Entries from: Richard Madaleno

Out Maryland legislator introduces transgender rights bill

SVoss-Madaleno08Maryland could soon become the 17th state to pass laws that ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression in the workplace, housing market, and public accommodations.

Openly gay State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced the “Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013” Tuesday along with co-sponsor State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County). The bill had more than 20 co-sponsors upon its introduction, just a vote shy of the total required for passage.

A similar piece of legislation failed to make it past a Senate committee last year. But advocates are optimistic this year given Maryland’s historic marriage equality vote last November, and the strong, early support the measure has garnered so far.

“Put simply, the process of passing a bill requires that you line up the votes you need to make it through a chamber,” Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, told the Washington Blade. “That process is eased considerably when those legislators are willing to sign on as co-sponsors. I am very pleased we can show this degree of support in the Senate, which I attribute to the diligent work of Senators Madaleno and Raskin and their staffs. The trans community should be very hopeful that this is the year.”

The bill will head to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in the coming month, where it is expected to pass easily. It will then go to the Senate floor for a vote (assuming Senate President V. Thomas “Mike” Miller permits it on the floor), followed by a full hearing in the House.

Photo: Steven Voss

Maryland Senate gives final approval to marriage bill

MadalenoThe Maryland Senate has passed a bill granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, legislation which Gov. Martin O’Malley lobbied for and intends to sign.  The new law will not go into effect until January 2013, after opponents have had an opportunity to reverse it through a statewide ballot question.

Among those fighting for the measure was Sen. Richard Madaleno, the chamber’s only openly gay member and Maryland’s first openly gay state lawmaker, who gave an impassioned speech about his family – his partner and their two children – and the importance of marriage to them.  ”We are going to make history, because we are going to take another important step toward embracing every family in Maryland,” Madaleno said.

“We are enormously proud of Sen. Madaleno for his years of advocacy for LGBT Marylanders.  This is a huge victory for him and for his openly gay and lesbian colleagues in the House, and a dramatic step forward for Maryland and its people,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.  ”We also congratulate Equality Maryland, the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition and Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose lobbying and strategizing was so crucial to this victory.”

[Editor's note:  Send your congratulations to Sen. Madaleno via Twitter at @RichMadaleno]

BREAKING: Maryland Senate votes to allow gays, lesbians to marry

MD Flag SmallThe fight for marriage equality in Maryland took a giant step forward tonight as the State Senate voted to approve a bill that extends legal marriage to same-sex couples.  The  legislation now heads to the House of Delegates for debate.  If it wins approval in the lower chamber, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign the bill into law.

The bill’s openly gay co-author, Sen. Rich Madaleno, was a leading force in persuading his colleagues to support the measure.  Madaleno told Gay Politics last year that an increase in the number of openly gay and lesbian state legislators would have an impact on their straight colleagues.  ”Just by having out people there to participate in the conversation fundamentally alters the discussion.  The tenor of the conversation changes.  It humanizes it,” Madaleno said.

Maryland has seven openly gay and lesbian state lawmakers, six of whom serve in the House of Delegates.

Maryland Senate poised to pass marriage bill

madalenoThe Maryland Senate is set to pass a bill as early as today giving same-sex couples the right to marry.  The legislation would then move to the state’s House of Delegates, and Gov. Martin O’Malley has pledged to sign it.

In a key procedural vote yesterday, Maryland senators voted 25-22 in favor of the measure, virtually assuring the bill will pass on a final reading.  Media vote counts leading up to this week made the outcome of yesterday’s vote predictable, but there’s less certainty how and when State Delegates will vote on the bill.

A co-author of the bill, Sen. Rich Madaleno, is among seven openly gay and lesbian state legislators who have been lobbying their colleagues to extend marriage rights to gay couples.  During yesterday’s Senate action, several senators attempted to amend the bill to make it easier for businesses to reject serving same-sex couples.  “It can be somewhat uncomfortable to be sitting here to listen through it. But, I know…this is part of the process, having this debate,” Madaleno told local radio station WAMU.

Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna.

In Maryland, seven out legislators make the political personal

mizeur marriageNumerous national and statewide groups will lobby the Maryland state legislature this month on the question of marriage equality, but the personal relationships built  by seven openly gay and lesbian members of that legislature may have as great an impact, according to recent news coverage of the issue.

“While it’s love that makes a family, it’s marriage that protects a family,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur, an out lesbian, at a press conference announcing the introduction of the marriage equality bill.  Mizeur is part of the Maryland’s caucus of openly LGBT state legislators, whose ranks grew by three members this year, just in time for the marriage push.  She married her wife, Deborah, in California in 2008.

Legislators who have worked with people like Del. Mizeur say having colleagues who would be directly affected by the marriage bill makes it harder to vote against it.

“I would probably think that having members of the General Assembly who are very well-respected people that you work with every day, that you have relationships with, I think it makes it difficult to say to them that you don’t deserve the same rights that I do. I think that might have something to do with it,” said Del. Eric M. Bromwell, who has signed on as a sponsor of the bill for the first time.  Bromwell was speaking to the Maryland Gazette.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, who became the first openly gay state legislator in Maryland when he was elected to the Assembly in 2002, is now the only out member of the Senate.  Madaleno told the Baltimore Sun his presence, and that of his husband and children during special events at the State Capitol, have helped his colleagues understand what it would mean to the state’s same-sex couples to have equal marriage rights.  ”They realize, wow, you guys really are the same.  Our marriage is just as wonderful and mundane as everybody else’s,” said Madaleno.

More from the Sun article:

Family is at the heart of Sen. Richard Madaleno’s drive to make gay marriage lawful.

On the desk in his Senate office is a snapshot of his partner, Mark Hodge, smiling up from a street-side cafe in Dublin, Ireland. Nearby are pictures of the couple’s adopted 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

“This,” the Montgomery County Democrat said, picking up the framed photo of Hodge, “is why changing the law is important to me.”

Photo:  Carolyn Watson Photography (via the Maryland Gazette)