May 26, 2015 at 4:02 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Hogan to allow LGBT bills to become law

gender identity, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will allow two pro-LGBT bills to take effect without his signature. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s aides late last week said the Republican will allow two pro-LGBT bills to take effect without his signature.

Aides told the Washington Post that Hogan has no plans to veto a measure that would allow trans Marylanders to change their name and gender on their birth certificates without having undergone sex reassignment surgery. They said he will also allow a second bill that seeks to ensure lesbian couples have equal access to fertility treatments to take effect.

Hogan has until June 3 to sign or veto the measures before they automatically become law.

“These bills will take effect and become law without the governor’s signature,” Hogan Press Secretary Shareese Churchill told the Blade. “Governor Hogan opposes all forms of discrimination.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, a statewide LGBT advocacy group that made the two bills top legislative priorities during this year’s General Assembly, welcomed Hogan’s decision to allow them to become law.

“Governor Hogan came into office with a ‘focus on the issues that unite Marylanders from all backgrounds and political parties: Jobs, middle class families and restoring our economy,’” Evans told the Blade. “By allowing these bills to go into effect he has stayed on course with this commitment and we are appreciative.”

Hogan focused almost exclusively on economic issues during his 2014 campaign against then-Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown.

The Republican said during an interview on News Talk with Bruce DePuyt last August that his position on marriage rights for same-sex couples has “evolved.” Hogan two months earlier told the Baltimore Sun editorial board that he opposes the state’s trans rights law that had yet to take effect.

Michael Estève, chapter leader of Log Cabin Republicans of Maryland, on Tuesday compared Hogan to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, as he applauded him for allowing the LGBT bills to take effect.

“Governor Hogan has demonstrated that Republicans are evolving on issues of importance to the LGBT community, and can reliably be counted on to deliver legal equality and protection for all of their constituents,” Estève told the Blade. “We proudly stand by Gov. Hogan in his support of the measures in question.”

Hogan faced criticism from Evans and other LGBT rights advocates shortly after taking office in January for delaying the final implementation of a regulation that bans state Medicaid providers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The governor initially omitted trans-specific protections in his first executive order outlining ethics standards for executive branch employees, but he reissued it.

Hogan’s decision to appoint Blair Lee, a Silver Spring developer who has previously described gay sex as a “mortal sin,” to his transition team sparked controversy among some LGBT rights advocates.

Evans told the Blade on Tuesday that Equality Maryland “remains concerned” over Hogan’s support of providing public funds to private schools that are not required to comply with the state’s anti-LGBT discrimination law. She added her organization also awaits the governor’s decision “on whether to move forward with” a proposal that would require the state’s Medicaid program to cover trans-specific health care.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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