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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

08
Jan
2014

Maryland transgender rights bill receives final approval

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

Maryland state. Sen. Rich Madaleno introduced Senate Bill 212 (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders on Thursday received final approval in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The 82-57 vote on Senate Bill 212 – the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 – took place after lawmakers debated the measure that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced in January for more than two hours.

“What we are about to do today is important,” said state Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) as she referenced the exclusion of trans Marylanders in a 2001 anti-discrimination bill that only included sexual orientation. “This is an important group of people today who frankly we left out 11 years ago. They’re beat up. They’re ridiculed. They are suffering and they need to hold their head up high just like I do.”

State Del. Michael McDermott (R-Wicomico and Worcester Counties) described trans Marylanders as “confused” as he spoke against SB 212.

“We are a confused state, voting for a confused bill,” said the Eastern Shore Republican.

State Del. Anthony O’Donnell (R-St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties) introduced a proposed amendment to SB 212 that sought to ban anyone from asserting their gender identity and expression to “enter a place of public accommodation for the purpose of committing an illegal activity.” House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) put forth a proposal that would have exempted bathrooms from the measure.

“Please protect women,” she said. “Please protect little girls.”

Lawmakers defeated both proposed amendments.

State Del. Gail Bates (R-Howard County) and McDermott introduced proposed amendments that sought to exclude “distinctly private and personal” places and “private facilities” from SB 212′s public accommodation provision.

Lawmakers rejected both proposals and others that sought to provide the public accommodation provision from the measure.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) and O’Donnell on Wednesday unsuccessfully sought to delay the second reading on SB 212 by a day. Szeliga sought to remove the measure’s public accommodations provisions, but she withdrew her two proposed amendments.

State Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick County) recently said in a letter to her constituents that HB 1265 would “normalize abnormal behavior.” Parrott referred to the measure as the “bathroom bill” in a post to the website he runs under the banner “Do you want men going into the ladies room?” with a graphic that shows a man appearing to look at a woman in a restroom stall.

“What we could see could be a naked man in a girls locker room at a public pool,” said Afzali. “This is a bad bill. This does not protect women. This does not protect children.”

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) noted she has “never been more disappointed” during her eight years in the House as she said she has been listening to the debate over SB 212.

“We are talking about people who are suffering real harm in this state,” said the Montgomery County Democrat who is running against Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown in this June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. “We are talking about our brothers and sisters.”

The vote caps off an eight year effort to add gender identity and expression to Maryland’s anti-discrimination act.

The House in 2011 approved an anti-trans discrimination bill that did not contain protections in public accommodations. The Maryland Senate earlier this month passed a measure approved SB 212.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee on Tuesday approved a nearly identical bill to SB 212 that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to accomplish another big victory for fairness and equality in the state of Maryland,” Madaleno told reporters after the vote. “It’s remarkable how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.”

“It took eight years, and a great deal of tenacity, perseverance, patience and skill, but today the Maryland transgender community can celebrate its equality, and feel like full partners in the LGBT community,” added Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer. “Maryland joins with seventeen states, D.C. and Puerto Rico in providing comprehensive LGBT equality.”

Brown is among those who also applauded SB 212′s passage.

“Nobody should ever be forced to endure this kind of discrimination or harassment, and that’s why we’re taking this important step to protect all Marylanders,” he said.

Gansler, who submitted testimony in support of the measure, also praised lawmakers who supported it.

“Today 82 delegates voted against gender identity discrimination and for what is just and fair,” he said. “With their votes, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act can now become law, and our state can move much closer to ensuring equal protection for all. I congratulate all the legislators who worked so hard, led by Sen. Madaleno in the Senate and Del. Clippinger in the House, for the passage of this milestone legislation.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign SB 212 into law in the coming weeks.

Observers expect Parrott and others who oppose the bill will try to prompt a referendum on it once the governor signs it.

27
Mar
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

Md. lawmaker seeks referendum on trans rights bill

Neil Parrott, Hagerstown, Maryland House of Delegates, Republican Party, Annapolis, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Hagerstown) (Photo public domain)

A Maryland lawmaker on Tuesday announced he plans to collect signatures to prompt a referendum on a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) made the announcement on MDPetitions.com, a website that he runs. The Washington County Republican describes Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act as the “Bathroom Bill.”

“As a parent, you should be able to send your children, your little girl, into the women’s bathroom and have the expectation that there will only be women or girls in that bathroom,” said Parrott during an Annapolis press conference. “Now, under this bill, there could be men in the women’s bathroom, and it opens the door for predators to take advantage of this bill. Predators will be able to go into the opposite gender bathroom, and proprietors would not be able to deny them access to that bathroom.”

Parrott is among the Republicans who unsuccessfully sought to delay the final vote on SB 212 in the Maryland House of Delegates late last month before lawmakers approved it by a 82-57 vote margin.

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) joined the Washington County Republican at the Annapolis press conference.

“Please protect women,” she said before voting against SB 212. “Please protect little girls.”

The state Senate on March 4 approved the measure that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced earlier this year.

“Delegate Parrott will have an uphill battle to convince voters to repeal fairness for all Marylanders,” said Equality Maryland Director of Advocacy and Programs Keith Thirion, noting a recent poll showed 71 percent of Marylanders support SB 212. “The majority of Marylanders believe that everyone should be treated fairly, including having the opportunity to work for a living, secure housing and get served lunch at a restaurant.”

Gender Rights Maryland is expected to issue a statement on Parrott’s effort in the coming hours.

“I am extremely disappointed that a small group of conservative activists launched a misguided and deceptive petition drive against including anti-discrimination protections for transgender Marylanders and their families in our civil rights law,” said Madaleno in a statement.

Nina Smith, a spokesperson for Gov. Martin O’Malley, reiterated to the Blade the governor’s support of SB 212.

“Governor O’Malley has a long track record of fighting injustice and protecting the rights of everyone equally under the law,” she said. “He fully intends to sign this bill.”

O’Malley is expected to sign SB 212 into law in the coming weeks.

Parrott needs to collect a third of the 55,737 signatures necessary to prompt a referendum on SB 212 by May 31. The remainder of them are due to state election officials by June 30 in order for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

Opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that O’Malley signed in 2012 collected enough signatures to prompt a referendum on the issue. Voters approved the statute by a 52-48 percent margin.

Parrott is among those who attended a Frederick rally in opposition to the same-sex marriage law that took place two days before the election. A local pastor said during the event that Superstorm Sandy struck New York City a few days earlier because then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave $250,000 to the campaign that successfully defended the statute.

29
Apr
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

O’Malley to sign Md. trans bill on Thursday

Martin O'Malley, gay news, Washington Blade, same sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, Maryland

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday is scheduled to sign a transgender rights bill into law. (Photo courtesy of Raquel Guillory/Governor’s Office)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday is scheduled to sign into a law a bill that will ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

“It’s long overdue,” he told the Washington Blade on Wednesday during a telephone interview from Annapolis. “Discrimination against people is wrong. This is a good bill and it’s about time we prohibit discrimination against transgendered individuals in Maryland.”

Senate Bill 212 — or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 — that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced earlier this year received final approval in the Maryland House of Delegates in March. The state will join 17 others along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that include gender identity and expression in anti-discrimination laws.

O’Malley noted to the Blade he signed the state’s first trans rights ordinance in 2002 when he was mayor of Baltimore. The governor subsequently testified in support of statewide proposals that had gone before Annapolis lawmakers.

“We did not experience any problems with the implementation of the bill in Baltimore,” said O’Malley in response to a question about why it took more than a decade for legislators to approve a statewide trans rights measure. “Perhaps this bill took longer given the saliency of the marriage equality fight and how many tries it took us to get that done.”

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) and other SB 212 opponents repeatedly described it as a “bathroom bill” and said it would place women and children in danger while using restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities.

“It was a lot of irresponsible, false rhetoric that was designed simply to inflame people,” said O’Malley.

Parrott last month announced he plans to collect signatures to prompt a referendum on the bill.

The Washington County Republican needs to collect a third of the 55,737 necessary signatures to prompt a referendum on SB 212 by May 31. The remainder of them are due to state election officials by June 30 in order for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

O’Malley told the Blade that opponents of bills extending marriage rights to same-sex couples and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants that he signed in 2012 also collected enough signatures to place them on the ballot. He noted voters subsequently approved both measures.

“Whatever success they might have in initially working up the gullible and petitioning this to referendum I believe the people of our state will agree that to discriminate against another human being is wrong,” said O’Malley.

‘No thoughts’ on 2016

SB 212 is only the latest in a series of progressive measures that O’Malley has signed into law in recent months.

The governor last week signed a bill that will raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. O’Malley in April signed a measure that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The death penalty in Maryland was repealed last May.

“When you have the opportunity to serve as an elected executive, you work hard everyday in the hopes that by the time your time is over you can make your state a better place, a stronger place, a more open and inclusive place that you can accomplish meaningful things that bring people together rather than to drive them apart,” O’Malley told the Blade. “That’s what we’ve been able to do in the eight years of this O’Malley-Brown administration.”

O’Malley spoke with the Blade hours after Politico published a story about his possible 2016 presidential aspirations against growing speculation that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce a second White House bid.

He said he had “no thoughts today” on whether he plans to run for president.

O’Malley has endorsed Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown in his campaign against Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

14
May
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

Efforts to force referendum on Md. trans rights law fail

Neil Parrott, Hagerstown, Maryland House of Delegates, Republican Party, Annapolis, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) failed to collect enough signatures to prompt a referendum on Maryland’s trans rights law. (Photo public domain)

Opponents of Maryland’s transgender rights law have failed to collect enough signatures to force a November referendum on it.

State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County), who led the effort, said in an e-mail to supporters that his website, MDPetitions.com, collected 17,500 signatures. This figure is less than the third of the 55,737 signatures it needed to submit to state election officials by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

Parrott said MDPetitions.com collected more than 6,000 signatures over the last two days, but it appears as though opponents never submitted them.

“So many people did so much and we are very grateful for your enthusiastic support,” said Parrott. “It is difficult to come this close and then fall short, and yet we know that it was only through this effort that people became aware of the effects of this bill.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, was quick to celebrate the failed referendum effort.

“We finally get to really celebrate this momentous achievement,” she said.

Evans noted in her statement that some LGBT rights advocates questioned the need to publicize Parrott’s efforts to prompt a referendum on the law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed last month. The Washington Blade received reports that signature gatherers recently confronted members of Equality Maryland and the National Center for Transgender Equality outside a Rockville movie theater.

“While some criticized our approach, we felt an obligation to the thousands of transgender Marylanders and the people who love and support them to do everything in our power to defend it, not just be quiet and wait to see what happens,” said Evans.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced Senate Bill 212 — also known as the Fairness for All Marylanders Act — in January also celebrated the failed referendum effort.

“While it was gratifying to see this law pass the General Assembly and to watch the governor sign it, we all knew that it was not a done deal until we saw whether opponents could muster up signatures,” said Madaleno. “I am grateful for the work that Equality Maryland and others did to help stop people from signing the petition. The time for attacking principles of basic fairness for Marylanders has passed.”

Parrott did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

O’Malley in a statement noted that Maryland voters in 2012 approved marriage rights for same-sex couples and a law that extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants when the issues were on the ballot.

“We are one Maryland — united in a belief in the dignity of every individual,” he said. “We passed marriage equality and successfully defended it at the ballot box, we passed the DREAM Act to expand opportunity to all of our neighbors and we extended protections for gender identity. Marylanders stand on the side of fairness and progress, and we will keep moving forward together.”

A Goucher Poll in March indicates 71 percent of Marylanders support the trans rights law.

Maryland will join 17 other states, D.C. and Puerto Rico that have added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws once the statute takes effect on Oct. 1.

“Trans persons become equal citizens in Maryland on Oct. 1, after two decades of fighting for acceptance,” said Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer.

01
Jun
2014

Supporters rally for trans rights in Md.

Martin O'Malley, gay news, gay politics

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was among those who expressed support for a trans rights bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Bob Brittain was doing fairly well in Chestertown, Md., with a wife and family, earning more than $50,000 per year as a certified boat captain, assistant dock master and boat carpenter.  But since the age of three, he knew he was not comfortable with his gender. Two years ago, Bob transitioned to Susan Brittain, now 57, but still with her wife who has been fully supportive.

However, when Susan applied for other jobs, “the rules had changed,” she explained. As soon as she identified as transgender, she was not hired for the positions she was seeking despite her qualifications. While Susan would benefit from a statewide law that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations, her concern is for others. “It’s for the younger generation,” Susan points out. “They should be productive and happy.”

To that end, on Feb. 17, the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality—a group with 54 components including Equality Maryland, PFLAG, Maryland NOW and a host of other progressive and religious organizations—held its annual Lobby Day at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. The goal is to rally trans activists and allies and to meet with individual legislators in an effort to persuade them to pass the bill, which has been unsuccessful the past seven years.

More than 150 braved the sub-freezing chill to hear remarks by Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland; Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County); Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) who introduced the Senate version of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act (SB 212); Sara Wilkinson from the Maryland chapter of NOW; Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore) who introduced the House version (HB 1265); Patrick Paschall, a member of the Hyattsville City Council, which passed a gender identity non-discrimination measure; Gov. Martin O’Malley, who, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch among other leaders, support the bill; activist and mother of a trans child Bonnita Spikes; and Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) who is a candidate for governor.

The theme for this event was “It’s time.” Evans stated to loud cheers, “We want to pass this bill this year and make this the last Lobby Day.”

Speaker after speaker alluded to the fact that this bill has languished in the legislature for too many years and it was time to break it free.  “This is the time to put the bill to rest,” said Madaleno.  “We’ve had eight years of pushing the bill.  If we don’t do it this year, we’re going to be back and back and back for however long it takes.”

Pointing to the successes in other Maryland jurisdictions—Baltimore City, Howard, Baltimore and Montgomery counties as well as Hyattsville — Hyattsville Council member Patrick Paschall stated, “Now is the time for the state of Maryland to follow the lead of local jurisdiction.”

Others highlighted the unnecessary discrimination faced by transgender people and offered a call for inclusion.  “It’s time for all Marylanders to be accepted for who they are,” declared Cullison. Sara Wilkinson said, “We believe the feminist movement can and should embrace transgender people. NOW stands against all oppression.”

A confident Clippinger predicted, “We are going to win this year because of the momentum we have.”

O’Malley said, “We’re all in this together. Everyone deserves to be treated equally with dignity and respect.”

The Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee is considering the bill and a vote is expected on Feb. 20. (Visit washingtonblade.com for updates.) SB 212 has 25 sponsors, more than enough to win on the floor. Last year, the bill died in the committee by a 6-5 vote.

18
Feb
2014

Md. Senate campaign between Madaleno, Beyer grows heated

Dana Beyer, Richard Madaleno, Annapolis, Maryland, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade, incumbent

Dana Beyer and Richard Madaleno. (Washington Blade photo of Beyer by Michael Key; Blade photo of Madaleno by Jeff Surprenant)

The race between state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and challenger Dana Beyer in Maryland’s 18th Senate District has grown increasingly heated ahead of the June 24 primary.

Madaleno compared Beyer to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during a May 29 debate that aired on Montgomery Municipal Cable’s “Political Pulse.” The two also clashed during a District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club forum on Monday.

“She wants to be the person that just makes the big statement that gets attention, but actually spends little time in making the hard decisions about governing,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade in an interview on Tuesday. “You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who would not label me as a liberal, as a progressive in the state Senate. I’m also practical in recognizing that we have to make compromises that get the job done.”

Madaleno told the Blade that Beyer has “gone very negative” during the campaign.

His opponent in recent days has sent two mailers to voters that say Madaleno has “led the charge” against a so-called millionaire’s tax. Beyer has also said Madaleno voted in favor of cutting the state’s contribution to the public teachers’ pension fund.

“There’s nothing in any of my mailers … that is in any way negative,” Beyer told the Blade on Tuesday. “It’s about his record. He’s used it negatively because it’s highlighting what he’s done, which doesn’t fit with his record.”

Beyer provided the Blade with a screenshot of her Facebook page that shows Madaleno’s husband, Mark Madaleno Hodge, questioning why her campaign pays her canvassers $8.50 an hour.

“Economic justice doesn’t apply to you I guess,” wrote Hodge.

Beyer told the Blade her canvassers receive between $10.50-$12.50 an hour. She also categorized accusations that she asked District 18 voters whether Madaleno spent “too much time on gay issues” in a Celinda Lake poll she commissioned before declaring her candidacy in January as “another lie.”

“That was as classic, as detailed, as traditional a persuasion poll as possible,” Beyer told the Blade. “I’m trying to understand the race. I discovered that I could win this race, but it wasn’t on anything gay or trans.”

Madaleno, 48, has represented District 18 that includes Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring, Bethesda and Chevy Chase since 2007. He also became the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 when he won a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Beyer, 61, was a senior assistant to former Montgomery County Council woman Duchy Trachtenberg. The retired eye surgeon unsuccessfully challenged state Del. Alfred Carr (D-Montgomery County) in 2010.

Beyer, who is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors, is the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland that she founded in 2011.

Beyer: Madaleno introduced trans bill because he’s ‘the gay guy’

Beyer has repeatedly criticized Madaleno over his role in the passage of a transgender rights bill earlier this year that he introduced.

She told the Blade that Madaleno “wasn’t supposed to introduce” Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act because she said her organization convinced state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) to do it because he is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that in 2013 struck down a similar measure. Beyer said Gender Rights Maryland also worked with state Del. James Hubbard (D-Prince George’s County) to put forth the bill in the Maryland House of Delegates because he is a member of the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

“These are people who’ve been with us in the past, who have superb rates of legislative success,” she said. “Rich introduced this because he’s the gay guy.”

Beyer said Madaleno was unable to define gender identity last year during the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a trans rights bill. She also accused her opponent of disinviting Gov. Martin O’Malley from testifying in support of it.

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

State Sen. Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer and Sen. Jamie Raskin during a 2013 Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Beyer told the Blade that she worked with state Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) who ultimately voted for Senate Bill 212 in February.

The three Democrats who sit on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in 2013 voted against a nearly identical bill.

“We got all three of those votes,” said Beyer. “[Madaleno] promoted himself as the lead sponsor because he wanted the credit for it. That’s what he does best — take credit for which he doesn’t deserve credit.”

Madaleno acknowledged he shares Beyer’s “frustration” that it took nearly a decade for a trans rights bill to become law. He accused her of being willing to compromise on a 2011 measure that did not include public accommodations.

Numerous LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent months have said Beyer did not play a significant role in the passage of SB 212 that O’Malley signed last month. They also questioned Gender Rights Maryland’s decision to oppose efforts to highlight efforts to prompt a referendum on the law that ultimately failed.

“Those of us who were actually in Annapolis day in and day out during the session will tell you that it was thousands of supporters, strong leadership from the governor, Lt. Gov. [Anthony Brown], Senate President [Thomas V. Mike Miller], Speaker of the House [Michael Busch], and most importantly, and the glue that held it all together, Sen. Rich Madaleno,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade.

Her organization late last year endorsed Madaleno and Brown, who is running against Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“It is unfortunate for our community that Beyer has employed tactics that attack Sen. Madaleno, his intentions and his record,” said Evans.

Jonathan Shurberg, chair of Gender Rights Maryland’s Legislative Committee who is running for the House of Delegates in House District 20, has repeatedly defended the role he says Beyer and her organization played to secure passage of SB 212.

The Blade was unable to immediately reach him for comment.

Madaleno: Beyer is ‘jealous’

Madaleno said that he also played a key role in securing marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state — a point Beyer has acknowledged. The incumbent Democrat suggested during the Montgomery Municipal Cable debate that his opponent is “jealous” of him, noting she described him as “the major stumbling block in getting the trans bill passed.”

“It’s clear that the only thing that triturates us is her belief that she should have the job,” said Madaleno.

Beyer insists her decision to challenge Madaleno is not just about the trans rights bill that O’Malley signed.

She told the Blade she will focus on economic issues, the environment and other progressive issues if voters elect her.

“I’m not running to be the trans senator,” said Beyer. “I’m running to be the senator from District 18 who happens to be a woman, a civil rights leader, trans, intersex, a physician, a surgeon, a writer. I am many, many things and in many respects certainly with respect to being an elected representative, being trans is the least of it.”

11
Jun
2014