Maryland Governor hosts fundraiser for LGBTQ advocacy organization

Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley Francesca Volturo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) wants marriage equality legislation approved in the Maryland legislature’s 2012 session, and is making it a priority of his administration.

Francesca Volturo

Martin O'Malley

And in a display of unity with LGBTQ Marylanders, O’Malley on Wednesday evening co-hosted a fundraiser in suburban Washington, benefiting Equality Maryland.

Raquell Guillory, the Governor’s Director of Communications, said the event would be “the first of many” in which O’Malley plans to build support for marriage equality legislation, which passed the state Senate in the 2011 legislative session, but was shelved in the House of Delegates because of lack of votes.

The governor, who said he would sign the bill, was criticized at the time for not being vocal enough in his support.

Lisa M. Polyak, acting president of Equality Maryland, told LGBTQ Nation that O’Malley’s unconditional support for same-sex marriage in Maryland was critical, and that the advocacy group was grateful for the governor’s support.

On July 22, O’Malley said he was prepared to lead a more aggressive campaign to pass a measure legalizing same-sex marriage. O’Malley said that his inspiration was the successful negotiations and maneuvering by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York state legislators to get past legislative hurdles.

“Marylanders of all walks of life want their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home – protected under the law. As a free and diverse people of many faiths, we choose to be governed under the law by certain fundamental principles or beliefs, among them equal protection of the law for every individual and the “free exercise” of religion without government intervention,” said O’Malley.

“Other states have found a way to protect both these rights. So should Maryland. The legislation we plan to introduce in the 2012 legislative session will protect religious freedom and equality of marital rights under the law.”

Wednesday night’s fundraiser was attended by leading Democrats, some of whom are thought to be potential candidates for Maryland’s 2014 gubernatorial race, including state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, Lieutenant Gov. Anthony G. Brown, State Comptroller Peter Franchot and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

In May, Equality Maryland had announced it was suffering a financial crisis, leading to the resignation of its Executive Director, and the layoff of nearly all of its staff. In an e-mail Tuesday, board members announced that the organization had reached “a place of stability and confidence in our future.”

According to the statement, Equality Maryland emerged from the month of August debt-free for the first time, and with resources to meet its operating expenses for the next two months.

Speaking with LGBTQ Nation, Polyak emphasized that the organization’s goal was total accountability to the community, and said the organization plans to seat almost a dozen new board members by the end of September.

The selection of a new executive director of Equality Maryland is expected to be announced in October.

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