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Joe Vogel makes his mark in Md. General Assembly

Montgomery County Democrat is one of state’s youngest lawmakers



Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) on Sunday during an interview with the Washington Blade praised the many legislative milestones that marked this year’s legislative session.

Most of the lawmaker’s bills addressed the opioid crisis, mental health, gun violence and LGBTQ issues. Vogel noted he opted to work to safeguard people’s fundamental rights.

“We have been leading the way on this [LGBTQ issues.] This legislative session, we passed a bill to expand access to gender-affirming care for Medicaid recipients, making it so that if you are poor and on Medicaid, you have access to the same gender affirming care as if you are wealthy, and on private insurance,” he told the Blade before he attended the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch that took place at the JW Marriott Hotel in D.C.

Maryland has also been at the forefront of abortion rights by driving the efforts to enshrine the right into the state’s constitution. The General Assembly also passed a measure to end the state’s statute of limitations for when a civil suit can be filed against public or private institutions when related to child sexual abuse. 

Vogel described Democratic Gov. Wes Moore as “a phenomenal champion for the LGBTQ+ community.” 

“He has been a partner on a lot of these pieces of legislation that I mentioned earlier,” said Vogel. “He had us over at his house recently just to express to our LGBTQ+ caucus — just to express his commitment to our community.”

Vogel differentiated Moore from other governors, including Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“He (Moore) is someone who is such a contrast to governors like Ron DeSantis, or Greg Abbott,” said Vogel. “They wake up every morning thinking about what they can do to hurt our community, whereas the governor of Maryland right, Wes Moore, he wakes up every morning, and I’m convinced he thinks about what you can do for the well-being of every Marylander. And that includes the LGBTQ community.”

‘There is a hunger for a new generation of leadership’

Vogel, who represents District 17, is 26 and one of the House of Delegates’ youngest members.

“There is a hunger for a new generation of leadership,” Vogel told the Blade, referring to young politicians who are beginning to take center stage around the country. “And I think, without a doubt, you have a Republican Party that is intent on eroding our democracy — on attacking our fundamental rights.”

Vogel, who was born in Uruguay, noted the similarity he saw between the dictatorship that his homeland suffered in the 20th century and the current situation in the U.S.

“It’s something very interesting about the fall of your democracy — is that what you had going on, there was a far right, that was chipping away at those democratic institutions. And the left was growing hopeless, and losing faith in democratic governance,” he said. “They were saying, ‘Well, the system’s broken anyways, it’s not benefiting us, whatever. We don’t care about anything.’ And if you look at this country right now, though, that is a pattern that we are seeing here, we are seeing a far right attempting to chip away in whatever way they can at our fundamental rights and democratic institutions.” 

Uruguay’s civic-military dictatorship lasted 12 years, from 1973-1985. It carried out many human rights violations that included the use of extreme torture methods and forced disappearances. 

The term “civic-military” refers to the military regime’s relatively slow annexing of power from civilian presidents who continued to serve as head of state — contrary to other Latin American countries in which militaries immediately took control through coups.

Vogel, for his part, did not rule out the possibility of running for higher office, calling it a possibility to continue to “fight” for the issues that are happening today.

“That’s what we’ll do,” he said. 



Bill to repeal Md. sodomy law to take effect without governor’s signature

Lawmakers approved measure during 2023 legislative session



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Friday announced he will allow a bill that repeals the state’s Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practices Act to become law without his signature.

State Dels. David Moon (D-Montgomery County) and Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced House Bill 131. State Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Howard Counties) put forth an identical measure in the Maryland Senate.

The General Assembly in 2020 repealed the law’s “sodomy” provision.

“I’m pleased that this bill has now become law, and this is a real and hard-fought win for the LGBTQ community. This was a long-overdue update to the existing law to remove an outdated provision,” Lam told the Washington Blade in a statement. “While we had wanted to remove this provision from the law years ago when sodomy was struck from the statute, opponents fought to keep this with reassurance that it would unlikely ever be used to criminally charge individuals. And just the very next year, the Harford County sheriff’s office used this part of the statute to arrest individuals at a private business.”

“It is unfortunate that it took so long to correct this in the law, but I’m glad to see that this misguided part of the statute is now finally gone,” added Lam. “I appreciate the sustained efforts and patience of all of the advocates who saw this bill through final passage. Even though it took a while, this win is something the LGBTQ community should be proud of and find reassuring.”

Moore, a Democrat, earlier this month signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which requires Maryland’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment.

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Joe Vogel announces run for Congress

Openly gay Gen Z delegate took office in January



Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) on Monday announced he is running for Congress.

“We need a new generation of leaders in Washington who understand exactly what’s at stake in this moment,” said the Montgomery County Democrat in his campaign announcement. “We just can’t wait to end gun violence, secure our rights, protect our democracy and save our planet.”

Vogel, 26, was born in Uruguay. 

The openly gay Democrat has represented District 17 in the Maryland House of Delegates in January. Vogel would represent Maryland’s 6th Congressional District if he were to win election in 2024.

Democratic Congressman David Trone, who currently represents the district, last week announced he is running for retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)’s seat.

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Wes Moore signs transgender rights law

Trans Health Equity Act will require Medicaid to cover gender-affirming treatment



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on May 3, 2023, signed the Trans Health Equity Act into law. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Wes Moore's office)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Wednesday signed a bill that requires the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment.

The Trans Health Equity Act is one of the more than 100 measures that Moore signed during a ceremony that took place at the State Capitol. Some of the other bills the governor signed focused on reproductive rights and marijuana.

“Another successful bill signing from (Gov. Wes Moore), (Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller), (Senate President Bill Ferguson) and (House Speaker Adrienne Jones),” tweeted state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), who introduced the Trans Health Equity Act in the Maryland Senate. “Today, the Trans Health Equity Act (SB460) was signed into law, protecting the rights of trans Marylanders and offering them equal opportunities.”

The Trans Health Equity Act is slated to take effect on Jan. 1.

Maryland lawmakers during this year’s legislation that ended last month passed a bill that will repeal the state’s Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practices Act. Moore’s office has not announced when the governor will sign it.

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