On January 23, 2012 the Baltimore City Council voted 14-0 to pass a resolution urging members of the Baltimore City delegation to the General Assembly to help secure the passage of legislation seeking to provide equal access to marriage for same-sex couples.
Equality Maryland applauds the members of the Council for standing up for all families. Special thanks to Councilman Jim Kraft for his leadership on this resolution.
Senate Bill 241 and House Bill 438 would amend state law to allow for marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. Additionally, these measures will preserve the religious freedom and liberty of churches and places of worship.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 9, 2011
Contact: Kevin Nix | Kevin@progressivemaryland.org | (202) 431-5796
NAACP Chapter Joins Maryland Coalition to Pass Marriage Equality Bill
BALTIMORE – Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the broad and diverse coalition working to bring civil marriage equality to Maryland, today announced the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the newest member of its steering committee. The NAACP joins a number of labor, civil liberties, and LGBT groups working to pass a marriage equality bill through the Maryland Legislature in 2012.
“Having the NAACP on board is a welcome addition to the coalition working to win marriage equality in the Free State,” said Sultan Shakir, Campaign Manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “The NAACP’s long history of working for equality and fairness for all will be instrumental in harnessing the supportive voices in the African-American community and throughout Maryland.”
According to Grove Insight poll released earlier this year, 48% of African Americans support marriage equality while 41% oppose it – a significant increase in support from 2009.
“We believe gay and lesbian couples have the same values as everyone else,” said Tessa Hill-Alston, President of the Baltimore Branch NAACP. “They want to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and build a loving, stable family. So it is only right that committed gay and lesbian couples be given the opportunity to marry as everyone else. We look forward to working with the coalition and lawmakers to pass a marriage equality bill that protects religious freedoms.”
The NAACP joins Senator Rich Madaleno, Delegate Luke Clippinger, Equality Maryland, Progressive Maryland, 1199 SEIU, ACLU-MD, Human Rights Campaign, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as steering committee members for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
In July, Governor Martin O’Malley announced that marriage equality legislation would be part of the legislative package he moves through the Legislature early next year.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality is the diverse coalition working to bring civil marriage equality to Maryland.
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.
Equality Maryland is currently searching for an Executive Director.
Click here for the job description.
Interested applicants should send their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cover letter and resume, including salary expectations are due by August 22, 2011.
Equality Maryland Opens Board of Directors Search
Announces Community Nominations Committee to Lead the Process
BALTIMORE, Maryland, July 15: Today, Equality Maryland announced a call for applications from people interested in serving on the Board of Directors. The organization expects to add ten to twenty new board members by the end of the summer.
The Nominations Committee for the search process will be chaired by Senator Rich Madaleno and Erin Leveton. Other members of the committee are Lori Hollander, Kathleen Darden, Del. Mary Washington, MaryAnne Arnow, Mike Meller and Marvin Masterson. Patrick Wojahn, Chair of the Equality Maryland Foundation board, will serve as the liaison with the current board of directors. The Nominations Committee will be responsible for review of all applications, interview of applicants and development of a final slate of candidates for a vote by the current board.
“I am very pleased that each of these individuals has agreed to serve in this capacity” said Wojahn. “Increasing the board of Equality Maryland is a critical step towards further stabilizing this organization. The people on this committee bring a fresh perspective and a variety of backgrounds to the selection process. I’m confident that their leadership will ensure Equality Maryland brings on highly qualified new board members to help govern the organization.”
Individuals with experience in nonprofit governance, fundraising, public relations, political advocacy, personnel management and financial management are strongly encouraged to apply. Diversity of experience, opinion, background, geography and engagement will be considered and valued when developing the final slate of candidates. All first year board members must commit to attending meetings in Baltimore every two to three months, making a personally significant financial contribution to the organization, and with the support of board colleagues and staff, securing $3,000 through solicitation of others or personal giving.
Nominations for the board has been extended to August 8. To apply for consideration by the committee, interested parties should read the Board Expectations document and submit a completed Board Application, including a resume and three references. Questions and completed application packets may be directed to email@example.com
Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, with thousands of members across the entire state. Equality Maryland includes: a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and their families; a 501(c)(3) educational 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. For more information, visit www.EqualityMaryland.org.
"It's time that Maryland joins the ranks of states who favor marriage equality for all loving and committed gay and lesbian couples."
Just now, New York voted in favor of extending the freedom to marry to loving and committed couples in the Empire State. By a vote 33 in favor to 29 opposed, New York becomes the sixth state, plus the District of Columbia, to extend to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples the same respect, responsibility and recognition that only marriage provides.
“Equality Maryland looks toward the future of marriage equality as New York becomes the sixth state, along with the District of Columbia, to recognize gay and lesbian couples as full and equal citizens. It’s time that Maryland joins the ranks of states who favor marriage equality for all loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
While the Civil Marriage Protection Act was sent back to Rules Committee in the 2011 legislatives session, the bill moved further than ever before. In Maryland, we’re on the verge of true equality and Equality Maryland commits to the fight to bring full equality in the 2012 legislative session.”
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.
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.”