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Md. trans bill clears Rules Committee

Senate president persuaded to release ‘hold’ on measure



A transgender non-discrimination bill in Maryland cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when the Rules Committee of the State Senate voted to allow it to advance through the normal legislative process rather than die in committee.

The action by the Rules panel came after LGBT advocates and their allies waged an aggressive one-week lobbying campaign to persuade Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller to reverse what the bill’s supporters said was his decision to kill the measure in committee.

Nearly all knowledgeable observers of the Maryland Legislature believe Miller controls which bills go to and are approved by the Rules Committee, which has been dubbed the “graveyard” for bills unpopular with the Senate leadership. The committee is comprised of the chairs of the Senate’s standing committees, all of whom are appointed by Miller.

“With today’s vote, the Senate Rules Committee stood up for fairness,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, the LGBT group heading efforts to pass the bill. “With the Rules Committee vote, we’re one step closer in passing vital protections for Maryland’s transgender community.”

The state’s House of Delegates approved the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act on March 25 by a vote of 86-52. Equality Maryland and other groups lobbying for the bill believe they have the votes to pass the measure in the Senate if the bill reaches that body before the legislature adjourns on April 11.

The bill calls for banning discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing and credit.

According to sources familiar with the bill, it was expected to go before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday for a hearing limited to the bill’s sponsors. The Judicial Proceedings Committee was expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

If approved by the committee, the bill was expected to come up for debate and vote on the Senate floor on Saturday, two days before the legislature’s scheduled adjournment for the year.

“We are now in the realm of the very serious possibility of passing this,” said Dana Beyer, a Montgomery County transgender activist and candidate last year for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

“There’s an important lesson here,” she said. You can be a marginalized community, but if you firmly and politely lobby hard, you can get your message across. Now it’s our job to continue the lobbying with the Judicial Proceedings Committee and the full Senate.”

Beyer was referring to the coordinated lobbying campaign organized by Equality Maryland that involved arranging for members and supporters to barrage Miller and other key members of the State Senate with phone calls and e-mails urging that the bill be released from the Rules Committee. Among those said to have called Miller to request that he release the bill from the Rules Committee was U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 Democratic leader in the House.

“We are hopeful that after thousands of e-mails and hundreds of phone calls that HB 235 [the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act] will continue to advance, but we will not rest until the final minutes of this legislative session,” Meneses-Sheets said in a statement released Tuesday.

In a March 31 letter, the seven-member LGBT Caucus of the House of Delegates also sent Miller a letter urging him to release the gender identity bill from the Rules Committee.

“We believe this bill is absolutely necessary for the civil protections of a subset of Marylanders who are most vulnerable to discrimination and prejudices, the caucus members said. “We are simply asking for full consideration of this bill on behalf of those Marylanders.”

Those signing the letter were Dels. Maggie McIntosh, Anne Kaiser, Heather Mizeur, Peter Murphy, Luke Clippinger, Bonnie Cullison and Mary Washington. All seven are Democrats.

The sole openly gay member of the State Senate, Richard Madaleno, Democrat from Montgomery County, said he has also urged Miller to release the bill from the Rules Committee.



HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’



‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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Comings & Goings

Former D.C. resident opens art gallery in San Francisco



Jonathan Carver Moore

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Jonathan Carver Moore on opening his contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. The gallery specializes in working with emerging and established artists who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women. As the only openly gay Black male-owned gallery in San Francisco, Moore is committed to amplifying the voices of the often-underrepresented artists through a Black queer lens. He said, “I want the gallery to be a place where the LGBTQ+ community and people of color walk inside and see themselves knowing that they belong. I want us to be able to collect work from and support underrepresented artists who are often overlooked, but add some much value to our culture.”

Moore is also the founder of ARTUCATED, a digital journal that helps share, spotlight, and educate people about marginalized artists. Previously he was director of Donor Relations, Partnerships & Programming Director with the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. He was Communications Manager, Rosenberg Foundation; and Associate Director of Public Relations, Out & Equal, San Francisco Bay Area. 

Moore earned his bachelor’s in Sociology, Women’s Studies, from George Washington University in D.C.; and his master’s in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications, also from George Washington University.

Congratulations also to Jim Bobick on having his paintings included in a permanent collection by Saks Fifth Avenue. He said, “I am thrilled Saks Fifth Avenue chose my art for its permanent collection. I have long been a customer of the store and an admirer of the fashion designers represented there. I am especially pleased to know my work is on public view in the Chevy Chase, Maryland store. Not only did I grow up in the area, for part of my education I attended art school nearby, where I had the good fortune of studying under the notable painter Allen Dester Carter of Washington, D.C., whose work is in the Smithsonian collection. My ties to the Washington area art scene and my love of Saks makes this professional moment especially important to me. I am grateful and honored the store chose my paintings for their collection.” 

He has had numerous exhibitions of his work, including: Gallery 101 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (solo); Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs, Fla. (group); Studio B “Delicacies” Washington, D.C. (group); Columbia Art Center “Abstract Paintings” (solo); and Gallery 50 “Freestyle” (solo) Rehoboth Beach, Del. He has been written about in several publications including Michael Mills, Jim Bobick Creates Landscapes of the Mind at Gallery 101, New Times; Arterpillar South Florida Arts Blog; Stefan Braham, Eclectic Expressions, Coastal Style Magazine; Artist Looks Beyond the Temporal Beauty, Coast Press.

He earned his bachelor’s in Visual Arts, University of Maryland, College Park, Fine Art; and attended the Maryland College of Art and Design. 

Jim Bobick
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Arts & Entertainment

2023 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalists through October 2nd!



It is time to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ DC! You nominated and now we have our finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 2nd. Our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 19th and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 20th.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, Heineken, PEPCO, Shakers, Infinite Legacy.



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