Equality Maryland is a non-profit organization headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, with a field office in Baltimore, Maryland. Its activities focus on advocacy and education with regard to a number of LGBT social and political movements. Recently its goals have included the passage of laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity, expand Maryland's existing hate-crimes statute, increase availability of domestic partner benefits, and achieve legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Maryland.
History and Activities[edit | edit source]
The organization began operations in 1990 under the name of Free State Justice, changing its name to Equality Maryland in 2004. It achieved a major legislative victory in 2001 with the passage of the Maryland Anti-Discrimination Act, which banned discrimination in Maryland on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of housing, employment, lending, and public accommodations. In 2002 the organization succeeded in securing the passage of a Baltimore City ordinance banning discrimination against individuals based on gender identity and expression.  One of its primary goals has been the passage of a law prohibiting this kind of discrimination statewide; in 2007, such a bill was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly, but was defeated in a Senate committee.
In recent years, Equality Maryland has devoted significant resources toward the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Most famously, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, it filed a lawsuit in 2004 to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage.  This case was heard before the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state's high court) in December, 2006; in September, 2007 the court ruled against the plaintiffs, leaving the statutory ban on same-sex marriage in place (see Same-sex marriage in Maryland).  
In 2005, the Maryland General Assembly passed two Equality Maryland-backed bills to created domestic partner registries to secure a limited number of legal benefits for same-sex couples, but the bills were vetoed by then-Governor Robert Ehrlich.   
In early 2007, Equality Maryland launched a high-profile political campaign, "Marylanders For Marriage", to increase public support for same-sex marriage in the state.  This campaign, which features the controversial motto "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right," has included the launch of a website, promotion at gay pride festivals and other events, and the distribution of yard signs and bumper stickers. These efforts have attracted attention around Maryland, both positive and negative.  
Organizational Structure[edit | edit source]
Equality Maryland has three divisions, which share offices, staff, and other resources: two non-profit organizations, each of which has its own mission and board of directors, and a related political action committee. 
- Equality Maryland, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization focused on direct and grassroots lobbying to pass laws in to further the organization's goals.
- The Equality Maryland Foundation is a 501(c)(3) educational organization whose activities focus on outreach, education, research, community organizing, training, and coalition building.
- The Equality Maryland PAC is a political action committee which seeks to influence state elections by providing financial support and other resources to candidates it endorses in state and local races.
[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Free State Justice becomes Equality Maryland, Baltimore OutLoud website - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Sean Bugg. "Transgender discrimination bill defeated in Maryland", Metro Weekly, 29 March 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
- What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage?, New York Times Magazine, June 19, 2005 - retrieved 29 August 2007
- Conaway, et al. v. Deane, et al., Maryland Court of Appeals, Highlighted Cases - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Court upholds Md. gay marriage ban, Baltimore Sun, Sept. 18, 2007 - retrieved 18 Sept. 2007
- Gay supporters seek to override Ehrlich veto, Washington Blade website, May 27, 2005 - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Partners Bill Is Vetoed by Governor in Maryland, New York Times, May 21, 2005 - retrieved 29 August 2007
- Sean Bugg. "State of Mind: Dan Furmansky and Equality Maryland's growing fight for the state's gay and lesbian community", Metro Weekly, 18 May 2006. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.
- Waiting for the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling, Washington Post Blog, June 4, 2007 - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Gay and lesbian couples awaiting court’s decision on civil marriage, Gazette.net, July 12, 2007 - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Readers' views Bowie Blade News - retrieved 30 August 2007
- Equality Maryland about page Equality Maryland website - retrieved 30 August 2007