Two months ago, R20 profiled environmentalist and community activist Mary Washington, who won the Democratic primary in Baltimore and was on track to become only "the second openly lesbian African-American to be elected to a state legislature anywhere in America." Washington ran unopposed in her slot in Maryland's 43rd District and, as expected, won in last Tuesday's election. The Washington Blade talks to the newest member of the House of Delegates about the landscape for gay rights in Maryland.
[Washington's] confident about the expansion of LGBT rights in decidedly blue Maryland. Does she see same-sex marriage rights coming soon? "Yes," she declares, "I’m very encouraged that we will absolutely see recognition of civil marriage in Maryland within the next four years."
Washington was endorsed by the Ministerial Alliance, the most prominent area inter-denominational coalition. She adds that "gays and lesbians have moved so far in Maryland already, and I strongly feel that we also now need to focus on protections for transgendered people." She recognizes that Maryland bucked "a red tide on Election Day," when Democrats lost more than 650 state legislative seats nationwide. "Maryland now stands as a beacon of hope for progress and social justice," according to Washington. The reason the Republican riptide faltered in Maryland is that, "we have a tradition of moderation and civility and we don’t typically have strong, ultra-conservative voters," and she adds that “we also know how to organize our candidates for great campaigns."
Maryland has elected "a record number of seven openly gay or lesbian lawmakers" , three more than before.
Brava and congratulations to Mary Washington, who was one of 33 openly LGBT candidates in the nation endorsed by the Victory Fund during this cycle. Washington follows in the footsteps of Georgia's Simone Bell, who in December 2009 became the first openly lesbian black state legislator in U.S. history. Connecticut's Jason Bartlett and Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox are the nation's only openly Black male state legislators.
Read the full interview and profile at The Blade ...