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Cox criticizes ‘transgender indoctrination’ in Md. kindergartens

Trump-backed Republican debated Democratic Wes Moore on Wednesday

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Dan Cox and Wes Moore debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore on Oct. 12, 2022. (Screen capture via C-SPAN)

Republican Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox on Wednesday said there is “transgender indoctrination” in the state’s kindergartens.

“We’re not doing enough because too many times we exclude the parents from involvement,” said Cox in response to a question about support for LGBTQ students in Maryland schools during a debate against Democrat Wes Moore that Maryland Public Television hosted at Morgan State University in Baltimore. “I fought against a bill that would literally allow 12-year-olds to receive counseling without their parents even knowing. That’s wrong. We need to make sure parents are involved.”

“What I will do also is ensure that the indoctrination stops,” added Cox. “We cannot have transgender indoctrination in kindergarten. That’s preposterous. That’s exactly what my opponent supports. It’s on his website. I will stand against that and eradicate that from the curriculum and get back to world class learning.”

Cox also noted “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” a book that nonbinary author Maia Kobabe wrote, depicts “things that I cannot show you on television, it’s so disgusting.”

“We’re going to change that and say let’s get back to math, let’s get back to making sure that our kids know how to read and write,” said Cox.

Moore in response to the question said “many of the issues that we’re discussing are being addressed at the local level and it’s important for the state to understand that we’re a partner in that, but we don’t dictate to the local jurisdictions as to how their education processes work.”

“I have an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son,” said Moore. “All I ever want for my children is for them to be seen and for them to feel like they are being heard and I want the same thing for every child.”

Moore noted rates of homelessness are higher among LGBTQ youth in Maryland than for those who identify as heterosexual. He also pointed to a statistic that indicate 80 percent of transgender people in the state have considered suicide.

“I want to say to all of our LGBTQ youth and families: I see you and I hear you and all policies that will be made will be made in partnership because that is how we have to lead as a state, in partnership,” said Moore.

Cox, who represents District 4 in the Maryland House of Delegates, last October sought to amend an education bill that would restrict what he has described as “classroom indoctrination” around gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The Trump-backed Republican, among other things, has also said he would ban transgender students from girls’ sports teams.

A poll the Washington Post and the University of Maryland released last week shows Cox is trailing Moore by 32 points.

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Maryland

Vogel finishes second in primary race for Trone’s congressional seat

Gay Maryland lawmaker lost to April McClain Delaney

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Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) gives a concession speech at his campaign's watch party on May 14, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Gay Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) on Tuesday finished second in the Democratic primary for Congressman David Trone’s seat.

Vogel lost to April McClain Delaney by a 39.1-26.7 percent margin with 53 percent of the votes counted.

The Montgomery County Democrat spoke to supporters at the South House Garden in Gaithersburg after he conceded to Delaney.

“I wished her well and pledged that I will do everything in my power and nature that we hold this seat in November, elect a Democratic senator in November and re-elect President Joe Biden,” said Vogel.

Vogel was born in Uruguay. He would have been the first Latino, the first gay man and first Gen Zer elected to Congress from Maryland if he would have won in November.

Delaney will face Republican Neil Parrott, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, in November.

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Maryland

Alsobrooks defeats Trone in Md. Senate primary

Prince George’s County executive to face Larry Hogan in November

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(Photos courtesy of the Alsobrooks and Trone campaigns)

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Tuesday defeated Congressman David Trone in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). 

Alsobrooks defeated Trone by 54-41.9 percent margin with 66 percent of the votes counted. She will face Republican former Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

“On Nov. 5, 2024, we are going to defeat Larry Hogan, keep Maryland blue, and keep our Senate under Democratic control,” said Alsobrooks on her X account after she defeated Trone.

Vice President Kamala Harris, Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), U.S. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser are among those who congratulated Alsobrooks.

“Tonight we celebrate, and tomorrow we keep fighting to get her elected as Maryland’s next U.S. senator in November,” said Robinson on her X account.

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Maryland

Trone, Alsobrooks battle it out in Md.

Winner of May 14 Democratic primary will face Hogan in November

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From left, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) are running for U.S. Senate in the Maryland Democratic Party primary. (Photos courtesy of the campaigns)

The two Democrats who are running to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told the Washington Blade they would champion LGBTQ rights in the U.S. Senate.

Congressman David Trone is a member of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and co-sponsored the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law. 

Trone voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act and co-sponsored a U.S. House of Representatives resolution in support of transgender rights. Trone helped secure $530,000 in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to develop violence prevention programs for LGBTQ youth in Montgomery County. He has also participated in Pride marches and other LGBTQ-specific events in his district that stretches from northern Montgomery County to Garrett County in western Maryland.

Trone during a telephone interview with the Blade on May 1 noted Republicans voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified marriage equality in federal law.

“It’s about having to be able to personally connect with folks on the other side of the aisle,” said Trone. 

“What I found successful to me is building a personal relationship and telling stories about my life,” he added.

Trone during the interview disclosed his niece is trans, and attended Furman University in South Carolina. He said he donated $10 million to the school that he attended as an undergrad to “build out their mental health capacity, which I felt was a way that she could have the best mental health care possible when she worked her way through (her) transition.”

Trone said his company, Total Wine & More, began to offer benefits to employees’ same-sex partners nearly 30 years ago. He told the Blade he implemented the policy after a female employee said her partner was unable to get health insurance.

“I didn’t really think much about it, because I didn’t realize that her partner was another woman,” recalled Trone. “She explained to me that she was another woman and couldn’t get married, and I said, well, we’ll figure that out, so I went down to human resources and found that you can change your policy.”

Maryland voters in 2012 approved the state’s same-sex marriage law.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks was the county’s state’s attorney when voters upheld the marriage equality law.

She supported the law and attended a pro-Question 6 fundraiser at state Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County)’s home ahead of the referendum. The Montgomery County Democrat’s now wife worked with Alsobrooks when she was state’s attorney, and she toasted them at their 2013 wedding.

Alsobrooks during an April 29 interview at the Blade’s office noted Prince George’s County offers PrEP to LGBTQ people and other communities “that need the opportunity to protect themselves.”

She, like Trone, supports the Equality Act, noting it “does provide the opportunity to not experience discrimination in a number of forums.” Alsobrooks also discussed the need to “protect the courts.”

“The one thing that former President Trump did was to stack the courts with judges who make decisions that have taken away the rights of many people, including the LGBTQ community,” she told the Blade. 

Alsobrooks also said she would like to be on the Senate Judiciary Committee to “make sure that we are not appointing these conservative, activist judges who want to make decisions and choices that do not belong to them … and are determined, I think, to remove freedom from so many.”

Prince George’s County Councilwoman Krystal Oriadha, a bisexual woman who supports Trone, last June criticized the decision not to hold a ceremony for the raising of the Pride flag over the county administrative building in Upper Marlboro.

Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., of First Baptist Church of Glenarden, the Upper Marlboro church that Alsobrooks attends, in 2012 urged his congregants to vote against Maryland’s marriage equality law. Shirley Caesar, a well-known gospel singer, during a 2017 appearance at the church defended Kim Burrell, another gospel singer who referred to the “perverted homosexual lifestyle” in an online sermon that has been removed from YouTube and social media.

Alsobrooks’s campaign in an earlier statement to the Blade said she “does not agree with those sentiments.”

Primary winner to likely face Hogan

Early voting in Maryland began on May 2.

Campaign finance reports indicate Trone has loaned his campaign more than $54 million. Alsobrooks has raised more than $7 million.

poll that Goucher College conducted with the Baltimore Banner between March 19-24 found 42 percent of likely Democratic voters will vote for Trone, compared to 33 percent who said they will cast their ballot for Alsobrooks. Nearly a quarter of poll respondents said they were undecided.    

An Emerson College Polling/The Hill/DC News Now poll released on Thursday notes Alsobrooks is now ahead of Trone by a 42-41 percent margin with a 2.9 percent margin of error. The poll was conducted between Monday and Wednesday.

The winner of the May 14 primary will most likely face off against Republican former Gov. Larry Hogan, who entered the race in February. 

Alsobrooks would become the first Black woman to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate if she were to win in November. She told the Blade that Maryland “is going to be one of the states” that will determine whether Democrats will retain control of the chamber. 

“That issue of choice was also squarely featured because of his (Hogan’s) well-known position as a person who is not pro-choice,” she said, referring to abortion that has emerged as a top campaign issue after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 struck down Roe v. Wade. “It really energized a lot of people who are now really leaning in and are committed to making sure that we keep Maryland blue, and by extension that we elect people who will protect a woman’s right to choose, protect reproductive freedom.”

Trone told the Blade that he is the candidate who can defeat Hogan in November.

“I have a track record of progress and passing bills in the House for three sessions,” said Trone. “I’ll be able to beat Larry Hogan.”

Candidates attacked over insensitive comments, campaign spending

Trone and Alsobrooks in recent weeks have intensified their attacks against each other.

Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin and other elected officials who have endorsed Alsobrooks over the past weekend publicly criticized Trone after he told NBC Washington last week that people who have backed her are “low level.”

Trone in March apologized after he used a racial slur during a House Budget Committee hearing. 

Alsobrooks’s campaign did not publicly respond to the comment. Alsobrooks herself pointed out to the Blade that Trone during a debate said he gave money to U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), describing them as “great diversity candidates.” (Trone later said he meant to say “diverse candidates.”)

“We are not diversity candidates,” said Alsobrooks. “These are qualified congresswomen.”

Alsobrooks also noted Trone has given money to anti-LGBTQ Republicans.

Campaign finance records indicate Trone and/or his wife have previously supported anti-LGBTQ Republicans. These include a $38,000 donation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s election campaign in 2014, two $4,000 contributions to former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in 2008 and 2012 and $2,500 to U.S. Sen. Tom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Total Wine & More between 2007-2022 contributed $272,971 to Republican officials, candidates and state parties. Trone in 2015 stepped down as the company’s CEO.

Trone in response to Alsobrooks’s criticism noted his company has more than 1,000 employees in Texas. Trone also defended his company and the way that he has “always put my people first.”

“If you put your people first, you’re going to take care of your people with full time wages, wages with benefits, insurance, health care, all those things,” he said. “Republicans attack us in all these states, then they have the audacity to ask for money in those states, and that’s where the company is put between a rock and a hard place.”

“That’s why we want to get this money out of politics,” added Trone. “Get these people out (of) there asking for money.”

Trone said he has given more than $20 million to Democrats.

“The fact that the company works to protect the jobs of people in Tennessee, and in South Carolina, (works) on issues that are not related to abortion, issues that are not at all related to LGBTQ+ issues that are related to the business; I keep them open,” he told the Blade. “They’d like to conflate the world to their advantage.”

Trone noted he was not “born rich” and attended public school, while Alsobrooks “went to private school.” Trone also described Alsobrooks to the Blade as a “career politician.”

Governor Wes Moore; Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller; U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen; former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, U.S. Reps. John Sarbanes, Glenn Ivey, Steny Hoyer, Kweisi Mfume and Jamie Raskin; state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City); former state Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City); Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott; and Howard County Registrar of Wills Byron Macfarlane are among the elected officials who have endorsed Alsobrooks.

“She was for marriage equality before it was cool to be for marriage equality,” Kaiser told the Blade late last year.

Attorney General Anthony Brown, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy and gay state Dels. Ashanti Martinez (D-Montgomery County) and Kris Fair (D-Frederick County) are among those who have endorsed Trone.

“Congressman David Trone has been an unwavering supporter of LGBTQ+ rights since his first year in office,” Fair told the Blade on Tuesday in a statement. “He has been a vocal and visible leader, showing up in queer spaces and being an active listener and facilitator.”

Gay state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County), who is running for Trone’s seat in Congress, has also endorsed him.

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