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Mizeur not included in Victory Fund’s initial 2014 endorsements

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 gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur is not among those whom the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund backed in the first round of 2014 endorsements it announced on Monday.

The group endorsed gay Maine Congressman Mike Michaud in the race to succeed Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The Victory Fund also backed Massachusetts lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Steve Kerrigan and Maura Healey in her bid to succeed Attorney General Martha Coakley who announced her campaign to succeed outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick last fall.

Victory Fund CEO Chuck Wolfe described Michaud in a statement as the “nation’s first openly gay candidate to win a gubernatorial election,” although it will not take place until November. Michaud, who has represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District since 2003, last November came out in an op-ed he submitted to the Associated Press, the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald.

“He’ll also be a strong voice for fairness, freedom and equality for all Americans coast-to-coast,” said Wolfe.

Mizeur could also become the country’s first elected openly LGBT governor if Maryland voters elect her to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley in November.

“We will absolutely welcome their support,” Mizeur campaign manager Joanna Belanger told the Washington Blade.

Denis Dison, senior vice president of programs for the Victory Fund, said his organization generally does not comment on potential endorsements until one is made.

The Victory Fund endorsed the Montgomery County Democrat for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006 and 2010. Steve Elmendorf, chair of the Victory Fund board of directors, last January hosted a fundraiser for Mizeur’s gubernatorial campaign at his D.C. home.

The Victory Fund’s announcement comes two weeks after Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, endorsed Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown for governor. Mizeur described the apparent snub to the Blade and other media outlets as a “puzzling choice.”

EMILY’s List last month announced it would encourage its members to contribute to Mizeur’s campaign.

“Heather Mizeur is a progressive powerhouse who will fight for the rights of Maryland’s women and working families from day one,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

The Victory Fund on Monday also announced it has endorsed incumbent U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) for re-election. The group additionally backed North Carolina congressional candidate Marcus Brandon, former Freedom to Marry staffer Sean Eldridge who hopes to unseat incumbent Republican New York Rep. Chris Gibson, Florida state Rep. David Richardson and Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims.

Maryland state Dels. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) and Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) and Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane are also among those whom the Victory Fund endorsed. Former Equality Maryland staffer Kevin Walling, who announced his candidacy to represent portions of Montgomery County in the House of Delegates last summer, also received the group’s backing.

06
Jan
2014

Maryland Senate committee approves transgender rights bill

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, House of Delegates, Annapolis, SB 212, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on Feb. 4 testified in support of a transgender rights bill.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

The 8-3 vote took place slightly more than two weeks after lawmakers held a hearing on Senate Bill 212 that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced last month. The measure would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

State Sens. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore City), Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery County), Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted for Senate Bill 212. State Sens. Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil and Harford Counties), Christopher Shank (R-Washington County) and Joseph Getty (R-Baltimore and Carroll Counties) opposed it.

The committee by a 7-4 vote margin also approved Raskin’s proposed amendment to SB 212 that would allow for “private and functionally equivalent” spaces, such as locker rooms, for people of different gender identities.

“It’s our strongest vote ever out of that committee,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade as he applauded Equality Maryland, the Human Rights Campaign and the Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality who lobbied lawmakers to support SB 212. “It reflects on the incredible hard work that people have done to educate members of that committee about the need for this bill.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced late last month she will challenge Madaleno in the June Democratic primary, specifically applauded Stone, Muse and Brochin who voted against a similar measure last year. She also thanked Raskin and attorney Jonathan Shurberg for securing the necessary votes on the committee to ensure SB 212′s passage.

“I thank Senators Brochin, Muse and Stone for joining their fellow democrats and taking a stand for fairness and decency today,” Beyer told the Washington Blade. “It is much appreciated.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans and other LGBT rights advocates also applauded the vote.

“It is such a relief to finally have this bill come out of the Senate committee,” said Matt Thorn, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland. “I am looking forward to the Senate passing the bill next week.”

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur is among those who also testified for the measure. Her Democratic challengers – Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler – submitted written testimony in support of SB 212.

“I am extremely pleased that the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has voted to send the Fairness for All Marylanders Act to the full Senate, and one major step closer to full equality for all Marylanders,” Gansler told the Blade in a statement. “I have been a supporter of this bill, and led the fight for marriage equality in our state. I congratulate Sen. Madaleno and Sen. Raskin for all their hard work and effort in helping tear down another wall of discrimination.”

Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council are among those who spoke against the measure. The Maryland Catholic Conference and other organizations submitted testimony in opposition to SB 212.

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

“This is a protection we want to make sure gets extended statewide,” said Mizeur as she testified in support of SB 212 on Feb. 4. “Protection against discrimination shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”

Madaleno told the Blade he feels the three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates who all supported the measure helped secure its passage in the committee. He added the fact that neighboring Delaware last year added gender identity and expression to its anti-discrimination law was another factor.

“It’s a number of things where we just had the momentum,” said Madaleno.

Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a trans rights bill. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March narrowly killed an identical measure that Madaleno introduced.

SB 212 will now go before the full Senate where observers say it has enough votes to pass.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a similar bill that did not include public accommodations.

21
Feb
2014

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

Bold brews

Denizens Brewing, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeff Ramirez, Emily Bruno and Julie Verratti (Photo courtesy of Denizens)

Julie Verratti and Emily Bruno are not professional commercial beer brewers. But for the lesbian couple, opening Denizens Brewing Co., geared toward a younger, diverse generation of craft beer aficionados, is just the latest endeavor in a string of adventures.

Denizens, a term meaning a local or regular customer, is a fitting term for the new brewery, nestled among new high-rise apartment buildings on East-West Highway, a 10-minute walk from the Silver Spring Metro stop, which former same-sex marriage activists Verratti and Bruno opened this month with Jeff Ramirez, whose sister is married to Emily’s brother giving the operation a family feel. Ramirez, who’s been developing and fine-tuning beer recipes for his entire career, came up with the flavors.

The owners of the 200-seat brewery and beer garden, about 3,000 square feet, plan to brew five core styles and five seasonal styles out of its basement. A popular gay-owned food truck, BBQ Bus, will open a brick-and-mortar location inside the brewery this summer.

“Have I ever done something this big? No,” says Verratti, who’s had a series of careers in everything from political activism to personal training. “It’s the first time — the first time for all of us.”

Che and Tadd Ruddell-Tabisola, who own BBQ Bus, knew the Denizens owners from their time as LGBT activists. Going into business together seemed like the perfect next step, building upon an old friendship.

“It was a match made in heaven,” Che says. “I think Julie and Emily are great. Their concept and their approach is really thoughtful. There’s a lot of quality behind what they’re doing.”

Ruddell-Tabisola, BBQ Bus, Denizens, food truck, gay news, Washington Blade

BBQ Bus (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Che and his husband always wanted to open a physical location ever since their first day on the road in April 2011. But the opportunity didn’t immediately present itself.

“We got turned down for two loans and a few credit cards when we were trying to get this business going,” he says. “Nobody was lending money to a startup [during the recession], let alone a restaurant. The food truck really was a way to get into this business.”

Today, the food truck is well known across the D.C. area, an asset upon which Denizens, located at 1115 East-West Highway in Silver Spring (denizensbrewingco.com), hopes to capitalize.

“Everyone wants to eat when they’re drinking beer,” says Taylor Barnes, the brewery’s director of marketing and events. “Che and Tadd loved the pairing of beer and barbecue, and so did we. It’s a new model — two businesses coexisting in the same space. So it was really important for us that we just got along as people first, and second as business partners.”

“They’re fun, they’re super welcoming, and they love diversity just as much as we do,” Verratti says. “I love the fact that if you combine the ownership structure between the brewery and BBQ Bus, four out of the five owners are gay and gay married.”

 

A long journey

Denizens, gay news, Washington Blade

Denizens (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

 

Craft beer fans tend to be well educated, city-dwelling political progressives in their 20s and 30s, making the District and the surrounding metropolitan area an optimal place to open a brewery. But as the East Coast craft beer scene continues to boom, Barnes says craft beer is often marketed toward a “narrow slice of America.”

“One of the reasons we wanted to start Denizens Brewing Co. is that craft beer is for everyone,” she says.  

But plans to open the business were stalled in part because of the restrictive Defense of Marriage Act, leading Verratti and Bruno to draw upon their roots as activists.

“Emily and I met and started dating as political organizers,” Verratti says, referring to their time in Boston working on the 2004 presidential campaign and later, on the canvass program at MassEquality, an organization that helped secure and defend same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, the first state where it became legal.

“It was a pretty unbelievable time period,” she says, reminiscing on what she jokingly calls her “past life as a professional gay.” 

“Every day, you could feel the weight of the country on you. We were being attacked constantly from the right, and we did a full-scale ground war. We knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors. We created the model for how to win these types of battles across the country.”

Veratti, born and raised in Silver Spring, married Bruno in California during the short window before Proposition 8 was temporarily struck down, and moved back home with her wife to earn a degree from George Washington University Law School. Both women had toyed with the idea of opening a business, but it was their penchant for political activism and Verratti’s fluency in legal jargon that paved the way for the opening of Denizens.

The couple encountered their fair share of roadblocks along the way, starting with the Defense of Marriage Act, which, until it was struck down last June, prohibited the couple from enjoying mutual financial benefits even though they’ve been legally married since 2008.

“We had been making steady progress on our plans to open the brewery, but the striking down of DOMA enabled us to move forward more quickly because I knew I would have full access to Julie’s benefits as a federal employee during the unstable transition to becoming an entrepreneur,” Bruno says.

Opening a business together, Bruno says, wouldn’t have been possible if the law was still on the books.

 

Changing the law

 

The fall of DOMA allowed Bruno to quit her job and devote full attention to opening the brewery. But that wasn’t the last hurdle to overcome. Restrictive laws in Silver Spring made opening a brewery nearly impossible, gay or straight.

“One of the reasons why there hadn’t been more breweries opening up, specifically in Montgomery County, is that the laws had been archaic,” Verratti says, pointing to laws prohibiting breweries from offering take-out service and forcing them to sell pints to the county as a middleman instead of directly to bars and customers.

“We looked at that and thought, ‘Why don’t we just change the laws?’ I honestly think because of our political organizing background, it gave us the savvy to figure out how to do that.”

After testifying before the Montgomery County delegation, the couple was successful in making the county’s laws more business friendly. Denizens bills itself as a “craft brewery serving European-style lagers, American-style ales, Belgian-inspired beers, sour beers and barrel-aged beers to both the craft beer aficionado and those new to high-quality brews.”

For the first round of brewing, they contracted with Beltway Brewing Company but by September plan to brew everything in house with their own 15-barrel system. They decline to say how much they invested in the business but say they’ve been planning and developing since December 2012. Both Verratti and Bruno love beer and while Verratti has done some home brewing, they say Ramirez is the expert.

Brett Robison, the bar manager at Republic, a local bar that buys beer from Denizens, predicts the change will improve conditions for Denizens and future breweries.

“What’s going to happen because of this law change is overnight, Montgomery County is going to go from being one of the least favorable places to open any kind of alcohol business to being one of the most favorable places,” Robison says. “This law change now creates incentives for entrepreneurs.”

Although the doors have only been open for a few weeks, the brewery, which Barnes calls a local “job creator,” already has a diverse group of regulars.

“Everyone who works here is really gay friendly,” says Barnes, who is straight, pointing out that the nearly 40-person staff mostly identifies as LGBT. “I’m proud to be working at a lesbian-owned establishment. Because we are all diverse, it is more welcoming to everyone.”

“This community has really embraced us, and we’re so grateful for it,” Verratti says. “There’s been a strong contingent of the LGBT community that has come out and supported us. That makes me feel really happy and proud.”

23
Jul
2014

Marriage rights seminar scheduled

wedding expo, wedding rings, gay news, Washington Blade, seminar

(Photo by iStock)

For those newly married same-sex couples and those planning to tie the knot, a seminar covering a variety of legal and financial matters will take place on Jan. 25 in Towson. Issues to be discussed include estate planning, inheritance and estate tax benefits, health issues and qualification for Medicaid, tax law issues and income tax pros and cons.

Pessin Katz Law estate planning attorneys Kimberly L. Battaglia and Helen M. Smith will be on hand for an informal discussion of these issues. The seminar will take place from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., with registration beginning at 9:45 a.m. at Pessin Katz Law, P.A.’s Seminar Room, 901 Dulaney Valley Rd., Suite 400, Towson.

The seminar is free, but registration is required. RSVP by calling Rhonda King at 410-938-8800 or email rking@pklaw.com. Parking is available in the Sheraton garage.

22
Jan
2014

Marylanders favor trans equality: poll

transgender, Maryland, trans equality, Marylanders, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image public domain)

A new poll finds that 71 percent of Marylanders support proposed legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation.

The Goucher Poll, conducted by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Baltimore-based Goucher College, found that of those supporting, 39 percent strongly favor the measure. Of the 20 percent who oppose the legislation, only 10 percent strongly oppose.  The bill was approved March 4 in the Senate and is awaiting action in the House of Delegates.

19
Mar
2014

Gay Hyattsville man reported missing

Jorge Ortega-Paredes, gay news, Washington Blade

Jorge Ortega-Paredes was last seen on May 28. (Photo courtesy of Luis Melgar)

A 38-year-old gay man has been missing since May 28 when he left the Hyattsville, Md., apartment where he and his husband have lived to walk to the home of friends who live in nearby Tacoma Park, according to one of his friends.

Hyattsville police said in a statement that Jorge Ortega-Paredes was last seen leaving his apartment in the 2800 block of Nicholson Street. The friend, Robert Richardson, said Ortega-Paredes left the apartment about 10:15 p.m.

“He never showed up at this friends’ place, he never showed up at work, and he never contacted his family,” Richardson said. “He just left basically with his backpack and his keys and a few things in it.”

A Hyattsville police spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a call from the Blade. WUSA News reported that police said Ortega-Paredes was last seen wearing a dark tan V-neck shirt, gray pants, a brown belt, black socks and black tennis shoes. He is 5’8” tall and weighs about 190 pounds, WUSA reported.

Richardson said Ortega-Paredes, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, married his husband, Luis Melgar, 38, last August in a ceremony in Rockville.

Melgar told the Blade he filed a missing persons report with police on May 30. He said he and his friends have been frantically searching for Ortega-Paredes since last week, visiting hospitals with a photo of the missing man, desperately hoping some sign of his whereabouts would surface.

“The feeling of not knowing if he is injured or alive – it’s just awful,” Melgar said. “We don’t know what to do now.”

Melgar said he’s especially frustrated that police have yet to say if they have attempted to trace Ortega-Paredes’ cell phone records to see if calls have been made on his phone since he disappeared.

He said he reached his husband’s cell phone voicemail about 10:45 p.m. on May 28, about 30 minutes after Ortega-Paredes began what was to be a 45-minute walk from the couple’s apartment to friends who live about two miles away on the 700 block of Fairview Road in Tacoma Park, Md. In subsequent calls placed to the phone, there was no ringing. The calls went directly to voicemail, Melgar said, leading him to suspect something happened between 10:15 and around 11 p.m.

Cricket Wireless, the service provider for Ortega-Paredes’ phone, refused to provide any information about calls placed to or from the phone when Melgar called them, saying they could only release such information to police through a court order.

“It’s like he just vanished,” said Melgar.

Hyattsville police say anyone with information about Ortega-Paredes’ whereabouts should call them at 301-985-5060.

04
Jun
2014

Trans candidate Beyer to challenge gay incumbent Madaleno

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30
Jan
2014

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