“If you love people and want to see that spark ignite, you have to love everyone.” - Roger Manno, Washington Blade, 2.22.12
It shouldn’t matter who you love, how you’re born, who you are, or who you choose to be, everyone deserves respect, dignity, and equal protection under the law.
Maryland began our legislative battle for full Marriage Equality in 2007, during my first year in the Legislature. In those days, those of us who sponsored the Marriage Equality legislation were either called “marriage ambassadors” or heretics. We just thought it made sense that our friends and neighbors who are loving couples who happened to be of the same sex, deserved to be treated like every other couple.
In 2012, after years of work, the legislature finally passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act (marriage equality), which I proudly co-sponsored, and which was approved by the voters of Maryland on referendum later that year. In doing so, Maryland became the first state in America to pass Marriage Equality on the ballot, without the U.S. Supreme Court requiring the state to do it.
That battle thrust my own district through some difficult and ugly struggles, but we persevered. I told the Washington Blade at that time: “In my heart, marriage equality is an important and timely issue of emancipation for loving families who happen to be of the same sex.” I'm glad that a majority of Marylanders agreed.
I'm also proud to have been one of two Senate lead cosponsors of the landmark gender identity bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, along with (now) Congressman Jamie Raskin, and lead sponsor Senator Rich Madaleno.
I'm proud of my role in the Maryland House and Senate towards providing equality for all Marylanders -- from marriage equality, to gender identity birth certificates, to adoption rights for same-sex couples as co-parents, to transgender equality -- but there's still so much more work to do on the federal level in Congress.