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Md. lawmaker who came out as bisexual changes party affiliation

Del. Meagan Simonaire, announces she is switching party affiliation from Republican to Democrat on Monday. Simonaire is standing with Democratic Dels. Darryl Barnes, left, and Bonnie Cullison, and Kathleen Matthews, far left, who chairs the Maryland Democratic Party. (Brian Witte/AP)

Meagan Simonaire, the state lawmaker who came out as bisexual during a speech in the House of Delegates earlier this year, changed her party affiliation on Monday from Republican to Democrat.

Simonaire, who is completing her first term in office and is not running for reelection, said she could not remain in a political party that condones what she called President Trump’s “divisive rhetoric.”

The youngest lawmaker in the House of Delegates, Simonaire gained national attention for her April speech on the House floor, which was prompted by opposition from her father — longtime state Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) — to a bill banning “gay conversion therapy” for minors.

Simonaire said that when she came out to her parents as an adult, they encouraged her to see Christian counselors, at least one of whom specialized in treating “unwanted sexuality.”

On Monday, she said she had been thinking about changing political parties for more than two years.

“President Trump regularly attacks minorities, women and anyone who does not agree with him,” she said at a news conference, joined by several Democratic lawmakers and Maryland Democratic Party chair Kathleen Matthews.

“It is not enough to speak out only on issues that affect me…It is important for me to stand with a Party that is fighting for equality for all Americans—minorities, the LGBTQ community, victims of gun violence, immigrants, women, Americans of all faiths, and communities being affected by climate change.”

The bill banning conversion therapy became law Oct. 1. Mental-health providers who attempt to change a minor’s gender identification or sexual orientation are now subject to discipline by the state’s licensing board.

Read more:

Why a bisexual Republican lawmaker took aim at her father’s views