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.”
Equality Maryland is pleased to announce that Lynne Bowman will join Equality Maryland as Interim Executive Director beginning Monday, May 2, 2011.
Ms. Bowman is a seasoned professional with 22 years of organizational leadership experience in the non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors. Ms. Bowman has served as the Director of Programs and Services for the Equality Federation, the national association of state-based LGBT organizations. Ms. Bowman is also a founder of Equality Ohio and was its Executive Director for over five years. She most recently served as the Campaign Manager for Democratic Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher’s U.S. Senate campaign in Ohio. Equality Maryland is thrilled to have a nationally known and respected leader at the helm of the organization.
Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of the Equality Federation, stated: “During Lynne’s time with the Equality Federation and as Executive Director of Equality Ohio, Lynne consistently demonstrated strong, visionary leadership. Lynne will bring these qualities to her position with Equality Maryland and make a positive contribution.”
Ms. Bowman will step in to lead Equality Maryland on an interim basis following the departure of Morgan Meneses-Sheets, who has stepped down as Executive Director. Under Ms. Meneses-Sheets’ leadership, Equality Maryland made significant strides in achieving equality for LGBT citizens, coming closer than ever before to attaining marriage equality and gender identity antidiscrimination legislation in Maryland. We thank Ms. Meneses-Sheets for her service and wish her well.
Equality Maryland remains committed to achieving full equality for the LGBT community. We look forward to Ms. Bowman’s experienced leadership on this effort, while the organization engages in a search for a permanent Executive Director.
Equality Maryland thanks supporters for the significant progress made in 2011 and vows to keep up the fight for full protections
Today, led by Sen. DeGrange, the Senate referred House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, back to the Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 27-20, effectively ending efforts to pass vital protections in housing, employment, and credit for transgender Marylanders.
Senators Kasemeyer (D-12), Klausmeier (D-8), McFadden (D-45), Middleton (D-28), Robey (D-13) and Zirkin (D-11) were expected to support ending discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and credit, but voted instead to recommit the anti-discrimination bill.
Equality Maryland celebrates overcoming significant hurdle to keep critical protections moving
ANNAPOLIS, MD, APRIL 5, 2011 - Today, members of the Senate Rules Committee, lead by Senators Kathy Klausmeier and Brian Frosh, voted to send House Bill 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where given the public commitments made by committee members, it is expected to pass. HB 235 would prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing and credit.