Gender Rights Maryland executive director Dana Beyer announced today that she will run for a seat in her state's Senate. Beyer, a transgender woman, will challenge Sen. Richard Madaleno, a gay man who recently sponsored a bill that would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity throughout the state.
Beyer announced her candidacy in a blog at The Huffington Post today, citing her experience as a mother, physician, and activist as reasons voters should look to her when they cast their votes in the upcoming Democratic primary. "We are ready for progress," Beyer wrote. "For too long, hardworking Marylanders have waiting for economic fairness and equal opportunity. We have asked our elected officials to help bring better jobs to our neighborhoods, build stronger schools for our children, fix our roads and infrastructure, and make quality health care an affordable reality. We are ready to move forward, and that's why I'm declaring my candidacy for the Maryland Senate."
Beyer's opponent, the incumbent Madaleno, has long been an advocate on LGBT issues, dating back to four years in the House of Delegates beginning in 2003. In 2007, Maladeno left the House after being elected to the Senate.
Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, questioned Beyer's intentions, as the battle to pass Madaleno's antidiscrimination bill rages on. "We really are questioning the timing of her announcement," Evans said in a statement to the The Baltimore Sun. "We need to all be focused on getting this bill passed."
Equality Maryland will support Madaleno in the primary. "He has been a champion of our community for decades, and we will stick by him and ensure that we do what we need to do to get him re-elected," Evans told the Sun. "This is a district that feels very connected to him. I absolutely know in June they will send him back to Annapolis."
Evans expressed concern that Beyer's entry into the race will force Equality Maryland to devote resources to support of Madaleno that would have otherwise gone to other races, as up until Beyer's announcement, Madaleno was running unopposed.
Beyer has run for state office before, twice making unsuccessful bids for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2006 and 2010. In addition to heading Gender Rights Maryland, Beyer serves as a board member for Freedom to Work, and she had previously sat on board of directors for Equality Maryland.