BALTIMORE — The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference is underway in Baltimore. A few updates from Charm City:
• NAACP President Benjamin Jealous delivered the keynote speech to an appreciative crowd Thursday night and reiterated his organization’s support for LGBT rights.
“We can only emerge victorious when we unite for the common good for all,” Jealous said. “We emerge victorious when we build large, diverse coalitions who dare to dream bold dreams and then do the hard work to turn bold dreams to big victories.” Watch his speech here.
• Maryland first lady Katie O’Malley attended the conference Thursday and made remarks about the state’s same-sex marriage bill that are generating some buzz. She told a group at the Baltimore Hilton that last year’s effort to pass a same-sex marriage bill was derailed by “cowards” in the legislature.
“We didn’t expect the things that happened to the House of Delegates to occur, but sadly they did, and there were some cowards that prevented it from passing,” Katie O’Malley said.
Her husband, Gov. Martin O’Malley, made the marriage bill part of his administration’s 2012 legislative package, which was unveiled earlier this week.
On Friday, Katie O’Malley issued a statement saying she regrets her comments.
“I regret my recent choice of words at the Creating Change Conference last night,” she said. “I let my feelings get the better of me. I deeply respect that there are strongly held and differing views on marriage equality in Maryland, but hope that our State’s elected officials will come together to fairly address this important issue for our families and children.
“We all want the same thing for our kids – we all want our children to live in loving, stable, committed households that are protected equally under the law. No child should be punished because he or she happens to live in a state that doesn’t recognize the love that his or her parents share. It’s about equal rights for everyone, no matter who they are, or who they love.”
• Finally, Gender Rights Maryland announced that Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller does not support a bill to bar discrimination based on gender identity. Supporters of the measure blamed him for last year’s Senate failure to pass the bill.
Gender Rights Maryland posted the following statement to its website:
“We have Governor O’Malley’s full support for the legislation, which, by the way, is comprehensive and includes public accommodations. We did not ask the Governor to sponsor the legislation, hence it is not part of his packet.
“However, once again, we do not have Senate President Miller’s support. That has been the case for five years, and remains the overwhelming roadblock. When queried about the legislation his response was, ‘I only have time for one gay bill this session.’ While we have been working on educating him as to the difference between gay and trans, and we believe he truly does understand the difference, he has decided marriage is taking up too much time as it is.”
Miller’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.