Maryland County Votes To Repeal English-Only Ordinance

| by Brendan Kelly

Frederick County, Maryland, officials voted to repeal a 3-year-old ordinance making English the county's official language on Tuesday.

The controversial ordinance was passed in 2012 under an all-Republican board of commissioners. 

Bud Otis Jr., a Republican on the council, said that the ordinance sends the "wrong signal" about the "open, caring community."

Supporters of the repeal called the ordinance a barrier to attracting businesses and bringing diversity to the county.

People who support the ordinance say that English-only is fair and that they aren't worried about sending a welcoming message.

"We need to speak English as our first language and then what you do inside of your own home is your own business," said a resident of the county.

The vote was 4-to-3 in favor of the repeal, with three Republicans voting against it and three democrats voting in favor. Otis voted with the Democrats instead of his own party, therefore striking down the ordinance.

Last month, over 50 residents showed up to a public hearing where they shared their views, both supporting and opposing. Many supporters of the repeal shared stories of their own families' immigrant history.

At Tuesday's meeting, about 30 residents watched as council members argued whether the ordinance should be repealed or not. 

Democratic council member Jerry D. Donald said that the English-only ordinance was overreaching and irrelevant.

Audience members groaned as council members began to reveal their votes. Ultimately, Otis had the deciding vote. 

The repeal will go into effect in 60 days and officials assured citizens that they won't notice anything different.

Sources: CBS Baltimore, Washington Post / Photo credit: CBS Baltimore