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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

Trans candidate Beyer to challenge gay incumbent Madaleno

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director, Dr. Dana Beyer. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer on Thursday announced she will challenge incumbent state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) in the 2014 Democratic primary.

“We are ready for progress,” said Beyer in a statement that announced her candidacy. “For too long, hardworking Marylanders have waited for economic fairness and equal opportunity. We have asked our elected officials to help bring better jobs to our neighborhoods, build stronger schools for our children, fix our roads and infrastructure and make quality health care an affordable reality.”

“We are ready to move forward, and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for the Maryland Senate,” continued Beyer.

Beyer, 61, announced her campaign slightly more than a week after Madaleno introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

Madaleno, who is gay, reported to state campaign officials on Jan. 13 he has more than $36,000 on hand. Beyer on the same day reported her campaign has roughly $364 in the bank.

“I’m extremely proud of my record of accomplishments,” Madaleno told the Blade as he discussed the three terms he has served in the state Senate since Montgomery County voters first elected him to the chamber in 2006. “I’m confident voters who have elected me three times in the past will re-nominate me in June.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, which endorsed Madaleno’s re-election campaign late last year, told the Blade the Montgomery County Democrat’s “strong record of accomplishments go beyond the LGBT communities.”

“He works passionately and effectively for his constituents and indeed for all Marylanders,” said Evans. “We are confident the voters of District 18 will convincingly send him back to Annapolis.”

Beyer is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors.

Lisa Polyak, who stepped down as chair of the Equality Maryland board in 2012, also defended Madaleno.

“Although Dana has been a tireless advocate for transgender equality locally and nationally, she doesn’t possess the seniority or relationships that can advance priorities of LGBT citizens of Maryland,” Polyak told the Blade.

Evans said having another LGBT candidate “challenging our endorsed candidate” will divert the “limited resources that we earmarked to help our friends in other races” who supported Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in 2012. She also described Beyer’s announcement that comes less than a week before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on the trans rights bill as “ironic.”

“Some might say the timing of her announcement only serves to distract and potentially diminish our chances of passing the bill,” said Evans. “Since this is our top legislative priority in 2014 and transgender Marylanders should not have to continue to wait for inclusion in the state anti-discrimination laws, Equality Maryland hopes it does not. “

Beyer in 2010 challenged Democratic incumbent state Del. Alfred Carr (D-Montgomery County) to represent portions of Montgomery County that include Chevy Chase and Kensington in the Maryland House of Delegates. She was among the 11 openly transgender delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

The retired eye surgeon was a senior assistant to Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg. Beyer also chairs the Freedom to Work board of directors.

“I ask for your support and your vote,” she said in her announcement statement. “In return I promise to be the progressive champion Montgomery County sorely needs.”

Beyer would become the first trans person elected to the Maryland Legislature if she wins in November.

30
Jan
2014

Delman Coates: We’re running ‘on making a difference’

Delman Coates, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. Delman Coates (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

CLINTON, Md. — Hundreds of people had already taken their seats inside the sprawling Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County on May 28 for a concert to celebrate Rev. Delman Coates’ 10th anniversary as the congregation’s senior pastor as he began to make his way toward the sanctuary.

A church employee nervously tried to shield Coates from any surprises that might have been planned for him as he greeted some of his congregants. Staff and volunteers cheerfully spoke with him before he returned to his office to talk about his decision to become state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County)’s running mate in her gubernatorial campaign.

“I’ve been fully content with my work as a clergy leader in this community, across the state and around the country,” Coates told the Washington Blade. “It’s not something that I imagined and so I was really honored when Heather approached me about partnering with her.”

Coates spoke with the Blade 27 days before Mizeur faces Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

He repeatedly stressed to the Blade that he and Mizeur had already worked together on a number of issues before she first approached him last summer to become her running mate. These include reducing foreclosure rates in Prince George’s County that remain the highest in the state and opposing the expansion of gaming in the state.

Coates — whose church has 8,000 members — in 2012 testified in support of a same-sex marriage bill that Gov. Martin O’Malley ultimately signed. The Prince George’s County pastor later played a prominent role in the campaign supporting the law ahead of a referendum on it.

Rev. Delman Coates, Rev. Al Sharpton, clergy united for marriage equality

Rev. Delman Coates (center) joined Rev. Al Sharpton and other black clergy at a D.C. press conference in 2012 held to highlight their support of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“I led on marriage equality as a Prince Georgian, as a black Baptist pastor in Prince George’s County when it wasn’t popular in some quarters,” said Coates. “I led on the issue at a time when others did not.”

Equality Maryland late last year endorsed Brown’s gubernatorial campaign in an apparent snub of Mizeur.

Coates told the Blade he was “not able to comment” on the role Brown played in the campaign to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state. The Prince George’s County pastor did say that many of his colleagues told him he had “committed professional suicide” when he testified in support of the gay nuptials bill.

Coates said more than 1,000 people joined his church in 2012.

“It’s convenient after the fact to say I supported an issue,” he said. “We were clear leaders — visible, vocal and unapologetic leaders on the question of marriage and I continue to be nationally.”

Wife, children ‘fully invested’ in campaign

Coates told the Blade that he spoke with his pastor, Rev. Cynthia L. Hale of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in suburban Atlanta, and former New York Congressman Floyd Flake, whose Jamaica, N.Y., church has 23,000 members, before he agreed to become Mizeur’s running mate. He said he and his wife of 18 years, Yolanda, also spoke with Flake and his wife about balancing his responsibilities to his church with the demands of a statewide political campaign.

Coates said his four children who range in age from 4 to 11 are “really excited” about the campaign.

“They’re really excited about what’s happening,” he said. “They’ve been fully invested; my wife as well.”

Mizeur and Coates have championed a number of progressive issues during the campaign.

The Montgomery County Democrat last November announced she supports the legalization of marijuana as a way to fund early childhood education in Maryland. The ticket also backs raising the state’s minimum wage to $16.70 an hour by 2022 and reinstating the so-called “millionaire’s tax” that Mizeur argues will allow for an income tax cut for middle class Marylanders.

She is also the first gubernatorial candidate in 20 years to accept public campaign funds.

“We need elected officials who are going to be accountable to the voters,” Coates told the Blade. “This issue of accountability is really why I felt it was important to join Heather.”

Mizeur would also become the country’s first openly gay governor if voters in November elect her to succeed O’Malley who is term-limited.

“We’re not running on making history,” said Coates. “We’re running on making a difference for the state of Maryland, but the idea of a black Baptist minister partnering politically with an openly gay member of the state legislature is a compelling national narrative. It dispels the myth that is often told about the relationship between blacks and gays that really fuels this presupposition that African Americans, African-American people of faith are opposed to LGBT equality.”

Coates: I believe in separation of church and state

Mizeur and Coates have received high marks during recent debates, but they continue to face questions about their viability as a ticket with recent polls showing they trail Brown and Gansler going into the June 24 primary.

Their first television ad debuted on Tuesday — and they hope to court the significant amount of undecided voters that remain during the campaign’s final weeks.

“Whenever we have the opportunity to be heard, they’re supporting our message, our vision for the state of Maryland,” Coates told the Blade.

Coates has also faced questions from some progressives and even other people of faith about whether a pastor should run for statewide office.

Democrats and LGBT rights advocates repeatedly criticized E.W. Jackson, a minister who unsuccessfully sought to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor in 2013, over anti-gay statements he made that include comparing gay men to pedophiles and describing them as “very sick people.” Jackson also reportedly said during a speech at a Shenandoah County church last September that he disagreed with Pope Francis’ suggestion the Roman Catholic Church has grown “obsessed” with same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception.

“I’m a progressive,” Coates told the Blade. “I really believe in the separation of church and state.”

Coates noted he recently met with one of the men who filed a lawsuit against the Carroll County Board of Commissioners last year over its decision to open each of their meetings with a prayer.

“I affirmed his effort there,” he said. “I’m a progressive Christian. I believe that what makes America so great is that people have freedom of and from religion. And it’s a value that I affirm.”

Mizeur on Tuesday described Coates as “one of the great civil rights leaders of our state” during a telephone interview.

“He is a social justice advocate that has the courage of his convictions to stand up on a range of progressive priorities for helping Maryland live up to her full potential,” she said. “He’s just the total package that I was looking for to be the perfect teammate for me in this journey.”

Mizeur also responded to questions about whether a pastor such as Coates should run for statewide office.

“What he does on Sundays is one job and what he will do all the other days of the week is another job,” she told the Blade.

Heather Mizeur, Deborah Mizeur, Delman Coates, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur last November named Delman Coates (on right) as her running mate during a campaign rally in Silver Spring. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

04
Jun
2014

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

Transgender woman murdered in Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade, open walls

(Photo public domain)

A transgender woman was found dead in Northeast Baltimore early on Tuesday.

The Baltimore Police Department said she was discovered around 6:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Fillmore Street. The Baltimore Sun reported the victim, whose name was Kandy, was found in a field near a post office in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Police officials have yet to return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

The Baltimore Sun reported Acting Capt. Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore Police Department took part in a conference call with local LGBT rights advocates on Wednesday.

“We need the public’s help trying to find out who is responsible for this,” said Kowalczyk as the newspaper reported. “We don’t know how the homicide occurred yet. We’re waiting for the medical examiner to do the autopsy.”

Court records indicate police arrested Kandy twice in 2010 on prostitution-related charges, but other details about her life have yet to emerge.

“The BPD is pursuing all leads and are as committed to finding answers as we all are,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade on Wednesday.

Evans said a meeting with local LGBT advocates is scheduled to take place on Friday. She urged anyone with information about Kandy’s death to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 7-LOCKUP.

The Blade will provide further updates as they become available.

05
Jun
2014

When LGBTs run against incumbent LGBTs

Dana Beyer, Richard Madaleno, Annapolis, Maryland, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade, incumbent

Dana Beyer and Richard Madaleno. (Washington Blade photo of Beyer by Michael Key; Blade photo of Madaleno by Jeff Surprenant)

The LGBT community is debating the question of whether a member of the community should challenge an incumbent who is also a member of the community and has been very supportive and successful in fighting for our issues. That is the crux of some hard feelings generated by Dr. Dana Beyer, a transgender activist, who has thrown her hat into the ring challenging incumbent Maryland State Sen. Richard Madaleno. Beyer’s move was quickly criticized by two of her former colleagues at Equality Maryland.

Beyer is a graduate of Cornell University and the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. She is an ophthalmic surgeon and physician and grew a small business. She was a senior policy and legislative adviser to Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg and a program consultant with the Children’s National Medical Center Department of Psychiatry. She is also the mother of two and a well-known community activist.

The work of both these candidates and so many others who fought for the civil and human rights of all people means that a member of the LGBT community running against someone else from the community will become much more the norm. In this case, most would agree that the interests of the LGBT community will continue to be well served by either candidate.

I am not endorsing Beyer or Madaleno. I consider myself a friend of both, respect both, am proud of what both have accomplished for our community, and don’t live in their district. But I took the opportunity to sit down with Beyer to ask her what would lead her to challenge Madaleno. Asked whether there is anything he hasn’t done for our community that would cause her to run, she agreed there isn’t much. I asked if there wasn’t another race she could have entered since she has for many years been interested in elective office and she explained that she has more of an interest in the issues being debated in Annapolis, such as a progressive tax-code, economic justice, transportation and education. She also said that Madaleno hasn’t been supportive enough of home rule, and his positions on matters of economic justice are a major problem for the district and the county. Beyer brought up a series of issues that among others will be the focus of her campaign and that she hopes voters will make their choice on. (These are her thoughts and in no way am I agreeing or disagreeing with them.)

A big issue for Beyer is whether local counties have the right to make decisions on caps for per student funding of education. She says she would have voted against the 2012 budget reconciliation act because it included an MOE (Maintenance of Effort) clause giving the state the right to force a locality to spend money they believe they don’t have. Beyer believes this doesn’t allow them the freedom to determine their own budget priorities. She also opposed the transfer of the teacher pension responsibility from the state to the county, which Madaleno supported. She is for building the Purple Line and fighting for all mass transit improvements and says that Madaleno supports the lawsuit filed by those trying to stop the Purple Line. She supported the Montgomery County Council’s vote to not grant tax abatement to Lockheed Martin for its training academy and says Madaleno then went against home rule when he supported the state’s effort to grant the tax abatement.

Based on these issues and her background it would seem that an activist of Beyer’s stature has a right to run and bring her concerns to the electorate letting them decide who should represent them. Again, I take no position on whether she should run this particular race or not but it is clear that if the electorate is happy with Madaleno, then she will lose and that is what every candidate running against an incumbent must be prepared for.

Running against an incumbent is always more difficult than running for an open seat but in politics, especially in areas with no term limits, no incumbent should take the voters for granted or feel entitled to their seat.

05
Feb
2014

Murdered transgender woman was ‘fun-loving, caring person’

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

Police tape remains near a Northeast Baltimore field where a transgender woman was found dead on June 3. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BALTIMORE — Police continue to investigate the murder of a transgender woman whose body was found last week in Northeast Baltimore.

Lt. Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore Police Department told members of its LGBT Advisory Council during a June 5 meeting at Chase Brexton Health Services that detectives currently have few leads into their investigation of the murder of Kandy Hall who was found in a field near a post office on the 1400 block of Fillmore Street in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood early on June 3.

Crime scene tape remained on a nearby fence several days after Hall’s body was discovered.

“This is a case that will not be solved without community help,” said Kowalczyk.

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans, Center for Black Equity-Baltimore Executive Director Carlton Smith, Rev. Meredith Moise and Free State Legal Project Executive Director Aaron Merki are among those who attended the meeting.

Hall’s friend, Derrick Smith, told the Washington Blade that Hall, 40, was a hairdresser from Annapolis. He said they had known each other for more than three decades.

“I was there with her at the beginning of the process before she transitioned and everything,” said Smith. “I knew her as her little boy self and I knew her as Kandy.”

Smith told the Blade he hadn’t spoken with Hall in more than two years.

He said he found out about her death on Facebook.

“She was a very fun-loving, caring person,” said Smith. “She just enjoyed life. She lived life to the fullest because I guess her mindset was tomorrow’s not promised to anybody so I’m not going to wait until tomorrow to do this if I can do it today.”

Court records indicate Hall was charged with prostitution four times in Anne Arundel County between 2001-2003. The Baltimore Police Department arrested her twice on prostitution-related charges in 2010.

Court records also note Hall was charged with robbery, theft, trespassing, possession of marijuana, driving with an expired license and other minor offenses in Anne Arundel, Howard and Wicomico Counties since 1991.

Police have yet to publicly disclose a possible motive behind Hall’s murder, but Smith scoffed at suggestions prostitution may have contributed to her death.

“I get tired whenever a transgender person is murdered, [people] automatically connect it to prostitution,” he told the Blade. “She could have just been walking across the field and there could have been a random hate crime.”

Some of the more than two dozen people who attended the LGBT Advisory Council’s meeting at Chase Brexton also expressed concern about anti-trans violence they say continues to take place in Baltimore. WJZ reported the person who shot Kelly Young to death in East Baltimore in April 2013 remains at large.

“Because we do not know the motive behind Kandy’s death, the LGBT communities of Baltimore remain apprehensive and on guard,” said Evans as WJZ reported.

Anyone with information about Hall’s death is urged to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 7-LOCKUP.

09
Jun
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

Md. Senate campaign between Madaleno, Beyer grows heated

Dana Beyer, Richard Madaleno, Annapolis, Maryland, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade, incumbent

Dana Beyer and Richard Madaleno. (Washington Blade photo of Beyer by Michael Key; Blade photo of Madaleno by Jeff Surprenant)

The race between state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and challenger Dana Beyer in Maryland’s 18th Senate District has grown increasingly heated ahead of the June 24 primary.

Madaleno compared Beyer to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during a May 29 debate that aired on Montgomery Municipal Cable’s “Political Pulse.” The two also clashed during a District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club forum on Monday.

“She wants to be the person that just makes the big statement that gets attention, but actually spends little time in making the hard decisions about governing,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade in an interview on Tuesday. “You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who would not label me as a liberal, as a progressive in the state Senate. I’m also practical in recognizing that we have to make compromises that get the job done.”

Madaleno told the Blade that Beyer has “gone very negative” during the campaign.

His opponent in recent days has sent two mailers to voters that say Madaleno has “led the charge” against a so-called millionaire’s tax. Beyer has also said Madaleno voted in favor of cutting the state’s contribution to the public teachers’ pension fund.

“There’s nothing in any of my mailers … that is in any way negative,” Beyer told the Blade on Tuesday. “It’s about his record. He’s used it negatively because it’s highlighting what he’s done, which doesn’t fit with his record.”

Beyer provided the Blade with a screenshot of her Facebook page that shows Madaleno’s husband, Mark Madaleno Hodge, questioning why her campaign pays her canvassers $8.50 an hour.

“Economic justice doesn’t apply to you I guess,” wrote Hodge.

Beyer told the Blade her canvassers receive between $10.50-$12.50 an hour. She also categorized accusations that she asked District 18 voters whether Madaleno spent “too much time on gay issues” in a Celinda Lake poll she commissioned before declaring her candidacy in January as “another lie.”

“That was as classic, as detailed, as traditional a persuasion poll as possible,” Beyer told the Blade. “I’m trying to understand the race. I discovered that I could win this race, but it wasn’t on anything gay or trans.”

Madaleno, 48, has represented District 18 that includes Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring, Bethesda and Chevy Chase since 2007. He also became the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 when he won a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Beyer, 61, was a senior assistant to former Montgomery County Council woman Duchy Trachtenberg. The retired eye surgeon unsuccessfully challenged state Del. Alfred Carr (D-Montgomery County) in 2010.

Beyer, who is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors, is the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland that she founded in 2011.

Beyer: Madaleno introduced trans bill because he’s ‘the gay guy’

Beyer has repeatedly criticized Madaleno over his role in the passage of a transgender rights bill earlier this year that he introduced.

She told the Blade that Madaleno “wasn’t supposed to introduce” Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act because she said her organization convinced state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) to do it because he is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that in 2013 struck down a similar measure. Beyer said Gender Rights Maryland also worked with state Del. James Hubbard (D-Prince George’s County) to put forth the bill in the Maryland House of Delegates because he is a member of the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

“These are people who’ve been with us in the past, who have superb rates of legislative success,” she said. “Rich introduced this because he’s the gay guy.”

Beyer said Madaleno was unable to define gender identity last year during the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a trans rights bill. She also accused her opponent of disinviting Gov. Martin O’Malley from testifying in support of it.

Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer, Jamie Raskin, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer and Sen. Jamie Raskin during a 2013 Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Beyer told the Blade that she worked with state Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) who ultimately voted for Senate Bill 212 in February.

The three Democrats who sit on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in 2013 voted against a nearly identical bill.

“We got all three of those votes,” said Beyer. “[Madaleno] promoted himself as the lead sponsor because he wanted the credit for it. That’s what he does best — take credit for which he doesn’t deserve credit.”

Madaleno acknowledged he shares Beyer’s “frustration” that it took nearly a decade for a trans rights bill to become law. He accused her of being willing to compromise on a 2011 measure that did not include public accommodations.

Numerous LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent months have said Beyer did not play a significant role in the passage of SB 212 that O’Malley signed last month. They also questioned Gender Rights Maryland’s decision to oppose efforts to highlight efforts to prompt a referendum on the law that ultimately failed.

“Those of us who were actually in Annapolis day in and day out during the session will tell you that it was thousands of supporters, strong leadership from the governor, Lt. Gov. [Anthony Brown], Senate President [Thomas V. Mike Miller], Speaker of the House [Michael Busch], and most importantly, and the glue that held it all together, Sen. Rich Madaleno,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade.

Her organization late last year endorsed Madaleno and Brown, who is running against Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“It is unfortunate for our community that Beyer has employed tactics that attack Sen. Madaleno, his intentions and his record,” said Evans.

Jonathan Shurberg, chair of Gender Rights Maryland’s Legislative Committee who is running for the House of Delegates in House District 20, has repeatedly defended the role he says Beyer and her organization played to secure passage of SB 212.

The Blade was unable to immediately reach him for comment.

Madaleno: Beyer is ‘jealous’

Madaleno said that he also played a key role in securing marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state — a point Beyer has acknowledged. The incumbent Democrat suggested during the Montgomery Municipal Cable debate that his opponent is “jealous” of him, noting she described him as “the major stumbling block in getting the trans bill passed.”

“It’s clear that the only thing that triturates us is her belief that she should have the job,” said Madaleno.

Beyer insists her decision to challenge Madaleno is not just about the trans rights bill that O’Malley signed.

She told the Blade she will focus on economic issues, the environment and other progressive issues if voters elect her.

“I’m not running to be the trans senator,” said Beyer. “I’m running to be the senator from District 18 who happens to be a woman, a civil rights leader, trans, intersex, a physician, a surgeon, a writer. I am many, many things and in many respects certainly with respect to being an elected representative, being trans is the least of it.”

11
Jun
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