Baltimore, Md.— FreeState Justice (FSJ), that pushed for policies and laws that reduce harm to LGBTQ+ Marylanders during the state’s 2021 legislative session, celebrates the culmination of the organization’s impactful work as seven bills supporting LGBTQ+ Marylanders passed the Maryland General Assembly and became law this past month. The wins out of this legislative session include Maryland’s first Commission on LGBTQ+ Affairs, and an important update to Hate Crimes language, and the creation of an Anti-Bias Education program for perpetrators. “Despite COVID’s disruption to the legislative session in 2020, we were able to see significant movement on policy priorities this year,” said, Jeremy LaMaster, FreeState’s Executive Director. LaMaster discussed the work FreeState staff and other allies put in this session. “We were able to provide testimony on over 15 pieces of legislation. I was honored to provide oral testimony for the Mental Health Access Initiative (HB0132/SB0041) which lowers the age of consent for mental health services from 15 to 12. This was an evidence-based and common-sense policy that will further support vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth in accessing help.”
A quick look at what FSJ recently achieved through its policy advocacy:
Last month, FreeState Justice hosted a LGBTQIA+ Legislative Debrief with FreeState Legal Director C.P. Hoffman (they/them), Montgomery County State Delegate Gabriel Acevero (he/him), and MoCo Student Pride President Lew Wedderen (they/them). For a full review of this sessions wins, and challenges, visit FreeState’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC08YM56cuO8bQRz9bP7pnOw
One of the challenges highlighted by the panel was wavering or tenuous support for LGBTQIA+ policy priorities by state legislators. FreeState is releasing its 2020 Legislative Scorecard and will be working diligently to provide a 2021 Legislative Scorecard to better inform the community on who is, and is not, supporting our work. The 2020 Legislative Scorecard can be found here: https://freestate-justice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/FSJ-2020-scorecard-060421.pdf
For more information about the above-mentioned, please visit the 2021 Legislative Session Tracker where FSJ will be regularly updating information regarding the momentum of our policies. It can be accessed at https://freestate-justice.org/what-we-do/policy/session-2021.
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