Opponents Fail to Derail FAMA

The attempt to gather 18,579 valid signatures to overturn the Fairness For All Marylanders Act (FAMA) failed by 1,000 as proponents of the referendum were unable to secure the requisite amount by the May 31 deadline. FAMA updates Maryland’s existing anti-discrimination law to include transgender people by providing protections in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations on the basis of gender identity.

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties, as well as the city of Hyattsville, Md. have such laws already in place. On October 1, when FAMA takes effect, Maryland will join 17 other states and Puerto Rico with similar protections.

Shortly after passage, Delegate Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, who leads the group MDPetitions.com promised to overturn the law through Maryland’s referendum process by obtaining the required number of signatures to place the matter before voters in November. Opponents of the measure dubbed it “the bathroom bill” by claiming the law would allow sexual predators to invade the private spaces of women, such as restrooms and locker rooms by putting on dresses and commit sexual offenses. The argument failed to convince a sufficient number of voters to sign the petitions.

Activists who pushed for enactment of FAMA conducted a vigil outside the Secretary of State’s offices in Annapolis the night of May 31 awaiting Parrott and the needed signatures, but they did not arrive by the midnight deadline. The group included Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, Senator Rich Madaleno, D-Montgomery, who introduced the bill SB212 in the Senate, and Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City, who introduced the bill in the House of Delegates and other activists.

“We finally get to really celebrate this momentous achievement! Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who worked diligently over the last six weeks to educate voters on this law,” Evans said in a statement.

Few Leads in Murder of Trans Woman

While there was still euphoria following the passage of a statewide law to ban discrimination based on gender identity and the failed effort to overturn it, a stark reality set in as the body of a transgender woman was discovered in a field near a post office in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore.

According to Acting Captain J. Eric Kowalczyk, a spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department and Director of the Media Relations Section, “Officers were called at about 6:30 AM on June 3 to the 1400 block of Fillmore St. for a report of a body. It took some time but officers were able to identify the body as that of Kandy (a.k.a. Ricky Carlos Hall 3/27/74). Detectives are looking into the facts and circumstances around the incident and are asking anyone with information to call Homicide at 410-396-2100 or they can call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LockUp and remain anonymous.”

With the investigation underway, it appears this will be a challenging case to solve. Police do not know how the homicide occurred; they are awaiting the medical examiner to perform an autopsy.

A community meeting organized by Equality Maryland and FreeState Legal was held on June 6 at the Chase Brexton Community Meeting Room where Kowalczyk was the principal speaker. Over 30 people attended with several representing various advocacy groups as well as members of the Baltimore Police Commissioner’s LGBT Advisory Council. Also on hand was Derrick Smith of Annapolis, who claimed he grew up with Hall. The community members expressed concerns about the relations between the Baltimore Police Department and the transgender community.

Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland and a member of the advisory board, introduced Kowalczyk explaining, “We don’t know the motive. But we must stand together to make our city safer.”

Kowalczyk provided a status of the case but indicated there were few, if any, leads at this point. Detectives have not determined a motive. He emphasized repeatedly that no assumptions should be made as to motive unless and until the investigation has uncovered one. Kowalczyk stressed, “This case will not be solved without community help.” He made sure the attendees had the phone numbers shown above and urged them to spread the word.

The police need help in solving the murder of Kandy Hall. “It is always heartbreaking when we lose a member of the LGBT community,” Evans said. “I hope that attendees witnessed the efforts the BPD are making to solve Kandy’s murder and will come forward with any information.”

Again, anyone with information should call Homicide at 410-396-2100 or call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LockUp and remain anonymous.

Gay Life July 2014

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