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Clergy speak out against Md. same-sex marriage law

Religious leaders gathered at Beltsville hotel four days before Election Day



Maryland Marriage Alliance, Derek McCoy, Question 6, same sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news, Washington Blade
Maryland Marriage Alliance, Derek McCoy, Question 6, same sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy speaks during Beltsville press conference on Friday with dozens of clergy against Question 6. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BELTSVILLE, Md.—Dozens of religious leaders from across Maryland and D.C. gathered in Prince George’s County on Friday to express their opposition to Question 6.

“We’re all here today not because of what we’re against, but because of what we’re for,” said Rev. Frank Reid of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore during a press conference at the Sheraton Washington North Hotel in Beltsville.

He stressed Question 6 opponents have dealt with the issue “very positively” and “tolerantly” without “putting anybody down or calling anybody names.” Reid added there is what he described as confusion going into Election Day.

“The first confusion is this is not just a Question 6 election,” he said. “This is also a presidential election. And there are many who want to confuse us and say that if you vote for this or against this you are voting for or against a certain party or a certain candidate. That is not true. This is a faith and freedom issue and it is possible to vote for a candidate and vote for or against Question 6, so we don’t want any confusion that we are here against one candidate or for another candidate. That is not our concern. Our focus is very clear on Question 6: Vote against Question 6 and then vote for whatever candidate you want.”

Bishop Angel Nuñez of Bilingual Christian Church in Baltimore questioned whether Question 6 will protect religious freedom as Gov. Martin O’Malley, Revs. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County and Donté Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore and others who support the law continue to maintain.

“It seems like the language in the ballot goes out of its way to convince voters that churches will not be affected. In reality, non-profits, individuals and private businesses are at risk,” said Nuñez. “In the actual law, it is clear that any church that receives state funds is not safe.”

Reverend Pierre Bynum of the Family Research Council argued Catholic Charities was forced to end adoptions in several states because they refused to place children with gay parents. He said more than 60,000 people have signed a petition urging Gallaudet University to reinstate Dr. Angela McCaskill, a senior administrator who remains on administrative leave for supporting the referendum on Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

“The problem is we’re going to see that over and over and over times thousands,” said Bynum. “Since just this petition went out to give people an opportunity to vote, there’s so many different things that have taken place including all of the people who signed the petition having their names published in a newspaper and getting telephone calls and visits from people who are antagonistic toward them.”

A Goucher College poll released earlier this week found 55 percent of Marylanders support marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state, compared to 39 percent who oppose them. A Baltimore Sun survey conducted between Oct. 20-23 noted only 46 percent of respondents would vote for the law.

Benjamin Jealous, president of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and NAACP Chair Emeritus Julian Bond have both pointed out Question 6 protects religious freedom.  

Reverend Alfred Deas, Jr., of Metropolitan AME Church in Cumberland disagreed with the civil rights organization’s support of Question 6 and marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“I unfortunately believe that they have stepped out on I believe the wrong side of history,” he said, noting he took part in the 1963 March on Washington with a local NAACP chapter. “It is not a civil rights issue. Gays have not gone through what we’ve gone through. And to compare the two is just wrong.”

The press conference also took place two weeks after Rev. Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown suggested during a town hall meeting on Question 6 that those who practice homosexuality and approve it are “deserving of death.” A California pastor described gay men as “predators” who seek to indoctrinate children during an anti-gay marriage gathering that Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy, Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville and roughly 100 others attended at a Baltimore church on Oct. 21.

McCoy again defended Anderson when the Washington Blade asked him and other assembled clergy to respond to criticisms over what Question 6 supporters maintain is the use of homophobic rhetoric against the law.

“Nobody here endorses violence, endorses bullying of any sort in any stance,” said McCoy. “We stand collectively to love our community, to love the constituents who are in our churches and within our broader community in the state of Maryland.”

He said those who criticized Anderson’s use of scripture to speak against Question 6 misinterpreted his remarks.

“As a matter of fact, we believe when Dr. Anderson was using that, it was taken grossly out of context,” said McCoy.

Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., of First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro acknowledged the church has not previously “responded well to the homosexual lesbian community.” Reid referred to Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University who asked on MSNBC shortly after President Obama publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples whether those within the black church who oppose the issue want to become “sexual rednecks.”

“That kind of language has no place in America,” he said. “We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Father Erik Arnold of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Pastor Anthony Maclin of the Collective Empowerment Group in Riverdale, Jackson and an imam from the Islamic Center of Washington were among those who also attended the press conference.



Moore signs executive order to protect gender-affirming health care in Md.

Ceremony took place during Pride month reception at Government House



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on June 5, 2023, signs an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state. (Photo from Moore's office)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Monday signed an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state.

Moore signed the directive during a Pride month reception at Government House in Annapolis.

“In the state of Maryland, nobody should have to justify their own humanity,” said Moore. “This order is focused on ensuring Maryland is a safe place for gender affirming care, especially as other states take misguided and hateful steps to make gender affirming care cause for legal retribution. In Maryland, we are going to lead on this issue.”

“In signing this executive order, this administration is saying to all LGBTQIA+ Marylanders: You deserve to be your authentic selves — during Pride month and every month,” added Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller. “You deserve to live safely, openly and freely; and receive the gender-affirming care you need.”

Moore last month signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which requires Maryland’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming care. Moore on March 31 signed a proclamation that proclaimed the day as the International Transgender Day of Visibility in Maryland. 

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22 ways to celebrate Pride month in Delaware

From Wilmington to Rehoboth, there’s something for everyone



Delaware hosts an array of Pride-related events this month.


QUEER FILM: The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth kick off the three-day Pride Film Festival featuring 12 movies, ranging from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” which explores author Giovanni’s life and six decades of work. The schedule has not been announced yet as of publication of this guide. The films will be shown at Cinema Art Theatre at 17701 Dartmouth Rd. #2 in Lewes. $12 per film.

A HISTORY LESSON: Delaware LGBTQ history researcher Carolanne Deal explores the queer history of Sussex County and a new exhibition with parts of Delaware’s queer history in the Zwannendael Park by the museum with the same name. 5 p.m. at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes. Free.


PRIDE FESTIVAL: Delaware Pride is putting on its annual Pride festival, with more than 100 vendors and many entertainers making up the single largest LGBTA gathering in Delaware, the organization says. Seventeen entertainers are listed on Delaware Pride’s Facebook page, including “American Idol” contestant Alisabeth Von Presley – “Lady Gaga meets Pat Benatar with a dash of Michael Jackson,” Little Village Magazine writes; Aunt Mary Pat, the drag queen and singer; Jenna Tall, who’s won five Miss titles; The Manhattan Prairie Dogs, a dance group that’s legal to watch despite prairie dogs being illegal to keep as a pet in New York; and Ryan Cassata, a singer and public speaker on trans issues. That’s not even mentioning 83 vendors that are scheduled to attend. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 411 Legislative Ave. in Dover. Free.

PRIDE AFTER-PARTY: Double D’s Taphouse is hosting an after-party throughout Saturday night for adults 21 and over, hosted by Scarlett Masters (who’s also hosting the drag bingo above). 6-10 p.m. at 137 Jerome Drive in Dover. $15.

COUNTRY DANCING: Get yir boots on and saddle up, gays! Atlantic Sands Hotel & Conference Center is hosting a country dance party for gay men and women in Rehoboth. 7 p.m. at 1 Baltimore Ave. on the Boardwalk in Rehoboth. $10.

BRING YOUR GAY ASS OVER HERE: Flash your colors at Wilmington’s Crimson Moon bar. Brush up on your gay history to understand why: When it was illegal to be gay, LGBTQ people put a colored handkerchief in their back pocket to signal their queerness to other community members. Community leaders periodically changed that color so they would not reveal their sexuality to undercover cops. Over time, it evolved into what it is today – a way to show who you are and what you’re looking for. 9 p.m. at 1909 W. 6th St. in Wilmington. No cover.


RUN FOR FUN AT THE FUN RUN: Fun for run, no, run for fun in Rehoboth, organized by a Delaware shoe store, Charm City Run. 8-9 a.m. at 200 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth. Free.

MIDDLETOWN PRIDE: Middletown is hosting its second annual Pride Walk and Festival – with vendors this time. 12-5 p.m. in Middletown. Free.

BINGO FOR A CAUSE: AIDS Delaware is hosting a spring bingo with The Rainbow Chorale in the Mill Creek Fire Company’s Chambers, with all proceeds benefitting the two organizations. It’s hosted by drag queens Scarlet Masters and Aura Buboyz and organizers encourage guests to dress in Pride attire or your “best ally” attire. Doors open at 5 p.m., games begin at 6 p.m. at 3900 Kirkwood Hwy in Wilmington. $15 for admission and one game board.

SUPPORT AGING LGBTQ+ PEOPLE: Learn about the challenges facing older LGBTQ adults and resources for them in a roundtable discussion hosted by Sussex Pride at the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware’s building in Lewes. 6-7:45 p.m. at 30486 Lewes Georgetown Hwy. Free.  


A NIGHT OUT: Bring your friends and (queer) family to this LGBTQ social event at Constitution Yards Beer Garden. It had a record turnout of about 300 last year, and organizers are hoping to crack 400 this year. 6-9 p.m. at 308 Justison St. in Wilmington. Free. 

GAME NIGHT: If going out isn’t your thing and you’d prefer a more chill night, fear not: Sussex Pride is hosting a game night in the Epworth United Methodist Church. 6:30-8:15 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Rd. in Rehoboth. Free.


GET INTO THE HOMO SPIRIT: Listen to CAMP Rehoboth’s Chorus singing all-time favorites like Chad & Jeremy’s “A Summer Song,” Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park,” and, of course, a Beach Boys medley at Epworth United Methodist Church. Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., and Monday 3 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Road in Rehoboth. $25. 

GAYEST SONGS EVER: Celebrate the super gay pop hits of yesteryear (and this year) with performer Todd Alsup. 8:30-10:30 p.m. at The Pines, 56 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25-150.


DRAG BRUNCH: Miss Troy, who is also performing at the Pride Festival, is hosting a drag brunch at The Queen in its Crown Room. The Queen is normally a live music venue but has a history of hosting all kinds of events. 12 p.m. at 500 N. Market St. in Wilmington. $39-61.50

POOL PARTY: If you want to take a splash in the pool while being a little tipsy this is the place to do it. Bring your own booze if desired, and bring food if you wish. 3-9 p.m. at 128 Honey Brook Lane in Felton. Free.

PLAY DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Take a break from celebrating with a round of Dungeons & Dragons hosted by Sussex Pride at the Groome Church. 6:30-8 p.m. at 601 Savannah Rd. in Lewes. Free.


QUEER STORY TIME: Bring your little (or not so little) kids to the Woodlawn Library and read picture books with LGBTQ characters. You must register for the event beforehand here. Masks are strongly encouraged at the event. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at 2020 W. 9th St. in Wilmington. Free.

BRING YOUR DADDY TO BRUNCH: Goolee’s Grill encourages you to bring your dad (or daddy) to this family-friendly drag brunch because it’s Father’s Day. The event is hosted by the runner up for Rehoboth’s Best Drag Queen in the 2019 Blade awards, Regina Cox. 12-2 p.m. at 11 South 1st St. $15.


ZOO VISIT: The Brandywine Zoo is holding its annual Pride Day – only the third – with educational programming, a scavenger hunt, and story time. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at 1001 N. Park Dr. in Wilmington. $7 for seniors and youth, $9 for adults.


STONEWALL RELIVED: Listen to four actors recreate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising at CAMP Rehoboth with the words of those that were there – reporters, drag queens, trans youth, gay people, and homeless kids that confronted the police, letting out their anger. It wasn’t the first LGBTQ uprising of the era, but the most consequential. 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. at 37 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25. 


GAY COMEDY: Standup comedian Jen Kober, an out lesbian from Louisiana, is touring the country and stopping in Rehoboth Beach at The Pines along with Jeff D. She won NPR’s Snap Judgment of Comedic Performance of the Year and went viral for her standup about Girl Scout cookies. 7 p.m. at The Pines in Rehoboth. 

Did we miss anything? Let the author know at [email protected] 

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People of Pride: A look at Maryland’s LGBTQ community

Prominent activists, leaders spoke with the Baltimore Banner



Marquis Clayton, 35, poses for a portrait around Mount Vernon in Baltimore on May 31, 2023. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman for the Baltimore Banner)

By John-John Williams IV | With the LGBTQ community under assault in many states, LGBTQ Marylanders say Pride month has taken on added meaning this year.

There are an estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults in the United States, with 151,000 in the state of Maryland, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law. The community covers a diverse spectrum of genders, identities, races and cultures.

The Baltimore Banner spoke and emailed with members of the community about the meaning of pride and the greatest challenges facing the LGBTQ community. Here are their answers, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner website.

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