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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

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

Equality Maryland celebrates milestone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31
Oct
2013

Md. rally focuses on trans rights

Rich Madaleno, gay news, Washington Blade, Annapolis, Maryland, Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality

Sen. Rich Madaleno spoke at a rally in Annapolis this week. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)

A diverse crowd of nearly 200 gathered at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis on Monday to rally behind SB449, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013. The bill, if passed, would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on gender identity or expression. The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality sponsored the event and organized the subsequent lobbying efforts for individuals and groups by district.

“We must put our foot on the gas pedal until there is equality all over the state,” Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland and who emceed the rally, told the crowd.

Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) attended the event. He, along with Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), introduced the measure on Jan. 29. Madaleno expressed confidence in the bill’s passage by telling the crowd, “We are on the verge of this last big victory in Maryland,” noting that 23 senators sponsored SB449 and 24 are needed for passage. “I think all of the stars are finally in alignment,” he said.

Last year, a similar bill was passed in the House of Delegates by a margin of 86-52 only to die in the Senate. This year there is much more optimism given that Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller is supporting the bill. Therefore, it is likely to pass in the Senate as well as the House if it can make it out of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. The JPR is scheduled to hear testimony on Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.

Other speakers at the rally included Rev. Larry Brumfield, Maryland Black Family Alliance; Mara Kiesling, National Center for Transgender Equality; Blake Wideman, Black Trans Men, Inc.; Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City); and Darlene Nipper, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

20
Feb
2013

O’Malley ‘absolutely’ building support for Md. trans bill

Steve Elmendorf, Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says he’s ‘absolutely’ reaching to lawmakers to pass trans rights bill (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday said he’s “absolutely” reaching out to state lawmakers to encourage them to pass a transgender rights bill.

O’Malley affirmed his support for the measure when speaking with the Washington Blade at the White House following a meeting between President Obama and members of the National Governors Association.

“I’ve supported that bill in the past, support it again this year,” O’Malley said. “I think we should pass it, and, in fact, I testified in favor of it when I was mayor some seven years ago in the state legislature.”

Asked if he’s reaching out to lawmakers to encourage them to pass the bill, O’Malley replied, “Sure am. I absolutely am.”

O’Malley’s support for the bill could prove crucial as he was among the driving forces behind the same-sex marriage bill lawmakers approved last year. The governor also campaigned in support of the issue ahead of last November’s referendum on the law he signed.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on the bill–the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013–that would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. State Sens. Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin of Montgomery Country formally introduced the measure last month.

Dana Beyer, executive director of the statewide transgender group Gender Rights Maryland, affirmed O’Malley has been active in building support for the transgender rights legislation.

“Gov. O’Malley has been very supportive of the trans community since his days as Mayor of Baltimore, when he led the city in its creation of the state’s first anti-discrimination law,” Beyer said. “Today he is lending his full support with his colleagues in Annapolis as the statewide law begins to work its way through the Senate. We at Gender Rights Maryland applaud all his hard work on behalf of our community, and are very grateful to have our governor as our leading ally.”

The proposal died in committee last February because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it. Advocates are more optimistic the bill will pass this year, in part, because he now supports it.

NOTE: This posting has been updated to include a comment from Dana Beyer.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story.

25
Feb
2013

Year in review: Trans rights bill dies in Md. Legislature

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Dana Beyer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore County Council voted 5-2 on Feb. 21 to approve a bill that bans discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

But a similar bill that would cover the entire state died in committee in the Maryland State Senate in April, ending chances for passing the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act in the state legislature in 2012.

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a statewide group that led the lobbying campaign for the state bill, said supporters were gearing up to push for the bill’s passage in the legislature in 2013.

Beyer said that while advocates were disappointed in the setback on the statewide bill, the passage of a transgender non-discrimination measure in Baltimore County increased the state’s population covered under similar protections to 47 percent.

She noted that Howard County approved a nearly identical bill in December 2011. Baltimore City and Montgomery County approved similar bills several years earlier. According to Beyer, nearly 95 percent of the state’s transgender people live in those four jurisdictions.

“So in that respect, practically speaking, we’ve done the job,” she said, in providing legal protection for transgender people in the state.

Political observers sympathetic to the state bill have said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince Georges and Calvert Counties) orchestrated its demise in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Some observers say Miller acted because he believed the bill didn’t have the votes to pass in the full Senate and he didn’t want the Senate Democratic leadership linked to the bill’s defeat on the floor. Others, however, say Miller blocked the bill because he personally opposes it. Miller’s office didn’t respond to calls for comment.

27
Dec
2012