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Mooney attempts to block gay rights bill

March 27, 2001

Mooney attempts to block gay rights bill



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Sen. MooneyPhoto: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

ANNAPOLIS - A Washington County lawmaker led an effort Monday to block gay rights legislation from passing the Maryland Senate.

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Talking late into the night, Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, criticized the bill and effectively delayed its passage - at least for one day.

It remained to be seen at press time how long the attempted filibuster would continue.

Opponents of the gay rights bill began by trying to have the debate delayed until today, but they lost that argument on a 29-16 vote.

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Then, at about 10:30 p.m., Mooney began criticizing the bill, using familiar arguments and throwing in a few new ones.

"This bill's really about special rights to promote and condone a certain lifestyle," he said.

He accused gay rights supporters of being hypocritical by not protecting the rights of cross-dressers.

He pointed out that sodomy will still be against the law and anyone who suspects the crime to be taking place could be convicted of being an accessory.

Reading slowly from newspaper articles and citing obscure studies just to keep the debate going, Mooney related a story about a cross-dressing man who was allowed in a woman's bathroom and argued that gay people aren't economically disadvantaged.

Earlier in the day, a Western Maryland gay rights group held a press conference to criticize Mooney and Sen. Tim Ferguson, R-Frederick/Carroll, two of the most vocal opponents.

Ten other states have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, said David "Kip" Koontz, chairman of the Western Maryland Gay and Lesbian Justice Campaign.

Maryland would have joined them if not for the "irrational, fear-mongering opposition to our rights as espoused by our state senators," Koontz said.

Trying to dispel some of the arguments used against the bill, Koontz said it does not require religious organizations to hire gay people, does not force schools to teach homosexuality and does not require affirmative action hiring of gays and lesbians.

It also does not legalize same-sex marriages.

Koontz accused Mooney of using the issue to raise money outside his district.

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