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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Simonaire leaves the political party of her father

A first-term Republican delegate who publicly split from her Republican state senator father over legislation banning conversion therapy has switched parties.

Sen. Rich Madaleno, D-Montgomery, right), hugs Del. Meagan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, left, after Simonaire voted in favor of a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy for LGBT youth. Simonaire said she voted against the bill so that no one would have to experience what she did after she was sent to conversion therapy. Her father, Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, voted against the bill in the Senate last week and advocated for the therapy if it was done in a loving way. Del. Bonnie Cullison, D-Montgomery, center, and Madaleno are both openly gay members of the legislature. (Bryan P. Sears)

Sen. Rich Madaleno, D-Montgomery, right, hugs Del. Meagan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, left, after Simonaire voted in favor of a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy for LGBT youth. Simonaire said she voted against the bill so that no one would have to experience what she did after she was sent to conversion therapy. Her father, Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, voted against the bill in the Senate a week earlier and advocated for the therapy if it was done in a loving way. Del. Bonnie Cullison, D-Montgomery, center, and Madaleno are both openly gay members of the legislature. (Bryan P. Sears)

Meagan Simonaire, a delegate from Anne Arundel County, registered as a Democrat on Monday afternoon in Annapolis.

“Today is a day I have been thinking about for more than 2 years,” Simonaire said in a statement. “I just switched my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. For the record, I do not take this decision lightly.”

Simonaire, 28, said divisive politics encouraged by Republican President Donald Trump made it difficult for her to remain in the party.

“President Trump regularly attacks minorities, women and anyone who does not agree with him, and I can no longer remain a part of a party that condones his divisive rhetoric. It’s reprehensible,” Simonaire said. “In the years since I entered the legislature, I have also watched mass shooting after mass shooting, and I can no longer sit by while innocent people are gunned down due to weak gun laws, both on the federal level and in far too many states.”

Simonaire, elected in 2014, is completing her first term. She announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election in the same district in which her father, Bryan Simonaire, 55, serves as state senator.

Earlier this year, Meagan Simonaire publicly split with her father over a bill that would ban conversion therapy — a controversial practice  intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The younger Simonaire voted for the bill her father publicly fought across the hall in the Senate.

Simonaire, in a very personal speech on the House floor, announced she was bisexual and that her family had encouraged her to seek conversion therapy. Simonaire said she did not go to the therapy but the experience with her family left her with deep emotional scars and self-loathing and depression.


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