Fairness, equality, respect, inclusion.
To me, these are more than just buzzwords – they’re part of an important history of struggle for so many of our neighbors. And they’re the values that we must continue to fight for today, in Maryland and throughout the United States.
We’re at a moment in our collective history when progress on the issues we care about is being made quickly. Today, marriage equality is becoming law in a number of states as judges reaffirm what we’ve long known to be true: that discrimination, of any kind, is both wrong and illegal.
But even just a few years ago, the outlook was far from certain. Here in Maryland, it took an army of activists, legislators, community leaders and ordinary Marylanders to pass our marriage equality law. We did it by holding rallies, meeting with interest groups and writing op-eds. But most importantly, we did it by talking with our neighbors about how marriage equality was a civil right that, once shared by all, would strengthen our communities.
I’m proud of the work we did together to pass marriage equality, but I’m especially proud that we, as Marylanders, became the first state to ratify equality at the ballot box. But our work didn’t stop there.
Just last year, for example, I was proud to stand with Equality Maryland and leaders in the LGBT community to ensure that members of our transgender community have legal protection against discrimination.
I remain committed to the work of expanding opportunity and equality because of the values I learned growing up. I was raised one generation removed from poverty; the son of a black father and white mother at a time when their marriage was considered by some to violate the values our country was founded on.
Raised by his grandmother in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, my father came to this country as a young man, determined to get an education and become a doctor. He achieved that dream, and spent his life providing care for patients who, often, could not afford to pay for his services.
He taught me that America is special — a place where my parents could marry and raise their children. A place where we can worship, speak and protest peacefully. But most importantly, it’s a place where everyone’s rights must be respected and defended equally.
I’ve dedicated my life to defending those rights — as a soldier and as a public servant. And as governor, I will continue to work with advocates and leaders in the LGBT community to defend the rights of all Marylanders.
In the general election on Nov. 4, I’m facing an opponent who doesn’t share our values.
My Republican opponent stood against marriage equality. He also opposed the transgender non-discrimination law we recently passed. Now that he’s running for governor, he’s claiming that he won’t undo these important protections, but I think Marylanders deserve a leader who will fully enforce these important laws and continue working to build a more equal and just society in the years ahead.
I also know that Maryland’s next governor is going to play a critical role in implementing our new laws — working hand-in-hand with the legislature to ensure that no Marylander is denied the rights and treatment they deserve.
We need leaders who are going to stand up for the rights of all Americans. And we deserve a governor who believes that all of our neighbors deserve the same protections.
So on Nov. 4, I’m asking for your vote so we can continue fighting for fairness, equality, respect and inclusion for all.
Anthony G. Brown is the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland and the state’s current lieutenant governor.