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Final Maryland Senate vote on trans bill expected next week

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.–A final vote on a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders is expected to take place in the Maryland Senate next week.

Lawmakers on Friday approved Senate Bill 212 – the Fairness for All Marylanders Act – by a voice vote on its second reading. They also backed an amendment to the measure state Sen. Joseph Getty (R-Carroll County) introduced that clarifies the definition of gender identity and expression.

“Everyone agrees we want fairness for all Marylanders,” said state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County).

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced SB 212 last month, applauded his colleagues for “their support in strengthening and approving the Fairness for All Marylanders Act” the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved last week. The Montgomery County Democrat also praised Equality Maryland, the Human Rights Campaign and other members of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality for their efforts in support of the measure.

Observers expect that SB 212, which has 24 co-sponsors in the state Senate, will pass.

“We’ve come too far in the fight for civil rights in Maryland to exclude a vulnerable group of citizens from their right to equal treatment under the law,” said Madaleno. “Now is the time for full equality for all Marylanders.”

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.

All three Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur – support SB 212. Brown is expected to testify for the measure next week on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

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.

“In case anybody wants to know, I’m going to vote for the bill,” said Miller on Thursday before senators moved to delay the measure’s second reading by a day.

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 March 5 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.

“I fully expect the Senate to finish the job and pass this important legislation early next week,” said Madaleno.

01
Mar
2014

Heroes Gala

The Capital Pride Heroes Gala and Silent Auction was held at the Powerhouse in Georgetown on Wednesday. Awardees included Ed Bailey, Barbara Lewis, Darren Phelps, Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin, Margot Rosen, Consuella Lopez, Hassan Naveed, Jennifer Hall and Dignity Washington. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) buyphoto 

30
May
2013

Capital Pride honors local advocates

Ed Baily, Town Danceboutique, No. 9, gay news, Washington Blade

Ed Baily (Washington Blade file photo)

Capital Pride organizers this week announced the recipients of their annual awards. Winners of the “heroes” awards are: Ed Bailey, longtime community volunteer, DJ and business owner; Barbara Lewis, an advocate for culturally competent healthcare since the 1970s; Darren Phelps, founding pastor of Bethel Christian Church D.C.; Jamie Raskin, Maryland state senator; and Margot Rosen, HRC’s director of membership outreach.

There are two recipients of the Engendered Spirit award: Consuella Lopez, a local activist, stylist, business owner and radio show host; and Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence. The Bill Miles Award went to Jennifer Hall and the Larry Stansbury Award winner is Dignity/Washington. The winners will be honored at an event May 29. Visit capitalpride.org/heroes for details.

15
May
2013

Heroes assemble!

Ed Baily, Town Danceboutique, No. 9, gay news, Washington Blade

Ed Baily (Washington Blade file photo)

Capital Pride hosts its Heroes Gala and Silent Auction Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at the Powerhouse in Georgetown (3255 Grace St., NW).

The community each year nominates individuals who have helped further the causes of LGBT rights. The recipients of the Capital Pride Heroes this year include Ed Bailey, a DJ who has changed the landscape of the LGBT nightlife in D.C.; Barbara Lewis, who has worked to promote culturally competent health care in the LGBT community; Darren Phelps, senior and founding pastor of Bethel Christian Church D.C.; Jamie Raskin, a professor of Constitutional Law at American University’s Washington College of Law and a Maryland State Senator; and Margot Rosen, director of Membership Outreach at the Human Rights Campaign.

Tickets are $25-$1,000. For more information, visit capitalpride.org.

23
May
2013

Md., Va. to tackle bias, trans rights as lawmakers return

Gay News, Washington Blade, Carrie Evans, Gay Maryland

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Lawmakers in Maryland and Virginia will consider a number of LGBT-specific issues during their respective legislative sessions that began on Wednesday.

Maryland legislators are likely to consider a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last April because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it.

Miller has publicly backed the proposed measure that gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will formally sponsor. He and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) are expected to champion the bill in the chamber.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, who signed the state’s first anti-trans discrimination law in 2002 when he was the mayor of Baltimore, also backs the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act.

“We’re very optimistic this year because the world has changed,” Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer told the Washington Blade. “The attitudes of not only the voters who proved on Nov. 6 that they’re supportive of progressive issues such as marriage equality and the Dream Act, but also the legislators have noticed that and are feeling a little bit emboldened.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans shared Beyer’s optimism.

The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality has grown to include CASA de Maryland, Progressive Maryland and 17 other organizations. Equality Maryland has posted a petition on its website in support of the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act

Evans said this group is “modeling ourselves off of the” campaign in support of the same-sex marriage referendum that passed last November by a 52-48 percent margin.

“We have an incredible window here in 2013 with the strength of the coalition, the good feelings everybody has about Equality Maryland,” she said. “We are going full surge ahead and hopefully passing this once and for all in 2013.”

A proposed assault weapons ban in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 students and six administrators dead and efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty are among the issues expected to dominate this year’s legislative agenda in Annapolis, but Evans highlighted other issues on which she and other advocates hope to work in the coming year.

These include working with Attorney General Doug Gansler and other officials to ensure the state’s same-sex marriage law that took effect on Jan. 1 is properly implemented. She pointed to insurance and tax-related issues for same-sex couples and making sure state agencies have provisions that include gender-neutral references are top priorities.

Evans said she expects most of these changes will take place through new regulations or administrative tweaks, but “they are working on answering the question of redoing all of the areas of state law and what needs to be done legislatively. Strengthening Maryland’s anti-bullying laws is another priority.

“The problem has always been making sure once the law is passed it is implemented at all levels,” Evans said.

Va. bill would ban anti-LGBT bias

Virginia lawmakers are expected to consider a measure during their legislative session that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination against state employees.

State Sens. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) and Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced Senate Bill 701 last October. The state Senate passed similar measures in 2010 and 2011, but they stalled in the House of Delegates.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish told the Blade last November that SB 701’s chances of passing in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates this year are “very slim.”

“While our biggest challenge is the House of Delegates, this will be an opportunity to get legislators on the record for pro-LGBT legislation and see if they are really supporting equality and their constituency this election year,” he said.

Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin is a Senate Bill 710 co-sponsor (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

Ebbin told the Blade he expects the Senate General Law Committee could potentially hear SB 701 in the coming weeks.

“The bill has passed the Senate before, but failed in the General Laws and Technology Committee last session,” he said. “It’s a sometimes challenging environment because there’s Republican control of that committee, but we’re working hard and hope there will be a breakthrough this year.”

Del. legislators expected to debate marriage

Delaware lawmakers are expected to consider a same-sex marriage bill between now and the end of their current legislative session on June 30.

Gov. Jack Markell, who signed the state’s civil unions law in 2011, suggested to the Huffington Post last August that state lawmakers could debate a measure that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot this year.

Spokesperson Catherine Rossi reiterated that point to the Blade.

“The governor expects that a marriage equality bill will be worked this session,” she said.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) described efforts to place a same-sex marriage bill on the 2013 legislative agenda as a “no-brainer” during an interview with the News-Journal on Tuesday. House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) added she expects Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere) and state Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear) to introduce the measure.

Both legislators co-sponsored the civil unions bill.

Gays and lesbians can legally marry in neighboring Maryland and eight other states and D.C. Lawmakers in New Jersey, Illinois and Rhode Island are expected to consider similar measures in the coming weeks.

09
Jan
2013

BREAKING: Maryland lawmakers introduce transgender rights bill

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Dana Beyer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 that gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced has more than 20 co-sponsors. These include state Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County.)

The proposal died in committee last April because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it. Miller has since backed the proposal.

“Put simply, the process of passing a bill requires that you line up the votes you need to make it through a chamber,” Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, told the Washington Blade. “That process is eased considerably when those legislators are willing to sign on as co-sponsors. I am very pleased we can show this degree of support in the Senate, which I attribute to the diligent work of Senators Madaleno and Raskin and their staffs. The trans community should be very hopeful that this is the year.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans also welcomed the proposal’s introduction.

“The protections in this bill are long overdue,” she said. “We are confident the General Assembly will demonstrate, as they did in 2012, that we are a state that treats all of its citizens with dignity and equality under the law.”

Maryland is among the 21 states and D.C. that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, while the nation’s capital and 16 states have passed laws that ban anti-trans discrimination.

29
Jan
2013

PFLAG chapters stand behind trans rights bill

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

Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) (Washington Blade photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Six Maryland PFLAG chapters—Howard County, Baltimore County, Frederick County, Chestertown, Carroll County and Washington, DC/Metro Area—came out in strong support of SB449, the Fairness For All Marylanders Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in Maryland.

Introduced on Jan. 29 by Sens. Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin, both Democrats from Montgomery County, the measure has 23 co-sponsors, the most of any similar legislation in previous years.

June Horner of PFLAG-Westminster/Carroll County said, “Every single person in our state deserves an equal opportunity to live a life which is free from discrimination.”

13
Feb
2013

Md. rally focuses on trans rights

Rich Madaleno, gay news, Washington Blade, Annapolis, Maryland, Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality

Sen. Rich Madaleno spoke at a rally in Annapolis this week. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)

A diverse crowd of nearly 200 gathered at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis on Monday to rally behind SB449, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013. The bill, if passed, would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on gender identity or expression. The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality sponsored the event and organized the subsequent lobbying efforts for individuals and groups by district.

“We must put our foot on the gas pedal until there is equality all over the state,” Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland and who emceed the rally, told the crowd.

Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) attended the event. He, along with Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), introduced the measure on Jan. 29. Madaleno expressed confidence in the bill’s passage by telling the crowd, “We are on the verge of this last big victory in Maryland,” noting that 23 senators sponsored SB449 and 24 are needed for passage. “I think all of the stars are finally in alignment,” he said.

Last year, a similar bill was passed in the House of Delegates by a margin of 86-52 only to die in the Senate. This year there is much more optimism given that Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller is supporting the bill. Therefore, it is likely to pass in the Senate as well as the House if it can make it out of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. The JPR is scheduled to hear testimony on Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.

Other speakers at the rally included Rev. Larry Brumfield, Maryland Black Family Alliance; Mara Kiesling, National Center for Transgender Equality; Blake Wideman, Black Trans Men, Inc.; Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City); and Darlene Nipper, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

20
Feb
2013

O’Malley ‘absolutely’ building support for Md. trans bill

Steve Elmendorf, Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says he’s ‘absolutely’ reaching to lawmakers to pass trans rights bill (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday said he’s “absolutely” reaching out to state lawmakers to encourage them to pass a transgender rights bill.

O’Malley affirmed his support for the measure when speaking with the Washington Blade at the White House following a meeting between President Obama and members of the National Governors Association.

“I’ve supported that bill in the past, support it again this year,” O’Malley said. “I think we should pass it, and, in fact, I testified in favor of it when I was mayor some seven years ago in the state legislature.”

Asked if he’s reaching out to lawmakers to encourage them to pass the bill, O’Malley replied, “Sure am. I absolutely am.”

O’Malley’s support for the bill could prove crucial as he was among the driving forces behind the same-sex marriage bill lawmakers approved last year. The governor also campaigned in support of the issue ahead of last November’s referendum on the law he signed.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on the bill–the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013–that would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. State Sens. Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin of Montgomery Country formally introduced the measure last month.

Dana Beyer, executive director of the statewide transgender group Gender Rights Maryland, affirmed O’Malley has been active in building support for the transgender rights legislation.

“Gov. O’Malley has been very supportive of the trans community since his days as Mayor of Baltimore, when he led the city in its creation of the state’s first anti-discrimination law,” Beyer said. “Today he is lending his full support with his colleagues in Annapolis as the statewide law begins to work its way through the Senate. We at Gender Rights Maryland applaud all his hard work on behalf of our community, and are very grateful to have our governor as our leading ally.”

The proposal died in committee last February because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it. Advocates are more optimistic the bill will pass this year, in part, because he now supports it.

NOTE: This posting has been updated to include a comment from Dana Beyer.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story.

25
Feb
2013

Md. Senate committee holds hearing on transgender rights bill

Jamie Raskin, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.–A Maryland state Senate committee on Tuesday held a hearing on a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

“Many of the most vulnerable people in the LGBT community are left with no legal protections in our state laws,” state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County,) who introduced Senate Bill 449 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 late last month with state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County,) said. He noted lawmakers in 2001 added sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression to Maryland’s anti-discrimination law. “I come before you today as the sponsor of Senate Bill 449 with my good friend from Montgomery County and ask you to fix this omission and ensure that all Marylanders, including my transgender sisters and brothers, are afforded protection under our anti-discrimination laws.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, agreed.

“The protections in Senate Bill 449 are needed in real people’s lives,” she said.

Former Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, David Rocah of the American Civil Liberties Union and Liz Seaton of the National Center for Lesbian Rights are among the more than two dozen SB 449 proponents who testified.

“It is difficult to see your child struggle through life because they are transgender,” Millie Jean Byrd said as she spoke about her trans daughter who also testified in support of SB 449.

Caroline Temmermand said her credit card company lowered her credit limit from $5,500 to $200 after she legally changed her name.

“When you talk about transgender folks, we have families,” she said. “You discriminate against us, you discriminate against my family.”

Alex Hickcox of Hyattsville spoke about the fear he said he experiences at work because of his gender identity and expression.

“Everyone in Maryland deserves a safe work environment free from potential harassment or actual harassment and discrimination,” he said. “Everyone in this great state deserves to feel like they have a voice and they don’t have to be silent.”

Baltimore City, along with Baltimore and Howard and Montgomery Counties have already adopted trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws.

Sixteen states and D.C. ban anti-trans discrimination, but SB 449 opponents maintain the bill is unnecessary.

“This bill will force the state and private actors — employers, landlords and others who provide public services — to officially and legally affirm the very delusion that puts these suffering individuals at odds with reality,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said. “Not only will it not makes their lives better, but it will prevent them from getting the very help they do need to make their lives better.”

Elaine McDermott and Ruth Jacobs of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government are among those who also testified against the measure. Rev. Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposed the same-sex marriage law Gov. Martin O’Malley signed last year, attended a portion of the hearing.

Marriage referendum provided ‘foundation of understanding’

The state House of Delegates in 2011 passed a trans rights bill, but a similar measure died in a Senate committee last year.

O’Malley, who signed Baltimore City’s trans rights ordinance into law in 2002 when he was mayor of the Charm City, told the Washington Blade on Monday he is “absolutely” reaching out to state lawmakers to encourage them to support SB 449. Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) also backs the proposal.

A spokesperson for state Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) told the Blade on Tuesday he “hasn’t made up his mind on the issue.” State Sens. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and Norman Stone, Jr., (D-Baltimore County) also remain undecided.

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

State Sen. Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer and state Sen. Jamie Raskin. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, and other advocates remain optimistic SB 449 has enough votes in committee to send it to the full Senate. Madaleno said members of the LGBT legislative caucus “meet regularly with the whole coalition” in anticipation of the bill going to the House of Delegates.

“They’ve managed to get it passed before,” he said. “It’s a matter of laying the groundwork, keeping everyone up to date.”

State Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) told the Blade on Monday she feels the passage of last November’s same-sex marriage referendum laid what she described as “a foundation for understanding” of civil rights for all Marylanders.

“You can make the case that everyone who’s different deserves all the same opportunities and rights and responsibilities of our society,” she said. “That was the case we made for marriage and we’re continuing to make it for our transgender friends.”

Madaleno and state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) were the only LGBT members of the state legislature who attended a rally in support of SB 449 at Lawyer’s Mall on Feb. 18. Gay state Del. Peter Murphy (D-Calvert County) testified in support of the measure during the hearing.

“All people are asking is each person in this state, every one in this state, all of our constituents are entitled to the same rights and privileges that everybody else has,” he said.

Advocates stress unity

Beyer said during her testimony she remains more optimistic about the bill’s chances this year, in part, because voters last November upheld the state’s same-sex marriage law. She also cited the American Psychiatric Association’s decision late last year to remove Gender Identity Disorder from its list of mental disorders as additional progress on trans rights.

“This year is different,” Beyer said. “This year the arc of the moral universe will bring justice to Maryland.”

The committee is expected to vote on whether to send SB 449 to the full Senate by next Thursday.

Meanwhile, the measure’s supporters maintain they hopeful lawmakers will support the proposal.

“Ultimately we are all united in our drive to achieve fairness for trans Marylanders,” Keith Thirion of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality told the Blade after the hearing ended. “We don’t let go of that.”

Connie O’Malley of Baltimore agreed.

“Everybody is really focused on the goal, which is to protect the vulnerable people that need the protection,” she said. “We are doing our best to focus on staying united on that goal.”

27
Feb
2013