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Maryland trans bill set to die in committee

Lawmakers linked it to marriage, opposed two ‘gay bills’ in one year



Dana Beyer

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, blamed Senate President Thomas V. Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) for the trans bill’s demise. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A bill in the Maryland Legislature aimed at banning discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations is expected to die in committee on Monday, ending chances for passing it for the sixth year in a row.

The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act, SB 212, is stalled in the legislature’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, with no indication that Senate leaders plan to bring it up for a vote by March 26. That date has been long established as the deadline for one of the legislature’s two bodies to approve all bills in time for consideration by the other body.

“I actually feel the political atmosphere has improved markedly for gender identity civil rights,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), one of the lead sponsors of the bill.

“But the problem is we did same-sex marriage and for some unfathomable reason people seem to think we can’t do both of these bills in the same session,” Raskin told the Blade. “As a number of members said to me, we can’t do two gay bills in one session.”

Raskin was referring to the Maryland Legislature’s approval earlier this year of the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which calls for legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. That bill is expected to come before voters in a referendum in November.

Raskin and other longtime supporters of the transgender bill say they have tried repeatedly to dispel the view that the trans measure is a “gay” bill or that it’s linked to same-sex marriage.

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a statewide transgender advocacy organization that led efforts to pass the trans bill this year, blamed Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) for the bill’s demise. According to Beyer, knowledgeable sources at the state capital in Annapolis say Miller put out the word that the bill should not come up for a vote.

Beyer noted that Miller’s stance is the opposite of the posture he took on the marriage bill. Miller voted against the marriage bill but allowed it to come up for a vote and reportedly blocked efforts to derail the bill with a filibuster.

“If Miller doesn’t want it, it doesn’t happen,” Beyer said. “It doesn’t matter what the other senators want.”

Other advocates for the bill, who asked not to be identified, said they believe Miller was blocking a vote on the bill in committee because he believes it doesn’t have the votes to pass and he prefers not to have Democratic leaders lose on a controversial vote like this one.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) has authority under Senate rules to bring all bills up for a vote in his committee. Beyer and others sharing her view believe Frosh defers to Miller on controversial bills such as the transgender measure, even though his constituents in progressive-leaning Montgomery County support the bill.

“Miller said I will let the marriage bill come to a vote and I will protect it, I will prevent a filibuster,” Beyer said. “I won’t vote for it but I will not allow people to kill it. If he would do that for us we would get our bill passed.”

Miller, Frosh and spokespersons for the two failed to immediately return calls

Last year, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a version of the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act that lacked a public accommodations provision. Supporters in the House said they didn’t believe it could pass with such a provision. The bill died in the Senate last year after most supporters joined opponents and voted to pull it from the Senate floor and send it back to committee.

This year, at the strong request of Gender Identity Maryland, the bill’s sponsors agreed to include the public accommodations clause. House leaders announced earlier this year that they would not go through the exercise of passing it again only to have it defeated in the Senate. So they decided to not bring up the bill until or unless it first cleared the Senate.

One supporter asking not to be identified said bringing the bill to the Senate, which couldn’t pass it last year, with a public accommodations clause made it “that much more difficult” to secure Senate passage this year.

Asked if he thought the trans bill could pass in the Senate this year if it were brought up for a vote, Raskin said, “I haven’t done any kind of whip count on it. But my gut tells me the votes are there – narrowly, but they’re there.”

Raskin added, “I am still hopeful that we can pull a rabbit out of the hat before the end of the session. And if not, I’m feeling very good about the prospects for passage next year.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland, said at the request of Gender Rights Maryland, her group didn’t take the lead role in lobbying for the trans bill this year.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” Evans said. “This is one of our highest priorities – to pass this bill. We continue just like with marriage. We clearly don’t give up. We’re going to regroup and we have a strong coalition working on this bill.”

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who is gay and another of the lead supporters of the transgender bill, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. Last year Madaleno strongly criticized his colleagues’ decision to send the bill back to committee rather than bring it up for a floor vote.

Beyer and Jenna Fischetti, director of the Baltimore-based advocacy group TransMaryland, said that while transgender non-discrimination legislation has stalled in the state legislature, trans non-discrimination bills have passed in four important jurisdictions in the state, including Montgomery County, Howard County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

The two said those non-discrimination measures cover close to 50 percent of the state’s population. Beyer said she believes 95 percent of the state’s transgender people live in those four jurisdictions.

“So in that respect, practically speaking, we’ve done the job,” Beyer said.



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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