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O’Malley signs marriage bill

Same-sex couples, gay law makers join jubilant supporters in ceremony at State House

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Thursday, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the historic bill making Maryland next in line to join D.C. and six other states in recognizing same-sex marriage. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

With a crowd of same-sex couples and the eight openly gay and lesbian members of the Maryland Legislature standing behind him, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Thursday afternoon signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which calls for legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) joined O’Malley in signing the bill before a crowd of hundreds of supporters who packed the lobby of the state capital building in Annapolis.

“We are all Americans. And all of us at end of the day want the same thing for our children. We want them to live in a loving, caring, and committed home that is protected equally under the law,” O’Malley said minutes before signing the bill.

O’Malley made no mention of a voter referendum expected to be placed on the ballot in November calling for killing the bill before it becomes law. But his brief remarks at the bill signing ceremony appeared to reflect the themes that Annapolis observers expect O’Malley to use to defend the bill before voters in the fall.

“For a free and diverse people, for people of many faiths, for a people committed to the principle of religious freedom, the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all, for the eminent dignity of all,” O’Malley said.

“Religious freedom was the very reason for our state’s founding and the heart of religious freedom is the freedom of individual conscience,” he said. “If there is a thread that unites all of our work here it is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of the job, the dignity of every child’s health, the dignity of every individual.”

After signing the bill at a table placed at the foot of a curved, marble staircase where dozens of supporters stood, O’Malley handed the legislation to Busch and Miller, who placed their signature on the document.

Miller voted against the bill; Busch voted for it.

“The bill is signed,” O’Malley declared, triggering a burst of applause and cheers from the crowd.

Many of the same-sex couples in the audience held young children in their arms and embraced one another as O’Malley handed a collection of pens he used to sign the measure to well-wishers who rushed up to the governor to shake his hand.

Officials with Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition of LGBT and straight allied groups that coordinated the effort to pass the bill in the legislature said that, while celebrating their legislative victory on Thursday, they were gearing up for the referendum fight.

Most agreed that O’Malley’s signature on the Civil Marriage Protection Act was the kick-off for what political observers predict will be an acrimonious referendum campaign in which opponents, as they have in other states, will warn that legalizing same-sex marriage would result in the “teaching” of homosexuality in elementary schools.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which initiated the Marylanders for Marriage coalition, said he was hopeful that the same-sex marriage law would survive a referendum. He pointed to public opinion polls showing Maryland voters support legalizing same-sex marriage by a slim majority over those who oppose it.

“We recognize there is a great deal of work to do between now and November and we stand ready and committed to do the work,” he said.

“The changes in the hearts and minds of people on this issue are moving so rapidly. A year now is like a decade in this fight,” he said. “So the strength of this legislative victory and this being a presidential election year and the turn out being what it will be, I’m optimistic about the prospects for winning.”

Lesbian House of Delegates member Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and her gay colleagues, Del. Peter Murphy (D-Charles County) and Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) agreed with Solmonese’s assessment.

The state Board of Elections on Wednesday approved the language for the referendum petition; opponents are awaiting written confirmation from the board to begin gathering signatures, according to an AP report. Petition drafts filed by opponents Del. Neil Parrott and the Maryland Marriage Alliance contain typos but are otherwise compliant, according to the AP.

Opponents were expected to gather the required number of petition signatures needed to place the referendum on the ballot for the November election.

The referendum campaign received a boost last Friday, when the Fox TV station in Baltimore, WBFF, posted a prominent link to the website gathering signatures for the referendum on its homepage.

Scott Livingston, news director at WBFF, denied any corporate involvement in promoting the referendum campaign.

“We are not endorsing any element of this debate,” Livingston told the Blade. “We see it as a political process. Our goal is letting viewers understand they have a voice in the debate.” He added that the site has now been “modified.”

The link that previously sent readers directly to the petition site now goes to a new page within the WBFF site that also includes a link to Equality Maryland’s website. The change followed what Livingston characterized as a “handful” of complaints from WBFF viewers.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The governor’s bill signing ceremony took place one week after the Maryland Senate voted 25 to 22 to approve the marriage bill. The vote came after senators supporting the bill defeated six hostile amendments introduced by opponents.

The previous week, the state’s House of Delegates passed the bill with a razor-thin two-vote margin.

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Pride flags vandalized, stolen in Loudoun County town

‘Bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand’

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Vandals destroyed or stole several Pride flags that had been displayed at homes in Lovettsville, Va. (Screen capture via WUSA9))

Vandals this week destroyed or stole Pride flags that Lovettsville residents had displayed on their homes.

Calvin Woehrie told WUSA the vandals used a blade to slash the Pride flag that was hanging from his house. The D.C. television station reported the vandals also targeted Woehrie’s neighbors who are a lesbian couple with four children.

The Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office said the vandals damaged five Pride flags from three homes and they stole two more. A spokesperson for the Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office told WUSA the vandalism is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

“I wanted to address events that happened over the weekend, that are deplorable and devastating to the entire community,” said Lovettsville Mayor Nate Fontaine in a letter he sent to town residents on June 16. “Over the weekend, there was destruction of property that specifically targeted our LGBTQ community. To make this even more heinous is that the destruction of property was done during Pride Month. To have property destroyed targeting members of our community is horrible and can be frightening for those targeted.” 

“For the individuals who committed these crimes, know that your bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand,” added Fontaine. “We are working closely with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and this has also been added as an agenda item for our June 24th Council meeting.”

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, on Saturday described the vandalism as “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Whether someone is voicing an opinion or flying a flag, as Virginians — and as human beings — we must be respectful of one another,” wrote Youngkin in a Facebook post.

“Politicians always seem to be pitting neighbor against neighbor, but I am committed to bringing people together around our shared values, like treating others the same way you want to be treated,” he added. “We must all do better by respecting others’ right to live their lives freely, without being targeted because of who they are.”

WUSA reported Lovettsville residents bought Pride flags to replace the ones that had been vandalized and stolen.

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Transgender man murdered in Va.

EJ Boykin was shot outside Lynchburg store on June 14

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EJ Boykin (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A transgender man was murdered in Lynchburg, Va., on June 14.

The News and Advance, a local newspaper, reported EJ Boykin, who was also known as Novaa Watson, was shot outside a Family Dollar store on the city’s Fort Avenue at around 6 p.m. Boykin passed away at Lynchburg General Hospital a short time later.

A spokesperson for the Lynchburg Police Department told the News and Advance the shooting may have been the result of a domestic dispute. Authorities added there is no evidence to currently suggest the shooting was a hate crime based on Boykin’s gender identity.

Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reported Boykin was born and raised in Baltimore and was a student at Morgan State University. The blog said Boykin celebrated his 23rd Birthday on June 10, four days before his murder.

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement notes Boykin is the fifth trans man reported killed in 2021. HRC notes at least 29 trans or gender non-conforming people are known to have been murdered so far this year.

“The level of fatal violence we’ve recorded this year is higher than we’ve ever seen,” said Cooper. “All of these individuals deserved to live. We must strike at the roots of racism and transphobia, and continue to work toward justice and equality for trans and gender non-conforming people.”

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Comings & Goings

Jarvis lands lead consultant role at Meridian

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Ted Jarvis

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 Ted Jarvis on his new position as Lead Consultant with Meridian Compensation Partners, in D.C. He will work on executive compensation, governance research and development. When asked for a response to news of his new role, Jarvis told this story: “I was on the prowl for a new job, I contacted the CEO of Meridian, who worked closely with me during our years at Towers Perrin. After half an hour on the phone, he asked: ‘Send me a list of things you really like to do.’ I followed up with a list of activities that continually engage my interest. Within a few days he mailed me a job description that reiterated my list almost word-for-word. I feel truly blessed to have a job so aligned with what I enjoy doing. This is going to be great.”

Prior to working for Meridian, Jarvis worked as Managing Director with Main Data Group in D.C. and Wilton Manors, Fla. He has also worked as Global Director of Executive Compensation Data, Research & Publications, Mercer, in D.C.; principal with Willis Towers Watson; and as a research consultant with McKinsey & Company. Jarvis is a member of the Lotos Club (New York); a benefactor at Drew University (Morristown, N.J.). He funded two undergraduate prizes (Wettstein Drama Prize; Norton Wettstein and Jane Brown Memorial Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement); a benefactor, Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia): funded William Joseph Coverley-Smith Prize, awarded annually at the Juried Art Competition; and a benefactor, St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church (Rochester, N.Y.).

Jarvis earned his MBA from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business; his bachelor’s (cum laude); his Ph.D. (ABD) major in music history, literature and theory from NYU. He earned a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Vienna.

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