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Mehlman: Md. same-sex marriage law “enhances freedom”

Former RNC chair to co-host Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser in Manhattan

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage, Ken Mehlman

Ken Mehlman (screen capture from CSREurope via You Tube)

Former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman stressed on Monday that the fight to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law is personal.

“Having grown up in Baltimore and with family still living there and in Bethesda, I am pleased to support the effort to permit civil marriage in Maryland,” he told the Blade. “This proposal enhances freedom and encourages fairness, while also safeguarding religious freedom.”

Mehlman, who managed then-President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, spoke to the Blade three days before he will co-host a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser in New York City alongside gay director John Waters, who is also from Baltimore. Actor Josh Charles, supermodel Hilary Rhoda and other Marylanders will also co-host the event alongside actresses Julianne Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker, comedian Sandra Bernhard, former New York Rangers forward Sean Avery and others.

Governor Martin O’Malley is also scheduled to speak at the event where tickets range from $250 – $25,000.

Same-sex marriage activists have credited Mehlman, who came out as gay in 2010, with successfully lobbying Republican lawmakers to support nuptials for gays and lesbians – four GOP New York state Senators voted for the same-sex marriage bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in June 2011.

Mehlman also urged New Hampshire lawmakers in an op-ed that the Union Leader, the state’s largest newspaper, published in January to vote against a bill that would have repealed the Granite State’s same-sex marriage law. Lawmakers defeated the measure in the state House by a 211-116 margin in March, with 100 Republicans voting against it.

Mehlman also reached out to Maryland GOP lawmakers – including state Sen. Allen Kittleman (R-Howard County) and state Del. Wade Kach (R-Baltimore County) – before Annapolis lawmakers ultimately approved a same-sex marriage bill in February. O’Malley signed it into law on March 1, less than two weeks after Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a measure that would have allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot in the Garden State.

The GOP adopted party platform during last month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa that endorses a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman — the D.C. Republican Committee in late June became the first state GOP party to add LGB-inclusive language to its platform. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said during his RNC acceptance speech that he would “honor the institution of marriage” if elected.

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; David Koch; Meghan and Cindy McCain and James C. DiPaula, Jr., former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s campaign manager and chief of staff, are among the Republicans who have endorsed marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

“Republicans and conservatives should support this because it is consistent with our principles: more freedom, less government interference, family values like commitment and love, all while safeguarding religious freedom,” Mehlman told the Blade. “If you want to stand up for freedom and family values, then you should support allowing adults the freedom to marry the person they love.”

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Maryland

Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14

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(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Maryland

Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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