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Transcript of Madaleno’s speech

Gay Md. state official addresses colleagues Thursday on Senate floor

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Following are the remarks that Maryland State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), the only gay member of that body, delivered Thursday morning during the second day of debate on a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in Maryland.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your leadership for moving this forward and helping us to have, I think, a very dignified debate in the Senate.

I’m going to start for a moment to remember one of our former colleagues, Gwen Britt, who many of the people in this room served with either in the Senate or the House and to remind people that, in fact, Sen. Britt was going to be the initial sponsor of this bill in 2008 when we introduced it. And it was her untimely death of a heart attack just three days before we were scheduled to introduce this bill that we wound up having to change the sponsorship. Sen. Britt was dedicated to this issue. Sen. Britt’s husband, Travis, in fact, will be submitting testimony tomorrow to the House Judiciary Committee in support of this issue, as he has remained committed. And I didn’t want to have this moment go by without remembering Gwenn Britt and her many contributions to improve the lives in our state and in our country.

I want to thank all of you for this debate and I want to thank the people of Maryland for what I think has been a very reasoned debate about an issue that can be very emotional that does challenge a lot of the beliefs many people have. I certainly appreciate the journey that all of us have been on in the Senate.

You know, this bill is quite simple. It has two parts to it. It reiterates that no religious denomination will ever be required to recognize or perform or bless or celebrate any marriage that is against its beliefs. At the same time, it provides full equality under the law for thousands of same-gender couples in our state, couples like Mark and myself. Many of you know Mark. Many of you have gotten to know him over the years — my partner.

But even using that term partner sounds a little odd. You know, we had a church wedding in our faith. We had a church wedding 10 years ago. We stood with our minister in front of our friends, in front of our family, in front of our community and made a vow to the commitment to each other — the commitment to love each other, to honor, to occasionally obey — to live our lives together. He in my heart is my spouse, even though the laws in the State of Maryland do not say he is — he is my spouse in every sense of the word.

But to the law, he remains a legal stranger to me. He is my partner. I wouldn’t ask any of you to call your spouses your partner because that makes it sound as if he’s your business associate, that your spouse is your business associate and not the person you choose to spend your life with.

Without full and equal civil marriage Maryland makes sure that thousands of its families never forget that they are outsiders, that they are not quite equal. Our state and our nation were founded on principle of fairness and equality. These principles are timeless. Unfortunately, their application has not always been so. Yet every generation of Americans has held out their hand to someone who had been left out of this promise, held out their hand and brought them into our civil society, saying you are not the other, you are us.

That is what this moment is about today. It’s about embracing all of the families of our state.

A few years ago I had a chance to be going on a walk with my daughter. It was a nice spring day and she was picking the little weed flowers that grow — the dandelions, the butter cups, the little flowers that grow on front lawns of people who don’t have time to put weed killer down, right? So she was picking the little flowers that, you know, have the white seed pods. When you blow it the little seeds go flying away. And she handed me one of those flowers and said, “Daddy, will you hold my wishes for me?” I said, “Hold your wishes?” She said, “Yes, my teacher told me this is a wishing flower. When you blow on it you make a wish and you let the wishes fly.”

That to me, in essence, is what parenthood is about. It’s about holding that precious little flower and blowing and seeing it blossom in all sorts of unexpected ways. It is also, I think the extreme honor that we get as members of the legislature to hold those wishes, not just for our family or for ourselves, but for our community.

And there are many people in our state who are wishing for this, whose live will be improved, whose hopes will be realized, whose dreams will become true if we enact this. This will be a memorable day, a memorable day that will improve the lives of thousands of families around our state, thousands of families like my own.

Mr. President, I can’t tell you how much I can’t wait for this debate to end — not today — so I can go back, as my colleague from the 20th District talked about, I can go back to being the boring budget geek that he so kindly recognized me in the Washington Post as being. I can’t wait to get back to the issues that all Marylanders, whether they are straight or gay, black or white, Hispanic — the ones that they want us to work on — the one Maryland issue of jobs and growth, of moving our state forward.

This bill moves our state forward. Other legislation that we will have this year will move our state forward. I am so proud that in Maryland we, as we have from the beginning, look towards toleration and towards the future and embrace of a better future for us all. I urge everyone to consider casting a green vote on this bill. And I once again thank you for your leadership and for the time in the body.

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District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

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The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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Baltimore

Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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