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Marriage and more

The momentous events of 2013 hit close to home, as marriage equality arrived in Maryland and Delaware. But last year wasn’t all about marriage. It was a big year for Democrats in Virginia and a lesbian lawmaker announced a bid for Maryland governor.

Here’s a look at the top 10 local news stories of 2013 as chosen by Blade editorial staffers.

 

#1 Marriage equality comes to Md., Del.

 

Clayton Zook, Tracy Staples, Wayne MacKenzie, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, Tilghman Island

Marriage equality expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic in 2013 with Maryland and Delaware joining D.C. in allowing same-sex couples to wed. Clayton Zook and Wayne MacKenzie tied the knot on New Year’s Day on Tilghman Island. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland and Delaware were among the states in which same-sex couples began to legally marry in 2013.

Seven same-sex couples married at Baltimore City Hall on Jan. 1 shortly after Maryland’s same-sex marriage law took effect in a ceremony that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated. They include long-time mayoral aide James Scales and his partner, William Tasker.

“New Year’s Day will have a new meaning for the hundreds — if not thousands — of couples who will finally have the right to marry the person they love,” said Rawlings-Blake.

More than half a dozen same-sex couples exchanged vows at the Black Walnut Point Inn on Tilghman Island in Talbot County on Jan. 1. These include innkeepers Tracy Staples and Bob Zuber who tied the knot almost immediately after the law took effect at midnight.

“I’m very proud of Maryland,” Michelle Miller of Stevensville in Queen Anne’s County told the Washington Blade on Jan. 1 after she married Nora Clouse at the Black Walnut Point Inn.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on May 7 signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

State Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) came out as a lesbian on the floor of the state Senate while she and her colleagues debated the measure. The New Castle County Democrat and her partner of more than 20 years, Vikki Bandy, on July 1 became the state’s first legally married same-sex couple when the couple converted their civil union into a marriage during a ceremony that New Castle County Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden officiated.

“It’s exciting, both historically and personally,” Peterson told reporters after she and Bandy exchanged vows inside the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office in Wilmington. “I never thought in our lifetimes we would be getting married.”

Boulden later on July 1 also officiated Joseph Daigle, II, and Daniel Cote’s wedding in Wilmington that Attorney General Beau Biden, New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and other local and state officials attended.

“Today we are witnesses to a historic event for Delaware and for our community and quite frankly our future,” said Biden.

Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis and Rev. Leonard Klein of the Diocese of Wilmington are among those who testified against the same-sex marriage bill. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church on July 1 protested the law outside the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office in Wilmington and at other locations throughout the state.

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley) is the only Republican lawmaker who co-sponsored the measure. John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, on March 15 came out during an exclusive interview with the Blade at an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington.

“I’m here this evening because I support marriage equality,” said Fluharty. “It’s an issue that’s of personal importance for me as a gay man.”

 

#2 McAuliffe elected Va. governor

 

Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe is Virginia’s next governor after a campaign that prominently featured gay issues. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Nov. 6 defeated Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race.

McAuliffe has repeatedly said his first executive order as governor will be to ban discrimination against LGBT state employees. The former DNC chair in February also endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) easily defeated Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson in the state’s lieutenant gubernatorial race. The State Board of Elections on Nov. 25 officially certified state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun County) as the winner of the race to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general, but state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) requested a recount because he lost to his Democratic rival by only 165 votes.

Cuccinelli highlighted his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples during two debates against McAuliffe that took place in Hot Springs and McLean in July and September respectively. LGBT rights advocates also blasted the outgoing attorney general for appealing a federal appellate court’s March ruling that found Virginia’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

Jackson faced persistent criticism during the campaign over his previous comments that equated gay men to pedophiles and “very sick people.”

“Without exception, the Democratic candidates for statewide office offered unflinching support for marriage equality, a welcoming business climate and respect for a woman’s right to choose,” said gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) after the election. “The people of Virginia aligned themselves with McAuliffe’s and Northam’s vision of an inclusive, forward moving commonwealth.”

 

 

#3 Va. lawmakers confirm gay judge

 

Virginia lawmakers on Jan. 15 confirmed gay Richmond Circuit Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland’s judgeship.

The Virginia House of Delegates in May 2012 blocked the former prosecutor’s nomination to the Richmond General Court after state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) alleged he misrepresented himself when he failed to disclose his sexual orientation when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the late 1980s.

Thorne-Begland in 1992 publicly discussed his sexual orientation during an interview on ABC’s “Nightline.” He unsuccessfully challenged his discharge from the U.S. Navy under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

Thorne-Begland is also a former Equality Virginia board member.

“Equality Virginia is pleased that the House of Delegates could see that Thorne-Begland is a qualified candidate with integrity and a long history of public service,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement after lawmakers approved Thorne-Begland’s judgeship. “Thorne-Begland has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor.”

Thorne-Begland is Virginia’s first openly gay judge.

 

 #4 10 percent of D.C. residents are gay: report

 

gay news, Washington Blade, National Equality March

Gallup says that 10 percent of D.C. residents are gay. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A report released in February by the Gallup polling organization showed that the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of self-identified LGBT residents in the nation in comparison to the 50 states.

Ten percent of 493 D.C. residents who responded to Gallup’s daily tracking polls between June 1 and Dec. 30, 2012 identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the report. By comparison, 3.3 percent of a sample of 4,195 Maryland residents and 2.9 percent of a sample of 6,323 Virginians identified themselves as LGBT.

The report did not compare D.C. to other cities. Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which studies LGBT related demographics, told the Blade the Gallop statistics appeared to be a more accurate snapshot of the country’s LGBT population than previous studies.

 

#5 Mizeur runs for governor in Md.

 

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)

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on July 16 officially entered the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together,” the Montgomery County Democrat told the Washington Blade before she announced her candidacy. “There are great challenges facing us and also incredible opportunities.”

Mizeur last month raised eyebrows when she tapped Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton as her running mate. The Prince George’s County pastor in 2012 emerged as one of the most prominent supporters of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters approved in a referendum.

“I have stood up for justice,” said Coates at a Nov. 14 campaign event during which Mizeur officially introduced him as her running mate. “I stand before you today not driven by professional or personal ambition, but by a calling to bring hope to others when they need it the most.”

Mizeur will face Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in the state Democratic primary in June. She could become the country’s first openly gay governor if Maryland voters elect her to succeed Martin O’Malley.

“Diversity is enormously important,” Mizeur told the Blade in July. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

 

#6 Rash of violent incidents in June

 

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Drag performer Miles Denaro was beaten and dragged by the hair by two women at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria in June. (Screen capture)

Four transgender women, a gay man dressed in drag, and a lesbian were victims of separate violent attacks, including a murder, during the last two weeks of June, prompting LGBT activists to call a “community response” meeting to address the incidents.

Lesbian Malika Stover, 35, of Southeast D.C., was shot to death on June 22 following what police said was an argument with a neighbor that did not appear to be linked to her sexual orientation.

But transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized the meeting, said Stover’s slaying stunned people in the LGBT community who knew her.

“This is really putting all of us on edge,” she said. “You’re seeing all of these incidents happening in such a short period of time.”

Police arrested a 23-year-old male suspect for allegedly stabbing transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, multiple times on June 21 in an abandoned house in Southeast D.C. Police said the incident stemmed from a dispute and did not appear to be a hate crime. In another incident on June 23, gay male drag performer Miles Denaro was beaten and dragged by the hair by two women at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria near 14th and U streets, N.W. in an incident that was captured on video and posted on the Internet. The two women were arrested and pleaded guilty to a charge simple assault.

 

#7 Trans birth certificate bill hailed  

 

Vincent Gray, JaParker Deoni Jones, David Grosso, Ruby Corado, Rick Rosendall, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill in August enabling trans people to change their birth certificates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bill signed into law by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in August that removes obstacles to the process of enabling transgender people to change their birth certificates to reflect their new gender has been hailed as a groundbreaking measure.

Among other things, the new law repealed a provision in an existing law that required transgender individuals to undergo gender reassignment surgery as a condition for obtaining a new birth certificate. Transgender advocates said the surgery was too expensive for many people and medically hazardous to others.

The new law is named the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013 in honor of a transgender woman murdered near her home in 2012.

Another key provision in the law requires the D.C. Registrar to issue a new birth certificate designating a new gender for “any individual who provides a written request and a signed statement from a licensed healthcare provider that the individual has undergone a gender transition.”

 

 

#8 T.H.E. declares bankruptcy

 

Earline Budd, gay news, Washington Blade

Earline Budd called on the city to investigate T.H.E.’s management practices. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Transgender Health Empowerment, D.C.’s leading transgender services and advocacy organization for nearly 10 years, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 7. A short time later it discontinued all of its transgender-related programs.

The bankruptcy filing came after the D.C. Department of Health abruptly cut off its funding for T.H.E. when it learned that the IRS placed liens on the organization for its failure to pay more than $260,000 in employee withholding taxes over a period of at least three years. The bankruptcy filing shows that T.H.E.’s total debt comes to more than $560,000.

During a bankruptcy trustee’s hearing in August, T.H.E. executive director Anthony Hall said the group’s only source of income at the time of the hearing was a city grant calling for the organization to operate a non-LGBT related temporary housing facility for crime victims.

Longtime transgender activist Earline Budd, a former T.H.E. employee and one of its founders, has called on the city to investigate the group’s management practices to determine the cause of its financial problems.

 

 

#9 Mautner merges with Whitman-Walker

 

Don Blanchon, Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

Whitman-Walker CEO Don Blanchon said Whitman-Walker had been looking for ways to expand its services to women. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Mautner Project, a national lesbian health organization based in Washington, D.C. since its founding in 1990, became an arm of D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Health in 2013 in what leaders of both groups called an “historic collaboration.”

In a joint statement released in June, the two organizations said the arrangement would bring the Mautner Project’s programs and staff under the “umbrella” of Whitman-Walker, an LGBT community health care provider founded in 1978.

Leslie Calman, Mautner Project’s executive director at the time the merger was announced, said the joining of the two groups would allow Mautner to “offer more critical services to a greater number of women who need those services throughout the region. It’s a natural fit.”

Whitman-Walker CEO Don Blanchon said Whitman-Walker had been looking for ways to expand its services to women. He said the Mautner Project’s “programs and reach within their community will help us fulfill that mission.”

Calman said that in addition to continuing its services for lesbians with serious illnesses such as cancer, the Mautner programs at Whitman-Walker would also continue various illness prevention programs such as cancer screening, smoking cessation and obesity reduction.

 

 

#10 Carson steps down as Hopkins speaker

 

Ben Carson, Values Voter Summit, Washington Blade, gay news

Ben Carson compared LGBT activism to bestiality and pedophilia. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman).

A rising star in the Republican Party stirred controversy by comparing LGBT activism to bestiality and pedophilia, leading him to give up his role as commencement speaker at John Hopkins University.

The former neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins made the remarks during an appearance on Fox News’ Sean Hannity when expressing his opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.

“And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association,) be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are — they don’t get to change the definition” of marriage, Carson said.

Carson’s remarks invoked the ire of students at John Hopkins University, where he was selected to speak as commencement speaker. The organization Media Matters asserted a majority of the graduating class, or around 700 students, called for his ouster. Although sources initially said Carson wouldn’t relinquish his speaking role at commencement, Carson eventually indicated he would acquiesce to students’ desires and step down as speaker.

But Carson went on to other public appearances, including one later in the year at a venue closer in tune with his views. Carson was among the speakers the anti-gay Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, where he articulated his opposition to marriage equality.

“We need to recognize that God created the family structure for a reason and marriage is a sacred institution from God himself, and there is no reason that man needs to change the definition of marriage,” Carson said.

02
Jan
2014

Maryland transgender rights bill introduced

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

Maryland State. Sen. Rich Madaleno

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

State Sens. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), the chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee who is running for attorney general, and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) are among the 25 senators who have co-sponsored the measure. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the bill in the House of Delegates where it passed in 2011.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote margin struck down an identical bill that 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.

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) state Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) support the bill. House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) also backs the measure.

Governor Martin O’Malley and the three Democrats who are running to succeed him — Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) — are expected to testify in support of the bill. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, has also pledged to speak for the measure in Annapolis.

“No one should face discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade last week. “Equality in Maryland shouldn’t have to wait this long.”

Both Mizeur and Gansler’s running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored the 2011 trans rights bill in the House of Delegates.

“Inequality anywhere should be recognized as wrong for anybody,” Gansler told the Washington Blade during a Jan. 10 telephone interview. “Inequality for any person is inequality for all of us.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer welcomed the introduction of the bill.

“I’m glad to see that this year’s gender identity bill is now in play and we are all looking forward to an expedited hearing in the [Senate] Judicial Proceedings Committee,” she told the Blade. “With strong support in both the Senate and House, as well as from senior leadership, the administration and all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the time has come to finally move the bill from the Senate committee to the floor.”

The bill remains a legislative priority for Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, after voters in 2012 approved the Free State’s same-sex marriage law.

Gansler told the Blade the organization “traded” its endorsement of Brown for governor last month for his support of the trans rights bill. Gansler said the measure would have “a stronger chance of becoming law” this year if the lieutenant governor made it an administrative bill as O’Malley did when he made the same-sex marriage bill a legislative priority in 2012.

“That would be sort of putting his money where his mouth is,” said Gansler. “If it’s not an administration bill, I just don’t know.”

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

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that include gender identity and expression in their anti-discrimination laws. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last month announced his support of a bill that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the Keystone State.

14
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

Maryland gubernatorial race heats up

Heather Mizeur, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Brunch, gay news, Washington Blade, Maryland State Legislature, Democratic Party, Tacoma Park

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Takoma Park) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Even though Maryland’s gubernatorial election is more than a year away, the campaign to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley has already begun to heat up.

Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown on Monday announced Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) are expected to officially throw their hats into the ring later this year, while Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is also considered a potential candidate.

Mizeur reported in a campaign finance report she filed in January that she raised $244,089.40 between Jan. 12, 2012, and Jan. 9 of this year. Brown said he raised $1,247,811.80 in cash and in-kind donations during the same period, while Gansler netted $1,236,284.96.

“I have been taking a serious look at getting in the governor’s race because I have been encouraged for some time by advocates I that have worked on a range of issues,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade on Tuesday, citing the expansion of health care and environmental protections and the passage of last year’s same-sex marriage law as three of the specific things on which she has worked. “As I am exploring those conversations with voters across the state, there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm and momentum behind getting in.”

Maryland Juice, a progressive political blog, on Monday reported Gansler could potentially tap gay Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton or lesbian state Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) as his running mate. The website said a reader pointed out Ireton attended a Brown campaign event on the same day he announced Ulman as his running mate.

On the Republican side, Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County,) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Vaeth and Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young have officially declared their candidacy.

Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003-2007, told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Monday he is “looking at” entering the race. Former 2010 congressional candidate Charles Lollar is among the other Republicans who are rumored to be mulling the race.

The Washington Post reported Young described the passage of the state’s same-sex marriage law as a “travesty” during a speech he gave at the Maryland Young Republicans’ convention in Rockville on Saturday. Lollar also opposes nuptials for gays and lesbians.

“It’s still early in the game yet,” Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo told the Blade. “At this point I’m more interested to see whether GOP contenders entertain the fool’s errand of trying to roll back marriage equality rather than their personal opinions of it. I can’t imagine any candidate campaigning—much less winning—on a platform of overturning the will of the people.”

David Moon, publisher of Maryland Juice, said he doesn’t expect a Republican will succeed O’Malley in 2014.

“It’s really difficult to see the path to victory for any of the announced Republicans at this point,” he told the Blade.

The primary election will be held in June 2014 and the general election in November.

05
Jun
2013

It’s official: Mizeur announces run for Md. governor

Heather Mizeur, gay news, Washington Blade, Maryland House of Delegates, Baltimore Pride Parade

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) has formally announced her 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together,” she told the Washington Blade in an interview before she officially declared her candidacy in an e-mail to supporters. Mizeur cited economic development, protecting the state’s environment and improving the quality of Maryland’s public schools and health care system as among her top campaign issues. “There are great challenges facing us and also incredible opportunities.”

Mizeur, 40, has represented the 20th House District that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring in the General Assembly since 2006.

The former Democratic National Committee member worked on now Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Mizeur in 2008 endorsed President Obama’s election campaign after her consideration of him or then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton received national attention.

Mizeur would make history as Maryland’s first female governor and the country’s first openly LGBT governor if voters elect her in 2014.

“Diversity is enormously important,” she told the Blade. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

Mizeur added her approach to governing the state and her vision for Maryland is “about bringing people together and making everyone a stakeholder and creating solutions to the issues” it faces.

Brown, Gansler have fundraising advantage

Mizeur will face off against Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, who last month unveiled Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to officially declare his candidacy to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2014 later this year, while Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is also considered a potential candidate.

Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County,) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Vaeth and Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young have also officially declared their candidacy on the Republican side.

Craig on Tuesday unveiled state Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Talbot County) as his running mate.

Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003-2007, said last month during an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd he is “looking at” entering the race. Former 2010 congressional candidate Charles Lollar is among the other Republicans who are rumored to be considering their own gubernatorial bids.

EMILY’s List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund are expected to back Mizeur’s campaign, but campaign finance reports indicate both Brown and Gansler have a significant fundraising advantage.

Mizeur reported in a campaign finance report she filed in January that she raised $244,089.40 between Jan. 12, 2012, and January 9 of this year. Brown said he raised $1,247,811.80 in cash and in-kind donations during the same period, while Gansler netted $1,236,284.96.

Mizeur declined to disclose to the Blade the amount of money she has raised since the last campaign finance report she filed in January.

She again stressed she feels she is the best person to succeed O’Malley in Annapolis in 2014.

“I’m not going to go into office playing it safe for four years so that I can assure myself of re-election,” Mizeur said. “The bold, aggressive, visionary ideas that I’m laying out in the course of the campaign is the action agenda for my term as governor.”

Mizeur defends role she played to advance marriage bill

Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County and other LGBT rights advocates have applauded Mizeur for the role she played in the passage of Maryland’s same-sex marriage referendum last November in spite of Marylanders for Marriage Equality Campaign Manager Josh Levin’s suggestion that she could have done more to support the effort.

Mizeur pointed out to the Blade during an exclusive interview last fall during which she announced she was considering a run for governor that she took part in fundraising events and testified in support of the bill. The Montgomery County Democrat, who married her wife, Deborah Mizeur, during a 2005 ceremony along the Chesapeake Bay and again in California before voters in 2008 approved Proposition 8 that banned gay nuptials in the state, also gave an emotional speech on the floor of the House of Delegates before it passed the same-sex marriage bill in 2012.

Mizeur also noted she and the other seven openly gay Maryland lawmakers remained focused on the same-sex marriage effort throughout the 2012 legislative session.

“Each of us was working hard in our own way,” Mizeur told the Blade last fall. “My entire public schedule was Question 6-related for months.”

Mizeur said she also worked “very closely” with Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer earlier this year to advance a bill that would have banned anti-transgender discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in March narrowly struck down the measure.

Mizeur pointed to both the same-sex marriage and trans rights bills as examples of her “ability to work with my colleagues” to “push through some pretty big efforts.”

“I will continue to build on those relationships in order to get other priority issues pushed through the General Assembly,” she said

Beyer, who supports Mizeur, on Tuesday described the Montgomery County Democrat as “a force to be reckoned with.”

“History can be made,” Beyer told the Blade. “Identity politics aside, Heather does her job really well.”

While not explicitly endorsing Mizeur’s campaign, Equality Maryland PAC Chair Tim Williams welcomed her candidacy and other out Marylanders who have decided to seek office in 2014.

“The presence of at least one openly gay candidate in the governor’s race, as well as the many LGBT individuals and allies who are running for other state and local offices, is an indication of how far we have come as a state and a nation,” Williams said in a statement to the Blade.

16
Jul
2013

Pope says gays should not be marginalized

Pope Francis I, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis (Photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho via Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Francis on Monday said gay men and lesbians should not be judged or marginalized.

“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and is of good will, who am I to judge him?” he told reporters in response to a question about gay priests as he returned to Rome after his week-long trip to Brazil for World Youth Day as La Nación, an Argentine newspaper reported.

Francis’ comments come amid renewed calls to welcome gays and lesbians back into the church following Pope Benedict XVI’s abrupt resignation in February.

“You are made in God’s image and likeness,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview in March. “We want your happiness… and you’re entitled to friendship.”

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic late last month referred to James “Wally” Brewster, an openly gay man whom President Obama nominated to become the next American ambassador to the Caribbean country, as a “maricón” or “faggot” in Spanish during a press conference.

Francis himself seemed to echo Dolan’s call during his comments to reporters.

“The Catechism of the Catholic church explains this in a very clear way,” the pontiff told reporters. “It says that these people should not be marginalized. They should be integrated into society.”

Majority of Catholics back same-sex marriage; hierarchy remains opposed

A Quinnipiac University poll in March found that 54 percent of Catholics support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is among the Catholic state executives who have signed same-sex marriage measures into law.

Catholic hierarchy continues to oppose the issue in spite of this increased support.

“Marriage exists obviously we believe by the will of God because the sexual orientation between men and women tends to create babies,” Father Leonard Klein of the Diocese of Wilmington (Del.) said before Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law that extended marriage to same-sex couples in the state.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence (R.I.) in May also spoke out against the issue in a letter to Rhode Island Catholics before Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

“Like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize ‘same-sex marriage,’” Tobin wrote.

Francis, who was among the most prominent opponents of efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in his native Argentina, also spoke out against what he described as the “gay lobby” within the Vatican. These comments came in response to questions over the reported homosexuality of Monsignor Battista Ricca, whom the pontiff last month appointed to oversee the Vatican bank, that began to emerge last week in the Italian press.

“When one encounters a person like this, one have to distinguish between the act of being gay and lobbying, because no lobby is good,” Francis said. “The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying.”

The Archdiocese of Washington did not have an immediate comment on Francis’ statements.

“He’s articulating well in a beautifully tender way the traditional teaching of the church,” Dolan said during an interview on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “While certain acts may be wrong, we will always love and respect the person and treat the person with dignity.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an LGBT Catholic organization, told the Washington Blade she welcomes what she described as a “change of tone from the very harsh and damaging rhetoric” of Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

“We hope it translates into similar expressions of openness among bishops and cardinals here in the U.S. and in other countries,” Duddy-Burke said. “The best news would be if the Pope indicates a willingness to begin a dialogue with LGBT Catholics and our families about our experience in the Church and in our societies. He’s shown humility in walking with other marginalized groups. We’d hope it would extend to us, as well.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin struck a similar tone.

“While Pope Francis’s words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone,” he said. “Like his namesake, Francis’s humility and respect for human dignity are showing through, and the widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change.”

Esteban Paulón, president of the LGBT Federation of Argentina, highlighted the pontiff’s opposition to same-sex marriage in Argentina.

“A profound self-criticism on the part of the church hierarchy about the position it has historically taken with regard to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people is essential,” Paulón said in a statement. “Let’s not forget that this same pope that today said don’t judge us the same man who called for ‘a holy war against the devil’s plan’ to block the same-sex marriage law. These types of declarations, coming from the top of the Catholic church hierarchy, only promote hate and discrimination.”

29
Jul
2013

Gay attorney named to Maryland bench

Mark Scurti, District Court, Baltimore City, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay attorney, Mark Scurti will serve as an associate judge on the District Court for Baltimore City. (Photo courtesy of Mark Scurti)

Mark Scurti, a well-known gay attorney in Baltimore’s LGBT community, was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on Aug. 13 to serve as an associate judge on the District Court for Baltimore City. Three other judges were named by the governor: Kevin M. Wilson, Martin D. Dorsey and Nicole P. Klein.

“I am pleased to appoint such an accomplished and diverse group of candidates to serve on the Baltimore City District Court,” O’Malley said in a statement. “These appointees will bring to the bench a broad range of legal expertise and a true commitment to public service.”

Scurti, a partner at Towson law firm Pessin Katz Law P.A. (PK Law), has been appointed to a 10-year term and is expected to begin his new duties in early September.

“Becoming a judge has been a lifelong dream of mine to serve the citizens of Maryland,” Scurti told the Blade.  “I see a judge as an instrument of justice, someone who is able to hear both sides of a dispute, weigh the facts and law and render an appropriate decision.”

Scurti has worked at PK Law since 2007, focusing his practice in all aspects of bankruptcy proceedings, debt restructuring and same-sex relationship law. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

In 2007, Scurti received a Distinguished Alumni Award for his work for OUTLaw, an LGBT advocacy organization at the University of Baltimore School of Law. The award has been renamed the “Mark F. Scurti Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBT Community.”

Scurti was also instrumental in arranging the first same-sex marriage ceremonies at Baltimore City Hall that took place right after midnight on Jan. 1.  He stood alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as she proclaimed Jan. 1 to be “Marriage Equality Day.”

21
Aug
2013

Obama, civil rights advocates commemorate March on Washington

Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Barack Obama, 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Lincoln Memorial, gay news, Washington Blade, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Jimmy Carter

Clockwise from top left: Ambassador Andrew Young, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Jon Wooten)

More than 100,000 people on Wednesday gathered on on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

President Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine,) U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Joaquín Castro (D-Texas,) Revs. Al Sharpton and Joseph Lowery, Myrlie Evers Williams, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie and Dolores Huerta who co-founded what became known as the United Farm Workers are among those who spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Two of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s children – Martin Luther King, III, and Rev. Bernice King – and the slain civil rights leader’s sister, Christine King Farris, also addressed the crowd.

“Because they marched, America became more free and more fair — not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability,” Obama said. “America changed for you and for me, and the entire world drew strength from that example.”

The president said the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech “teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate.” Obama stressed unity, while saying Americans will have to “reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience” he said participants of the historic 1963 gathering expressed 50 years ago.

“That spirit is there,” Obama said. “I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It’s there when the native-born recognizing that striving spirit of the new immigrant; when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own.”

LGBT speakers who spoke during the 1963 March on Washington commemoration on Wednesday included Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Executive Director Eliza Byard, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry. Alan van Capelle, the former executive director of the New York LGBT group Empire State Pride Agenda who is now the CEO of Bend the Arc, a Jewish social justice organization, also addressed the crowd.

“We may be closer to full legal equality; but we are far, far far from justice,” van Capelle said as he spoke out against a number of issues that include the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy and anti-LGBT employment discrimination. “We are far from justice when a gay, lesbian or transgender person can be fired from their job simply because of who they are.”

A number of other speakers included LGBT-specific remarks in their speeches.

Mee Moua, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said the slain civil rights leader’s vision for the country is “inclusive of all America.”

“His call to action invites each America: Asian America, black America, Hispano/Latino America, Native America, GLBTQ America, white America and men and women of America to take inspiration from our own circumstances,” Moua said. “And to know the price of freedom is the commitment to ensuring the security of liberty and justice for all.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley noted his support of gay nuptials in his remarks.

Bernice King, who opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples, said the country has seen “great strides towards freedom for all” regardless of sexual orientation and other factors since the 1963 March on Washington and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other landmark civil rights measures.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, Latino, Asian America or Native American, whether you’re gay or straight,” Lewis, who is the last living speaker from the original March on Washington, said. “We’re one people, we’re one family. We all live in the same house—not just the American house; the world house.”

The commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington took place four days after Martin Luther King, III, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others linked LGBT equality to the broader civil rights movement during a separate gathering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that marked the landmark event.

Speakers honor Bayard Rustin

Ben Jealous, NAACP, March on Washington, gay news, Washington Blade

Ben Jealous, NAACP president and CEO (Washington Blade photo by Jon Wooten)

Byard is among those who paid tribute to Bayard Rustin, the gay man who organized the 1963 March on Washington, during their remarks at the Lincoln Memorial.

“A movement spoke through him, but the world would not yet embrace him as a gay man,” Byard said. “Today, LGBT voices are welcomed to this stage.”

Kristin Stoneking, executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, noted Rustin was also a Quaker and a pacifist.

“He refused to accept war by denying society’s expectation that he be straight,” she said.

Jealous noted to the Washington Blade during an interview after he spoke at the Lincoln Memorial the slain civil rights leaders backed Rustin in the years leading up to the original March on Washington and during the event itself.

“He made sure that Bayard, who was as out as anyone in 1963, was visible,” Jealous said. “Those small acts of courage magnify overtime and become transformative and set benchmarks and bars for the rest of us in our own lives and ultimately in our own politics.”

Van Capelle also discussed Rustin’s legacy with the Blade before he traveled to D.C. to speak at the March on Washington commemoration.

“I’ll be thinking as much about Bayard Rustin as I’ll be thinking about King, and how happy Bayard Rustin would probably be 50 years later to know that this country is embracing the civil rights of LGBT Americans,” van Capelle said.

29
Aug
2013

Gansler formally launches Maryland gubernatorial bid

Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler on Tuesday formally announced his 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“Our campaign is all about ideas,” he said in a video posted to his campaign website that includes gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) before he formally announced his bid at Courthouse Square in Rockville. “We’re for the people of Maryland.”

Gansler, 50, will face off against Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and lesbian state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County.) Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County,) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Vaeth and former Congressional candidate Charles Lollar have also officially declared their candidacy on the Republican side to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Gansler in 2008 became the first statewide official to back marriage rights for same-sex couples when he testified in support of gay nuptials during a state Senate committee hearing. He wrote an opinion in 2010 that said Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Gansler also enters the race with a significant financial advantage over his Democratic opponents.

The campaign finance report he filed in January notes he has a more than $5.2 million war chest, compared to Brown who reported slightly more than $1.2 million. Mizeur reported a war chest of slightly more than $381,000 in a campaign finance report she filed in January.

Gansler will visit Baltimore, Hagerstown, Salisbury and 14 other locations throughout Maryland over the next week.

24
Sep
2013

Equality Maryland celebrates milestone

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

Maryland State. Sen. Rich Madaleno was honored last weekend at Equality Maryland’s anniversary event at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Looking back on the journey to achieve full equality in Maryland and its aspirations to continue the fight for social justice, Equality Maryland celebrated 25 years with a gala brunch at the venerable Lord Baltimore Hotel on Oct. 27 with nearly 500 in attendance. State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who’s gay, was the guest of honor.

The event, which was emceed by television journalists Derek Valcourt and Adam May, received congratulatory proclamations from Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin made brief remarks on Maryland’s successes in attaining equality. A message from Sen. Barbara Mikulski congratulating Equality Maryland was read to the audience.

To underscore the importance of wooing LGBT voters, gubernatorial candidates Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Attorney General Douglas Gansler as well as his running mate Del. Joline Ivey (D- Prince George’s County) were on hand. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, another candidate for governor, appeared later on a video honoring Madaleno.

“We have seen a sea change in elimination of discrimination over the last 25 years,” Cardin said but noted there is more to accomplish. “We will not be satisfied until we pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act. We have work to do.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans thanked the many folks who worked and volunteered for Equality Maryland over the years and the elected officials who helped reach its goals.

“The 25-year journey was climaxed with the achievement of marriage equality,” she said.

Evans made a special point to express gratitude to the Human Rights Campaign for its efforts during the Question 6 battle. She thanked the organization for increasing support during that time.

“Without HRC, we would not have won,” she said.

She said that Equality Maryland is determined to have a transgender non-discrimination law passed, integrate African-Americans into the movement, seek equality in immigration and help lesbian and bisexual women achieve pay parity with men.

Elected officials including Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, members of the LGBT caucus as well as current and former Equality Maryland leaders and volunteers all took light-hearted jabs at Madaleno in a video.

“The work is not done,” Madaleno told the audience. “We have a lot to achieve.”  He cited a gender identity non-discrimination law as the first priority. “Personally, it is appalling to me that we have to fight about the same ignorant comments about transgender individuals as we had to face as gays.”

His other priorities consist of fighting HIV/AIDS and homelessness of LGBT youth, which he considers intolerable. Echoing a theme that Delegate Maggie McIntosh articulated in the video, Madaleno said, “We have to stay focused and stick together.”

31
Oct
2013