Hundreds Gather to Push for Marriage in Maryland

Equality Maryland Exec. Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Over 400 supporters of marriage equality from across Maryland came to Annapolis on Valentine’s Day to lobby in support of the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.” 

As a Maryland resident it was especially moving to see so many supportive legislators bear the strong winds and address the enthusiastic crowd. 

Attorney General Doug Gansler was also on-hand and was greeted with cheers as he predicted a legislative victory.

The full Senate is expected to vote next week.  With two Senators announcing their support for the bill earlier in the day, the bill has 23 of the 24 votes needed to pass.  Four Senators remain undecided.

If the bill passes the Senate next week, it moves onto the House of Delegates where the vote count is also very close.

To help in our efforts working alongside Equality Maryland, please contact sultan.shakir@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

HRC Works with Equality Maryland “Pride in Faith Coalition”

This afternoon, Sultan Shakir, Sharon Groves and I met with the Equality Maryland “Pride in Faith Coalition”, a group of religious leaders and lay leaders from across the state of Maryland who are taking a stand for equality. The leaders met to discuss the two bills making their way through the Maryland legislature, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act and the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act. More importantly, they discussed how they could play a role in making sure the two bills become law.

It was great to hear from these religious voices, from Catholics to Baptist to Universalist Unitarians and many others. Hearing these voices united in the fight for equality was amazing.

After the meeting, the clergy leaders are heading over to the State Capitol to join hundreds of other Marylanders at Equality Maryland’s Annual Lobby Day. We’ll be meeting face to face with our legislators to make our voices heard.

To get involved with Pride in Faith, email prideinfaith@equalitymaryland.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

UPDATED: Marriage bill now has 22 23 of the 24 supporters needed in Maryland Senate

UPDATE @ 5:24 PM: The magic number is down to one. Another Maryland Senator is on board:

Sen. Katherine Klausmeier said today that she has decided to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, putting the measure within a breath of passage in the Senate.

“I just weighed all of the options,” said the Baltimore County Democrat, who earlier told The Sun that she was torn about the issue. “It’s about fairness.”

It is about fairness. This sure feels like momentum.
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Some good news today in Maryland, via the Maryland Politics blog at the Baltimore Sun:

Sen. Edward Kasemeyer said this afternoon that he will support the controversial same-sex marriage bill, giving the measure 22 of the 24 votes it would need to clear the senate.

Kasemeyer, a Democrat who represents Howard and Baltimore counties, had not previously said how he planned to vote on the bill. Many had believed he would not support it because he represents a conservative area.

His pledge means there are five senators who either have not decided how they will vote or have declined to share their position publicly. (See full vote list after the jump. [posted below])

This year changes in a key senate panel delivered advocates the best chance they’ve ever had to legalize same-sex marriage. They believe that they have the 29 votes needed to cut off debate in the chamber and vote. The bill is expected to be voted out of committee this Thursday.

So, Senate Committee vote this week, then a floor vote in the full Senate next week. There’s intense lobbying underway at the State House in Annapolis. Equality Maryland is holding a lobby day this evening. If you live in Maryland, make your calls.

Here’s the UPDATED list of Senators the Baltimore Sun considers undecided:

No public position/Undecided

Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat (supports)
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George’s County Democrat
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat (supports)
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George’s County Democrat

Also, the Senate President, Mike Miller (D) is a NO vote.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Valentine’s Day in Maryland is about more than dinner and roses this year



Equality Maryland’s annual Lobby Day is happening on Monday, February 14th at 5pm in Annapolis.  Show your little love bug how much you care by bringing hir, her or him by the state house for a spot of lobbying for the gender identity anti-discrimination and marriage equality bills.  You can find more details and sign up here.

Equality Maryland recently posted this essay by Sandy Rawls, a transgender activist from Baltimore.  It’s another sober reminder of how immediate the need is for employment and housing protections for transgender people in Maryland.

After beginning my transition, I was pushed out of the trucking trade. While looking for employment in other fields at entry levels of work I found it to be much harder then I imagined too find work and make a livable wage.

I spent a short time at my ex-wife’s house, but ended up living in emergency shelters, but they would often want me to sleep in male quarters.  To spare myself of that mental anguish I began living on the streets.  I would ride the Baltimore light rail during the day to get sleep and stay awake all night to watch out for my safety.  After eight months, I was accepted into a local Baltimore homeless shelter. I was, at times, discriminated against by the staff and residents.

With my future in mind, I said “even if it kills me” one day I will be part of the transgender activist movement to help establish resources in the community to help other transgender people become productive citizens.

Today, I am the director and founder of a transgender organization called Trans-United.  Trans-United provides vital resources and advocates for social justice for the transgender community.  As a part of my work with Trans-United, I have traveled to Annapolis each year to lobby on behalf of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 235).  I have testified in the committee and shared my story with my legislators.

Recently, I participated in Equality Maryland’s “Why Equality Matters Day” on January 31st.  Again, I found myself lobbying my lawmakers to push for support of anti-discrimination protections.  I will also be joining EQMD for their annual lobby day efforts on Monday, February 14th.  I’ll be joined with others and will participate as a fellow speaker at Lawyers Mall at 5:00 PM.

I’ll be there when the bill is heard and I plan to keep fighting to convince our legislators that we need these protections under the law, and now.  Our freedoms and civil rights as transgender people definitely are not free. We have to make our voices heard and be an active part of the solution.  Not only this year as we fight for HB 235, but in future fights to come.  

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

As marriage bill is introduced, poll shows support from majority of Maryland voters

As we reported yesterday, Equality Maryland is holding its press conference today in Annapolis to announce the introduction of the marriage bill with an impressive lineup of speakers. The legislation has a very good chance of passing and the Governor will sign it.

This morning, the Washington Post released its latest Maryland polling. And, it showed a majority of the state’s registered voters support a same-sex marriage law:

The poll also includes good numbers for advocates of same-sex marriage, a high-profile issue this legislative session.

In the poll, 51 percent of voters say they would favor a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 44 percent opposed such a law and 5 percent gave no response.

If the legislature passes a same-sex marriage bill, it is likely to be petitioned to the ballot for a statewide vote in 2012.

We’ll need those numbers — and more — to win on the ballot next year.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Calling for the Freedom to Marry in Maryland

HRC volunteer Vanessa Watson prepares for her first call.

I spent this Saturday afternoon with eight terrific HRC volunteers on the phones calling for the freedom to marry in Maryland.

We were calling HRC members and supporters in Maryland to make sure they know about the January 31st Why Marriage Matters Day at the State Capitol in Annapolis.  This great event will start with a gathering at five o’clock on Lawyers’ Mall at the State House.  The Equality Maryland team will then provide participants with talking points and a quick training before teaming them up with other supporters of equality from their legislative districts for in-person meetings with their legislators.

With votes in the legislature likely coming up fast, there’s nothing more important than supporters of marriage equality telling their stories directly to their state legislators and explaining why they support the freedom to marry.

If you’re a Maryland resident, sign up today to participate in the January 31st Why Marriage Matters Day.  And to get more involved in the campaign for marriage equality in Maryland, fill out our online survey or send a message to Sultan Shakir at sultan.shakir@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

MARYLAND: Marriage Equality Vote Likely To Come Before End Of Year

The Baltimore Sun reports that a vote on same-sex marriage will likely be put to the Maryland legislature before the end of the year.

In the march toward equal rights for gays and lesbians in Maryland, small things can make a big difference. A couple of Republican state senators were replaced by Democrats, giving the majority party an extra seat in a key committee. One socially conservative Democrat asked to be reassigned, and suddenly a 6-5 split against same-sex marriage in the Judicial Proceedings Committee looks like it could turn into a 6-5 vote in favor of it. [snip] That’s a lot of chickens to count before they hatch, but the path toward legalizing gay marriage here looks clearer than ever — not because of any extraordinary event, or landmark court case, or massive protest march, but because one by one, Marylanders have grown comfortable with the idea that homosexuality is no reason to deny someone’s fundamental rights.

The above-linked article cautions that should lawmakers approve marriage equality, opponents need only get 3% of Maryland’s electorate, about 56,000 people, to sign a repeal petition that would place the issue on the 2012 ballot.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Why Is Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Suddenly In Support of Same-Sex Marriage?

Is Maryland's Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley suddenly on board with legalizing same-sex marriage there? The Catholic governor, who's up for re-election in November, last year criticized D.C.'s Catholic Church for threatening to yank its social services programs upon the legalization of same-sex marriage. Is he finally ready to hold himself to a similar standard?

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Marriage news from Maryland

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today issued an opinion that his state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in locations where such marriages are legal.

Gansler’s 45-page opinion comes after  nearly a year of research, and concludes that Maryland’s Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — could “likely apply the principle that a marriage is valid in the place of celebration is valid in Maryland.”

Of course the man known as Maryland’s most conservative lawmaker, Delegate Don Dwyer, had already threatened to impeach Gansler if the AG came down in favor of recognition legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and Dwyer today posted a message on his Facebook page saying he will work to impeach Gansler, “not because he disagrees with [me] on the topic of same sex marriage, but because he has overstepped his constitutional bounds and violated his oath of office.”

(Just another shining example of the kind of “play by my rules or I will take my toys and go home” politics that are currently crippling our government at every level.)

And Maryland Sen. Norman Stone, worried that Maryland couples will go to Washington, D.C. to get married then come home to Maryland and insist their marriages be recognized, has introduced legislation to keep the state from recognizing “foreign” same-sex marriages (those performed in some jurisdiction where they are legal).

Said Stone: If people “strongly believe in same-sex marriages, they should go live in those states” that allow it.

(Sound familiar? Rick Perry telling LGBT military veterans to go somewhere else if they didn’t like Texas’ laws banning same-sex marriage?)

After reading several articles online and seeing lots of statements from LGBT organizations about Gansler’s opinion, I found this interesting tidbit in an Associated Press story: A Maryland Democratic lawmaker named Henry Heller is introducing legislation to make it illegal there for first cousins (of opposite genders, I assume) to get married.

Heller said allowing first cousins to marry is too dangerous because of the increased likelihood they will pass on genetic disorders to their children. He calls it “genetic roulette.” But Heller’s bill has no problem with first cousins who are over 65 or infertile marrying, and included an exception for such couples in the bill.

Heller said says he wants to bring Maryland “into the enlightened world of other states such as West Virginia and Arkansas” that already prohibit unions of first cousins.

—  admin