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Trans candidate Beyer to challenge gay incumbent Madaleno

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30
Jan
2014

Batts seeks to change culture of police dept.

Anthony Batts, Baltimore City Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

Commissioner Anthony W. Batts appeared before two-dozen LGBT community activists at a town hall meeting on April 14. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)

Acknowledging that some members of the Baltimore City Police Department are not as sensitive to LGBT issues as they should be, Commissioner Anthony W. Batts pledged to “add tools to the toolbox” to remedy the situation. He was referring to stepped-up training to “change the culture in the department.”

Batts appeared before two-dozen LGBT community activists and city residents at a town hall meeting on April 14 at the Northwest District Community Action Center in Baltimore to provide the status of progress in police-LGBT relations. It was the second such meeting—the other occurred last October—organized by the 10-member LGBT Advisory Council that was formed at the behest of Batts following the beating of a gay man, Kenni Shaw, then 25, in East Baltimore on Christmas night of 2012.

Audience members brought up specific concerns, such as mistrust between the police and transgender residents, police response to domestic violence, need for policies that protect gender variant individuals when interacting with the police, dispatch policies, a reporting mechanism for negative interactions between the police and the community and fear of reprisals if such interactions are reported.

Batts said he would meet more frequently with the LGBT community and would work hard to resolve the issues.

23
Apr
2014

Trans activist Brackett to speak at Frederick Pride

Sharon Brackett, gay news, Washington Blade

Sharon Brackett will be the principal speaker at Frederick Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Fresh off of being named the “Activist of the Year” at Baltimore Pride, Sharon Brackett will be the principal speaker at Frederick Pride on Saturday. Brackett, a Laurel, Md. resident, will discuss transgender issues.

In 2010, Brackett was selected by Washington SmartCEO Magazine as one of Washington’s Smart100 CEOs for 2010 and then again, after transition, in 2011. She is a founder of Gender Rights Maryland, a trans civil rights organization, and serves as its board chair.

The festival takes place from 12-6 p.m. at Carroll Creek Park in the downtown area of Frederick.

24
Jun
2014

Baltimore LGBT Wedding Expo set

wedding expo, wedding rings, gay news, Washington Blade

Couples, singles, advocates and allies are all invited to connect and celebrate equal marriage rights.

The third annual “Same Love, Same Rights” LGBT Wedding Expo will take place on Jan. 26 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Grand Historic Venue, 225 North Charles St., in Baltimore.

The Expo will include dozens of LGBT-friendly wedding professionals. There will also be ceremony planning tips, free samples, raffles, keynote speakers and music

Couples, singles, advocates and allies are all invited, to connect and celebrate equal marriage rights. The event is free but a $5 donation is requested. For more information, visit samelovesamerights.com.

07
Jan
2014

Jewish groups to talk marriage

DC Gay Wedding Directory, jewish

(Photo by Bigstock)

The Keshet Parent & Family Connection (KPFC) and JQ Baltimore will partner on March 2 to present a panel discussion exploring the process and experience of same-sex weddings and marriages in the Jewish tradition. Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave., will host the event from 1-3 p.m. The panel consists of same-sex married couples, parents of same-sex married couples and clergy who have performed same-sex weddings.

“For many in Maryland, Question 6 was just something that they voted on at the polls,” said Mindy Dickler, co-founder of JQ Baltimore and mentor for Keshet PFC. “This program will put names and faces to Jewish members of our community for whom this historic vote has made a world of difference.”

For more information, visit jqbaltimore.org.

24
Feb
2014

Changes in store for Baltimore Pride

2013 Baltimore Pride, Parade, Gay News, Washington Blade

This year’s Baltimore Pride festivities are moving a few blocks north. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) firmed up the dates for Baltimore Pride—an enterprise run by the GLCCB.  This year’s Baltimore Pride will take place on Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15.

The Pride Parade and Block Party will take place on Saturday, June 14, with the Pride Festival taking place on Sunday, June 15. The parade route will begin at the intersection of Eager and Charles streets and continue on Charles Street up to Mount Royal Avenue. All Pride weekend events will then take place at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral St. (No events will take place in Druid Hill Park, as in years past).

Twilight on the Terrace, the annual fundraiser for the GLCCB, will take place on June 13 at Gertrude’s restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The GLCCB had originally tapped June 21-22 for the main Pride events, but permitting issues forced the organization to revert to the second weekend in June.  This will mark the first time in more than a decade that the venue has shifted from Eager and Charles Streets for the Block Party on Saturday and from Druid Hill Park for the Sunday festival.

“We apologize for any confusion that this may have caused and are working diligently with Baltimore City officials to make this year’s event a success,” said Kelly Neel, GLCCB interim director in a statement. For more information, visit baltimorepride.org.

13
May
2014

Equality Md. celebrates passage of FAMA

Fairness, gay news, Washington Blade

A series of happy hour parties are to be held throughout the state celebrating the Fairness for All Marylanders Act.

Equality Maryland has scheduled a series of celebrations around the state to mark the passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. At these casual happy hour celebrations there will be food and drink specials and no cover charge. All ages are welcome.

The next celebration will take place in Baltimore on July 29 between 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Waterstone Bar and Grille, 311 W. Madison St.

24
Jul
2014

Miss Freestate 2014 pageant

Araya Sparxx, Anastacia Amor, Miss Gay America, Miss Gay Maryland, Miss Freestate, drag, pageant, gay news, Washington Blade

Miss Gay Maryland America 2013 winner Araya Sparxx (left) with runner up Anastacia Amor. (Photo by Daniel McGarrity/Daniel McGarrity Photography)

As an official preliminary to Miss Gay Maryland America, S&D Entertainment will present Miss Freestate 2014: Anastacia Amor’s Fun House on Jan. 24 at the Club Hippo, 1 W. Eager St., in Baltimore. The doors open at 10 p.m. and the pageant begins at 10:30 p.m.

Hosted by Josie Foster and starring Miss Freestate Anastacia Amor, other local drag performers scheduled to appear are Tatiyanna Voche, Stephanie Michaels, Eva Couture, Tuly Fabu, Inginue, Diamond (Miss Gay Maryland 2000), Ashley Bannks (Miss Gay Maryland 2002),  Michelle Michaels (North Carolina USofA-Newcomer 2013), and Araya Sparxx (Miss Gay Maryland 2013).

General Admission is $8 with reserved seating priced at $10. For more information, contact Sue Nami at 410-440-3344.

22
Jan
2014

Open Walls Baltimore 2 launch

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

(Photo public domain)

More than 15 nationally and internationally recognized artists from Baltimore and around the world have been selected to participate in an outdoor mural project called Open Walls Baltimore 2. The program aims to bring bold, colorful and provocative large-scale painted murals to private and publicly owned buildings in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District.

The goals of the project are to provide an outlet for creative expression where artists are able to paint their vision of urban legacy and revitalization in that area and to draw tourists and locals alike to a neighborhood experiencing growth and renewed vibrancy.

To launch Open Walls Baltimore 2, there will be a special VIP reception on March 24 from 6-8 p.m. at the Metro Gallery located on 1700 North Charles St., in the heart of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Various political dignitaries, community leaders and business partners will be in attendance in addition to several of the participating artists. This event is open to the public.

“We are building on the success of the original Open Walls Baltimore project that literally transformed an area of our great city and allowed important conversations to take place about integrating art and the arts into a community to provide vitality, renewed strength and pride to the people who live and work there,” said Ben Stone, executive director of Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. “Our hope is that this project will serve as a catalyst for change, connectivity and urban vibrancy.”

For more information, visit stationnorth.org.

19
Mar
2014

Sen. Warner sees dismal future for LGBT rights in GOP Senate

Mark Warner, United States Senate, Democratic Party, Virginia, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) predicted Wednesday that the lingering issue of gay veterans being unable to receive benefits for their same-sex spouses in states without marriage equality would be a question for the next secretary of veterans affairs.

During a phone interview with the Washington Blade, Warner said the inability of veterans to receive same-sex benefits in certain states after the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act was a violation of the principles of fairness.

“I still think we need to make sure if we’re talking about equality of rights, that ought to be around, marriage rights, civil rights, housing rights, employment rights,” Warner said.

Asked whether this issue should be a question for the secretary of veterans affairs, a position that is open following the resignation of Eric Shinseki, Warner replied, “I think this will be something that, I’m sure, will be raised with the next VA secretary.”

In June, Warner wrote to the Obama administration asking for an end to the practice of withholding veterans’ home loans from married same-sex couples who live in non-marriage equality states like Virginia. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been withholding these benefits because 103(c) of Title 38, which governs veterans benefits, looks to place of residence, not the place of celebration, in determining whether a couple is married.

In his letter, Warner used the example of a Navy veteran who applied for a veterans’ home loan in Virginia, but was denied equal benefits because the VA won’t count the income of her non-veteran spouse. The couple was married in Maryland, but the VA didn’t insure their loan request to buy a home in Fairfax County, Va., resulting in a much higher monthly mortgage payment for the couple.

Speaking with the Blade, Warner said the couple since that time has been able to secure the lower rate by going through a different agency after insufficient progress was made with the VA. Still, Warner said he would support a blanket policy change from the VA more in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA.

Warner is currently facing re-election and running against former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie for a second term representing Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Asked how he thinks Gillespie would fare on LGBT issues if elected to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate, Warner said he’s not familiar with his opponent’s position on those issues, but expressed skepticism based on Gillespie’s history in Republican politics.

“I do know that there seems to be kind of a cookie-cutter campaign approach coming from many of the Republican candidates this year that has not been as inclusive a message as I’ve got, or I think most folks realize is in the best interest of Virginia,” Warner said. “I’m not going to comment on him specifically other than the fact that he’ll be a double-down on gridlock since this a career paid-partisan, and I’m not sure that’s going to get us to a place where we actually get stuff done in the Senate.”

But Warner did forecast a dismal future for progress on LGBT rights in the Senate if Republicans take control of the chamber and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) is running the show.

“I think there would be more challenges,” Warner said. “I think this an issue, especially like on marriage equality, where the public has moved much quicker than the elected officials, and, again, I wouldn’t see the same kind of forward progress if the Senate would flip.”

Litigation against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is progressing through the courts. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to issue a ruling on the marriage equality case at any time.

Warner said he hasn’t been following the developments in that case, but took credit for recommending along with former Sen. Jim Webb the nomination of U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen, who ruled against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage at the district court level.

“I’ve not followed the kind of weekly reports on the briefs and who’s writing amicus [briefs], but I think as you’ve seen all over the country, there clearly seems to be a growing majority if not unanimity,” Warner said. “This is an issue whose time has come.”

Warner endorsed same-sex marriage a little more than a year ago just before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the marriage cases. During his interview, Warner said he came to that support as a result of his three daughters who couldn’t understand his earlier position and said his endorsement built off earlier pro-LGBT actions.

“I fought against the amendment back in 2007, campaigned against it, gave money against it,” Warner said. “I think I had a record that was headed in that direction…I go back to the fact that our law treats people equally in terms of if you love someone, if you want to enter into a committed relationship.”

Warner’s name has been mentioned in some circles as a possible candidate for president in 2016. But the senator said he’s focused on his re-election in 2014, adding he thinks Hillary Clinton would be the “prohibitive favorite” should she run in the presidential race.

Asked whether he would pursue a run either for president or vice president, Warner maintained his focus is on winning re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“I’m running for re-election in 2014,” Warner said. “Good try.”

04
Jun
2014