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Gay Matters
News important to Maryland's LGBT community
FBI statistics show jump in hate crimes in Maryland in 2013

The number of hate crimes reported in Maryland shot up by more than 45 percent in 2013 compared to the year prior, with crimes targeting victims' religious beliefs accounting for much of the increase, according to FBI data released this week.

The rise comes amid a decrease in the number of hate crimes reported nationally, year over year.

In 2012, there were 35 hate crimes reported by 154 agencies throughout the state. In 2013, there were 51 hate crimes reported by the same number of agencies, the data show.

Of those, 15 were based on religion, compared to 4 religion-based hate crimes in 2012. Hate crimes based on race went from 23 in 2012 to 26 in 2013, while crimes based on sexual orientation remained flat, at 7 incidents in both years.

Under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009, the FBI for the first time this year broke out crimes based on gender and gender identity as well. However, no crimes based on those factors were reported in Maryland....

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Looking Out: Study says Maryland likely reaping $53 million a year from same-sex marriages

The state of Maryland could be enjoying nearly $53 million a year in economic activity from same-sex marriages, according to a recent analysis by NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based financial advice website.

The analysis looked at the economic impact of same-sex marriages across the country, and determined the national windfall to be more than $2.5 billion.

It based its calculations on just a few factors: overall population; the percentage of the population that identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; the marriage rate by state; the estimated number of same-sex marriages per state; and the average cost of a wedding per state.

It pulled that information from Gallup polls, U.S. Census Bureau data, as well as The Wedding Report. It assumed the rate of same-sex marriage is the same as the rate for all couples.

In Maryland, NerdWallet found 3.3 percent of the state's 5,928,814 people identified as LGBT, and were having an estimated 1,507 weddings a year at a cost of $34,995 --...

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Pride updates provided by GLCCB, new 2015 event chair

Paul Liller knows there is "nothing glamorous, glorious or fun" about planning Baltimore Pride, the city's largest annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture.

Still, if the founders of the event could do it in a much more hostile environment 40 years ago, he said, it can certainly be done now -- even if relationships in the community were badly frayed amid confusion surrounding last summer's event.

Liller, 32, of Bolton Hill, a server at Indochine and a former catering manager at Morgan State University, will serve as the volunteer chair of Baltimore Pride 2015 -- which also happens to be the event's 40th Anniversary celebration.

His experience includes serving as the event's entertainment chair in 2007 and 2008, and serving in 2008 and 2009 as the development director at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, or GLCCB, which runs Pride each year.

Liller's appointment, as well as several updates on planning for the event,...

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Looking Out: Maryland companies score high marks in LGBT equality report

Several companies in Maryland scored high marks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index, released this week.

Of eight companies in the state included in the study, six earned a perfect 100 percent score.

They were Choice Hotels International Inc., DLA Piper, Lockheed Martin Corp., Marriott International Inc., Sodexo Inc. and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.

Constellation Energy Group Inc., which owns utility Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., scored a 90 percent, having been docked 10 points for not having at least one transgender-inclusive health care coverage plan, the HRC found.

The eighth company ranked in Maryland, Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., of Bethesda, scored a 30 percent, lacking benefits for domestic partners and trainings in LGBT inclusion in the workforce, among other factors, the HRC found.

The entire report ranks 781 companies nationwide. Of those, 366 businesses earned scores of 100 percent.

"When it...

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Maryland to expand Medicaid coverage for transgender patients

Health officials in Maryland are moving for the first time to provide transition-related health care coverage to low-income transgender residents who receive Medicaid in the state.

"We are in the process of submitting state regulations and will seek federal approval for the expansion of transgender health care coverage by April 1, 2015," a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokeswoman confirmed.

The action mirrors a similar move the state took this summer, amid negotiations with advocacy organizations, to provide state employees access to gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy and other transition-related care under their state-provided health insurance plans.

The "same terms" of coverage will now be provided to Medicaid patients, said Karen Black, the spokeswoman. The state expects fewer than five people to request reassignment surgery under the new policy per year, and the associated costs to remain less than $325,000.

The move continues a trend toward greater recognition...

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Looking Out: LGBT improvements seen in Maryland laws, global perceptions

In cities and municipalities in Maryland and across the U.S., the legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are improving. Across the globe, perceptions of gay and lesbian people are getting better, too.

Both improvements, outlined in two separate studies released this week, are indicative of a larger shift toward equality and acceptance, the studies' authors found -- even if data is limited in some areas and LGBT people, including children, are still discriminated against in local schools and many other corners of the world.

The two studies were the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Municipal Equality Index, which assessed laws in 353 cities across the U.S., and the Williams Institute's report titled "Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights across Time and Countries," based on surveys released in more than 50 countries since 1981.

"This study shows a clear trend toward increasing acceptance across the globe," Andrew Park, director of international...

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