Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest LGBT civil rights group, with thousands of members and supporters across the entire state. Equality Maryland includes:
- a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization (Equality Maryland, Inc.) that lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Marylanders and their families;
- a 501(c)(3) educational foundation (Equality Maryland Foundation) that works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through outreach, education, research, community organizing, training and coalition building; and
- Equality Maryland PAC, which exists to influence elections.
What We Do
Equality Maryland works to secure and protect the rights of LGBT Marylanders by promoting legislative initiatives on the state, county and municipal levels. We work with members of the General Assembly to shape and pass positive legislation in Annapolis and to beat back discriminatory legislation.
Equality Maryland's sister arm, the Equality Maryland Foundation, works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against LGBT Marylanders through outreach, education, research, community organizing, training and coalition building.
- We act as an advocate for LGBT Marylanders
- We aim to empower ordinary citizens to become extraordinary activists
- We work to provide a strong and unified voice for LGBT concerns in the media
- We conduct trainings for employers and workplaces
- We present at conferences across Maryland and the U.S. about LGBT issues
- We will tirelessly toil until equal protection under the law has been achieved for all members of our diverse community
Begun in 1990 under the name Free State Justice, Equality Maryland (renamed in 2004) has fought diligently in the state capital and other counties and cities to win equal rights.
- In 2001, the organization was responsible for passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act, which bans sexual orientation-motivated discrimination in housing, public accommodations, lending, and employment statewide. Today, fewer than half of states in the country have such a law.
- In 2002, we worked to ban transgender-motivated discrimination in Baltimore City.
- In 2003, our work resulted in stronger safe-schools regulations.
- In 2005, Equality Maryland expanded our state's hate crimes statute to include crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation and gender identity, thus making it a more effective law enforcement and prosecutorial tool.
- In 2006, Equality Maryland spearheaded the passage The Medical Decisionmaking Act, that extended some medical and funeral decision making rights to domestic partners.
- In 2007, we passed an ordinance that added transgender protections to Montgomery County's anti-discrimination laws. Equality Maryland worked to ensure this law was not overturned on referendum.
- In 2007, Equality Maryland passed The Family Coverage Expansion Act. This law requires insurance companies to write policies inclusive of domestic partners.
- In 2007, Equality Maryland also helped pass a law that authorizes insurers who issue policies of group life insurance to extend coverage to domestic partners.
- In 2009, we helped pass a law that allows domestic partners to inherit jointly owned primary residences without incurring tax penalities.
- In 2010 with our help the Montgomery County Council passed a county ordinance requiring contractors who do business with the county to offer domestic partner benefits.
- In 2012, Equality Maryland helped pass a Baltimore County law extending anti-discrimination provisions to transgender individuals.
- In 2012, Equality Maryland was part of the coalition that passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act.
- In 2012, Equality Maryland was part of the coalition that helped defend The Civil Marriage Protection Act at the ballot box!
Equality Maryland Foundation's educational and coalition-building work has included formation of:
- The Maryland Black Family Alliance, in conjunction with the ACLU. The MBFA brings together straight African American leaders who are supportive of LGBT marriage equality and other legal protections.
- The LGBT Marylanders of Color Collective, a committee of people of color dedicated to engaging in heart-to-heart dialogue about LGBT people of color.
Equality Maryland has produced groundbreaking publications like Jumping the Broom: A Black Perspective on Same-Gender Marriage, which is now used across the United States;What's In a Word? A Religious Perspective on Civil Marriage Equality; Marriage Inequality In the State of Maryland, and the video Heart of the Matter: Maryland's Same-Sex Couples Seek Justice for their Families. Equality Maryland has also produced a video series "Stand With Us." These public service announcements are written and produced by trans individauls and have been well received.
Most importantly, Equality Maryland has built a strong network of citizen voices and a solid coalition of organizations who are tireless in their commitment to fairness and justice.
Equality Maryland and its staff have received a number of honors and awards:
- Received "Organization of the Year" Award from the NAACP (Baltimore), 2013
- Honored with a Peace & Justice Award by the Washington Peace Center
- Received the Founders Award from Brother Help Thyself
The Equality Maryland board is a diverse group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual individuals from all walks of life. Equality Maryland strives to create an organization that truly represents and serves the interests of all its constituents.
As a non-partisan organization, Equality Maryland believes that equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and families headed by same-sex couples is not and should not be a partisan issue. LGBT Marylanders are Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents and members of third parties, and vote in virtually every county in Maryland. While few of us under the LGBT umbrella are single-issue voters, most of us do attach significant weight to the rhetoric and votes that surround the question of our civil rights. Therefore, it is vital to reach out to all fair-minded elected officials to seek understanding and advocacy on behalf of our civil rights.