The foundation of our country is equality and liberty. At times, some seem to forget that we should treat each person with the same respect and dignity with which we want to be treated. Maryland continues to be a national leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose, supporting Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (“LGBT”) rights and promoting progressive values. Marc's support for these values has earned him the endorsements of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and Equality Maryland in 2014.
Notwithstanding Maryland's great strides, we cannot be complacent and there is more work to be done.
Guaranteeing a Woman’s Right to Choose: Maryland enacted the Freedom of Choice Act in 1991, meaning that even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, Maryland would still protect a woman's right to have control over her reproductive health. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists have undertaken a litigation strategy to chip away at reproductive freedom. For example, innovative laws to ensure that so-called “pregnancy crisis centers” make women aware of all of their options and not just those pushed by anti-choice activists have been under siege in the courts. In other states, arbitrary restrictions are being added to when abortions can take place or where clinics can be located. These efforts must not be allowed in Maryland and Marc will continue to fight against them. Moreover, Marc has fought against efforts to make it harder for those on Medicaid to exercise their right to choose.
Promoting LGBT Equality: In 2012, Maryland became the first State in the country to uphold marriage equality at the ballot box. Marc strongly supported Question 6, the marriage equality ballot question. But the work goes on to make sure marriage equality is properly implemented so that married couples get all of the benefits of marriage at the local, state, and federal levels. For example, in 2015 Marc supported legislation to prohibit discrimination against same sex couples in fertility treatments. Maryland has also passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act in 2014, a law banning discrimination in employment, housing, and other sectors for the transgender community.
Securing Our Voting Rights: Our form of government relies on voters showing up at the polls. This should be made easier and not harder through the expansion of early voting and same day voter registration. Marc has advocated for and helped push to passage legislation to expand voting rights. At the same time, we must be mindful of security risks to our elections. Marc supported the Freedom to Vote Act which expands voter registration in the state and supported universal voter registration. He also supported legislation to increase the number of early voting centers around the state. But the Board of Education—which oversees our elections—must also be watched carefully and held accountable so that our elections are efficiently run.
Guarding Our Privacy: The digital age brings many benefits and conveniences, but also great risks to our personal privacy. Marc works to make sure that state privacy laws are updated to address 21st century technological issues including web browser tracking, social media, and facial recognition. What seemed like science fiction only a few years ago is now our daily existence and we must make sure sensible user protections keep up with the rate of technological change. Marc led the fight on the House floor to protect student privacy of their social media and email accounts.
Criminal Justice Reform: Maryland has made great process during the past few years in criminal justice reform. Diverting people from long-term and repeated stays in prisons and jails is better for them and their families, as well as our economy. The goal is to keep individuals from falling into a cycle of criminal behavior, which should make us all safer. Marc voted for the Justice Reinvestment Act to better target criminal justice funding to mental health, drug treatment, and vocational services. He supported legislation to allow those released from prison to vote and keep their criminal records from being unfairly used against them. Marc is also part of an effort to reform the cash bail system, which unfairly discriminates against people just for being poor. Along with other legislators, Marc solicited the constitutional opinion from Attorney General Brian Frosh that says judges must assess an accused flight risk, safety risk, and ability to pay in levying bail.
Reforming Marijuana Laws: Maryland has been moving to reform its marijuana laws. First, the state has passed a medical marijuana law that is currently being implemented to allow those who need marijuana for reasons of health or pain to access it, as has been proven to work effectively in other jurisdictions. Second, the state has also decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, making small-scale possession a civil and not criminal offense. Marc supported legislation to also make possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia a civil offense as well. Marc also spoke against efforts to re-criminalize small scale possession. The previous marijuana policy criminalized non-violent citizens who might otherwise lead productive lives while diverting precious law enforcement resources from other needs. Statistics show that marijuana laws are disproportionately levied against African-Americans by more than a two-to-one ratio despite equivalent levels of use. All of this for a policy that was never shown to actually accomplish its stated goal--a reduction in the use of marijuana. Marc supports transitioning to a “legalization, taxation, regulation” model, as other states are doing. Such an approach would acknowledge that the "war on drugs" has failed, levy a tax on marijuana in the same manner as alcohol and tobacco, and maintain important regulations on marijuana based on age, public use, and advertising as it applies to other, legal vices.