills.“That’s the mystery at this point,” he said.Raskin said he was not amiliar enoughwith the positions o his colleagues onthe transgender bill to predict its out-come other than to say he sees supportgrowing or that measure.Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgom-ery County), who is gay, said on Wednes-day he’s more condent in the prospectsor the marriage bill.“I have never been so optimistic aboutgetting this done,” he said. “Today atlunch I sat quietly by mysel with a list othe members o the new Senate goingover again and again in my head wherethe votes are, and I’m eeling really goodright now both or the foor vote and thecloture vote.”Madaleno is among seven out gaysand lesbians now serving in the Mary-land legislature — one in the Senate andsix in the House — who said they willpush hard rom the inside to pass boththe marriage and transgender rights bill.Meneses-Sheets said Equality Mary-land has scheduled a lobby day or Feb.14 on Valentine’s Day, where the grouphopes large numbers o LGBT Mary-
Marriage, trans bills get boost in Md. House
haspledged to sign a marriage equality bill ithe legislature can pass it. Lawmakers andactivists are increasingly optimistic it willhappen this year.
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