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Maryland county grants employees same-sex spousal benefits

Washington County employees can start to receive same-sex spousal benefits next month.

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Maryland
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Maryland

Mark Noble and William Taylor (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

A Maryland county next month will begin offering spousal benefits to employees who legally married their same-sex partner.

Washington County adopted the policy in response to a complaint that Lambda Legal filed with the Maryland Commission on Human Rights on behalf of county librarian William Taylor in March. He and his partner of 17 years, Mark Noble, married in D.C., in May 2010, but the county’s Department of Human Resources denied Taylor’s application for spousal benefits in spite of Maryland’s recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.

“I’m very pleased that the county will now be treating its gay and lesbian employees, like me, more fairly,” said Taylor in a Lambda Legal press release on Wednesday that announced the new policy. “I love working at the library, but it has always bothered me that my straight colleagues were being compensated a lot more than I was for the same work. Now that’s changed, and it means a lot to me.”

The announcement comes less than a month after the Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that same-sex couples who are legally married in other jurisdictions can obtain a divorce in the state.

Baltimore County in December 2010 extended same-sex spousal benefits to county employees after Lambda Legal filed grievances on behalf of two married lesbian police officers whose applications had been denied. The Anne Arundal County Public Schools last July began to offer these benefits to gay and lesbian employees who legally married outside of Maryland.

“We’re pleased that Washington County has joined others in Maryland in respecting the out-of-state marriages of their gay and lesbian employees,” Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, told the Blade.

The new Washington County policy that takes effect next month also coincides with the campaign to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in a likely November referendum.

A Public Policy Polling survey last month found that 57 percent of Marylanders would support nuptials for gays and lesbians in the referendum. The same poll found that 55 percent of the state’s black voters back marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

“We hope all gay and lesbian Marylanders will be able to marry in their own state,” added Sommer.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. brian

    June 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    In one of Maryland’s more rural, conservative counties this is real progress. One reason for this somewhat atypical rural LGBT progress might be the Deer Park Lodge– a serious LGBT dance club “off the beaten path” for city folks.

    In business for decades, Boonsboro’s *Deer Park Lodge* has boosted LGBT community cohesion and pride within its central Maryland LGBT clientele (while drawing customers for a bit of a ‘drive in the country’ from Baltimore and DC, too). In turn, that local LGBT cohesion has no doubt had a very positive political impact on changing the hearts and minds of their otherwise conservative, straight neighbors in Washington County.

  2. Matt

    June 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Brian, it is amazing progress in a “good ol boy” county like Washington. Bear in mind that the county made the decision under administrative legal pressure, not out of any change of heart.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

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]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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