The Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame on Sunday inducted Dana Beyer into its ranks amid criticism from two prominent LGBT advocates in the state.
The Washington Post earlier this month reported Beyer “was nominated for her work to secure passage” of Maryland’s transgender rights law that took effect on Oct. 1. Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans is among those who continue to challenge this claim.
Beyer, who is executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, worked with then-Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg to write the county’s anti-trans discrimination law that took effect in 2007.
“While I am personally deeply moved by my induction into the Montgomery County Hall of Fame, I believe the entire trans community shares in this honor,” Beyer told the Washington Blade. “It is also a significant recognition of the progress the county has made in welcoming all its residents as equal and full participants in the county’s life.”
Evans told Montgomery County Office of Human Rights Director James Stowe in an e-mail the Post obtained that nominating Beyer for her role in advancing the state’s trans rights law was “a grave mistake.” Gay Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin in a separate e-mail described out state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 earlier this year, as “one of the major LGBT heroes in Montgomery County.”
Beyer is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors.
Madaleno defeated Beyer in June’s Democratic primary after a heated campaign.
Equality Maryland and Slavin endorsed Madaleno.
“He works passionately and effectively for his constituents and indeed for all Marylanders,” said Evans late last year when Equality Maryland endorsed Madaleno’s campaign. “We are confident the voters of District 18 will convincingly send him back to Annapolis.”
Madaleno did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.
Sharon Brackett, president of Gender Rights Maryland’s board of directors, defended Beyer’s induction.
“Dana’s induction to the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to her tenacious commitment to make a better world,” Brackett told the Blade. “Be it conducting life changing surgery in the third world to civil rights legislation in the first. Her lifetime efforts are now being recognized and she is fittingly among her peers.”
Brackett further defended Beyer in a letter to Stowe after news of Slavin and Evans’ opposition to the induction broke.
“Dr. Beyer and I have both been the target of unfounded charges and rhetoric from certain persons and organizations,” wrote Brackett. “I would urge you to dismiss these behaviors as sour grapes and the behavior of those persons who are unable to share the credit or recognize those who contributed to the success of expanding the rights of trans persons in Maryland.”
Stowe did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.
Beyer on Monday referred to Stowe’s closing remarks at the induction ceremony in response to criticism over the committee’s decision to honor her.
“Some people criticize and complain,” said Stowe, according to Beyer. “We’re here to honor the doers; those that do.”
In addition to Beyer, the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame also inducted Montgomery County Human Rights Commission Chair Russell Campbell, Charles Kauffman, Revs. Mansfield Kaseman and Ruby Reese Moone, James Offord and George Thomas, Sr.
The ceremony took place at Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown.