Maryland Senate considers new translation of motto on state seal

This bill would revise the translation of the motto on Maryland's state seal.

First, Maryland's senators rewrote the state song that was considered racist. Now, they're considering revising the translation of the motto on the state's seal that some say is sexist.

Sen. Bryan Simonaire wants to officially adopt a translation of the words on the state seal -- "fatti maschii parole femine" -- as "strong deeds, gentle words" rather than "manly deeds, womanly words."

The words on the seal come from the motto of the Calvert family and are written in Tuscan, a form of Italian, according to Simonaire. For years, the "strong deeds, gentle words" translation has often been used, but Simonaire wants to make it official.

But Simonaire, an Anne Arundel County Republican, got some blowback during a debate on his bill Tuesday. Sen. Michael J. Hough, a Republican who represents Frederick and Carroll counties, questioned the need for the bill. Hough suggested the bill changes the meaning of the motto "to say what it doesn't say."

Simonaire said most people accept the gender-neutral translation already, and it's important not to give the impression that Maryland supports a motto that implies women don't take any action and are only interested in words.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who considers himself a student of history, said he thinks the bill "brings us up to date."

The Senate gave the bill preliminary approval on a 31-13 vote, setting it up for a final vote later in the week.

The Senate previously passed a bill rewriting the state's official song to address concerns that it was pro-Confederacy and not inclusive of all Marylanders.

The current state song, "Maryland, My Maryland" by James Ryder Randall, would be relegated to status as Maryland's "historic state song" under the bill.

The new "official state song" would be a combination of one verse salvaged from Randall's song and a verse from a poem by Frederick County educator John T. White. It would be set to the same tune as the old song, which most people know as "O Christmas Tree."

After the state song bill was approved in the Senate on a 38-8 vote, it moved to the House of Delegates, where it has not seen further action.

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