AFTER ALL THAT grubby to-do over how Walter Fauntroy might bow and scrape enough to "earn" votes for the D.C. amendment from a few delegates in the Maryland House, there's a bit of refreshing news from the other body of the state legislature: the Senate has given the amendment initial approval. Truer tests are still to come in this chamber, but this is an important beginning in a state where sensitivity to the plight of District residents should be most acute. Perhaps now the consideration in Annapolis can focus on the fundamental principles of justice embodied in the amendment -- rather than on the politics, religion, color or possible future behavior of people who live in -- and pay federal taxes from -- the District.

Already, broad coalitions of residents and groups in Maryland have come to understand the wrongness of denying the District's residents any voting representation in the U.S. House and Senate. It is not a condition most Americans would want imposed on them, not to mention elected legislators in the House and Senate of neighboring Maryland.As much as anyone, they should be outraged that fellow Americans -- some living just across the street from their own constituents -- have no say in whether conscription is imposed, war is declared, treaties are ratified, presidential appointments are made.

For taxation and other purposes, the District has long been treated as though it were a state, and its residents have been obliged to fulfill their obligations to the country in every way that others have. It is a matter of human rights, then -- and that is what should guide the Maryland senators and delegates in this critical series of votes ahead.