May 16, 2012
Equality Maryland is proud to announce the selection of new leadership for both its foundation and advocacy boards, providing continued energy and enthusiasm for the movement to provide equal rights to all individuals and families in Maryland.
David Lublin is the new President of Equality Maryland Board of Directors. Stephanie Bernstein is the new President of the Equality Maryland Foundation Board of Directors.
Lublin and Bernstein will lead an organization that presided over the historic passage of the Civil Marriage Protection Act and will work to ensure that the law is enacted on January 1, 2013.
"I'm honored and excited to become President of Equality Maryland at such an important time for LGBT rights. ” Lublin said. “The work underway by Equality Maryland and our Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition partners is so vitally important to thousands of Marylanders and their families. Maryland needs to uphold marriage equality and pass the gender identity non-discrimination bill to make sure that all families our state are protected and live in dignity."
“I am thrilled to be working with my fellow board members as the new President of the Equality Maryland Foundation,” Bernstein said. “We have a historic opportunity this year to sustain the Civil Marriage Protection Act passed by the Maryland General Assembly and to make sure that the gender identity non-discrimination bill passes in the 2013 session of the General Assembly. Every citizen of the State of Maryland deserves the same rights and protections under the law.”
For more information and bios of EQMD Board members, click here.
This morning, before my day officially started, I took a few minutes to think about the thousands of same-sex couples in North Carolina who were waking up to the reality of a constitutional amendment that enshrines into law their second-class status. To all of the families, advocates, allies and supporters in North Carolina who poured their hearts into defeating this amendment, we at Equality Maryland thank you for sharing your stories and for fighting with integrity.
A few hours later, the President came out in support of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Although this statement does not undo the results of last night’s vote in North Carolina, it does provide us with hope—the hope that people’s hearts and minds can evolve on this issue. And though this evolution may not always be on the timetable we would devise, we must embrace this historic declaration by President Obama.
As we get primed for our own fight to preserve our marriage equality in Maryland’s law, let us not forget the LGBT families in the thirty states that have constitutional amendments declaring same-sex couples to be unequal to heterosexual couples. But let us also keep in our hearts and minds the President’s words: “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Make no mistake, the next few months are going to be some of the toughest we have seen in Maryland and we will not win unless each and every one of us rises to the challenge. We owe it to ourselves, our families and all of our supporters. No longer can we afford to say “I will make a donation in June” or “I will volunteer in September.” We need you now.
Donate at www.eqmd.org/donate
Volunteer at www.eqmd.org/volunteer
BALTIMORE, April 24, 2012 — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a groundbreaking ruling on April 20, 2012 that declares Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender employees. Until this ruling, federal courts had not consistently ruled that transgender employees were protected in Title VII.
"The EEOC ruling affirms the common sense notion that people should not be discriminated against in the employment context because of who they are," said Executive Director Carrie Evans. "I hope this ruling provides Maryland’s General Assembly with the confidence to pass a state law that prohibits discrimination not only in employment but housing and public accommodations during the 2013 Session.”
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey published in in 2011 found widespread discrimination experienced by Maryland’s transgender community.
- 71% reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job
- 42% experienced an adverse job action
- 17% were denied a home or apartment
- 54% were verbally harassed or disrespected in places of public accommodations or provision of services, including hotels, restaurants, public transportation and government agencies.
We have cleared another marriage hurdle in our fight for the freedom to marry in Maryland! Today the Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act. This follows the historic vote in the House of Delegates last Friday!
Equality Maryland and all of you have been in this fight since the beginning and I hope you are enjoying this victory!
Your support has helped get us to this point and it will help us get to the next round. Please show your commitment to helping us get marriage equality to the finish line.
Baltimore County Adds Protections for Transgender Individuals
Equality Maryland applauds the Baltimore County Council for passing Bill 3-12 that adds gender identity and expression to county law prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, financing and education.
“We commend Councilman Quirk for his leadership on this important measure along with his four colleagues who voted “yes” – Councilmembers Vicki Almond, Kenneth Oliver, Cathy Bevins and John Olszewski,” said Owen Smith, field organizer at Equality Maryland. He continues, “This common-sense law will allow transgender people residing and visiting Baltimore County to live their lives with more security and peace.”
Smith and Equality Maryland played a critical role in helping pass this legislation. This included activating Equality Maryland members in Baltimore County to contact their Councilmembers and to testify before the Council, providing assistance to the bill sponsor and garnering support from business leaders.
Equality Maryland is excited to announce the hiring of a new Executive Director to help lead the organization into one of its most important years.
Carrie Evans returns to Equality Maryland after serving as the organization's Director of Policy and Planning from 2007-2009. Evans, an attorney, currently serves as a policy analyst for the Baltimore's Housing Department and as adjunct faculty for the Gender and Women's Studies department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Evans has previously worked as the state legislative director at the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Reflecting on the news of an Evans appointment, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley stated, "I look forward to working with Carrie, Equality Maryland, and the broad coalition of committed groups and individuals as we work to pass marriage equality in the upcoming legislative session."
"We are tremendously excited about Carrie's hiring," said Lisa Polyak, Acting Chair of Equality Maryland, Inc. "Given her political acumen and history of work in Maryland, we are confident that Carrie's leadership will place us in the strongest possible position to pass marriage equality and transgender anti-discrimination bills and defend them in a referendum."
Evans comments, "I am honored to return to Equality Maryland - an organization that is critically needed to ensure LGBT Marylanders and our families are treated fairly. There is much to be done. I look forward to working with our partners in the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition and in the transgender community, as well as every individual in our state who supports Equality Maryland and our mission."
"With the recent addition of 16 accomplished individuals to the Boards of Directors, our organization has regained the energy and enthusiasm needed to achieve and preserve legislative success," Polyak added.
Equality Maryland and Equality Maryland Foundation announce the appointment of sixteen new members to the organizations' Boards of Directors. New Directors were selected after an extensive vetting and interview process completed by a ten-member Nominations Committee.
"We were extremely pleased by the number of highly qualified and diverse candidates who submitted their application for a board appointment," said Senator Richard Madaleno, co-chair of the Nominations Committee. "The varied experiences the new board members bring to the table will make Equality Maryland a strong, stable force for equality once again in Maryland."
"We are thrilled with the addition of these sixteen individuals to the board," said Patrick Wojahn, President of the Equality Maryland Foundation Board. "The combined depth of knowledge and skill they have around legislative, administrative and non-profit management activities will be a true benefit to the work of the organization."
New members of the Equality Maryland board include: Karen Blood, Angie Callahan, Joe Davy, Izzy Firth, Evan Glass, Katheryn King, Akil Patterson, Sue Silber, Pegeen Townsend and Tim Williams. They will join David Lublin, Rosemary Nicolosi, Lisa Polyak, and Mark Yost who currently serve on this Board. Joining Wojahn and Nicolosi on the Equality Maryland Foundation board are Rabbi Stephanie Bernstein, Robert Blizard, Ariel Glasner, Manuella Hancock, Marilee Lindemann, and Reverend Donna Martin. Board members will serve a two-year term, renewable for a total of six consecutive years.
The Nominations Committee was chaired by Erin Leveton who served on the Board from 1999 to 2003 and as President of the Board from 2000 to 2003, and Senator Madaleno who served on the Board from 1999 to 2002. Also serving on the Nominations Committee were Delegate Mary Washington, Chrys Kefalas, Mary Anne Arnow, Mike Meller, Kathleen Darden, Marvin Masterson, and Lori Hollander. Wojahn served as the liaison between the Committee and the existing Board.
"We have spent the past four months building Equality Maryland into an organization that will be well-managed and resourced to achieve our mission of full legal equality for the LGBT community of Maryland," said Lisa Polyak, Acting President of Equality Maryland. "The addition of these new board members is one more step in that process, and we look forward to putting their combined talents in the service of gender identity nondiscrimination and marriage equality in our state."
Additional information about all board members is available at www.equalitymaryland.org.
With the passing of the Labor Day weekend and the steady cooling of the weather, it starts to feel like summer is coming to a close. As we head into a busy fall season preparing the 2012 legislative session, the Board of Equality Maryland would like to update you on where the organization stands and what your support has allowed us to accomplish in the past three months.
After announcing in late May that the organization was in a serious financial crisis, the five remaining board members put a laser-focus on rebuilding an Equality Maryland into an organization everyone in Maryland can be proud of. We began by creating a short-term strategic plan to guide us through the work that needed to be completed. While we're not done yet, it has brought us to a place of stability and confidence in our future.
FINANCES. We are pleased to report that we will end August debt-free and with enough resources in the bank to meet our operating expenses for the next two months. We also have a new budget for the remainder of the year and a plan in place to continue that trend. We simply couldn’t have done this without the generous support of many individual donors, and specifically the Gill Foundation and Proteus Fund. And keep your eyes open for a very exciting announcement soon about our ongoing fundraising efforts.
On Wednesday this week, we are honored to host a reception recognizing Gov. O’Malley and all of Maryland’s statewide elected officials for their support of marriage and full legal equality for all LGBT people. It’s not too late to late to purchase tickets to attend this one-of-a-kind event.
GOVERNANCE. Based on responses from nearly 2,000 people through our Listening Tours and Community Survey, it was clear that a change in the governance of Equality Maryland had to be a priority. In addition to revising our bylaws and other internal policies, reconstituting the board was on the top of the list. To ensure community input in the process, we convened a Nominations Committee made up entirely of non-board members. Senator Rich Madaleno and Erin Leveton led a public call for Board applications and vetted over 30 submissions. By the end of September we expect to seat nearly a dozen new board members to guide the organization into the future. We look forward to announcing the new board as soon as they are seated.
STAFFING. In addition to growing the board, a Search Committee was formed to identify the next Executive Director of Equality Maryland. Comprised of board members, a corporate HR professional, non-profit executives, and a Maryland community activist, this committee has gone through an exhaustive process to recruit the organization’s next leader. Interviews are just beginning and the new board will select the final candidate in early October. We look forward to announcing this individual as soon as the selection is complete.
MISSION. With all of the internal organizational focus this summer, we want you to know that the important advocacy and programmatic work was not unattended. Thanks to the organizing work of Owen Smith and the Transgender Working Group, Equality Maryland will host a Transgender Advocacy and Empowerment workshop in Baltimore on September 10-11, 2011. Check out the registration page if you’re interested in attending. We are also working with Gender Rights Maryland and the Marylanders for Marriage campaign to be ready for the legislative session. And finally, we continue to partner with national organizations – most recently to call on Senator Mikulski to co-sponsor the federal Respect for Marriage Act. We’ve been told to stay-tuned for an announcement from Senator Mikulski after the Senate reconvenes in September.
It has been a demanding and vital summer for Equality Maryland. We are confident that the efforts exerted in the last three months, and the work the organization will do through the end of the year, will position us for the advocacy and education work that lies ahead. We'll continue to update you on our progress and hope that you will continue to support the work of Equality Maryland, now and into the future.
Today, Freedom to Marry
, Courage Campaign
, and Equality Maryland
will present Senator Barbara Mikulski with nearly 3,000 signatures urging the Senator to become a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same-sex couples living across the state of Maryland. These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland.”
The signatures were collected through an online campaign by the three groups. They represent a variety of constituents from around Maryland, which will likely consider a bill that would extend the freedom to marry to committed same-sex couples in the state. Currently, Maryland honors the marriages of same-sex couples married out of state, but those couples are still harmed by federal marriage discrimination under DOMA. Senator Cardin has already signed on as a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.
"The Democratic governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, is backing a bill to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples next year," said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 700,000-member Courage Campaign. "Surely Senator Mikulski wants to lead the effort to assure that all married people in Maryland are treated fairly, which requires repeal of DOMA."
The signatories signed onto a letter that reads:
We write on behalf of thousands of Maryland families who are presently denied critical protections and recognition under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”, or DOMA. Married same-sex couples are treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government because of DOMA and excluded from the more than 1,100 federal laws in which marital status is a factor, including Social Security, immigration, and family and medical leave.
"A majority of Marylanders support the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry -- and Maryland is poised to ensure that all married couples have their relationships legally recognized by their home state.,” said Lisa Polyak, acting chair of Equality Maryland. “However, same-sex couples will never be equal under the law until federal restrictions are banished. This means the so-called Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. Sen. Mikulski's support as a co-sponsor of this bill would reflect the will of her constituents, and make clear that she stands on the side of legal equality for all citizens."
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country.
Hundreds of loving same-sex couples have legally wed in Maryland. Like all other families, these couples want to provide for their families and build a life together but are denied critical protections and security under federal law. Because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legally married same-sex couples in Maryland are treated as strangers by the federal government and denied over 1,000 protections that other married couples are afforded.
The Respect for Marriage Act has been introduced in the House and Senate, but your US Senator Barbara Mikulski has yet to sign on as a cosponsor.
Will you join Equality Maryland, Freedom to Marry, Courage Campaign and thousands of fair-minded Marylanders in asking Senator Mikulski to cosponsor the bill that will repeal DOMA once and for all?
Click here to add your name to our open letter.