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Ballot Stuffing


Posted 8/7/2002

On July 25, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the city's largest faith-based activist organization, gave its "enthusiastic" support to Del. Maggie McIntosh. The nod is a major boost for McIntosh, who finds herself in the difficult position of running simultaneously as an incumbent and a challenger after redistricting threw the 10-year Democratic legislator into the newly drawn 43rd District. It may also be an implicit harbinger of the ripple effect from the hard-fought passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2001, which extends protection against bias in housing, employment, and public accommodation to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. On its face, the endorsement shouldn't surprise. While she is taking on three established incumbents from the old 43rd--Democrats Kenneth Montague, Michael Dobson, and Ann Marie Doory--McIntosh is an experienced and respected legislator and deal maker who has risen to the high-ranking post of House majority leader. (Also running are city Democratic Central Committee member Beatrice Brown and Curt Anderson, a former delegate and local TV-news reporter.)

"Given the reality of redistricting . . . we need as many persons in committee chairmanships and leadership positions in the state legislature from the Baltimore community as possible," says the Rev. Douglas Miles, an Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance leader and pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church in East Baltimore. "Maggie has a distinguished record of support of IMA agenda items, and we wholeheartedly endorse her re-election."

She is also gay, something she announced publicly last fall in a speech before the Women's Law Center of Maryland. Prior to that, she had helped lead the effort to pass the anti-discrimination law. The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which represents more than 240 predominantly African-American city churches, has generally been conservative on gay-rights issues such as extending workplace benefits to same-sex partners. In 1994, under pressure from the ministerial alliance, then-City Council member Carl Stokes absented himself from voting for a domestic-partnership bill. (That cost Stokes five years later, when queers with long memories turned to his mayoral-race opponent, Martin O'Malley.)

When asked if sexual orientation was considered in the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance's endorsement process, Miles says, "Not at all. It wasn't an issue." He says the group's ministers--many of them also active in the grass-roots action group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development--had enjoyed a long, fruitful relationship with McIntosh on issues such as education (the delegate is a former teacher), lending reform, and drug treatment.

The candidate--whose former district, the 42nd, was shifted entirely into Baltimore County--indirectly invokes the anti-discrimination law in discussing the ministerial alliance's nod. "Nobody can imagine in this day and age that anybody--anybody that has a good work record, that has skills, that has degrees--would be discriminated against in the workplace for any reason," McIntosh says. "I've done good work in the legislature on behalf of the constituents of the city and of the state. When I get endorsements . . . it's because I've earned them. They're recognizing the work I do. And I'm thrilled and pleased and grateful."

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