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Trans rights bill, ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban top Md. legislative agenda

Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Heather Mizeur is seeking to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Efforts to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression and so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors are top priorities for Maryland LGBT rights advocates during the 2014 legislative session that begins on Wednesday.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will introduce the transgender rights bill in the state Senate. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the measure in the House of Delegates, even though the chamber passed a trans rights bill in 2011.

“We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work with our House members,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote struck down a bill Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure.

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

“I am very hopeful, given the way the culture has changed in a progressive direction in Maryland and given the support we now have from the Senate and House leadership, we will get the six votes in the Judicial Proceedings Committee to move the bill,” said Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland.

Evans told the Blade the gubernatorial campaign will only improve the measure’s chances of passing during this legislative session.

Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, whom Equality Maryland endorsed last month, told the Blade in a statement he is “fully committed” to passing the trans rights bill this year.

Evans said both Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, have pledged to testify in support of the measure in Annapolis.

“They will use the connections they have in the General Assembly to help us secure the votes we need,” said Evans. “Having Anthony Brown come and testify and talk about it is going to be instrumental in the legislature.”

Bob Wheelock, spokesperson for Attorney General Doug Gansler’s campaign, noted Gansler told Equality Maryland he backs the trans rights bill and would “definitely” sign it if lawmakers approve it. Gansler’s running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored the measure in the House of Delegates in 2011.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) also co-sponsored the 2011 bill.

“No one should face discrimination on the basis of gender identity — equality in Maryland shouldn’t have to wait this long,” she told the Blade. “I will be a vocal advocate for these important protections to ensure that all Marylanders are treated the same way in their jobs, housing and public accommodations.”

Measure seeks to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy to minors

State Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) has introduced a bill that would ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in Maryland.

The original version of House Bill 91 only includes sexual orientation, but Cardin’s legislative director Josh Greenfield told the Blade on Tuesday it will be amended to include gender identity and expression. Madaleno is also expected to introduce the measure in the Senate.

“There are numerous gay conversion therapy providers as well as organizations like the infamous International Healing Foundation located right here in Maryland advocating for what I consider very harmful conversion therapies,” said Cardin, noting Prince George’s County Public Schools last year stopped using an anti-bullying curriculum that included references to the Bowie-based organization and other “ex-gay” groups. “To me it is incredibly repulsive.”

Evans told the Blade that Equality Maryland is working with Cardin, who is running to succeed Gansler as attorney general, to “explore some non-legislative options to reach the same goals.” These include working with state boards that govern therapeutic practices in Maryland to change administrative policies.

“If we can do this without legislation, I am all about it,” said Cardin. “I am not interested in the glory. I’m interested in solving problems.”

International Healing Foundation Director Christopher Doyle criticized Cardin and others who seek to ban conversion therapy to minors in Maryland.

“This is not being fueled by mental health advocates,” Doyle told the Blade on Tuesday. “This is being done by political organizations that are more interested in promoting a political ideology as opposed to clients’ rights.”

Maryland lawmakers are also expected to debate the decriminalization of marijuana and the potential legalization of the drug during this session.

Equality Maryland is a member of a coalition of groups that seek to reform the state’s marijuana policy.

Mizeur in November announced she supports the legalization of marijuana as a way to fund early childhood education. Miller earlier this week adopted an identical position.

“Our prohibition laws have been a failure,” Mizeur told Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 during a Jan. 6 interview. “Maryland’s marijuana laws have ruined people’s lives.”

08
Jan
2014

Mizeur campaign keeping busy

Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Heather Mizeur held a slew of campaign events in seven counties last weekend in her pursuit of the governor’s office. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Del. Heather Mizeur (Montgomery County) continued her grassroots “people-powered movement to end politics as usual in Maryland” campaign last weekend. She is seeking to be the first female and the first openly gay governor of Maryland.

On Jan. 8, she appeared before a well-attended candidates’ forum sponsored by the Columbia Democratic Club. Mizeur was the only candidate running for the top spot on the ticket speaking at the forum while lieutenant governor hopefuls Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Del. Jolene Ivey (Prince George’s) represented the Anthony Brown and Douglas F. Gansler candidacies, respectively. At the forum, Mizeur separated herself from her rivals with her push to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana to help fund early childhood education.

During the weekend of Jan. 11-12, billed as a “Weekend of Action,” Mizeur continued her campaign schedule with 18 events in 7 counties. Included were “Meet and Greet” stops on Jan. 11 in Frederick, Elkridge, Annapolis, Waldorf, Clinton and Gaithersburg. In addition, phone banks were conducted in College Park, Baltimore, Silver Spring and Greenbelt.

On Jan. 12, “Meet and Greet” events took place in Rockville/Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, and ended in Baltimore in a Mount Washington Community Forum. Phone banking efforts occurred in Adelphi, Fort Washington and Silver Spring.

14
Jan
2014

Brown tops Gansler in latest Md. fundraising report

Anthony Brown, Diane Stollenwerk, Maggie McIntosh, Mary Washington, Ken Ulman, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

From left: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Diane Stollenwerk, Del. Maggie McIntosh, Del. Mary Washington and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. (Photo by Sam O’Neil)

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown has developed a significant fundraising advantage over his Democratic challengers in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, raised nearly $5.4 million between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8, according to their latest campaign finance report they filed with state officials on Wednesday. This figure includes a $250 contribution Equality Maryland’s PAC made on Jan. 6 — less than two weeks after the statewide LGBT advocacy group endorsed Brown and Ulman.

Brown and Ulman, who ended his own gubernatorial bid last spring after Brown tapped him as his running mate, had slightly more than $7 million on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Attorney General Doug Gansler and his running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), reported they raised nearly $1.7 million during the same period. They reported they have slightly more than $6.2 million in the bank.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) reported she and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates, raised more than $1.1 million between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8. This figure includes slightly more than $284,359 in public funds the campaign has thus far received.

Mizeur and Coates’ campaign finance report indicates they had slightly more than $747,000 on hand at the end of the latest reporting period.

“I’m grateful for this tremendous outpouring of support from people who share our vision of a better Maryland for more Marylanders,” said Brown in a statement, noting education remains among his top priorities. “With a successful 2013 under our belt and growing momentum, we look forward to a busy and productive legislative session to build a better Maryland for more Marylanders.”

Gansler campaign spokesperson Bob Wheelock said the latest finance reports indicate the attorney general “has the resources and the record to not just win this race, but build the best Maryland for everyone.” Wheelock also criticized Brown and Ulman for reporting joint fundraising totals eight days after the start of the current legislative session during which lawmakers and elected statewide officials cannot accept campaign contributions under Maryland law.

“Their report of joint fundraising totals shows the mockery they are making of the ban on fundraising,” said Wheelock.

Joanna Belanger, campaign manager for Mizeur, said the Montgomery County Democrat’s report shows Marylanders are “responding” to her ticket’s message.

“We have a committed army of volunteers, grassroots donors and supporters who want to spread the word and ensure that Maryland families are number one in Annapolis next year,” said Belanger.

A Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies poll conducted last October indicates 41 percent of likely Democratic voters would vote for Brown in the June 24 primary, compared to 21 percent who support Gansler and 5 percent who back Mizeur. A third of respondents said they were undecided.

Republican gubernatorial candidates reported they raised far less money during the latest reporting period than their Democratic counterparts.

Harford County Executive David Craig raised nearly $250,000 between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8. He reported a bank balance of slightly less than $155,000.

State Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County) reported he raised slightly more than $130,000 during the same period and had $15,449.89 in his campaign bank account.

Former congressional candidate Charles Lollar raised about $65,000 between Nov. 27, 2012, and Jan. 8. His campaign finance report indicates he had only $5,731.35 on hand at the end of the reporting period.

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) reported his campaign to succeed Gansler as attorney general had slightly more than $795,000 on hand at the end of the latest filing period. State Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), Bill Frick (D-Montgomery County) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) reported slightly more than $374,000, $133,000 and $9,200 respectively.

Kevin Walling, a gay former Equality Maryland staffer who hopes to represent portions of Montgomery County in the House of Delegates, raised slightly more than $37,000 from when he formally declared his candidacy last June to Jan. 8. He reported he had nearly $31,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period.

16
Jan
2014

Mizeur finding momentum in Maryland

Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, momentum

Del. Heather Mizeurwith running mate Delman Coates. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

There’s something very exciting taking hold in my home state of Maryland. State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) has tapped into the same progressive energy that propelled Bill de Blasio to the mayor’s office in New York City and Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate.

Six months ago, Heather invited me to join her on probably the hottest August afternoon of the summer. She was speaking at a house party in Baltimore City. With the oppressive heat, I was expecting to meet a dozen or so interested voters. When we arrived we were greeted by over a hundred progressive activists eager to hear Heather’s vision for our state.

For nearly two hours Heather tackled tough issues – from marijuana decriminalization, to fighting for a fracking moratorium, slashing middle class taxes and campaigning against an unnecessary juvenile detention center in Baltimore City.

Heather has the momentum and her vision is resonating with voters. In a recent survey polling likely Baltimore City voters, Heather and her running mate, Pastor Delman Coates, scored a huge upset coming in second and only three percentage points behind frontrunner Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and his running mate, County Executive Ken Ulman (32 to 29 percent).

Maryland, despite being a progressive powerhouse, has never elected a female chief executive and no state in the nation has ever elected an openly LGBT governor. With the opportunity to shatter both of those barriers, national organizations are quickly coming to the aid of the Mizeur/Coates campaign.

In the last month alone, Heather earned the support of EMILY’s List, the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority and was recently announced as one of the top “Women to Watch in 2014” by MSNBC.

Five months is an eternity in electoral politics and if Heather continues to tap into the same progressive energy that propelled de Blasio, Warren, Baldwin and others, we are going to witness a tremendous victory for our community in June.

Kevin Walling is a candidate for Maryland House of Delegates from Montgomery County.

28
Jan
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

Md. Democratic gubernatorial candidates hold first televised debate

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

The three leading Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates held their first televised debate on Wednesday at the University of Maryland. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland’s three leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday briefly touched upon marriage rights for same-sex couples during their first televised debate that took place at the University of Maryland.

Attorney General Doug Gansler noted in 2008 he became the first statewide official to back gay nuptials when he testified before a Maryland Senate committee — embattled state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) later tried to impeach him. Gansler in 2010 wrote an opinion that said Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

“I was five years ahead of most people on the issue of marriage equality,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said he and incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley secured passage of laws extending marriage rights to same-sex couples and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants that voters approved in 2012. The lieutenant governor further noted O’Malley signed a gun control bill into law less than six months after Adam Lanza killed 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Maryland last May also repealed the death penalty.

“We live in a much more just society today than we did eight years ago,” said Brown.

“Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory moderated the hour-long debate that NBC4, the University of Maryland and Bowie State University sponsored. The candidates answered questions from NBC4 reporters Chris Gordon and Chris Lawrence and Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) did not discuss marriage rights for same-sex couples. She did reiterate her plan to legalize marijuana in order to fund universal preschool in the state.

“Our marijuana prohibition laws have been a failure; they have been enforced with racial bias,” said Mizeur.

Brown said he supports a bill that O’Malley signed last month that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Both the lieutenant governor and Gansler said they do not currently support the drug’s legalization.

“There’s no rush,” said Gansler.

Neither candidate discussed a transgender rights bill that received final approval in the Maryland House of Delegates in March, even though they all support it. Brown and Mizeur earlier this year testified for the measure before various legislative committees.

Mizeur’s running mate, Rev. Delman Coates, told the Washington Blade after the debate that it was “surprising” the trans rights bill was not discussed.

“We were prepared for this issue to be addressed,” he said. “We’re delighted that Heather was able to work in Annapolis in this legislative session to pass this legislation.”

State Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) also noted the lack of discussion on the trans rights measure during the debate. She told the Blade afterwards that marriage rights for same-sex couples “should have been mentioned.”

“It was an important initiative of the last administration,” said McIntosh. “I’m pleased to say that everyone whose running for governor had a role in that.”

She credited Brown with helping build support for the same-sex marriage law among black Marylanders. McIntosh also dismissed Gansler’s suggestion earlier this year that Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of the lieutenant governor for his support of the trans rights bill.

“They realize the important role that Anthony Brown played in the passage of both bills — same-sex marriage and transgender,” she told the Blade. “And they also know his overall record on equality and civil rights. There is no question Equality Maryland made the right choice.”

A St. Mary’s College poll conducted between April 10-13 found Brown ahead of Gansler by a 27-11 percent margin. Slightly less than 8 percent of respondents backed Mizeur, while 54 percent of them said they remain undecided.

The three candidates are scheduled to debate each other two more times before the June 24 primary. Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 is scheduled to moderate a debate between Brown and Gansler’s running mates — Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County) — and Coates in the coming weeks.

Mizeur could potentially become the country’s first openly LGBT governor if Maryland voters elect her to succeed O’Malley in November. Brown would become the state’s first African American governor if he wins the general election.

08
May
2014

Brown maintains fundraising edge in Md. gubernatorial race

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

The three leading Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates held their first televised debate on May 8 at the University of Maryland. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown continues to maintain a significant fundraising advantage over his challengers ahead of next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, raised $1,236,156.40 between the end of the legislative session on April 8 and May 20, according to their latest campaign finance report they filed with state officials on Wednesday. The two men reported they have raised more than $11 million during the 2014 election cycle.

The two men reported slightly less than $4.15 million on hand.

“Maryland families are united behind Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman’s plan to build a better Maryland for more Marylanders by establishing universal pre-kindergarten, building the most competitive business climate and expanding job training for our workers,” said Brown and Ulman’s campaign manager, Justin Schall.

Attorney General Doug Gansler and his running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), reported they raised $311,970.08 between April 8 and May 20. The candidates reported slightly more than $3.1 million on hand.

“Doug has continued to raise money from supporters at a steady clip in the last six weeks, and with more than $3 million in the bank and less than a month before the primary, we have the resources needed to win this race,” said campaign spokesperson Katie Hill.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates, raised $194,309.28 that includes matching funds during the latest filing period. They reported slightly more than $960,000 on hand.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Larry Hogan, who was a member of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration, raised roughly $538,000 since January and has nearly $390,000 in cash on hand.

Harford County Executive David Craig and state Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico Counties) reported they raised $146,717.98 during the latest campaign finance period. Former congressional candidate Charles Lollar reported he raised nearly $55,000 since his last report he filed with state election officials in January.

State Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County) did not raise any money during this reporting period.

A poll conducted by WPA Opinion Research between May 6-7 indicates 34 percent of respondents would vote for Brown in the June 24 primary, compared to 20 percent who support Gansler and 7 percent who back Mizeur. A St. Mary’s College poll conducted between April 10-13 found Brown ahead of Gansler by a 27-11 percent margin with slightly less than 8 percent of respondents saying they support Mizeur.

WBFF in Baltimore on Tuesday hosted a debate between Gansler and Mizeur that Brown did not attend. Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 earlier in the day hosted a separate debate between the candidates’ running mates.

Brown, Gansler and Mizeur took part in their first televised debate on May 8 that took place at the University of Maryland. The three candidates are expected to square off two more times before the June 24 primary.

29
May
2014

A different vibe at new Pride venue

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Pride benefitted from flawless weather all weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A gorgeous, sun-splashed June 14-15 weekend and a new location and format for this year’s Baltimore Pride highlighted the annual event, which has been operated by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore for more than three decades.

Saturday’s parade changed its route by a few blocks and began three hours earlier than in the past. Sixty units marched — down slightly from last year — and included candidates in the gubernatorial race, the mayor of Baltimore, a wide range of organizations and corporations, a bevy of drag title holders and a gay activist from the Ukraine—Bogdan Globa—marching with PFLAG. D.C.’s Different Drummers added the beats to go along with cheers from the crowd.

“This is a great day to celebrate who we are, where we have been and how we got here,” Heather Mizeur, a Democratic candidate for governor and lesbian, told the Blade.  “We’re trying to make a difference, not trying to make history, yet I expect to become the first ever woman governor in the state.”

The lieutenant governor candidate running with her opponent Anthony Brown, Ken Ulman, also marched in the parade with one of his daughters alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. No one representing the Doug Gansler campaign was present over the weekend. The Democratic primary takes place on June 24.

The festival that immediately followed the parade shifted to the Mount Royal and Midtown-Belvedere areas. The move this year from the block party confines of W. Eager and N. Charles Streets, which had previously been the site for more than a decade to the more spread out area where the annual ArtScape festival takes place was decided because the crowds have become too large for the previous locale, according to the GLCCB. Last year, there was pressure placed on the GLCCB from the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association and local business owners and residents to curtail the sanitation problems, underage drinking and other related issues emanating from the overcrowded block party.

In effect, the block party component of the two-day event had been eliminated in favor of a two-day festival. Though there had been a good deal of apprehension from members of the LGBT community concerning the move, organizers estimated about 15,000 attended the parade and festival on Saturday. A smaller and more laid-back crowd assembled on Sunday.

Lorena DeLeon and her partner Amy Eisenberg from Baltimore likened the event to Los Angeles Pride. “The location of the beer garden is fabulous, right next to the dance area,” says DeLeon.

This year, drinking was supposed to be confined to two fenced-in beer gardens.

Darryl Lewis of Catonsville complained that “the beer garden does not have enough trash baskets and the portable toilets are not near the beer garden.” He said he learned that was the vendor’s logistical decision.

Though the theme for this year’s Pride was “We are Family,” the family feel wasn’t as evident on Sunday compared to previous years when the event took place at Druid Hill Park.  There was a significant drop-off in couples with children this time.

Kelly Neel, executive director of the GLCCB said she received much positive feedback.  “Everything is going fabulously. People are having a blast on the stage, and they like the parade route.”

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

2014 Baltimore Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

16
Jun
2014

Gansler turns up heat in Md. gubernatorial race

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Attorney General Doug Gansler will face Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) in the June 24 primary. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

Attorney General Doug Gansler this week attacked Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown’s record on LGBT rights ahead of the June 24 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Gansler repeatedly described Brown’s support for the same-sex marriage and transgender rights bills that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2012 and last month respectively as “lukewarm” during an interview with the Washington Blade on Monday.

The attorney general questioned whether the lieutenant governor voted for the same-sex marriage law when it went before voters in a 2012 referendum. Gansler acknowledged that Brown testified in support of the trans rights bill in March, but suggested he could have done more.

“There’s the public and then there’s the behind the scenes,” said Gansler. “My understanding [is] he really didn’t lift a finger to help except show up that one day to testify.”

Brown defended his record in support of same-sex marriage during an interview with the Blade on Monday.

He stressed he worked with LGBT rights advocates to raise money for the 2012 campaign to defend the gay nuptials law at the ballot box. Brown pointed out to the Blade that he discussed his support for the issue during his first national television interview with MSNBC the year before.

Brown noted he also opposed efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman while in the Maryland House of Delegates after gays and lesbians began to legally tie the knot in Massachusetts in 2004.

“We’re in the last week of an election and there’s a lot of comments that I think reveal desperation and a distortion or manipulation of the truth,” he said. “I can tell you that my commitment to marriage equality was long standing.”

Brown also reiterated his support for the trans rights bill, noting he spoke with “a number” of lawmakers and “coordinated my efforts with” Equality Maryland. He told the Blade he could not recall any specific conversations he may have had with state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and other lawmakers who had previously voted against similar measures.

“I said identify for me where you think I could be most helpful,” said Brown, referring to his work with Equality Maryland to advance the bill. “It was all based on what we thought was the best strategy to try to get the votes and the support we needed.”

Gansler says Equality Maryland ‘traded’ Brown endorsement

Gansler also told the Blade he still believes Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of Brown for his support of the trans rights bill.

“That is what we were told,” Gansler told the Blade. “They endorsed somebody who did absolutely nothing on the issue of marriage equality. He took no steps in advancing the cause of marriage equality or any other LGBT rights [issue] as far as I can tell. He was visibly uncomfortable talking about the issue.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans described Gansler’s claim as an “unfounded” and “untrue accusation.”

She noted the attorney general during his “on the record” interview with the Equality Maryland Political Action Committee last year questioned whether Brown voted for the same-sex marriage law during the 2012 referendum.

“The interview team was shocked to hear Gansler insinuate this and agreed that it did not bode well for Gansler’s ability to restrain himself and carry himself with integrity and dignity as our governor,” Evans told the Blade. “Moreover, for him to insinuate, twice, that Equality Maryland traded our endorsement for Brown’s support of [the Fairness for All Marylanders Act] is insulting.”

Gansler also told the Blade in response to a question about state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County)’s plan to legalize marijuana in Maryland that the Montgomery County Democrat is “not seen as a viable candidate in terms of the election.” He further suggested that a Republican could become Maryland’s next governor in November if Brown wins the Democratic primary because of his tax proposals.

“Voters want to hear about the issues, and are tired of these personal, baseless attacks from our opponents,” Mizeur’s campaign manager, Joanna Belanger, told the Blade on Tuesday. “That’s why Heather continues to see momentum as she runs a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter most to Maryland families and seniors.”

Gansler questioning Brown’s record on marriage rights for same-sex couples and trans rights comes as all three leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates continue to court LGBT voters ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.

The attorney general noted to the Blade that in 2008 he became the first statewide official in Maryland to back marriage rights for same-sex couples when he testified before a state Senate committee. State Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) later tried to impeach him over the issue.

Gansler in 2010 wrote an opinion that said Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

“I’ve never understood the arguments against marriage equality, so I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Gansler. “That’s why I ran for office; to stand up for things that I thought were unfair or unjust.”

Gansler submitted testimony in support of the trans rights bill. His running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored an identical measure in the House of Delegates that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced.

Mizeur, who could become the first openly gay governor in the country if she wins the general election in November, earlier this year testified in support of the trans rights bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

She and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, who testified in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, marched in the annual Baltimore Pride Parade on Saturday. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, also took part in the event.

“[Coates] and I are focused on not making history, but making a difference,” Mizeur told the Blade during an interview earlier this month. “Delman and I are the representation to the end of identity politics that divides communities.”

Campaign finance reports indicate that Brown continues to maintain a significant fundraising edge over Gansler and Mizeur, who has accepted public campaign funds. Polls also show the lieutenant governor has a double-digit lead over his two Democratic rivals ahead of the primary.

Frosh a ‘firm ally’

The outcome of a number of other statewide and local races will likely be determined in the June 24 Democratic primary.

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) will face state Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) in the race to succeed Gansler as attorney general.

Equality Maryland in April endorsed Frosh, noting the role that Evans said he played in securing passage of the trans rights bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Cardin earlier this year introduced a bill that sought to ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the state.

“Brian Frosh has been a firm ally and leader on LGBT issues in the General Assembly,” said Evans. “He has the maturity, experience and commitment to be an effective advocate for the LGBT communities of Maryland as our next attorney general.”

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will square off against Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer in the 18th Senate District that includes Chevy Chase, Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring and Bethesda.

George Zokle is running to represent House District 20 that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring. Kevin Walling, Equality Maryland’s director of communications and development from 2008-2010 — a period when the organization faced serious financial difficulties — dropped his bid to represent House District 16 that includes Bethesda and Potomac.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed both men, along with Madaleno.

18
Jun
2014

Anthony Brown wins Md. Democratic gubernatorial primary

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown on Tuesday won the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial race. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

BALTIMORE — Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown on Tuesday easily won the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary.

With 1884 of 1988 precincts reporting, Brown defeated Attorney General Doug Gansler by a 51-24 percent margin. State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) came in third with 22 percent of the vote.

“In November, Marylanders will have a real choice between returning to the failed Republican policies of record spending and corporate tax giveaways, or standing with us as we write the next chapter in Maryland by strengthening middle-class families and growing our economy,” said Brown in a statement he issued along with his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

Outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a message his political action committee sent out shortly after the Associated Press projected Brown had won that he and the lieutenant governor “worked together” to raise the state’s minimum wage, secure marriage rights for same-sex couples, extend in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants and “pass common sense gun safety legislation.”

“There’s no one better to continue our progress and lead Maryland into the future,” said O’Malley.

Gansler and his running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), addressed supporters at the Bethesda North Marriott in Bethesda.

Mizeur, who could have been the country’s first openly LGBT governor if she had won the primary, became emotional at times as she spoke at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. Her wife, Deborah Mizeur, her parents and running mate, Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, joined her on the stage as she thanked her supporters.

“Our journey hasn’t ended,” said Mizeur.

The Montgomery Democrat who is not seeking another term in the Maryland House of Delegates said she would support Brown going into the general election.

“I would be his partner in ensuring his victory in November,” she said.

Larry Hogan, who was a member of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration, easily defeated three challengers in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He will face off against Brown in the November.

Brown raised nearly four times as much money as Gansler during the lengthy and often contentious campaign.

Mizeur, whose platform included a plan to legalize marijuana as a way to fund universal preschool in the state, was the first gubernatorial candidate since 1994 to accept public campaign funds.

Brown and Gansler exchanged increasingly pointed attacks against each other during the final weeks of the campaign. These include the attorney general last week reiterating his previous claim that Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of the lieutenant governor for his support of a transgender rights bill that O’Malley signed into law in May.

“The Equality Maryland PAC is delighted that Democratic voters have chosen Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman for the nomination for governor,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans in a statement. “The Brown/Ulman administration will work hard to ensure we keep moving forward on issues of importance to the LGBT communities of Maryland.”

Frosh, Madaleno win primaries

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) defeated state Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) in the Democratic primary for attorney general by a 48-31 percent margin. State Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) came in third with 21 percent of the vote.

Frosh will face Towson lawyer Jeffrey Pritzker in the general election.

“I can’t express how thankful I am to Maryland voters,” said Frosh on Twitter after he won his primary. “We look forward to keep going forward.”

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) easily defeated Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer by a 63-37 percent margin in Senate District 18.

“I am pleased with the victory and look forward to working to make Maryland a more prosperous, fair and welcoming place for everyone,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade.

Beyer in a statement wished Madaleno “all the best as he continues to represent our district in Annapolis.”

“I enjoyed the competition, and I hope this campaign leads to bigger and better things for the residents of Montgomery County over the next four years,” she said. “We are faced with daunting problems, and must remain steadfast to overcome them and create a more perfect union.”

The race between Beyer and Madaleno in recent weeks became increasingly heated as they attacked each other over their role in securing passage of the trans rights bill the incumbent Montgomery County Democrat introduced in the Maryland Senate earlier this year. Equality Maryland, who endorsed Madaleno, also criticized Beyer, who is a former member of the organization’s board of directors.

“We are proud of the voters in District 18, who rejected the slanderous tactics of Dana Beyer and overwhelming re-elected Senator Rich Madaleno,” said Evans.

Gay state Dels. Ann Kaiser (D-Montgomery County), Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County), Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) and Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) all won their respective primaries. State Del. Peter Murphy (D-Charles County) won the Democratic primary in the race for president of the Charles County Commission.

Spencer Dove and George Zokle lost their Democratic primaries in House Districts 32 and 20 respectively. Jonathan Shurberg, chair of Gender Rights Maryland’s Legislative Committee, also lost in the Democratic primary in House District 20.

State Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County), an anti-gay incumbent who pleaded guilty last October to two drunken boating and driving charges, lost the Republican primary in House District 31.

All eight members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation won their respective primaries.

Reports indicate that turnout was low throughout the state.

25
Jun
2014