June 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm EDT | by Steve Charing
Growing number of gays on ballot in Maryland

Luke Clippinger, an assistant state’s attorney in Anne Arundel County, is one of several openly gay people seeking election or re-election this year in Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Friends of Luke Clippinger)

Several candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates are hoping to become the state’s newest openly LGBT elected officials.

Luke Clippinger, an assistant state’s attorney in Anne Arundel County, and Mary Washington, a real estate agent and elder at First & Franklin Street Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, are among the state’s growing number of LGBT politicians seeking election or re-election to office this fall. In addition, Dana Beyer is running for delegate from District 18 in Montgomery County.

Four out gays and lesbians currently serve in the state legislature: Dels. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County), Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) and Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County).

“The prospect of having an unprecedented number of openly LGBT folks in the legislature demonstrates just how far we have come,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland.

“To be a truly representative body, our state legislature needs to be as fantastically diverse as our state. That means that our community should be there helping to shape the future of Maryland not because we are LGBT but because we are qualified, because we have something to give.”

And Clippinger, who’s knocked on 7,200 doors in District 46 since November for his campaign, is playing up his qualifications to join the General Assembly in Annapolis.

“I’m a native Baltimorean who wants to bring my experience as a prosecutor to Annapolis and help build safer neighborhoods in south and southeast Baltimore,” Clippinger said.

At least two state delegates are supporting Clippinger’s campaign. Del. Peter Hammen (D-Baltimore) described Clippinger as someone who is “smart, works hard, energetic, and he cares.”

Del. Brian McHale (D-Baltimore) agreed. He said Clippinger “brings volunteers, knowledge and experience to our team and will do so in Annapolis.”

Clippinger, who aims to succeed retiring Del. Carolyn Krysiak (D-Baltimore), is campaigning to reform the juvenile justice system and pursue polluters. He received his law degree from the University of Louisville.

Although he doesn’t mention LGBT matters on his web site or campaign literature, Clippinger said he’d be “a strong, forceful advocate for issues that impact LGBT Marylanders, including marriage equality and transgender protections, in Annapolis.”

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has endorsed Clippinger, who said he’s benefitting from gay supporters.

“I have identified LGBT supporters across the district who are helping my campaign every day by holding meet and greets, going door to door, and raising money for my candidacy,” Clippinger said.

Also securing a Victory Fund endorsement is Washington, who is campaigning in District 43. If elected, she would become the second openly lesbian black state lawmaker in the country.

“I am running for the Maryland House of Delegates because I believe the district needs more vigorous, more progressive leadership,” she said, “and the community needs elected officials who can inspire public trust, serve as a catalyst for positive change and work effectively to expand social and economic justice.”

A native of Philadelphia who earned a doctorate in sociology from Johns Hopkins University, Washington said she’s troubled that divisions along lines of race, class and sexual orientation continue to plague the district.

“I’m afraid the city just hasn’t had the kind of representation we need, the kind of leadership we need to bring our communities together.”

Washington said throughout her career, she’s “worked with all kinds of people — rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight — to create social change,” and wants to continue that work in the state House.

Washington said her record on LGBT issues — including her advocacy for same-sex marriage and support of pro-gay judges — have demonstrated her insistence “to advocate for those issues in a strong and public way and seek to persuade others to see that what we ask for in marriage equality is a simple matter of justice.”

“As an African-American woman who is actively engaged in a range of issues of concern to people in Baltimore and throughout the state,” she said, “I am well-positioned to build bridges between the LGBT community and supporters of other progressive causes as well as with the broader community.”

  • In addition to lgbt incumbents (Madaleno, Kaiser, Mizeur & McIntosh)and challengers (Washington, Clippinger & Beyer); Bonnie Cullison (D19 – Delegate) and Tim Quinn (D37 – Senate) are also running for seats in the MD General Assembly.

    LGBT COMMUNITY TAKE NOTE with your time and $$: we have the potential to DOUBLE the number of openly lgbt state legislators. This is an election where lgbt turnout has potential to make important change !!!

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