Howard County Executive Calvin Ball gathers with supporters of the county’s LGBTQ initiatives. (Source: Howard County Government)

Howard County will be forming two new commissions to protect the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ and Latino communities throughout the county, according the County Executive Calvin Ball.

Ball announced this week that legislation introduced to implement a LGBTQIA+ Commission and a La Alianza Latina Commission has been approved by the Howard County Council.

“These bold steps ensure that Howard County remains a model for other communities around our nation on how to uplift all our residents, and how to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone,” said Ball. “These new commissions will serve, support, and affirm our LGBTQIA+ and Latino communities, and will help implement long-lasting change.”

Both commissions succeed the work of the LGBTQ Workgroup and La Alianza Workgroup, established in 2019 and 2020, respectively. These workgroups provided counsel to Howard County on how to best support their respective underrepresented communities.

According to a news release, the LGBTQIA+ Commission will be composed of at least 13 members, including LGBTIA+ Howard County residents and representatives of regional LGBTQ organizations. 

During their operation, the LGBTIA+ Commission will be responsible for a number of community building efforts, including building a coalition between Howard County’s LGBTQIA+ population and allied groups and planning and executing events like Howard County Pride.

The LGBTQIA+ Commission will also be responsible for reporting back to Howard County government officials to provide information on how to best affirm LGBTQIA+ community members, recommending support initiatives, and advising on policy and programs that will impact LGBTQIA+ life in Howard County.

“What I hope to elevate is a better understanding that our identities as parents are not just about our sexual orientation, but sexual orientation is a key piece of our identity that should be recognized,” said community member Becki Weiss Vivrette. 

“It is about teaching our children that love is love, that everyone deserves to give and receive love, and that they deserve to hear and read stories about families that look just like theirs. That our family should never feel ashamed for being proud of who we are.”  

At least 15 members, including representatives from Latino organizations and community members, will serve on the La Alianza Latina Commission.

The La Alianza Latina Commission will be responsible for community organizing, inter-community education, and mobilizing, as well as planning and executing events to celebrate Howard County’s Latino community.

They are also expected to advise Howard County on best affirmation practices, initiatives, and policy to support the county’s Latino population.

“As a past Co-Chair of La Alianza Latina Workgroup, I would like to thank County Executive Ball, and the members of the Howard County Council for establishing the La Alianza Latina as a permanent commission,” stated Cris Ovideo, the former co-chair of La Alianza Workgroup “This is an important first step towards permanent representation of our comunidad at the county level.” 

Both commissions will be required to submit annual reports to the Howard County Council and County Executive.

Liv Barry

Liv Barry is Baltimore Fishbowl's 2022 summer reporting intern. Barry is rising junior at Washington College, where she is majoring in communication and media studies and double minoring in journalism,...