Looking back on the journey to achieve full equality in Maryland and its aspirations to continue the fight for social justice, Equality Maryland celebrated 25 years with a gala brunch at the venerable Lord Baltimore Hotel on Oct. 27 with nearly 500 in attendance. State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who’s gay, was the guest of honor.
The event, which was emceed by television journalists Derek Valcourt and Adam May, received congratulatory proclamations from Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin made brief remarks on Maryland’s successes in attaining equality. A message from Sen. Barbara Mikulski congratulating Equality Maryland was read to the audience.
To underscore the importance of wooing LGBT voters, gubernatorial candidates Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Attorney General Douglas Gansler as well as his running mate Del. Joline Ivey (D- Prince George’s County) were on hand. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, another candidate for governor, appeared later on a video honoring Madaleno.
“We have seen a sea change in elimination of discrimination over the last 25 years,” Cardin said but noted there is more to accomplish. “We will not be satisfied until we pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act. We have work to do.”
Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans thanked the many folks who worked and volunteered for Equality Maryland over the years and the elected officials who helped reach its goals.
“The 25-year journey was climaxed with the achievement of marriage equality,” she said.
Evans made a special point to express gratitude to the Human Rights Campaign for its efforts during the Question 6 battle. She thanked the organization for increasing support during that time.
“Without HRC, we would not have won,” she said.
She said that Equality Maryland is determined to have a transgender non-discrimination law passed, integrate African-Americans into the movement, seek equality in immigration and help lesbian and bisexual women achieve pay parity with men.
Elected officials including Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, members of the LGBT caucus as well as current and former Equality Maryland leaders and volunteers all took light-hearted jabs at Madaleno in a video.
“The work is not done,” Madaleno told the audience. “We have a lot to achieve.” He cited a gender identity non-discrimination law as the first priority. “Personally, it is appalling to me that we have to fight about the same ignorant comments about transgender individuals as we had to face as gays.”
His other priorities consist of fighting HIV/AIDS and homelessness of LGBT youth, which he considers intolerable. Echoing a theme that Delegate Maggie McIntosh articulated in the video, Madaleno said, “We have to stay focused and stick together.”