The LGBTQ+ community is under attack; Howard County has PFLAG

Until Trump, the LGBTQ+ community was making real strides in public acceptance and legal support for their rights. Two thirds of Americans endorse same-sex marriages, according to the latest Gallup poll. But the Trump administration has been dismissive of marriage equality and is attempting to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

I’ve had many gay and transgender friends and family throughout my life. I’ve seen up close the inevitable struggle that folks who are gay or transgender endure to find acceptance in a world full of bigotry.

It’s a time of immense peril for the LGBTQ+ community, but also one of enormous possibility. All of us “coming out” with public support for this minority would go a long ways to bringing our country, our families together. This post is all about the threats to the LGBTQ+ community, and their cause for celebration.

For my part, I was just elected Treasurer of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, “the extended family of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Harry Schwarz

Obama Gave Us Gay Marriage, Trump The Honeymoon From Hell [EXCERPTS]

by Tim Teeman (Daily Beast), October 4, 2018

But ever since President Donald Trump’s election, the victory and meaning of marriage equality—so hard fought, and a brilliant achievement­­­­­­­­—has become imperiled.

Those opposed to LGBT equality have a new drum to march behind: religious liberty.  The new guard at the White House, with Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions [now Whittaker?] at their ideological forefront, have chosen an insidious scythe to chop away at not just marriage equality but also other equality and anti-discrimination measures and protections.

(by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

‘Religious liberty,’ as evidenced in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, posits that it is fine to not marry gay people, or serve them in shops, or afford them equality of treatment when it comes to adoption and fostering if you, as a religious person, disapprove of them.

The attacks on LGBT people, using “religious liberty,” has coincided with a period of particular trans-focused prejudice. President Trump has announced his determination to ban trans people from serving in the military. States like Texas have tried to pass ‘bathroom bans’ (and in Texas’ case will possibly try once more after failing the first time), which seek to regulate where trans people can and cannot use toilets in public.

LGBTQ Victory Fund

Washington, DC – The Rainbow Wave of openly LGBTQ candidates who won elections nationwide included an impressive number of historic firsts and groundbreaking victories at the state legislative level [winners in Maryland are below]. As of November 7th, at 1:00pm ET, 84 openly LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidates won seats across 36 states.

“The rainbow wave touched down in state capitals throughout the country on Election Day – with an astounding number of out LGBTQ candidates shattering long-standing political barriers and becoming historic firsts,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We elected state legislative candidates in three states that had never elected openly LGBTQ state legislators before, tripled the number of out trans state legislators, and elected LGBTQ women and people of color in key states.”

“While our attention is often focused on Donald Trump and Congress, it is in our state legislatures where the most horrific attacks on LGBTQ equality are occurring. But personal relationships matter in these legislative chambers and we know out LGBTQ officials significantly influence the votes of their colleagues on equality issues. Voters chose to send out candidates to their state legislatures – and these leaders will be game changers.”

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County,
The extended family of the LGBTQ+ community

The mission of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County is to support parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer children. We welcome all people – gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and queer – as well as their families and friends. Together, we support each other, educate the broader community and advocate for equality.

PFLAG families, friends and allies work together with those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ to provide opportunities for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity. PFLAG acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at the Riverdale Independence Day Parade, 2012 (from PFLAG facebook page)

PFLAG is a national nonprofit organization with thousands of members and supporters and more than 400 chapters across the United States. This vast grassroots network is cultivated, resourced and serviced by the PFLAG National Office, located in Washington, D.C., the national Board of Directors and 13 Regional Directors.

Howard’s LGBTQ groups planning first Pride parade, community outreach [EXCERPT]

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times ) June 20, 2018

Advocates, led by the county’s chapter of the LGBT group PFLAG, short for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, hope to see [their] work culminate on the Columbia lakefront next June in the county’s first pride festival.

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County at Baltimore Pride Day (photo by Steve Charing, Steve Charing OUTspoken)

Set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, often viewed as a catalyst in the movement for LGBT rights, the festival is scheduled for June 28 [2019] with the theme “Remember, Resist and Rejoice.”

“Howard County [is] such a population center for the state but we don’t have an event to highlight the diversity we supposedly treasure here,” said Jumel Howard, vice president of Howard County’s PFLAG chapter who is leading plans for the festival. “This is a great way to not just show how much we care for the LGBT community [but] to educate the community on some of the issues that affect the LGBT community.”

Queens and Cocktails, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County annual fundraising event. The Queens, with PFLAG Steering Committee members June Howard and Sue Garner (from the PFLAG website)

Howard County’s pride fest joins a growing number of festivals in the area. Washington, D.C., Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Frederick County all have or will hold pride events during the year.

And this Essay by a Local Blogger . . . .

Events: Transgender Day of Remembrance Service at UUCC [EXCERPT]
by Colleen Morgenthau (RoCo in HoCo), November 22, 2018

Bruce was gay, of course, but there’s overlap in the experiences of gayness and trans-ness. I absolutely consider him to be someone who was murdered for being who he was. I watched him plunge into a depression so deep that he took his own life, and the reason he did so is because he thought his loved ones would reject him if they knew he was gay. He murdered himself, pretty much to prevent the pain of having his soul murdered by a cruel society.

In the absolute greatest irony of his whole situation, I’m sure that eventually his parents would have embraced him totally for who he was. They, like my parents and Robert’s parents, were members of the Conservative Jewish tradition, but their politics were very liberal. They had gay friends, and were vocal about being pro-gay rights. But Bruce knew, in his eminently wise way, that when it comes to their own child even the most open-minded thinkers might struggle with the idea that their son was different. He couldn’t risk it, I suppose.


Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

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