In a tweet posted on January 14th, State Senator Jeffrey Waldstreicher announced that he was endorsed by “progressive champion” Attorney General Brian Frosh.
Frosh states that Senator Waldstreicher is “a champion for our progressive values.” I’m sure Attorney General Frosh knows Waldstreicher, has worked with him in the past, and I’m very surprised that anyone would consider Waldstreicher a “progressive” let alone a “champion” of progressive values.
Senator Waldstreicher was the subject of a scathing opinion piece in Maryland Matters last June, which highlighted some of the progressive issues that Waldstreicher not only failed to “champion” but actually worked to water down.
Yet, after making public statements in support of enacting meaningful policing reform, Waldstreicher voted with the Republican members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR) and against his constituents and statewide community advocates on certain key reforms, including the ability of local jurisdictions to create civilian oversight bodies.Opinion: Dist. 18 Constituents Question Senator’s Priorities on Police Reform, Other Measures
There are several examples of similar actions from Waldstreicher throughout the 2020 legislative session, but I’d like to add my own experience with Waldstreicher to the list because of how egregious it was. I tweeted briefly about the exchange I had with Waldstreicher last year. I was reaching out to Senator Waldstreicher as part of my advocacy work and I asked him to consider supporting the Inclusive Schools Act.
My initial email to him asked him to support SB98, The Inclusive Schools Act, noting that
This is a dangerous and uncertain time for LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender folks. We have seen so many anti-trans bills be introduced throughout the country, specifically causing harm to transgender children. We ask that you support the publication requirement for SB98 and to also support it without added amendments. Having clear and published non-discrimination policies are one of the best ways to keep trans children safe and to hold people and institutions accountable for the safety and security of LGBTQ students.
Waldstreicher responded as follows:
I worked with Jeremy and other advocates and activists in campaigning in support of SB98 and know that FreeState Justice supported the original bill, with no amendments, so Senator Waldstreicher’s statement caught me off guard. LGBTQ+ advocates didn’t ask for any amendments, they asked for the bill to be voted on, numerous times. Each time they were met with excuses for why the bill couldn’t be voted on, or were met with opposition, or had to push back on amendments that would have made the legislation ineffective. The holdup wasn’t because of Republican Senators, the holdup was two Democratic Senators on the Judicial Proceedings Committee: State Senator Jeffrey Waldstreicher and State Senator Shelly Hettleman of District 11. They acted on behalf of lobbyists representing a coalition of religious schools and organizations that didn’t want to have to implement non-discrimination policies at all, but were especially concerned that these policies could have potentially limited the amount of funding they received from the state because SB98 would have tied the implementation of a non-discrimination policy to whether or not a school would qualify for state aid.
Senator Waldstreicher not only tried to stall SB98 into oblivion, he failed to support other LGBTQ+ legislation:
In committee, Waldstreicher questioned the urgency of the Inclusive Schools Act as well as a bill to ban the “trans panic defense.” When advocates asked why he wasn’t moving more quickly on these bills, Waldstreicher said the committee was “too busy.”Opinion: Dist. 18 Constituents Question Senator’s Priorities on Police Reform, Other Measures
He did end up supporting legislation to pass a ban on the “trans panic defense” but only after a last minute effort from advocates to put pressure on the Judicial Proceedings Committee, mostly Senator Waldstreicher, to vote on the bill.
In June, for Pride Month, Waldstreicher updated his profile picture with a background of pride colors. I tweeted this in response:
I am concerned that Attorney General Brian Frosh views politicians like State Senator Jeffrey Waldstreicher as progressive, let alone “a champion for our progressive values.” None of the actions noted above are progressive values, and in fact, are antithetical to progressive values. This endorsement sounds more like a book blurb in which the person didn’t actually read the book, they just needed to provide a sentence or two for a publisher.
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