The organization began operations in 1990 under the name of Free State Justice, inspired by the Baltimore Justice Campaign that organized the successful amendment to the city's human rights law for gays and lesbians in 1988. The organization was renamed Equality Maryland in 2004. Equality Maryland has three divisions, which share offices, staff, and other resources: two non-profit organizations, each of which has its own mission and board of directors, and a related political action committee.
Equality Maryland, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization focused on direct and grassrootslobbying to pass laws in to further the organization's goals.
In 2001, EQMD achieved a legislative victory with the passage of the Maryland Anti-Discrimination Act, which banned discrimination in Maryland on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of housing, employment, lending, and public accommodations. In 2002, the organization succeeded in securing the passage of a Baltimore City ordinance banning discrimination against individuals based on gender identity and expression. One of its primary goals has been the passage of a law prohibiting this kind of discrimination statewide; in 2007, such a bill was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly, but was defeated in a Senatecommittee.
In December 2009, EQMD prevented the implementation of a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration policy that would have required transgender Marylanders to amend their birth certificates in order to update the gender section of their driver’s licenses. Making such a change to a driver’s license would have then required going through the court system and having undergone genital reconstruction procedures, which LGBT advocates have said "creates significant barriers for individuals to obtain accurate identification reflecting the way they live."
In 2010, EQMD's field team volunteers identified over 10,000 new supporters of gender identity anti-discrimination protections and same-sex marriage throughout the state, and its 2010 election cycle campaign helped to increase LGBT representation in the state legislature, electing seven openly LGBTDelegates and Senators, and 73 of their 81 endorsed candidates. Throughout 2010, EQMD increased its grassroots efforts with the launch of action teams across six counties, eventually leading to advances in LGBT rights and protections never before seen in Maryland's history.
In January 2011, EQMD and LGBT rights supporters helped to introduce a same-sex marriage bill for which the governor expressed his support. In February 2011, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act" was approved, 25-21, in the Maryland Senate, but later failed to be voted on in the House of Delegates.
In March 2012, a poll commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, of which EQMD is a part, and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 52% of Maryland voters would "probably" or "definitely" vote in favor of the same-sex marriage bill if it is on the ballot in November; while 44% of Maryland voters would "probably" or "definitely" oppose it.
^"Our History". First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. "In 2007, the church hung a banner proclaiming "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right" from [the] columns of its portico as a [testament] to its commitment to equal rights for all. The message was adopted for GLBT rights group, Equality Maryland and now appears on signs and bumper stickers across the state". Retrieved February 10, 2012.