MARYLAND'S LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER
CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION
Equality Blog
Fairness for All Marylanders Act 2014 Gets Record Number of Co-Sponsors in the House

Following Tuesday’s flood of supportive testimony in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Delegate Luke Clippinger just moments ago filed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act 2014 in the House of Delegates with a total of 61 co-sponsors. Delegate Bonnie Cullison was instrumental in working with Del. Clippinger in acquiring this record number of cosponsors.

Equality Maryland commends these 61 Delegates. “This is the most co-sponsors we have had on this bill,” commented Keith Thirion, EQMD’s Director of Advocacy and Programs. “Momentum is definitely growing and we are confident that 2014 is the year this bill finally passes.”

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 would update Maryland’s statewide anti-discrimination laws to include transgender individuals. EQMD and The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE) are building support to keep the momentum going. Phone banks and data entry parties are happening every week. And we are preparing for a great turnout for Lobby Day on Feb. 17th. Things move quickly during the session, make sure you are signed up for emails and are following us on Facebook and Twitter.

The 61 Delegates co-sponsoring this measure are: Anderson, Barkley, Barnes, Barve, Bobo, Bromwell, Cardin, Carr, Carter, Clagett, Clippinger, Costa, Cullison, Dumais, Fraser-Hidalgo, Frick, Frush, Gaines, Gilchrist, Gutierrez, Guzzone, Hammen, Haynes, Healey, Hixson, Hubbard, Hucker, Ivey, A. Jones, Kaiser, Kelly, Kramer, Lafferty, Lee, Love, Luedtke, Malone, McIntosh, Miller, Mitchell, Mizeur, Morhaim, Murphy, Nathan-Pulliam, Niemann, Pena-Melnyk, Reznik, B. Robinson, S. Robinson, Rosenberg, Simmons, Stein, Summers, Swain, F. Turner, V. Turner, Valderrama, Waldstreicher, A. Washington, M. Washington, Zucker.

 

 

 

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Remembering Longtime Equality Maryland Supporter Robert Coggin

Remembering Robert Coggin

 

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EQMD Announces Second Round of Endorsements

BALTIMORE - Today Equality Maryland announced its second set of endorsements for the 2014 election cycle. This list includes 21 incumbent state legislators who voted for The Civil Marriage Protections Act and completed candidate questionnaires.* All support Equality Maryland's top legislative priority - The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which expands current law to include anti-discrimination provisions for transgender Marylanders. All are Democrats.

PAC Chair, Tim Williams, commented, “Equality Maryland's PAC is proud to endorse an additional 21 incumbents who have stood with Equality Maryland and our work for LGBT equality during their tenure on the General Assembly. We will work hard to ensure they are re-elected."

In the first round of endorsements, EQMD endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman for the Gubernatorial race along with 36 incumbent state legislators. There will be at least one more round of endorsements from the Equality Maryland PAC in the coming months.

 

Equality Maryland Endorsed Candidates for State Senate Districts

Delegate John Olszewski, Jr., D6

Delegate Guy Guzzone, D13

Senator Bill Ferguson, D46

Senator Ed Kasemeyer, D12

Senator Nancy King, D39

Senator Paul Pinsky, D22

Senator Ron Young, D3

 

Equality Maryland Endorsed Candidates for House of Delegate Districts 

Delegate Eric Bromwell, D8

Delegate Al Carr, D18

Delegate Bonnie Cullison, D19

Delegate Jim Gilchrist, D17

Delegate Anne Kaiser, D14

Delegate Ariana Kelly, D16

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D43

Delegate Keiffer Mitchell, D44A

Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, D21

Delegate Dan Morhaim, D11

Delegate Michael Summers, D47

Delegate Frank Turner, D13

Delegate Alonzo Washington, D22**

Delegate Mary Washington, D43

 

* Copies of completed questionnaires can be requested by emailing PAC@EqualityMaryland.org (please specify the questionnaire you are requesting)

 ** Delegate Alonzo Washington was appointed to the House of Delegates in December 2012, and was not in the General Assembly at the time The Civil Marriage Protection Act was voted on. However his responses to the candidate questionnairre and support of LGBT issues since his appointment are exceptional and the PAC Committee along with the Board of Directors voted to include him in Round 2. January 28, 2014

 

Equality Maryland's Political Action Committee was established in 2006 to help elect individuals who are committed to working for fairness and equality for LGBT individuals, our families and our communities. The PAC also works to support fair-minded incumbents.

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Baltimore Sun urges the General Assembly to Act!

www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-transgender-20140120,0,5631562.story

baltimoresun.com

Time for 'Chrissy's Law' [Editorial]

Our view: Three years after the attack in Rosedale, it's time Maryland recognized the rights of transgender men and women

8:00 AM EST, January 20, 2014 

Three years ago, the vicious attack on 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis by two teens at a Rosedale McDonald's that was captured on video and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people raised awareness of transgender people and of the ignorance, hostilities and challenges they often face. One year later, Baltimore County approved an ordinance that protects the rights of people like Ms. Polis from being discriminated against — joining Baltimore City and Howard and Montgomery counties, which offer similar protections.

Why aren't these safeguards enforced statewide? Because for all the self-congratulatory talk in Annapolis about how progressive Maryland has shown itself to be on issues of equality and equal rights in recent years, the state legislature has so far failed to approve such a measure — although 17 other states and the District of Columbia do have transgender rights laws on their books already.

The General Assembly has an opportunity to make amends this year. A bill to outlaw discrimination against individuals on the basis of gender identity was introduced recently by state Sen. Richard Madaleno and has the backing of some prominent Democrats, including Gov. Martin O'Malley. A similar proposal passed the House of Delegates two years ago but was defeated in the Judicial Proceedings Committee, most recently by a one-vote margin in 2013.

That Maryland is in the midst of an election year in 2014 should help that effort. The influential LGBT advocacy group Equality Maryland has made the legislation a top priority, and it has drawn support from all three of the major candidates running for governor in the Democratic primary: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur. Maryland voters have shown a strong preference for equal rights with their overwhelming endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2012.

Even the Do-Nothing Congress has demonstrated an interest in the subject. Last November, the U.S. Senate approved a bill that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by a 2-to-1 margin. Maryland's proposal goes further to include housing and public accommodation, but how embarrassing is it that the U.S. Senate would show itself to be more open-minded and compassionate than its Maryland counterpart?

Like marriage equality, this is a civil rights issue. Beatings in fast-food restaurants are not the only hardships transgender individuals face. A 2009 survey found 18 percent of transgender Marylanders had lost a job because of gender identity, and 42 percent had suffered some adverse job action over it. More than half reported being harassed in public accommodations like restaurants, movie theaters and stores. Seventeen percent said they've been denied an apartment or home because they are transgender.

This is not how a civil society should treat people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned by genetics. The circumstances of such individuals can vary widely, but regardless, they ought to be given the rights afforded everyone else — to be judged in the workplace by their qualifications, abilities and performance in their chosen field, for instance — and not by gender distinction.

Like the issue of same-sex marriage, this is not a matter of special rights given an individual or group but one of resisting discrimination. It is unconscionable that doctors can deny treatment to someone based on gender identity or that a landlord could refuse to rent an apartment to, or a department store decline to admit, that same person. But without an anti-discrimination law, such individuals have no choice but to suffer intolerance and bias.

One year ago, Maryland witnessed its first same-sex wedding, and it was cause for celebration. The tidal wave of change and enlightenment has continued to sweep across the country, most recently with a federal judge's ruling that Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Transgender rights should not be far behind. People like Chrissy Lee Polis should be able to live without fear and be productive members of society. That the Maryland General Assembly has so far failed to support that cause by banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity is shameful. Let corrective action be a high priority for all legislators and not just LGBT advocates and Democratic candidates for governor.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun

 

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The Baltimore Police Department is looking for new recruits!

Equality Maryland serves on the Commissioner’s LGBT Advisory Council and encourages members of the LGBT community and our allies to consider a career with the BPD.  Check out this video produced by the BPD!

 More information can be found here.

 

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Equality Maryland Gives Nod to Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman: Announces Its First Round of Endorsements

BALTIMORE - Today Equality Maryland announced its endorsements in 37 races, including Maryland's Gubernatorial race.  "We are proud to put our support behind the Brown/Ulman ticket for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. After meeting with the three declared Democratic candidates, we believe that Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman will be the most effective Governor and Lieutenant Governor for Equality Maryland's issues and for the citizens of Maryland," comments the group's Executive Director, Carrie Evans. 

PAC Chair, Tim Williams, notes "Equality Maryland's PAC has worked since 2006 to help elect individuals who will fight for LGBT equality.  It is remarkable that seven years later, we have come to a point where all three Democratic candidates for Governor are enthusiastically supportive of LGBT issues."

Equality Maryland also announced its endorsement of 36 General Assembly candidates. These endorsements are for some of the incumbents who voted for The Civil Marriage Protections Act. All support Equality Maryland's top legislative priority - The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which expands current law to include anti-discrimination provisions for transgender Marylanders. All are Democrats.*

There will be at least one more round of endorsements from the Equality Maryland PAC in the coming months.

Equality Maryland Endorsed Candidates for State Senate Districts** 

Delegate Susan Lee, D16

Delegate Veronica Turner, D26

Senator Brian Feldman, D15

Senator Delores Kelley, D10

Senator Katherine Klausmeier, D8

Senator Richard Madaleno, D18

Senator Roger Manno, D19

Senator Nathaniel McFadden, D45

Senator Karen Montgomery, D14

Senator Jamie Raskin, D20

Senator James Rosapepe, D21

Senator Bobby Zirkin, D11

 

Equality Maryland Endorsed Candidates for House of Delegate Districts 

Delegate Charles Barkley, D39

Delegate Kumar Barve, D17

Delegate Michael E. Busch, D30

Delegate Luke Clippinger, D46

Delegate Kathleen Dumais, D15

Delegate Tawanna Gaines, D22

Delegate Adrienne Jones, D10

Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, D18

Delegate Peter Hammen, D46

Delegate Anne Healey, D22

Delegate James Hubbard, D23

Delegate Benjamin Kramer, D19

Delegate Stephen Lafferty, D42

Delegate Eric Luedtke, D14 

Delegate Aruna Miller, D15

Delegate Peter Murphy, D28

Delegate Dana Stein, D11

Delegate Kirill Reznik, D39

Delegate Barbara Robinson, D40

Delegate Shane Robinson, D39

Delegate Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg, D41

Delegate Kris Valderrama, D26

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, D18

Delegate Craig Zucker, D14

* Three Republicans voted for The Civil Marriage Protection Act; none are seeking re-election to the General Assembly. 

** Copies of completed questionnaires can be requested by emailing PAC@EqualityMaryland.org (please specify the questionnaire you are requesting)

 

Process for Gubernatorial Endorsement

Questionnaires were sent to candidates who filed their candidacy with the State Board of Elections or otherwise declared their intentions. This included both Democrats and Republicans. Questionnaires were completed by, and interviews were conducted with, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Delegate Heather Mizeur. Interviews were conducted by Equality Maryland, Inc. staff and Board along with Equality Maryland members.

 

Equality Maryland's Political Action Committee was established in 2006 to help elect individuals who are committed to working for fairness and equality for LGBT individuals, our families and our communities. The PAC also works to support fair-minded incumbents.

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Hyattsville Makes History!

Hyattsville City Council Passes Human Rights Act

This evening the Hyattsville City Council, in a 9-0 vote, passed the Hyattsville Human Rights Act. The city becomes the first small city in Maryland and the first jurisdiction in Prince George's County to prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals.
 
This measure, sponsored by Councilmember Patrick Paschall, prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and places of public accommodations based on age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or physical characteristic.
 
Hyattsville joins Baltimore City, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties in prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals.
 
Equality Maryland's Executive Director, Carrie Evans, testified in support of this measure and underscored the importance of local jurisdictions passing these laws while efforts at the state level are underway.  Evans testified, "Passing this ordinance in Hyattsville will make measurable differences in people’s lives. Equality Maryland is part of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, working on passing similar protections at the state level and your passage of this local law will help greatly in that effort."

 

 

 

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LGBT advocates offer advice on new health care law

www.baltimoresun.com/features/gay-in-maryland/gay-matters/bs-gm-lgbt-advocates-affordable-care-act-20131119,0,1237150.story

By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

11:52 AM EST, November 19, 2013

Advertisement

Advocates and health care providers for LGBT and HIV-positive residents in Maryland have been scrambling for months to gather information on how the Affordable Care Act will impact their clients -- and now they're looking to share the information.

"We really need help to get the word out," said Doug Rose, a volunteer with Equality Maryland, at a public meeting on the health care rollout in Mount Vernon on Monday night. "I think a lot of people still don't know what to do."

Rose said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and those who are HIV-positive have experienced historic discrimination in the health insurance market -- with women and gay men at times facing steeper fees -- that the ACA now forbids.

"My message today is really, for most people, it's pretty simple," he said, of taking advantage of new coverage options.

The meeting at Chase Brexton Health Care's new facilities on North Charles Street, held in partnership with Equality Maryland and Free State Legal, was the first of four such events planned by the advocacy organizations this month.

The room was staffed with ACA advisors and navigators, stocked with sandwiches and refreshments, but only a few people showed up for the free advice on navigating the new health care law.

Both a man and a woman, who did not wish to be identified, asked questions about seeking health insurance under the state's expanded Medicaid program after a brief presentation from Rose and other panel members from Chase Brexton and Free State.

According to the panelists, the Medicaid expansion will offer some HIV-positive Maryland residents with more coverage than existing offerings, like Ryan White programs, but that many Ryan White wrap-around services like food assistance and transportation services will continue.

They also said the Maryland AIDS Drug Assistance Program could continue to be a resource for individuals who obtain health insurance through the open market.

Other issues are less clear, they said. Advocates are still working to determine if some procedures, like sex reassignment surgeries, or treatments, like hormones for transgender residents, will be covered under the new plans.

"Advocates are looking at these things. We are tracking these things," Rose said.

Representatives from Chase Brexton said LGBT and HIV-positive residents can contact their staff at ATeam@chasebrexton.org -- regardless of whether they are Chase Brexton clients -- to be connected with assistance in finding a health care plan.

Anne Blackfield, director of outreach and pro bono services at Free State Legal, said her organization is also available to provide legal advice on complicated issues such as filing jointly for coverage as a married same-sex couple.

"No matter what, we're very fortunate to be living in Maryland, because everyone here wants this to be a success," Rose said, noting that advocates are working closely with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to understand the law's impact on the LGBT community. "If things get rocky, just be patient and know that everything will be OK."

The next event is at 6 p.m. at the Chase Brexton center in Columbia, at 5500 Knoll North Drive, Suite 370. There are two events on Thursday: the first at 12 p.m. at the Chase Brexton center in Easton, at 8221 Teal Drive, Suite 202; the second at 6 p.m. at the Chase Brexton center in Randallstown, at 3510 Brenbrook Drive.

 

 

 

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The Benefits of Marriage: Estate Planning for Maryland’s Same-Sex Couples

 

The right to marry now extends to more Marylanders than ever before. Under the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which took effect January 1, 2013, same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses knowing that their unions will be recognized by the state. Federal recognition came some six months later with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor. These are exciting developments for the LGBT community, and couples who choose to marry will now enjoy many important benefits. Among these are the right to file joint tax returns, to receive Social Security and other government benefits, and to obtain health insurance from a spouse’s employer.

Being married also offers benefits in the realm of estate planning. Whether married or not, any couple in a committed relationship can help protect themselves and their loved ones with certain essential documents, including Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Medical Directives. With a valid Will, you can designate who will settle your estate, who will inherit your assets, and who will serve as the guardian of any minor children. A Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive allow you to designate someone to manage your finances and health care if you are unable to do so yourself.

But even with these documents in place, an unmarried couple may face serious disadvantages if either partner should die. With the purchase of a marriage license and the exchange of vows, the same couple immediately acquires significant legal benefits:

The first is avoiding the Maryland inheritance tax. This 10% tax applies to assets left to anyone who is not a spouse or other close family member. For unmarried couples, the result can be a hefty tax bill. Especially if the estate includes few liquid assets, the inheritance tax may be difficult to pay. Some surviving partners have had to tap into their savings, invade their retirement accounts, or even sell the family home just to pay the tax. By turning strangers into kin, a marriage license makes this tax go away.

Another benefit is avoiding estate taxes, or at least delaying them. In Maryland, any portion of an estate that exceeds $1 million in value is taxed at the rate of up to 16 percent. The estate tax is less of a concern at the federal level, where only the portion of an estate that exceeds $5.25 million in value is taxed, but at the much higher rate of 40 percent. (Note that for purposes of either tax, the value of the estate includes the value of any life insurance or retirement accounts owned by the decedent.) Married couples avoid these taxes simply by virtue of their marital status; any bequest to the surviving spouse is tax-free. Taxes may still be due when the survivor dies, but even these can be avoided or reduced. Your attorney can prepare Wills that include provisions for a bypass trust—an effective estate-planning tool reserved to married couples.

Another important benefit is the right to title real estate as tenants by the entirety. This form of ownership is reserved to married couples and helps protect the family home from creditor claims. If either spouse is sued individually or files for bankruptcy, creditors are generally prevented from seizing and selling the property to satisfy the debt. And if either spouse dies, the property transfers automatically to the survivor. Retitling a house as tenants by the entirety is a simple matter of recording a new deed.

With all of these incentives in place, many gay and lesbian couples are asking whether there is any good reason not to get married. This is a fair question. One potential downside is the “marriage penalty” under the federal income tax code. This penalty applies to married couples with similar incomes, but the number of couples actually affected varies from time to time as the tax code is adjusted. Your accountant or tax preparer can tell you whether the penalty would apply to you and how much it is likely to be.

For most couples contemplating marriage, the legal benefits are of course a secondary consideration. Marriage may provide advantages that even the most carefully prepared estate plan cannot, but it is still chiefly a union of love and commitment, not a business venture. Even so, no matter how long a couple may have been together, marriage’s legal advantages are well worth considering.

Lee Carpenter is an associate at the Baltimore law firm of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes and can be reached at (410) 576-4729 or lcarpenter@semmes.com.

This information is intended to provide general information about legal topics and should not be construed as legal advice.

 

 

 

 

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All Legal Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

8/29/2013

 Ruling Provides Certainty, Benefits and Protections Under Federal Tax Law for Same-Sex Married Couples

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.  

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances (such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open) that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.

Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

 

How to File a Claim for Refund

Taxpayers who wish to file a refund claim for income taxes should use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Taxpayers who wish to file a refund claim for gift or estate taxes should file Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.

 

For information on filing an amended return, go to Tax Topic 308, Amended Returns at http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc308.html or the Instructions to Forms 1040X and 843. Information on where to file your amended returns is available in the instructions to the form.    

 

Future Guidance

Treasury and the IRS intend to issue streamlined procedures for employers who wish to file refund claims for payroll taxes paid on previously-taxed health insurance and fringe benefits provided to same-sex spouses. Treasury and IRS also intend to issue further guidance on cafeteria plans and on how qualified retirement plans and other tax-favored arrangements should treat same-sex spouses for periods before the effective date of this Revenue Ruling.

 

Other agencies may provide guidance on other federal programs that they administer that are affected by the Code.

 

For Revenue Ruling 2013-17, click here.

 

For Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

 

For registered domestic partners who live in community property states, click here for Publication 555, Community Property.

 

Treasury and the IRS will begin applying the terms of Revenue Ruling 2013-17 on September 16, 2013, but taxpayers who wish to rely on the terms of the Revenue Ruling for earlier periods may choose to do so (as long as the statute of limitations for the earlier period has not expired).

 

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