There are several reasons why EQMD supports Question 4. One centers on our mission—to work for equality for all LGBT Marylanders, including undocumented immigrant LGBT students. These individuals are a segment of the LGBT community that many people never think about. Many of them came to the United States as children where they had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. On top of everything, they also had to come to terms with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Now, most LGBT folks in Maryland did not have to confront the challenges of a new language and culture, but all of us can identify with the challenges of sharing our lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identities with our families and friends. We know how difficult the coming out process can be, in our own experiences, and in the experiences of others we care about. Many incredible undocumented immigrants who EQMD is working with did exactly that. They live openly as LGBT, even though they lack the legal protections that come with documented immigration status.
Another reason EQMD supports The Dream Act is to show solidarity with Maryland's immigrant communities and the organizations that serve them. For example, the immigrant advocacy organization CASA of Maryland, has publically, consistently, and unapologetically supported LGBT equality. Further, polls have shown that a majority of Latinos in Maryland support Question 6 (Civil Marriage Protection Act) and view marriage equality as an issue of fairness. EQMD views the Dream Act the same way; it is an issue of fairness.
To help you understand why we view Question 4 as one of fairness, let me share the details of The Dream Act:
If voters approve Question 4 in November, it would allow Maryland's undocumented immigrants who graduate high school the accessibility to pay in-state tuition at the state's public universities, but only if they satisfy some pretty formidable criteria. One, their parents must have filed three or more years of income tax returns. Second, students must first go to a community college where they must earn 60 credits or an associate's degree. Third, students must be admitted to a Maryland public university, having met all academic requirements for admission. Thus, only after having established a history of filing tax returns, studying at a community college, and academically earning admission to a four-year college would an undocumented student be afforded the opportunity to pay in-state tuition. And, because undocumented transfer students would count as non-residents, even though they pay in-state rates, they would not compete for college slots with other qualified Maryland resident students.
Allowing Maryland's undocumented students, including those who are LGBT, to pay in-state tuition is the right and fair thing to do; it is why Equality Maryland supports these students and urges the larger LGBT community to do the same. Stand with us and this segment of our community by voting for Question 4 on Nov. 6.