BALTIMORE, Maryland, June 23 - Today, the boards of directors of Equality Maryland announced the creation of the strategic plan the organization will use to guide its work through the end of 2011. The boards are committed to embracing a new way of doing business in order to create a community supported organization. By doing so, they will secure the necessary resources and leadership capacity to be an effective partner in bringing equality for LGBT people to Maryland in 2012 and beyond.
Today, Equality Maryland is asking you to share your thoughts with us. As we focus on the future of the organization, it is critical that we hear from folks who want to see equality for LGBT people and our families, people like you.
CLICK HERE to fill out Equality Maryland's 2011 Supporter Survey.
For the past month, we've been on a Listening Tour across the state. It is clear that the community wants more transparency in the organization and more input on the direction of the shared fight for equality. We've already started incorporating this input into our planning.
This article was written by Lou Chibbaro for the Washington Blade.
Equality Maryland’s board of directors turned down an offer by an anonymous donor to give the financially struggling group $500,000 in exchange for the board giving up its voting privilege and becoming an advisory body, with a new board to be selected by the donor.
This article was written by Yusef Najafi for Metro Weekly.
Darrell Carrington, an at-large board member of Equality Maryland Inc., the lobbying arm of Equality Maryland, met with other board members of the organization on Thursday, June 2, with an offer.
''I had presented a proposal to the board to try to, in my estimation, save the organization,'' Carrington says.
This article was written by Joe Seigel for the Boston Edge.
The past few months have been tumultuous for supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples. Legislators in Minnesota have decided to let the voters in that state decide whether or not to ban gays and lesbians from getting married. A vote on a gay-marriage bill fell short in Maryland. Activists in Rhode Island were hopeful this would be the year a marriage bill would pass, but will now have to settle for civil unions instead. The heads of the leading groups in these states, Equality Maryland and Marriage Equality Rhode Island, departed among much turmoil.
This post was originally written for the Gazette by Sarah Breitenbach.
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Despite recent legislative defeats, a turnover in leadership, the loss of grant money and a funding hole thousands of dollars deep, Equality Maryland is continuing its efforts, officials with the gay rights organization said.
Since it lost battles in the past General Assembly session to legalize same-sex marriage and prevent certain types of discrimination against transgendered people, the state's largest group advocating for same-sex marriage has fired its executive director, seen its board chairman resign and is looking to plug a $20,000 gap by the end of the month.
"Certainly these events are a setback," Patrick Wojahn, chairman of Equality Maryland's Foundation board of directors, said Wednesday. "That said, we're going to be meeting this upcoming weekend to develop a plan to move forward. We understand that we have a lot of work before us, that we have a lot of fundraising (to do)."
The $20,000 needed by the end of June includes monthly operating costs and outstanding debts, including a $10,000 bill for a poll commissioned by former Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Wojahn said.
Equality Maryland's board of directors members did not know about the polling costs until interim director Lynne Bowman began reviewing the group's finances.
Grants the group was using to pay the salaries of a handful of staff during the legislative session also have run out, Wojahn said, forcing Equality Maryland to look toward donations to keep running. According to one board member, the group has thousands of members who pay a minimum of $35 in annual dues.
The loss of the same-sex marriage bill in the House of Delegates signals an uphill fight during the 2012 legislative session, and Wojahn said he doesn't expect to receive more grant money from national gay rights organizations this year.
"Part of that is there are other fights going on around the country right now, and if we win in the state legislature, we're still going to have to face a referendum on the ballot. That requires a lot of support," he said. "I think a number of the funders are looking to fight battles that they see as more achievable."
In March, when it looked as though the bill might clear both chambers, opponents who appeared to be backed by national groups opposing same-sex marriage vowed to petition the measure to referendum.
Shortly following the legislative session in April, Meneses-Sheets' contract ended, although Wojahn would not comment on the reason for her departure. Meneses-Sheets could not be reached for comment.
In May, Charles Butler, chairman of the group's board of directors, stepped down for personal reasons, Wojahn said.
Equality Maryland's lobbying efforts were a large part of the success of the same-sex marriage bill in the Senate and in the House Judiciary Committee before it fell a few votes short in the full House, said Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Dist.14) of Burtonsville.
"They were clearly important during everything that happened during the session," she said. "They were obviously the reason that we got as close as we did."
In past years, versions of the legislation failed to make it to the floor of either chamber.
Kaiser said she cannot imagine Equality Maryland folding and not being a part of the same-sex marriage debate next session.
"Elections have consequences and we as Democrats lost six seats, five of which were (marriage equality) supporters," Kaiser said. "That sometimes gets lost in the whole discussion of Equality Maryland (when placing blame)."
Even so, in order to pass same-sex marriage laws, advocates needs a robust political organization, said Sue Hyde, chairwoman for the MassEquality Education Fund board of directors.
The key to getting Massachusetts lawmakers to vote down a constitutional amendment that would have outlawed same-sex marriage in 2007 was letting legislators know her group would protect them politically, Hyde said.
After the Maryland bill was sent back to committee in the House, legislative leaders speculated that some freshmen delegates failed to vote in favor of it for fear of constituent fallout.
"The legislators have to be confident that we will stand with them and if they're not confident of that, then there are some (legislators) that (think) ‘I can't take this vote,' ‘I can't risk my elected position,'" Hyde said.
This article was printed in the Baltimore Outloud, June 3rd edition.
Equality Maryland Board President Charles Butler resigned on Tuesday May 31 amidst rumors of the financial collapse of the once powerful organization. This comes at the end of a list of resignations and terminations that began after the firing of former Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets last month.
Immediately following her dismissal Board member Alex Hickox and Director of Development Matt Thorn both resigned. A week later Field Organizers Damon Handline and Jacob McLain were told that their contracts would expire early and that their services were no longer needed. The organization is failing financially and may not survive. In a May 24 letter to supporters the Board of Directors wrote that “we now understand that Equality Maryland's financial status is in worse condition than we had realized.”
The chair of the board of directors of Equality Maryland resigned on Tuesday and the financially troubled LGBT group reduced the salary of its interim executive director and significantly changed her duties, according to a statement released by the board.
Attorney Charles Butler resigned both from his post as chair of Equality Maryland’s board and from the board itself, according to Patrick Wojahn, who chairs a separate board of the Equality Maryland Foundation.
The statement released by the Equality Maryland board didn’t give a reason for Butler’s resignation. But his departure comes one week after he startled some of the group’s supporters and members by publicly blaming the group’s former executive director, Morgan Meneses-Sheets, for the organization’s serious financial woes.
This post was written by Yusef Najafi for the Metro Weekly.
Last week Equality Maryland announced that it is currently in the midst of a financial crisis, and that it needs about $25,000 a month to maintain its staff and pay for rent of its Baltimore headquarters.
Today, Monday, May 31, in an e-mail message, Equality Maryland announced the resignation of its board president Charles Butler, board president of Equality Maryland Inc., the lobbying arm of Equality Maryland, while a "new chair person has yet to be named."
ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 17, 2011) – Governor Martin O’Malley issued this statement today following the hate crime charge in the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis last month in Rosedale:
“I want to commend BaltimoreCountyState's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger for using every available means to prosecute the heinous beating of Chrissy Lee Polis last month.
“Even with Maryland's 'hate crimes' law, it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people. In the struggle for justice and equality for all, I'm committed to working with the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session to increase awareness and provide even greater protections for transgendered people.
“As some have noted, out of this awful beating has come a moment to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the dignity of all persons. We should not allow the moment to pass without greater action.”