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What Maryland Gets That Virginia Doesn't

Equal protection under the law applies to everyone.

Readers of this column have heard me gripe from time to time, and for good reason, about the fact that Virginia cleans our clocks here in Maryland when it comes to creating a good business climate.

True, they have created a more free-flowing economic and regulatory environment that allows them to basically beat us up and steal our lunch money when it comes to attracting and retaining good jobs and economic development.  We can learn much from them.

However, one look at their political climate is more than enough to keep me on this side of the Potomac for good. Why? When it comes to respecting the rights of all citizens, including those who happen to be women, born in another country or with a different sexual orientation, the Commonwealth of Virginia is becoming downright hostile. 

In this regard, they have a thing or two to learn from us here in the Free State. 

For instance, how can a state so steeped in the tradition of our Founders, many of whom felt so strongly about the principle of equal protection under law that they fought a revolution, pass legislation allowing Virginia adoption agencies to prohibit gay and lesbian couples from adopting children? How is that equal treatment, and what business is it of theirs?  I have known so many cases of children who were bounced around from foster home to foster home, or rescued from abusive, neglectful or non-existent (heterosexual) parents, and then adopted and brought up in loving, supportive, healthy, same-sex families. What an outrage to act as if these kids would have been better off without their new families, or with no family at all. What utter rubbish.

My question to these self-righteous, freedom-loving patriots in Richmond is how can this new law be seen as anything but institutionalized discrimination? They are being singled out based on the religious views of their persecutors. One would think those who believed in limited government would at least make some effort to keep their own religious convictions from becoming the basis of laws that run roughshod over other people's rights. Doesn't that sound like a bedrock conservative principle to you? It sure does to me.

I have the same issue with Virginia's back-door efforts to restrict women's access to reproductive care, not to mention their right to control their own bodies and make medical decisions for themselves. On issues like this, it's almost getting hard to tell whether the Republicans are in charge in Richmond, or the Taliban.   

Marylanders will have our squabbles on these issues too. The Maryland legislature may be on the verge of extending marriage equality to all of our citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. Voters will also decide this fall whether Maryland children who were brought here illegally by their (taxpaying) parents can pay the same in-state college tuition rates as other Maryland taxpayers, by voting up or down on the "Dream Act." Views will surely differ, but in both cases the debate is about expanding civil rights, educational opportunities and equal protection under law, not restricting them. 

I'd rather live in a state that's looking to the future in a world where these old divisions are rapidly falling away, than in a state that is going in reverse on the key civil rights issues of our time.   

After all, people don't choose to be gay, they don't choose to be women, and occasionally they don't choose to become pregnant. Discriminating against any of them by imposing a separate set of legal protections is just as wrong as it was with institutionalized racism. Maryland seems to have figured this out, or at least its leaders have. 

Don't get me wrong. It's not that Virginia is too conservative for my taste. Not at all. It's that too many of its so-called "conservative" politicians are trying to have it both ways. You're either against big government, or you believe government has the right to dictate whom you can marry or who is an “acceptable” parent. You either believe in religious freedom and equal protection under law, or you want to use the power of government to impose your religious views on others. It's one or the other, folks, not both. 

So if it's a choice between a state like ours, run by avowed liberals who occasionally overreach in their efforts to make a better world, as they see it, or one governed by conservative hypocrites trying to restrict the freedom of people they just don't like, I'll take Maryland any day. 

Now, about that next tax increase …

Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM
For someone with a job at a public institution, you really should care more about the police profile that's building against you as my admitted stalker.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Thank you Richard for acknowledging that we do have some issues to resolve and that we do indeed have to help Maryland based companies and we do default to higher taxes to easily as the solution to many of our issues. Admitting that there is a problem places us in a position to fix it. That is wonderful. Theresa, as Richard states, we do have to help our businesses in this state.That can not be ignored. I could list many things that need to change , but It would be pointless in this forum. I simply wanted an acknowledgement that we have work to do. Richard understands, do you? Piotr, we are losing businesses to other states at a rapid pace. Fact not fiction. We can not turn our backs and not look at why. We need those businesses for jobs and taxes. Why is it that we can not acknowledge that fact and fix it?
Mark Parker February 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I recall your silly paranoia regarding being stalked, but that's your issue, not mine. Maybe we should ask Michele who the stalker is.
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Mark Parker 7:31 am on Monday, February 13, 2012 I recall your silly paranoia regarding being stalked, but that's your issue, not mine. Maybe we should ask Michele who the stalker is. Michele? I guess we could ask the divorce judge and the judge who laughed her out of the court room...It's all public record. You want to go here, really? On a public website? Be my guest!
Temperance Blalock February 13, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I have some close friends who operate a business in Virginia, specifically in Fairfax County. From what they've told me, there are tax credits and special loans that the state and county provides small businesses which my friends utilized. Those could well be some of the factors that lead Forbes magazine to give Virginia a high rating. On the other hand, though, there are some other factors that would be highly anathema to the Tea Party: first, that most of the business conducted in Virginia is either primarily or secondarily contracted to support the Federal Government, and second that there is a city sales tax in Falls Church (above and beyond the state's sales tax). These are things that mitigate the portrait of Virginia as a Randian dream world. Hey...we could do a lot of great things to make Rockville a better place to live with a city sales tax! But good luck getting that through, it would be mercilessly attacked as socialism.
Mark Parker February 13, 2012 at 12:45 PM
You're the one who brought up my place of employment on a public web site. Like I said before, I don't like bullies. You're a bully.
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I am not a bully, and I have certainly never bullied you. I rarely even respond to you, which once prompted you to comment "I liked it better when you ignored me." You track what I say and how often I say it. I find that the behavior quite curious. I didn't mention where you work but any idiot can google it, just like you apparently did with my name. I've never attacked you and have no reason to. If you think name dropping will cow me into silence you're mistaken. As I said, it's all public record, but more importantly, totally irrelevant here.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Temperence, you make a very good point. We are so busy attacking that we no longer listen. That is so true. I did it myself when I first read this article. I was so upset that I did not use a rational thought process, I just attacked. I was wrong. We should be able to bring things up and discuss them calmly without judgement. Tea party, socialist, left wing, right wing,rich, poor, maryland, Virginia, blue, red.........ALL Americans. No one is completely right and no one is completely wrong. But we do have some things to work out and we should be able to do it without labels, threats, and attacks. Something we have lost sight of so much in this country today. I again thank the writer, Richard Parsons, for acknowledging the good and the bad about Maryland!
Jeff Hawkins February 13, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Interesting thread! We have stalkers, bullies, Tea Partiers, cultists and morons.......who knew? Maryland is for Crabs......Virginia is for Lovers...........there's your difference!
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Now that is hilarious! Thanks for the giggle . I needed that!
George O'Malley February 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Northern Virginia is doing well, but Southern Virginia is hurting, certainly by comparison. On a more local basis, people often want to compare the business climate in Fairfax and Montgomery counties, because they are otherwise so similar. But you know what, other than fiscal policy, Fairfax has that Montgomery doesn't? An international airport, for one. And an actual university, George Mason, where one can pursue virtually any degree straight out of high school. In Montgomery, we have a community college, and cobbled together continuing-education offerings in the Shady Grove corridor, but that's about it. This is one of the things that irritates me the most about the whole JHU Belward situation -- that JHU is using their name to build just another industrial park/town center, without giving Montgomery something it desperately needs and may never get -- a real college campus where one can pursue a full college education. If you graduate high school in Montgomery County and want to get a college degree beyond an associates, you have to leave the county. If you work in Montgomery county and want to get a bachelors degree part time, you have to leave the county. If you are a business in Montgomery County and want to hire a local undergraduate intern, you're SOL. If you're working in Montgomery County and want to pursue a law degree part time, you have to leave. Anyone think that this doesn't hurt the business climate?
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
George, Thank you bringing up another issue we have here in Maryland. We have very few higher educational opportunities then most of all the other states. In Virginia they have a plethera of choices when it comes to great in state higher educational institutions. We have very few and this state wants to make it even harder for the real documented citizens to attend by allowing in state tuition to undocumented illegal immigrates. My son gets amazing grades and he works very hard and he was told by his counselor at school that to get into Uof M, he will need to maintain over a 4.0 GPA. The reason is because Uof M has too many applicants with more and more appling every year because no one can afford to pay out of state tuitions anymore. Then he was told by the same counselor to take less difficult classes to achieve that 4.0. He wants to challenge himself but by doing so he will cut off his opportunity for a great education at a better in state tuition cost. Does that make any sense to anyone? Yet another reason I am looking at moving when my kids graduate. I can start them out in an out of state university and then move there to get in state tuition. in this economy, we all are thinking to the future and what we can do to cut cost. Moving seems to keep popping up as an alternative. That is sad.
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Kim, community college is a great option and there is no shame in going. I went to one in Fla. If your son maintains a 3.0 at MC, he is GUARANTEED admission to U Md. I hope his counselor told him that. My daughter was just accepted to U Md College Park and Baltimore County, and she does not have a 4.0. She was also accepted in the Scholars program. This statement is false: the Dream Act is NOT in effect. And I do not believe that Va has more educational options than Md. I also thought you didn't think it was right to pit the two states against each other. You said: "We have very few and this state wants to make it even harder for the real documented citizens to attend by allowing in state tuition to undocumented illegal immigrates." There is no evidence the Dream Act would make it "even harder for real documented citizens to attend."
Jeff Hawkins February 13, 2012 at 02:39 PM
You are welcome Kim.......hang in there!
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Oh goodness Theresa, I am very glad that you are so passionate about Maryland. I wish I were as happy as you are. :-( sigh....... The Dream act will absolutey add more applicants to the pool at U of M, and the Baltimore campus, and Towson, and all other state schools. It was presented for that purpose. To help those unfortunate illegal kids get in state tiution and to give them higher eduations opportunities. It will open the door for all those kids to apply and that will naturally satuate an already large pool of applicants ( a larger pool because this economy is preventing kids to go out of state for college because it cost too much). It is statically obvious. There are only so many spots, period. So how do I tell my son to work really hard so that you can to attend MC? After that you can go to Maryland? He is working hard because he wants to go there when he graduates. He wants to take really hard classes because he thinks it is good for himself to be highly educated and college ready.The counselor told him to stop challenging himself by taking 4 AP classes and 2 honors classes because he may be too many "B's" How can that be the right lesson to teach.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Theresa, You are right I should not compare state to state, but again this entire thread was started from an article pitting one state against another. I will try and refrain from comparing. But we do need to look at the long term affect some of these changes will do for our tax paying citizens and we can not ignore that allowing some can cause a ripple effect that could create bigger issues for our state. This ripple effect is that our tax base up and moves becuase they see its better on the other side of the river.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Thanks Jeff I will keep working hard to keep moving along! I would just like some people to see the other side sometimes. I try too........
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 03:09 PM
It seems you have issues with your guidance counselor and with U of Md's admission's process. I am sorry I can't help you there. And as I said there's nothing wrong with working hard but going to a community college first, and at the risk of repeating myself, my daughter does not have a 4.0. And my son is going to MC. I never said I was "so passionate about Maryland," nor that my daughter was going there, only that she was accepted. I appreciate discussing this with you without you feeling the need to delve into my court records. That's pretty creepy and weird.
Jeff Hawkins February 13, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Kim: Your comment: "Thanks Jeff I will keep working hard to keep moving along! I would just like some people to see the other side sometimes. I try too........" I might be wrong, wouldn't be the first time, but you might be asking too much.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Nope I wont go anywhere near court records. Not the place nor is it releveant. I dont have a problem with U of M admissions process. I have an issue that my son may not get in because of some new laws that could cause my son and many other kids from getting in. On this one I have have to say I am opposed to its impletation in our state. gay rights/ adoption/and others...I am all in. In State tuition for undocumented citizens... I am out. Sorry....... but I do respect your opinion.
kim chase February 13, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Oh that makes me sad. I hope that is not true. I think you look both ways before making a decision. We dont always have to agree but we should still listen. Why cant everyone? Are we all too synical these days? Has this govenment polarized us so much that we wont listen anymore? That is sad. ;-(
Mark Parker February 13, 2012 at 04:05 PM
<<it's all public record, but more importantly, totally irrelevant here.>> And my place of employment is totally irrelevant, too. Yet you brought it up, and included a thinly veiled threat as well. You bully me, I'm going to push back. Kim, good luck, and I think it's wise to consider relocating. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and that realization is not always appreciated in Maryland.
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Saying you work for a public institution is hardly a bullying statement or revealing of anything, especially given we live in an area with thousands of public offices. Digging into my court filings is unseemly. Again, I never bulled you...ever. I never even comment to you directly, yet you hound me continually on this site. It's aberrant, and it's been reported. Enough said.
Theresa Defino February 13, 2012 at 04:22 PM
In reply to Mark Parker.
Mark Parker February 13, 2012 at 04:27 PM
You threatened me. It's been reported.
Piotr Gajewski February 13, 2012 at 05:13 PM
“my son may not get in because of some new laws” What “new laws?” Kids who make decent grades get into U of M. If they do not get in, it is not because of “some new laws.” (Full disclosure: my son, who is not the world's most diligent student, is a freshman at U of M.) Is it really so much easier to hate and point fingers and not accept responsibility than to buckle down and study hard and make good grades, taking charge of one’s own destiny? Sad.
Sean R. Sedam February 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I'd like to remind everyone again of Patch's Terms of Use: http://rockville.patch.com/terms There is a good conversation going in this thread on the topic of Maryland and Virginia. Let's steer the conversation back in that direction and take other conversations off line.
Mark Parker February 13, 2012 at 05:23 PM
My apologies, Sean.
jnrentz1 February 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Mr. O'Malley, I was able to finish my degree at the University of Maryland University College at Shady Grove some years ago. I had begun and Montgomery College, and continued at College Park, but work got in the way of continuing full time. However, I do agree with you that there is much Montgomery County lacks, and the presence of a four year college campus would be most welcome. Perhaps there are plans to do just that at the Shady Grove consortium. I certainly hope so.
jnrentz1 February 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Ms. Chase, You are correct when you say Virginia has more higher education opportunities than Maryland.

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