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Senator Barbara Mikulski, Longest-Serving Congresswoman in History, to Retire

MikulskiSenator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the longest serving Congresswoman in U.S. history, will retire from the Senate after five terms, the Washington Post reports:

Mikulski, 78, was the first woman to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, a post she had to give up this year when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. A social worker turned politician, she has been a forceful presence on many pieces of legislation, passionately liberal on certain issues but also committed to working closely with Republicans.

Mikulski will make the announcement at an 11 am news conference, according to the paper.


After One Day In Office, Maryland's New GOP Governor Axes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Regulations

Last week, Republican Larry Hogan was sworn in as the brand new governor of the state of Maryland. One of his first courses of action was to withdraw several regulations, one of which is an anti-discrimination amendment (initiated by his predecessor Martin O'Malley) that would have stopped Medicaid providers from discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ironically, the new governor's inaugural address included a message about “tolerance and respect.”

Larry-HoganEquality Maryland immediately called Hogan out with a press release titled "Governor Hogan’s First 24 Hours Start on the Wrong Foot for LGBT Maryland." It reads in part:

“Equality Maryland is disappointed in the Governor’s actions. To withdraw a regulation that prohibits discrimination in the provision of essential medical services, which also has no fiscal impact, seems contrary to the spirit of inclusiveness touted in his inauguration speech yesterday. We know that trans people in Maryland face discrimination when accessing health care and we should be working to ensure this doesn’t happen instead of overtly condoning it.”

Hogan told the Baltimore Sun:

“We just basically pulled all the regulations that were supposed to be published on Friday,” Hogan said Thursday. “We didn’t like the fact that [O’Malley] was trying to push these things through at the last minute. We’re going to make sure our new … team throughout government reviews every one of these regulations to make sure which direction we should head.”

Hogan also issued an Executive Order for Maryland Executive Branch employees which did not initially include gender identity in its equal opportunity clause. On Friday, Equality Maryland posted that Hogan's office had done an about-face and re-issued the order to include gender identity.

Last year, Hogan revealed that his stance on marriage equality had "evolved." Let's hope he continues to do so in all other areas of equality.

Watch a news segment about his inauguration, which includes an appearance by fellow Republican Chris Christie, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "After One Day In Office, Maryland's New GOP Governor Axes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Regulations " »


Kirby Delauter Backtracks After Threatening To Sue Newspaper For Printing His Name

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The Fredrick News-Post has a bone to pick with local councilmember (and part-time bully) Kirby Delauter. Over the weekend Delauter took to Facebook to lash out against News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers for the “unauthorized use” of his name in what described as a “hit piece.”

“Shame on Bethany Rodgers, for an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article today,” he wrote in the message in which he actively tagged the journalist. “I had let her know after her hit piece during the election where she embellished, twisted and downright lied about what we discussed for that article, that she was never to never contact me again since she has absolutely no morals or journalistic ability.”

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The article in question, that Delauter admits Rodgers attempted to speak with him about, focuses on the councilmember’s alleged history of threatening the mayor of Myersville over a soured relationship between his construction company and the city itself. According to Rodgers, Delauter’s prickly disposition ultimately lost him the political support of municipal officials in Myersville and Thurmont, a neighboring city. Instead, the conservative officials backed Delauter’s Democratic opponent currently vying for his seat on the council.

In response to Delauter’s threats of a lawsuit, the News-Post ran a subsequent article entitled “Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter.”  While Delauter may have been displeased with the News-Post’s characterization of him, as a public figure the paper was well within its rights to run any piece about him that wasn’t flat-out libel.

“Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren't surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post with a lawsuit because we had, he says — and we're not making this up — been putting Kirby Delauter's name in the paper without Kirby Delauter’s authorization,” the paper’s editorial board mused. “In fact, we spent quite some time laughing about it. Kirby Delauter, an elected official; Kirby Delauter, a public figure? Surely, Kirby Delauter can't be serious? Kirby Delauter’s making a joke, right?”

Regrettably, we’ll never know whether Delauter’s promise of litigation was purely for laughs. Late Wednesday evening his office eschewed Facebook posts and released a proper press release apologizing for his attempt at comedic political theater.

"The first amendment is alive and well in Frederick County," the statement reads. "As a public figure working to maintain and improve the county, it can be very frustrating to feel misrepresented or misinterpreted by a local media outlet.”

"Of course, as I am an elected official, the Frederick News-Post has the right to use my name in any article related to the running of the county -- that comes with the job. So yes, my statement to the Frederick News-Post regarding the use of my name was wrong and inappropriate. I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong."

Read Kirby Delauter’s apologetic press release in full AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kirby Delauter Backtracks After Threatening To Sue Newspaper For Printing His Name" »


Maryland To Provide Trans Health Coverage

As a result of a settlement to a legal claim filed on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh, the state of Maryland will now provide nondiscriminatory health coverage for its transgender employees. Holobaugh, a transgender man and neurological clinical research assistant at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, filed a lawsuit against the State with the help of FreeState Legal after being denied a medically necessary breast removal.

1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svgAccording to FreeState Legal the denial of Holobaugh’s surgery resulted in language within Maryland state law allowed for the exclusion of coverage “for any ‘procedure or treatment designed to alter an individual’s physical characteristics to those of the opposite sex.’”

Maryland, in response to the lawsuit, not only removed the explicitly discriminatory provision from the books but also added a “gender dysphoria benefit” designed to cover the cost of hormones and certain medically necessary surgeries.

"This is basically a fabulous shift in policy," Holobaugh told the Baltimore Sun. "I think this will affect a large number of people, especially now that children can stay on their parents' plan until age 26 under the Affordable Care Act.”

Maryland is the third state in the country, following Oregon and California, to provide nondiscriminatory health coverage to its employees, but Maryland’s fight for trans-equality is far from finished, says Jer Welter, Managing Attorney of FreeState Legal:

“[T]here is still work to be done, including the elimination of similar transition-related care exclusions in the Maryland Medical Assistance (Medicaid) program and in policies issued by private insurers regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration. FreeState Legal will continue to work diligently on these issues to further ensure that equal and fair health care coverage is a staple for all LGBTQ Marylanders.”

Read FreeState Legal's full press release AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Maryland To Provide Trans Health Coverage" »


Monday Speed Read: Illinois, Maryland Trans Rights, Obama Pride, Gallup, Afghanistan

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

IllinoisILLINOIS LAW ENACTED: 

Several county clerks around Illinois opened their offices Sunday so that same-sex couples could obtain marriage licenses on the first day the state legislature’s new marriage equality law went into effect, June 1. Clerks in 16 counties have been issuing licenses to same-sex couples since February, when a federal district court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that 1,635 same-sex couples had married by the close of business Friday.

MarylandREFERENDUM FAILS IN MARYLAND:

Equality Maryland leaders were at the Maryland Secretary of State’s office until midnight Saturday, waiting to see if opponents of a recently signed law protecting transgender citizens would be subjected to a referendum. But midnight came and opponents delivered no signatures, so there will be no referendum this year. A message posted on the group’s website indicates it came up 1,000 signatures short of the number it needed to proceed to the ballot. Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, credited her group’s aggressive approach to stopping the referendum. “We had supporters across the state standing right next to petition gatherers and we saw first-hand voters change their minds and not sign the mean-spirited petition,” said Evans. “While some criticized our approach, we felt an obligation to the thousands of transgender Marylanders and the people who love and support them to do everything in our power to defend it, not just be quiet and wait to see what happens.” The new law is due to take effect October 1.

Blue_obamaPRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION:

President Obama issued a presidential proclamation of June as LGBT Pride Month, noting “As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect, our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well.” It also noted that “we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”

NO HINT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER:

Any hope that some might have harbored that President Obama would take the opportunity of Pride Month to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors appeared to be dampened by the president’s Pride Month proclamation. “LGBT workers in too many states can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;” the proclamation says, adding, “I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

PUBLIC SUPPORT GROWING:

A Gallup Poll released Friday indicates that 63 percent of Americans support the right of gay couples to adopt children. And a separate Gallup Poll Saturday showed 58 percent consider “gay and lesbian relations” to be morally acceptable. Gallup noted that, when the adoption question was first asked in 1992, only 29 percent supported the right of gay couples to adopt. “Americans have reached consensus faster about same-sex couples adopting children than about support for gay marriage in the last 20 years,” states Gallup, noting that only 55 percent of the public supports allowing same-sex couples to marry.

MaloneyMALONEY TRAVEL COMPANIONS:

Gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was part of a six-member Congressional tour of Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend with right-wing Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. One of the three Democrats along for the ride was Rep. John Barrow of Georgia who scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional scorecard.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Efforts to Repeal Maryland Transgender Rights Bill Fail

An effort to repeal Maryland's transgender rights bill has failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, All Voices reports:

ParrottState Del. Neil Parrott (R-Hagerstown) began a petition drive in an attempt to block the Fairness for All Marylanders Act from taking effect. Parrott needed to collect a total of 55,737 signatures by June 30 in order for the measure to appear on the ballot in November. Opponents needed at least 18,579 signatures by May 31 for their campaign to continue.

Instead of using the formal name for the bill, Parrott chose to play to the fears of transphobic people by calling it “the Bathroom Bill.”

“As a parent, you should be able to send your children, your little girl, into the women’s bathroom and have the expectation that there will only be women or girls in that bathroom,” Parrott said April 29 when he announced his plans to launch the petition. “It opens the door for predators to take advantage of this bill. Predators will be able to go into the opposite gender bathroom, and proprietors would not be able to deny them access to that bathroom.”

Equality Maryland spread the good news last night:


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