Maryland's next general election is well more than a year away, but LGBT groups and their allies are already raising money for candidates committed to advancing LGBT equality.
In an email blast to supporters earlier this week, Equality Maryland's political action committee (PAC) announced a a Saturday, Aug. 24, fundraiser at the home of a lesbian couple in Anne Arundel County.
''Last year, 96 Maryland state legislators voted for the Civil Marriage Protection Act,'' the email reads. ''For some of these legislators, this 'yes' vote did not come easy. Some spent days, weeks or even months contemplating this vote. Some voted 'yes' despite heavy pressure from lobbyists and constituents to vote 'no.' Moreover, many of them continued the fight and helped us in all kinds of ways when we took the issue to the voters.''
Tim Williams, chair of the Equality Maryland PAC, told Metro Weekly in a Friday interview that today's event is the first of several fundraisers that Equality Maryland PAC plans to hold, continuing into next year. He said the PAC's chief legislative priority during this election cycle is backing incumbents who supported 2012's marriage-equality law and the gender-identity nondiscrimination bill that was killed in committee in March.
While Equality Maryland PAC has yet to endorse candidates for next year's races, Williams said the group's primary concern is protecting those running for re-election.
''We are focused on helping those who helped us,'' Williams said. ''Our first priority is defending people who supported the marriage-equality law and who have indicated they will support the transgender-rights bill.''
Williams noted that some legislators may be at risk not necessarily because of their votes for marriage equality, but for backing a number of other measures such as the repeal of the death penalty, new taxes or gun control.
''The thing I want people to understand is we cannot take the support of the governor or the General Assembly for granted,'' Williams said, noting that retirements and open slots for statewide offices mean there will be plenty of turnover in the House of Delegates and state Senate. ''We want to make sure we have a pro-LGBT Legislature and governor in Maryland after the 2014 elections.''