June 14, 2018 at 6:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Mary Washington looks to unseat longtime Md. state senator

Maryland state Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) is running against state Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City) in the Democratic primary. (Photo courtesy of JDavis Photography)

State Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) on Monday said her Maryland Senate campaign is about more than a single issue.

“I’m very mindful as an out African American in the General Assembly . . . I embody intersectionality,” she told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. “There’s often discussions in the LGBTQ community that there are always these tensions around class and race and sex and our range of sexuality in our community.”

“I live intersectionality,” added Washington. “I bring that perspective to the work that I do.”

Washington is challenging state Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City) in the Democratic primary for Senate District 43 that will take place on June 26.

Washington has represented House District 43 in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011. She is the first openly LGBT elected official of color in the state.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund and LPAC have both endorsed Washington. She also thanked her partner of 10 years, Jodi Kelber-Kaye, for her continued support.

“I am so grateful for my partner in this race,” Washington told the Blade.

Washington’s campaign website notes her platform includes a pledge to “continue to protect vulnerable people in need: Homeless youth, rights of prisoners and returning citizens.” It also highlights her support of LGBT rights.

“Delegate Washington will continue to ensure women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, people of all immigration statuses, people of any or no religious affiliation, and every member of our community receive the respect, attention and intentional action they need and deserve from our government,” says her campaign. “Delegate Washington believes every community should have a voice when addressing issues that concern the community as a whole.”

Washington told the Blade that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples was “a great step forward,” but it did not end other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Washington said transgender, gender queer and non-binary Marylanders in particular remain vulnerable to discrimination in housing and in other areas.

“We still have so much to do around housing discrimination those people are still experiencing,” she told the Blade. “In addition, people who identify as gays and lesbians and bisexuals are still being discriminated against.”

Washington’s platform also includes raising Maryland’s minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten in Baltimore public schools and banning assault weapons in the state.

“I identify as a progressive,” Washington told the Blade. “That progressive agenda is one of intersectionality.”

Washington said she doesn’t “have the privilege of being a single-issue person.” She also told the Blade the state Senate can play a role in challenging the Trump administration’s policies toward LGBT people, immigrants, health care and the environment.

“The Senate will be the frontline for the defense against the Trump administration that will roll us back,” said Washington.

Hogan is not ‘a strong ally’ on LGBT rights

Washington would be the first openly LGBT senator of color in the state Senate if she were to win.

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer would become the country’s first openly trans state senator if she were to win her state Senate race. State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who is among the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, could become the first openly gay governor if he were to defeat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

Washington acknowledged Hogan last month signed a bill, which Madaleno introduced in the state Senate, that bans so-called conversion therapy for minors in Maryland. Washington said he “had no choice” after state Del. Meagan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County) in an April 4 speech on the House floor before the final vote on Senate Bill 1028 came out as bisexual and said her parents — including state Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County) — suggested she undergo conversion therapy.

Washington also pointed out there were enough votes to override Hogan’s potential veto.

“That office does not identify as a strong ally,” Washington told the Blade.

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

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