Equality. The term has evolved over time to encompass many different things–religious equality, racial equality, gender equality, and more recently, equality for LGBT citizens. I personally am very proud to see how far we have come as a society to accept people who are “different” from us. However the fact remains that there is still room for improvement–a lot of improvement. Although people may not be discriminated as heavily as before based on race or religion, the Maryland State government is yet to guarantee equal rights and protection for all citizens, especially LGBT citizens.
It is time for a change. It is time that we stop evaluating people based on characteristics they cannot control and give everyone the opportunities they deserve. In classrooms, we often learn how the government has had a significantly positive impact on the achievement of this goal, and although its wheels may be (very) slow, our legislature has (for the most part) made decisions in the right direction. However, after a recent turn of events, I am beginning to become a little more skeptical.
Earlier this year, Republican Larry Hogan was elected governor of the mostly Democratic Maryland. In one of his first acts after taking office, Governor Hogan withdrew a few proposals that previous governor Martin O’Malley had submitted by the end of his term. One of the proposals he held back was the regulation that would have banned Medicaid from discriminating against people in Maryland on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In response to perplexities, in a recent press conference, Governor Hogan exclaimed that “We didn’t like the fact that [O’Malley] was trying to push these things through at the last minute. We’re going to make sure our new … team throughout government reviews every one of these regulations to make sure which direction we should head.”
Hogan’s team must have reviewed the proposals fairly quickly because about a week later, Hogan issued a second order for executive branch employees to “adhere to all applicable laws and regulations that provide equal opportunity for all Marylanders” regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity.” Hogan however still has not yet passed the Medicaid regulation.
I can’t help but wonder whether this was a genuine move to make sure proper legislation was being passed, or an actual attempt to reverse the progress that has been made to promote equal opportunities and rights for LGBT citizens. I am not pointing fingers at anyone (yet), but I am still interested to see how Hogan lives up to his spoken intention “to be inclusive and respectful to the rights of all Marylanders.” Passing the Medicaid regulation amendment would really help his case.
The LGBT community and advocacy groups of Maryland are very strong, as many young people have taken leadership roles in organizations such as Equality Maryland and Marylanders for Marriage Equality. Governor Hogan will have a hard time avoiding LGBT equality because that is what his people want. Equal opportunity for rights for ALL people, no matter what we identify as. No matter what Governor Hogan’s agenda is, it will not work well with me and other LGBT supporters if it includes more withdrawn amendments. Our governor has to respond to us and respect our wishes.
Article by the MoCo Student Opinions Editor Deepti Agnihotri of Poolesville High School