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Maryland Senate committee holds hearing on transgender rights bill

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, House of Delegates, Annapolis, SB 212, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on Tuesday testified in support of a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday held a hearing on a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 212 that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced last month. The measure would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

“At its core, SB 212 is about securing basic civil rights for transgender Marylanders: the right to a job, a place to live and fair treatment in public spaces,” said Madaleno.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is among those who submitted testimony in support of SB 212.

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur pointed out during her testimony that the Baltimore County Council passed a trans rights bill after two teenagers attacked Chrissy Lee Polis at a Rosedale McDonald’s in 2011.

“This is a protection we want to make sure gets extended statewide,” said Mizeur. “Protection against discrimination shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”

Mizeur’s Democratic challengers and their running mates — Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County) — back SB 212.

Brown and Gansler both submitted written testimony in support of the measure.

“The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 is critical to our ability to move forward as a state because no Marylander should face discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Brown. “Whether they’re using a public accommodation or finding housing, looking for private sector employment, leasing a commercial space for their business or deciding what to wear for work, all Marylanders deserve to be treated equally.”

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) also back SB 212.

“The protections in Senate Bill 212 are needed in real people’s lives,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans. “These individuals are our spouses, our friends, our co-workers and our fellow Marylanders.”

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry in Mount Rainier, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, executive co-director of the National Coalition of American Nuns, also testified in support of SB 212.

“We need to incorporate the vulnerable members of our society into our laws and our customs,” said Gramick.

The Maryland Catholic Conference is among the organizations that submitted testimony in opposition to SB 212.

“The church firmly opposes undue harassment or discrimination against any person,” said the group. “That principle does not, however, warrant creating a new class of protected individuals in the state’s anti-discrimination statute, especially when the extension of the law would presumably apply to only a small number of individuals.”

Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council are among those who also spoke against the measure.

“I am here to stand up for women, children and their safety,” said McDermott, who submitted to the committee newspaper articles that detail men who allegedly targeted women and girls in restrooms and locker rooms. “Women worry about their safety in bathrooms and locker rooms. Proponents of this bill deny that there will be problems with restrooms and locker rooms.”

Zane Walsh, 13, of Baltimore County countered McDermott.

“I am not a pervert lurking in the bathroom,” he said. “I’m pretty much a normal kid.”

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last year narrowly killed an identical bill that Madaleno introduced.

State Sens. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County), who voted against the aforementioned measure in 2013, asked Madaleno and other SB 212 supporters about access to restrooms and locker rooms during the hearing. Michael Lore, an aide to state Sen. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), told the Washington Blade on Monday that LGBT rights advocates should not expect the lawmaker’s position on the issue to change unless SB 212 supporters address his concerns over employment contracts.

“He was certainly sympathetic to some of the concerns,” said Lore, discussing Stone’s vote against the 2013 bill. “He’s willing to listen to all sides.”

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties have already added gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville in December became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

“It is time for Maryland to pass this legislation,” said Madaleno.

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced last week she will challenge Madaleno in the June Democratic primary, noted only 47 percent of Marylanders live in jurisdictions that have adopted trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

“This situation is patently unfair,” said Beyer in written testimony. “I ask you to favorably report SB 212 to the floor to remedy that situation.”

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a trans rights bill. There are enough votes in the state Senate to ensure passage of SB 212 if it advances out of committee.

04
Feb
2014

Larry Hogan: Position on same-sex marriage has ‘evolved’

Larry Hogan, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Larry Hogan (Photo by Marrh2; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Republican Maryland gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan on Friday said his position on marriage rights for same-sex couples has “evolved.”

Hogan said on News Talk with Bruce DePuyt on News Channel 8 in response to a question about whether he voted for the state’s same-sex marriage law in a 2012 referendum on it that he was “originally for civil unions.”

“I was a supporter of traditional marriage,” he told DePuyt. “It’s an issue that I fully understand. The voters have made their decision. I support their decision and will uphold the law. I’ve evolved I guess on the issue.”

Hogan said marriage rights for same-sex couples, extending in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants and other social issues “are really decided in Maryland.”

“They have no part in this campaign whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve been completely focused on the issues that all Marylanders are focused on right now, and that’s economic issues.”

Hogan, who was a member of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration, told the Washington Post in June he would not seek to repeal Maryland’s same-sex marriage law if elected governor.

Hogan told the Baltimore Sun editorial board ahead of the June 24 primary that he opposes a transgender rights bill that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law earlier this year.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, welcomed Hogan’s comments on same-sex marriage.

“Hogan’s evolution on marriage equality reflects the reality of many Marylanders who have kept an open heart and open mind on this issue,” she told the Washington Blade. “It is valuable when people share their evolution to demonstrate it is possible.”

Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, echoed Evans.

“I’ve had some great conversations with the Hogan campaign over the last several weeks and it’s encouraging to see this evolution on the issue,” Angelo told the Blade. “Mr. Hogan is just one of many Marylanders who has evolved on this issue. He, like many Marylanders, evidently sees civil marriage for committed same-sex couples as no threat to his way of life, and, like an increasing number of Republicans, sees getting beyond the marriage issue as a way to grow the GOP voting base and win.”

Hogan easily defeated Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County) and former congressional candidate Charles Lollar in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

He will face Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown — who publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples and Maryland’s trans rights law that takes effect on October 1 — in the general election.

08
Aug
2014

Supporters rally for trans rights in Md.

Martin O'Malley, gay news, gay politics

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was among those who expressed support for a trans rights bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Bob Brittain was doing fairly well in Chestertown, Md., with a wife and family, earning more than $50,000 per year as a certified boat captain, assistant dock master and boat carpenter.  But since the age of three, he knew he was not comfortable with his gender. Two years ago, Bob transitioned to Susan Brittain, now 57, but still with her wife who has been fully supportive.

However, when Susan applied for other jobs, “the rules had changed,” she explained. As soon as she identified as transgender, she was not hired for the positions she was seeking despite her qualifications. While Susan would benefit from a statewide law that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations, her concern is for others. “It’s for the younger generation,” Susan points out. “They should be productive and happy.”

To that end, on Feb. 17, the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality—a group with 54 components including Equality Maryland, PFLAG, Maryland NOW and a host of other progressive and religious organizations—held its annual Lobby Day at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. The goal is to rally trans activists and allies and to meet with individual legislators in an effort to persuade them to pass the bill, which has been unsuccessful the past seven years.

More than 150 braved the sub-freezing chill to hear remarks by Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland; Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County); Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) who introduced the Senate version of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act (SB 212); Sara Wilkinson from the Maryland chapter of NOW; Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore) who introduced the House version (HB 1265); Patrick Paschall, a member of the Hyattsville City Council, which passed a gender identity non-discrimination measure; Gov. Martin O’Malley, who, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch among other leaders, support the bill; activist and mother of a trans child Bonnita Spikes; and Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) who is a candidate for governor.

The theme for this event was “It’s time.” Evans stated to loud cheers, “We want to pass this bill this year and make this the last Lobby Day.”

Speaker after speaker alluded to the fact that this bill has languished in the legislature for too many years and it was time to break it free.  “This is the time to put the bill to rest,” said Madaleno.  “We’ve had eight years of pushing the bill.  If we don’t do it this year, we’re going to be back and back and back for however long it takes.”

Pointing to the successes in other Maryland jurisdictions—Baltimore City, Howard, Baltimore and Montgomery counties as well as Hyattsville — Hyattsville Council member Patrick Paschall stated, “Now is the time for the state of Maryland to follow the lead of local jurisdiction.”

Others highlighted the unnecessary discrimination faced by transgender people and offered a call for inclusion.  “It’s time for all Marylanders to be accepted for who they are,” declared Cullison. Sara Wilkinson said, “We believe the feminist movement can and should embrace transgender people. NOW stands against all oppression.”

A confident Clippinger predicted, “We are going to win this year because of the momentum we have.”

O’Malley said, “We’re all in this together. Everyone deserves to be treated equally with dignity and respect.”

The Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee is considering the bill and a vote is expected on Feb. 20. (Visit washingtonblade.com for updates.) SB 212 has 25 sponsors, more than enough to win on the floor. Last year, the bill died in the committee by a 6-5 vote.

18
Feb
2014

Baltimore memorial service to honor slain trans women

police, Northeast Baltimore, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade, Candy

Baltimore police continue to investigate the murders of two transgender women of color that have left the city’s LGBT residents on edge. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A memorial service for two transgender women of color who were murdered in Baltimore in recent months will take place on Saturday.

The Spiritual Empowerment Center (2129 N. Charles St.) will host the service in honor of Mia Henderson and Kandy Hall that will take place on Aug. 16 from 1 – 4 p.m.

The body of Mia Henderson, whose brother is Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock, was found near Lake Ashburton on July 16. Authorities six weeks earlier discovered Kandy Hall dead in a field in Baltimore’s Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

LGBT advocates with whom the Washington Blade has spoken in recent weeks say Henderson and Hall’s deaths have left the city’s trans residents on edge.

“The deaths of Mia and Kandy remind us that despite making tremendous strides for LGBT equality, there is still work to do to ensure that our community is safe and free from violence,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

Court records indicate both Henderson and Hall were arrested for prostitution in Baltimore over the last decade.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department has not returned the Blade’s repeated requests for comment on the status of the investigation into the murders and a possible motive.

Jacqui Robarge, executive director of Power Inside, a Baltimore-based organization that works with sex workers and other vulnerable populations, told the Blade on Tuesday she feels the police have not adequately responded to the concerns of the city’s LGBT residents.

She said many of her group’s clients share the same concern.

“They are concerned that these murders are not being prioritized,” Robarge told the Blade. “It’s certainly harder to find witnesses if the community is largely homeless, addicted or engaged in sex work. That shouldn’t be an end point.”

Anyone with information about the murders of Henderson and Hall is urged to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 7-LOCKUP.

13
Aug
2014

Maryland Senate committee approves transgender rights bill

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, House of Delegates, Annapolis, SB 212, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on Feb. 4 testified in support of a transgender rights bill.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

The 8-3 vote took place slightly more than two weeks after lawmakers held a hearing on Senate Bill 212 that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced last month. The measure would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

State Sens. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore City), Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery County), Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted for Senate Bill 212. State Sens. Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil and Harford Counties), Christopher Shank (R-Washington County) and Joseph Getty (R-Baltimore and Carroll Counties) opposed it.

The committee by a 7-4 vote margin also approved Raskin’s proposed amendment to SB 212 that would allow for “private and functionally equivalent” spaces, such as locker rooms, for people of different gender identities.

“It’s our strongest vote ever out of that committee,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade as he applauded Equality Maryland, the Human Rights Campaign and the Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality who lobbied lawmakers to support SB 212. “It reflects on the incredible hard work that people have done to educate members of that committee about the need for this bill.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced late last month she will challenge Madaleno in the June Democratic primary, specifically applauded Stone, Muse and Brochin who voted against a similar measure last year. She also thanked Raskin and attorney Jonathan Shurberg for securing the necessary votes on the committee to ensure SB 212′s passage.

“I thank Senators Brochin, Muse and Stone for joining their fellow democrats and taking a stand for fairness and decency today,” Beyer told the Washington Blade. “It is much appreciated.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans and other LGBT rights advocates also applauded the vote.

“It is such a relief to finally have this bill come out of the Senate committee,” said Matt Thorn, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland. “I am looking forward to the Senate passing the bill next week.”

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur is among those who also testified for the measure. Her Democratic challengers – Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler – submitted written testimony in support of SB 212.

“I am extremely pleased that the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has voted to send the Fairness for All Marylanders Act to the full Senate, and one major step closer to full equality for all Marylanders,” Gansler told the Blade in a statement. “I have been a supporter of this bill, and led the fight for marriage equality in our state. I congratulate Sen. Madaleno and Sen. Raskin for all their hard work and effort in helping tear down another wall of discrimination.”

Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council are among those who spoke against the measure. The Maryland Catholic Conference and other organizations submitted testimony in opposition to SB 212.

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties currently include gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville in December became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

“This is a protection we want to make sure gets extended statewide,” said Mizeur as she testified in support of SB 212 on Feb. 4. “Protection against discrimination shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”

Madaleno told the Blade he feels the three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates who all supported the measure helped secure its passage in the committee. He added the fact that neighboring Delaware last year added gender identity and expression to its anti-discrimination law was another factor.

“It’s a number of things where we just had the momentum,” said Madaleno.

Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a trans rights bill. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March narrowly killed an identical measure that Madaleno introduced.

SB 212 will now go before the full Senate where observers say it has enough votes to pass.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a similar bill that did not include public accommodations.

21
Feb
2014

Executive director of Md. LGBT group arrested during immigration protest

Carrie Evans, gay news, gay politics dc

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans was among those arrested outside the White House on Thursday during an immigration reform protest. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans was among the more than 100 people who were arrested outside the White House on Thursday during a protest in support of immigration reform.

Evans and thousands of others who marched from the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Southwest Washington earlier in the day specifically urged the Obama administration to grant visas to undocumented immigrants with children who are living in the U.S.

The advocates also called upon the White House to stop deporting undocumented children who have fled violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent months.

“Taking action through civil disobedience is one small measure to stop the suffering of immigrant families facing separation through deportation, and the suffering of the neighbors, friends, co-workers and co-congregants that love them,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia, which organized the protest. “Today, on this national day to fight for families, we call on President Obama to do everything in his power to enact humane and compassionate administrative relief that will end our suffering.”

Torres was also arrested outside the White House alongside Maryland Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery County), National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill and others.

CASA de Maryland in a press release described the arrests as one of “the largest number of immigrant-supporters” ever taken into custody “for a civil disobedience action in front of the White House.”

Equality Maryland backed a state law extending in-state tuition to undocumented students that Maryland voters upheld during a 2012 referendum. CASA de Maryland the same year endorsed the state’s same-sex marriage statute that its opponents unsuccessfully sought to repeal at the ballot box.

Evans, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Canada, wrote about her participation in the White House protest in an op-ed the Washington Blade published earlier this week.

“This effort seeks to pressure President Obama to provide aggressive relief to immigrants,” she wrote. “Organizers hope that this will be the largest act of civil disobedience in the history of the immigrant rights movement, with hundreds of arrestees. Equality Maryland staff will join this effort to show support. I urge all LGBT people to embrace the whole of our identities and communities and to join us on this important day.”

The D.C. protest was among 20 “National Day of Action” events held across the country in support of executive action on immigration reform.

28
Aug
2014

Maryland Senate approves transgender rights bill

Rich Madaleno, Maryland, Democratic Party, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland state. Sen. Rich Madaleno introduced Senate Bill 212 (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.–The Maryland Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the state.

The measure passed by a 32-15 vote margin after senators debated on its third reading for less than 20 minutes.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) voted for Senate Bill 212 – the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 – alongside state Sens. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s County), James Brochin (D-Baltimore County), Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City), Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s County), Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery County), Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery County), Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore City), Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-Baltimore City), Edward Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore and Howard Counties), Delores Kelly (D-Baltimore County), Nancy King (D-Montgomery County), Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County), Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County), Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), Roger Manno (D-Montgomery County), Nathaniel McFadden (D-Baltimore City), Thomas Middleton (D-Charles County), Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County), Douglas Peters (D-Prince George’s County), Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s County), Catherine Pugh (D-Baltimore City), Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George’s County), Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), James Robey (D-Howard County), James Rosapepe (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties), Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), Ronald Young (D-Frederick and Washington Counties) and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County).

Kittleman, who is the only Republican who voted for the measure, said he hopes “people realize this is a fairness issue.”

“It is not our job to discriminate,” added Kelly before the vote. “The bill is carefully crafted. The definitions are clear”

State Sens. John Astle (D-Anne Arundel County), David Brinkley (R-Carroll and Frederick Counties), Richard Colburn (R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico Counties), James DeGrange, Sr., (D-Anne Arundel County), Roy Dyson (D-Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties), George Edwards (R-Alleghany, Garrett and Washington Counties), Joseph Getty (R-Baltimore and Carroll Counties), Barry Glassman (R-Harford County), Stephen Hershey, Jr. (R-Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties), Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil and Harford Counties), J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties), James Mathias, Jr., (D-Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties), Edward Reilly (R-Anne Arundel County), Christopher Shank (R-Washington County) and Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County) voted against SB 212.

Simonaire before the vote questioned the measure’s definitions of public accommodations and gender identity. The Anne Arundel County Republican also sought additional religious protections in SB 212 that Raskin maintained already exist.

“The intent of this bill is discrimination,” said Simonaire. “There is an absence of religion.”

“Huge day for transgender rights in Maryland”

Madaleno, who introduced SB 212, applauded its passage.

“Today marks a historic milestone in the continued fight to advance equal rights for all Marylanders,” he said in a statement. “The Senate’s passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act sends a reaffirming message throughout our state that regardless of whom you are, prejudice and discrimination will no longer be tolerated or exempted from law. With these new anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons one step closer to full passage.”

“Today is a huge day for transgender rights in Maryland,” added Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans. “With their vote, 32 Senators stood up to say no one should be denied the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing or eat lunch at a restaurant just because of their gender identity.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced her candidacy against Madaleno in January, specifically applauded her opponent in a statement after senators approved the measure. She also praised Frosh, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, former Equality Maryland Executive Director Dan Furmansky and “the trans community who came every year to Annapolis to lobby and tell their stories.”

“After eight years of struggle, and with the active support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and the legislative magic of Sen. Jamie Raskin, a comprehensive gender identity anti-discrimination bill has passed in the Senate,” said Beyer.

Frosh described Madaleno as “the best leader for gender equality and LGBT rights in the country” as he discussed the measure’s passage with the Washington Blade after the vote.

“It was the forceful but quiet leadership of Jamie and Rich,” said Frosh. “The fact it came up and got almost no debate was remarkable. The fact it got 32 votes was astonishing.”

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director Sarah Warbelow, Vann Michael of Black Transmen, Inc., and Free State Legal Project Executive Director Aaron Merki are among those who also applauded SB 212′s passage.

“As a transgender woman, I know that this is one huge step forward for transgender people who only want to fully participate in public life, without fear of discrimination based on gender identity,” said Jenna Fischetti of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality. “Today the Maryland Senate said loud and clear that every Marylander deserves equal rights.”

SB 212 last month cleared a major hurdle when the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the measure by a 8-3 vote margin.

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties currently include gender identity and expression in their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville in December became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to hold a hearing on a trans rights bill that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced. The chamber approved a similar measure in 2011.

All three Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) – support SB 212.

“Today 32 Senators voted against gender discrimination and for what is just and fair,” Gansler told the Blade in a statement. “I congratulate all who worked so hard, led by Senator Madaleno, for the passage of this milestone legislation.”

“Today, the Senate took a huge step forward in our path to equality under the law for all Marylanders,” added Mizeur, who testified in support of SB 212 last month before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “No one in our state should face discrimination, period. Now let’s get it done in the House.”

Brown on Wednesday is expected to testify in support of Clippinger’s bill on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

“He sees this legislation as a critical step forward towards making sure that every Marylander no matter who they are, where they are, what their background is is treated fairly,” Brown’s spokesperson, Matt Verghese, told the Blade.

04
Mar
2014

Maryland House committee holds hearing on transgender bill

Luke Clippinger, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, Baltimore, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.–A Maryland House of Delegates committee on Wednesday heard testimony on a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Supporters and opponents of House Bill 1265 that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced in January testified before the Health and Government Operations Committee.

“All Marylanders deserve to be treated and protected equally under the law,” said Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown as he spoke in support of the measure on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

State Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) testified in support of HB 1265 alongside Jenna Fischetti of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, Gender Rights Maryland Board Chair Sharon Brackett, Carrie Evans and Keith Thirion of Equality Maryland, Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado, Maryland Commission on Civil Rights Acting Executive Director Cleveland Horton, Hyattsville City Councilman Patrick Paschall and others. Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) – who are running against Brown in the Democratic gubernatorial primary – also support HB 1265.

“I have not had a job in my chosen career in nearly 10 years,” said Fischetti, telling lawmakers a suburban Baltimore car dealership fired her in 2004 because of her gender identity and expression.

The Maryland Catholic Conference, Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Wilmington (Del.) that includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore are among the groups that oppose HB 1265. State Del. Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel County) asked Sister Jeannine Gramick, executive coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, about the Vatican’s decision to sanction her because of her LGBT-specific advocacy.

“It’s opposite to the position of those bishops,” said Gramick after she testified in support of HB 1265.

Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government cited five reports of attacks and assaults committed by men in restrooms during her testimony against HB 1265. She also described Chrissy Lee Polis, a trans woman who was attacked at a Baltimore County McDonald’s in 2011, as a “prostitute.”

“This bill is unfair to me,” said McDermott. “My facilities should not become an open place, a free for all.”

The hearing took place one day after the Maryland Senate by a 32-15 vote margin approved a trans rights bill – Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 – that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced in January.

“I was very happy to see the bill come out of the Senate,” Clippinger told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “We’ve got great momentum to get the bill out of the House.”

Clippinger, Evans and others continue to applaud Madaleno for introducing SB 212. Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced her candidacy against the Montgomery County Democrat in January, has repeatedly praised state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) for his efforts to secure the measure’s passage last month in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

State Sens. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County), James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) are among the committee members who voted against a trans rights bill in 2013. They backed SB 212 last month when Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee moved to advance it to the Senate floor.

“We’re pleased to see this is becoming a common sense issue that several senators on JPR who voted against the bill last year voted for it this year,” Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign told the Blade last week. “They can see it is where we are headed as a country which is ensuring that everyone is treated fairly under the law.”

Baltimore City, Hyattsville and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties have already enacted trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances.

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House in 2011 approved a trans rights bill with 86 votes. It subsequently died in a Senate committee.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee is expected to vote on HB 1265, which has 61 co-sponsors, on March 12.

06
Mar
2014

What’s next for Equality Maryland?

Gay News, Washington Blade, Carrie Evans, Gay Maryland

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said her group will address HIV/AIDS and schools issues, among others. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

With the Maryland Senate’s passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which provides protections in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on gender identity, and the House of Delegates currently debating the measure, Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization, has provided a glimpse into its future initiatives.

Last July, the organization developed a three-year strategic plan as reported in the Blade that provides a roadmap for its future. It focuses on “the intersections of the lives as LGBT and as military personnel, as people of color, as immigrants, as we age, as we are HIV+, as we attend school, and as we are persons with disabilities,” according to an Equality Maryland email to supporters.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, recently acknowledged that future legislative initiatives, while not having the same “stature” as marriage or transgender equality, are important nonetheless.

“Legislative issues around HIV and AIDS and schools come to mind,” Evans told the Blade.  “In 2013 and early 2014 we have worked extensively on health care issues, especially on issues surrounding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.  We held several town hall meetings for the LGBT community and what the new law means for the community and people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Evans pointed out that during the current General Assembly, Equality Maryland has been part of the coalitions working to increase the minimum wage, reform marijuana policy and earned sick leave for workers. “These coalitions portend our commitment to focus on ensuring the ‘ands’ of LGBT lives are addressed,” she says. “We are more than our sexual orientation and gender identity, we are black, immigrant, parents, rural dwelling, disabled, young, and senior citizens and Equality Maryland will work on advocating for the whole of a LGBT person’s identity and issues.”

11
Mar
2014

Efforts to force referendum on Md. trans rights law fail

Neil Parrott, Hagerstown, Maryland House of Delegates, Republican Party, Annapolis, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) failed to collect enough signatures to prompt a referendum on Maryland’s trans rights law. (Photo public domain)

Opponents of Maryland’s transgender rights law have failed to collect enough signatures to force a November referendum on it.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County), who led the effort, said in an e-mail to supporters that his website, MDPetitions.com, collected 17,500 signatures. This figure is less than the third of the 55,737 signatures it needed to submit to state election officials by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

Parrott said MDPetitions.com collected more than 6,000 signatures over the last two days, but it appears as though opponents never submitted them.

“So many people did so much and we are very grateful for your enthusiastic support,” said Parrott. “It is difficult to come this close and then fall short, and yet we know that it was only through this effort that people became aware of the effects of this bill.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, was quick to celebrate the failed referendum effort.

“We finally get to really celebrate this momentous achievement,” she said.

Evans noted in her statement that some LGBT rights advocates questioned the need to publicize Parrott’s efforts to prompt a referendum on the law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed last month. The Washington Blade received reports that signature gatherers recently confronted members of Equality Maryland and the National Center for Transgender Equality outside a Rockville movie theater.

“While some criticized our approach, we felt an obligation to the thousands of transgender Marylanders and the people who love and support them to do everything in our power to defend it, not just be quiet and wait to see what happens,” said Evans.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced Senate Bill 212 — also known as the Fairness for All Marylanders Act — in January also celebrated the failed referendum effort.

“While it was gratifying to see this law pass the General Assembly and to watch the governor sign it, we all knew that it was not a done deal until we saw whether opponents could muster up signatures,” said Madaleno. “I am grateful for the work that Equality Maryland and others did to help stop people from signing the petition. The time for attacking principles of basic fairness for Marylanders has passed.”

Parrott did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

O’Malley in a statement noted that Maryland voters in 2012 approved marriage rights for same-sex couples and a law that extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants when the issues were on the ballot.

“We are one Maryland — united in a belief in the dignity of every individual,” he said. “We passed marriage equality and successfully defended it at the ballot box, we passed the DREAM Act to expand opportunity to all of our neighbors and we extended protections for gender identity. Marylanders stand on the side of fairness and progress, and we will keep moving forward together.”

A Goucher Poll in March indicates 71 percent of Marylanders support the trans rights law.

Maryland will join 17 other states, D.C. and Puerto Rico that have added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws once the statute takes effect on Oct. 1.

“Trans persons become equal citizens in Maryland on Oct. 1, after two decades of fighting for acceptance,” said Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer.

01
Jun
2014