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Out Law honors local ‘trailblazers’

Baltimore law school’s gay student group recognizes Marylanders for Marriage Equality and Merki of FreeState Legal Project

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Aaron Merki, FreeState Legal Project, gay news, Washington Blade
Aaron Merki, FreeState Legal Project, gay news, Washington Blade

Aaron Merki serves as executive director of the FreeState Legal Project. (Photo by Steve Charing)

The University of Baltimore Law School’s only LGBT group, Out Law, presented its annual COBALT awards on April 25 at the Club Hippo before approximately 50 in attendance.  COBALT stands for Celebration of Our Baltimore Area LGBT Trailblazers.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition that led the referendum battle in Maryland that culminated in a win for marriage equality at the ballot box last November, received the award that’s given to an organization. Jessica Emerson received the student award.

Aaron Merki, executive director of the FreeState Legal Project—an organization that provides legal services to low-income LGBT community members who cannot access existing service providers — was presented with the Mark Scurti Award.

Out Law is a law student organization that works to foster acceptance, promote education and awareness and advocate on the University of Baltimore Campus and in the community at large on legal issues facing members of the LGBT community, LGBT families and their allies.

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Baltimore

Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Baltimore

Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep

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Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

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

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Maryland

Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday

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

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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