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Maryland

Md. attorney general candidates highlight LGBTQ rights support

Primary to take place on July 19

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Anthony Brown is among the Maryland attorney general candidates (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Candidates who hope to succeed Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh will face off in the July 19 primary. Here are there positions on LGBTQ rights.

DEMOCRATS:

ANTHONY BROWN

Anthony Brown (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Anthony Brown is a Democrat running for Maryland Attorney General.

Brown currently represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties in the U.S. House of Representatives. As attorney general, Brown has promised to fight for LGBTQ rights, and as he explained to the Washington Blade in a written statement, the issue is close to home.

“As the proud father of a trans son, I understand the challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community and the importance of leadership at every level ready to fight for their rights,” Brown wrote. “I’m running for attorney general to tear down these barriers for all Marylanders, no matter who you are or who you love.”

Brown backed Maryland’s marriage equality and trans rights laws when he was the state’s lieutenant governor from 2007-2015. Brown as a member of Congress fought the previous administration’s efforts to ban trans servicemembers from the military.

“I’ll bring my decades of experience as a lawyer, legislator and executive to not only defend LGBTQ+ Marylanders’ rights in court but push forward real change in Annapolis,” Brown said. “True allyship must go beyond words and acknowledgment and include action.”

KATIE CURRAN O’MALLEY

Katie Curran O’Malley (Photo courtesy of O’Malley’s campaign)

Katie Curran O’Malley is running against Brown in the primary.

She served as an associate judge on the Baltimore City District Court from 2001-2021 and was the Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney prior to that appointment. O’Malley’s husband is former Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Katie O’Malley was born and raised in Baltimore. Her father, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., was Maryland’s attorney general from 1987-2007. If elected, Katie O’Malley would be the state’s first female attorney general.

In a written statement to the Blade, Katie O’Malley expressed her strong support for LGBTQ rights and included an action plan for LGBTQ advocacy as attorney general.

“Over the course of the last 20 years there have been extraordinary advancements in the field of LGBTQ+ rights. However, these advancements have neither been sufficient nor are fully secured,” she wrote. “Maryland needs an attorney general that is a tenacious, relentless and inspired advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Throughout my career, I have been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and my support of same-sex marriage’s passage in 2011 is one of my proudest moments. I was proud to call out the moral cowardice then, and I will be proud to rebuke intolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community as attorney general.”

REPUBLICANS:

MICHAEL PEROUTKA

Michael Peroutka (Photo courtesy of Peroutka)

Michael Peroutka is a Republican running for attorney general.

He represented District 5 on the Anne Arundel County Council from 2014-2018.

Peroutka during his 2014 campaign posted a video arguing that the Maryland General Assembly had lost is validity after passing legislation — the marriage equality and trans rights bills, an assault weapons ban and a a stormwater runoff contamination bill — that “violated God’s law.” Peroutka also refused to disavow ties to the League of the South, an anti-gay, pro-successionist group.

Peroutka’s current campaign website does not have specific information about his stance on LGBTQ rights.

In 2017, Peroutka’s political operatives were found guilty of violating Maryland’s election laws, after making robocalls against Peroutka’s gay opponent for the District 5 council seat.

Peroutka’s campaign did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

JIM SHALLECK

Jim Shalleck (Screen capture via YouTube)

Jim Shalleck is running against Peroutka in the July 19 primary.

Shalleck was previously the president of the Montgomery Board of Elections. The former local, state and federal prosecutor’s campaign platform centers on cracking down on violent campaign crime. Shalleck’s campaign platform centers on cracking down on violent crime, and his campaign website does not have information concerning his stance on LGBTQ rights.

Shalleck could not be reached for comment.

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Maryland

Two new gay Md. delegates outline agenda

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From left, Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel (Photos courtesy of Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel)

The two openly gay men who were elected to the Maryland House of Delegates last week spoke with the Washington Blade about their campaigns and what they plan to do once they’re in office.

State Del.-elect Joseph Vogel will represent District 17 in Montgomery County. He said he is ready to bring a new direction to Annapolis.

“In this campaign, we listened,” Vogel said. “Now I’m bringing their voices to Annapolis and gonna fight for the issues that are most important to the folks here in my district.”

Vogel attended community events, held house parties and even went door to door to understand what his voters wanted out of him. 

One of his most memorable moments from the campaign came after his election.

He was immediately overwhelmed with messages from people across all of Maryland and across the U.S., saying how much his election means to them. Having an openly gay Latino elected official — Vogel was born in Uruguay and came to Maryland with his family when he was 3-years-old — has brought representation into politics that hasn’t previously been there. 

“I think now people are really excited and really hopeful about my time in office, I’m just committed to making sure that I don’t let them down and that I work hard and really fight the good fight,” Vogel said.

Now that he’s been elected to office, Vogel’s agenda includes addressing mental health issues in school, especially the lack of mental health professionals. He also hopes to address climate change.

Vogel hopes that, along with the issues he’s tackling first, he leaves office as a delegate who was known to be accessible and approachable.

“I’m going to fight for you, no matter your age. I’m going to fight for you, no matter your sexuality,” he said. “I’m going to fight for you regardless of your race, religion, ethnicities, where you live. I’m in this to fight for our entire community.”

Kris Fair is first openly gay lawmaker from Western Md.

State Del.-elect Kris Fair has had a long career in the world of politics and nonprofits, including as executive director of Frederick Center, an advocacy and support organization for LGBTQ people. His campaign to represent District 3 in Frederick County proved successful.

This victory did not come without hard work. 

Fair knocked on 11,500 doors with now state Sen.-elect Karen Lewis Young during the primaries and then turned around to hit another 5,000-6,000 once the general election campaign began. 

“There are so many people that are at the door that are just like ‘I feel so disconnected from the process, I feel like there’s nobody here to represent me,’” Fair told the Blade. “So instead of shoving the issues down and trying to force them to tell me whether or not they’re going to vote for me, which is an incredibly awkward 30 seconds, instead of just trying we tried to open up dialogue and we had an incredible response rate.”

Fair did not have the same response to his sexual orientation as Vogel. 

While Vogel saw the conversation around it as an addition to his campaign, Fair’s sexual orientation became a major talking point during his conversations with parents about the Frederick County Board of Education. Discussing things like the LGBTQ-specific curriculum with which that parents have an issue became a big pill for Fair to swallow because he had to repeatedly hear attacks against his sexual orientation. 

Luckily, not all moments on Fair’s campaign were as solemn. 

Returning from an LGBTQ conference in Dallas, Fair sat next to an Indian man on the plane and began to talk with him. He learned this stranger’s life story: He was in the U.S. on a work visa and was visiting his sister in Frederick.

Fair offered the man a ride once they landed. 

“His sister heard that and said, ‘You’re about to get in some psycho’s car’ and my husband heard that and said, ‘You’re about to put a psycho in your car,’” Fair said.

Arriving at his new friend’s home, Fair unknowingly walked into a 60th birthday celebration for the man’s grandfather. He was invited inside. After standing around and chatting for some time, he really started to understand how much he was missing by not having constant communication or conversations with his voters, he never had the opportunity to create the vulnerability or break down the walls. 

Moving past elections, Fair is ready to tackle hard issues like having a comprehensive constituent service system, giving citizens access to government funded entities like the DMV and help these people get what they need. He also hopes to implement an output treatment model in Maryland, giving those struggling with mental health issues an option to remove themselves from their current home and move into a treatment center. 

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Maryland

Two gay men elected to Md. House of Delegates

LGBTQ incumbents across state won re-election

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From left, Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel (Photos courtesy of Fair and Vogel)

Two openly gay men won their Maryland House of Delegates races on Tuesday.

Kris Fair won his race in District 3 in Frederick County with 22.78 percent of the vote. He is the first openly gay man from Western Maryland elected to the General Assembly. 

Joseph Vogel will represent District 17 in Montgomery County after he won with 26.59 percent of the vote.

State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore County) and state Dels. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County), Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County) and Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) won their respective races.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Bushell, who is a lesbian, won re-election. Montgomery County Council Vice President Evan Glass won an at-large seat with 19.33 percent of the vote.

Bisexual woman makes history in Prince George’s County

Krystal Oriadha on Tuesday became the first openly bisexual person elected to the Prince George’s County Council when she won her District 7 race with 95.33 percent of the vote. Pamela Boozer-Strother, a member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, won re-election with 79.16 percent of the vote.

Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane won re-election.

April Christina Curley lost her race for the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. She would have been the first openly genderqueer person elected in the city if she had won.

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Maryland

Md. to legalize recreational marijuana

Question 4 passed by 65.51-34.49 percent margin

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(Photo courtesy of NORML)

Voters in Maryland on Tuesday approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Question 4, which sought to amend the Maryland Constitution, passed by a 65.51-34.49 percent margin.

Maryland will join Virginia, New Jersey, California, Colorado and more than a dozen other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The nation’s capital has also legalized recreational marijuana.

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