This past week, a member of the advocacy organization Caroline Pride attended a Caroline County Commissioner’s meeting to question why – for the first time in two years – the Commissioner’s Office would not be proclaiming June as Pride month. After expressing their disappointment and why the gesture is important for local LGBTQIA+ people, they were met with claims from the Commissioner President that the County government would not be involved with the ‘personal choices’ of its residents. After explaining that a person’s sexual and gender identity is not a personal choice, the conversation was escalated by multiple members of the Commissioners Board who persisted in their opinion that LGBTQIA+ identities were a choice and expressed displeasure with the Caroline Pride festival that occurred the weekend before Memorial Day. This culminated in the Commissioners dismissing the community member and requiring them to leave, not allowing them to finish their thoughts while the multiple other people present to speak their opinions were allowed to stay.
These actions were disrespectful to the community member in question and Caroline County’s entire LGBTQIA+ community. For too long we have had to explain that our identities are integral to us, that they are not a choice. The fact that the Caroline County Commissioners Board does not understand that and has expressed anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment when questioned is extremely alarming. They are meant to serve EVERY person within their district, not just the ones whose identities coincide with their own. Our heart goes out to the brave community member who was dismissed for defending the other LGBTQIA+ people in their district and to any other person harmed by the County Commissioners’ actions.
This open letter is a call to action by organizations serving LGBTQIA+ communities throughout Maryland. We cannot stand by as our Transgender and Queer family is silenced and discriminated against by those meant to defend their rights. We must rely on one another and demand that the Caroline County Commissioners issue an apology for their statements and promise to serve all residents equally going forward. By signing onto this letter, we are standing against anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric during Pride month and supporting Caroline Pride as they work to secure and defend the rights of Queer folx throughout their County. Caroline Pride’s Executive Director Angel Perez has this to say:
“In these unprecedented times when the LGBTQIA+ community is once again under attack we must fight together to guarantee the safety and rights of our community, times when elected officials express their feelings against the LGBTQIA+ community publicly at the local and national level creating laws that violate the dignity and humanity of any human being. As Governor Moore said: “We do not want to be a state where people’s humanity needs to be justified”. Together, we must fight for a community where each person respects their neighbor regardless of their sexual orientation. Our dream is for a strong, united, and thriving community, and together we can achieve it.”
If you or your organization would like to join the organizations above in standing against this discrimination, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and sign onto this letter of support today.
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