October 15, 2018 at 4:47 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Bisexual Md. lawmaker joins Democratic Party

Maryland state Del. Meagan Simonaire (D-Anne Arundel County) on Oct. 15, 2018, officially joined the Democratic Party (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Democratic Party)

A Maryland lawmaker who came out as bisexual earlier this year and said her parents suggested that she undergo so-called conversion therapy has joined the Democratic Party.

State Del. Meagan Simonaire (D-Anne Arundel County) on Monday declared herself a Democrat when she filled out a voter registration form at the Maryland Board of Elections office in Annapolis.

Simonaire was a Republican on April 4 when she gave a speech on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates in which she said she is bisexual and disclosed her father, state Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County), and her mother suggested she undergo conversion therapy after she told them she had been in a relationship with another woman. Meagan Simonaire made the disclosures as she was speaking in support of a bill that sought to ban conversion therapy for minors in Maryland.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan signed the measure in May.

“I am leaving the Republican Party today, because it is important for me to stand with a party that is fighting for equality for all Americans — minorities, the LGBTQ community, victims of gun violence, immigrants, women, Americans of all faiths and communities being affected by climate change,” Meagan Simonaire told reporters after she changed her party affiliation.

Meagan Simonaire also said President Trump factored into her decision to leave the Republican Party.

“President Trump regularly attacks minorities, women and anyone who does not agree with him, and I can no longer remain a part of a party that condones his divisive rhetoric,” she said. “It’s reprehensible.”

State Dels. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County), Pam Beidle (D-Anne Arundel County), Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s County) and Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County) and Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews stood alongside Meagan Simonaire when she spoke to reporters.

“We welcome Delegate Simonaire into the Democratic Party and I believe her reasons for becoming a Democrat reflect the feelings of many Marylanders in 2018, who feel the values of the Democratic Party are more representative of their own,” said Matthews in a press release. “Voters are eager for a party that stands for opportunity, equality and respect for all people.”

Meagan Simonaire in 2014 was elected to represent House District 31B in Anne Arundel County after she campaigned on a platform that included fighting human trafficking and advocating on behalf of homeless youth. She is currently the youngest member of the Maryland General Assembly.

Meagan Simonaire is not running for re-election.

She had not publicly disclosed her plans to leave the Republican Party over its positions on LGBT rights and other issues when she spoke with the Washington Blade on April 19.

“It’s a decision that’s going to be made,” said Meagan Simonaire. “It’s almost impossible for people to stay in a Republican Party when they are not doing the right thing and standing up for people who don’t have a voice and who are being persecuted on a daily basis and it’s 2018. It’s unacceptable.”

Meagan Simonaire also told the Blade she would like to become more involved with the LGBT rights movements and efforts to fight conversion therapy.

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

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2018. All rights reserved.