May 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Beyer looks to make history in Maryland
Dana Beyer, gay news, Washington Blade

‘We need to reclaim our country,’ said Dana Beyer, who is running for the Maryland state Senate. (Photo courtesy of Beyer)

The executive director of Gender Rights Maryland would become the first openly transgender state senator in the country if she were to win her race for the Maryland Senate in November.

Dana Beyer, a retired ophthalmologist, is running against state Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery County) and Michelle Carhart in the Democratic primary in Senate District 18 that will take place on June 26.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) is not seeking re-election and is among the Democratic gubernatorial candidates who hope to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. There are no Republicans running for Madaleno’s seat.

Beyer on her campaign website notes her platform includes support for a single-payer national health care system and fighting discrimination against LGBT people and other marginalized groups. She also says she feels she “can contribute constructively to make Maryland a place that will attract a new generation, with ideas to propel us into national leadership, for the next generation economy.”

Beyer noted to the Washington Blade on Monday during an interview she would be the only openly trans legislator in Maryland and the only physician in the state Senate if she were elected. She also pointed out she would be the only openly LGBT person in the state Senate if state Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) doesn’t win her race.

“I would have a formal platform to represent the transgender community, given the federal regime’s efforts to roll back rights,” Beyer told the Blade.

Beyer was previously a senior assistant to then-Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Tractenberg.

Beyer in 2010 challenged state Del. Alfred Carr (D-Montgomery County). She was among the 11 openly trans delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Maryland’s trans rights bill that then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2014 is among the LGBT-specific issues for which Beyer has advocated over the last decade. Beyer is also among the American LGBT rights advocates who traveled to Havana in 2017 and took part in events commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia that Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, and her organization, Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, organized.

Beyer, who is also the vice chair of the Civil Rights Coalition of Maryland, told the Blade she would have an advantage in Annapolis because of her work as an activist.

“You have to know how the system works,” said Beyer. “You have to have power and strength in your committee. You have to know how to pull things out.”

Beyer in 2014 unsuccessfully challenged Madaleno in the Democratic primary.

The race became increasingly heated and personal in the final weeks, but the two have reconciled any differences that they had.

Madaleno said last month during an interview with the Blade’s editorial staff that he has not “taken a position” in the race to succeed him. Beyer on Monday said Madaleno “hasn’t asked” her to endorse him.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund in March endorsed Beyer. The LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County last week did not make an endorsement in Beyer’s race when it announced the candidates it is supporting in this election cycle.

Beyer on Monday described state Del. Meagan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County)’s speech on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates in which she came out as bisexual and said her parents, including state Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County), suggested she undergo so-called conversion therapy as “remarkable.” Beyer also told the Blade she hopes Meagan Simonaire will publicly advocate for LGBT-specific issues once she leaves the General Assembly at the end of the year.

“She’s a powerful ally,” she said.

Beyer acknowledged to the Blade that Hogan has “smartly stayed away from social issues” during his first term. Beyer nevertheless echoed Madaleno when he told the Blade that he is “more concerned” about Hogan’s second term if he were to win re-election.

“I fear though if he were to get a second term he would feel unchained and I feel concerned what he would do if Trump were still in office during a second Hogan term,” she said. “I feel concerned what he would do if Pence were in office during a second Hogan term.”

Beyer also said she does not expect President Trump will be impeached in 2018. Beyer added, however, the “utter moral collapse of the Republican Party” is one of worst of what she described as the “many tragedies in the circumstances today.”

“We need to reclaim our country,” she writes on her campaign website. “We need to stand, forthrightly, for the American creed — the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — life, liberty and equality. These can no longer be simply words in a dog-eared elementary school text, or an oft-avoided high school civics class. These must be our operating principles, for we live in dangerous times.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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