McIntosh was born in Quinter, Kansas, and received a bachelor's degree in arts education from Wichita State University in 1970 and a master's degree in science from Johns Hopkins University in 1987. She is a former teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools and an adjunct professor at Catonsville Community College and the University of Baltimore.
In 1992, McIntosh was appointed to a vacancy in the House and was elected in 1994 and re-elected in 1998 to represent the 42nd District of Baltimore City and Baltimore County. She also was Deputy Majority Whip and is the current chair of the Banking & Financial Services Subcommittee.
McIntosh came out before an audience Oct. 29, 2001, during an acceptance speech for an award from the Women's Law Center of Maryland. This was the first time McIntosh had publicly said she was a lesbian -- although she said she has been open to friends, family and colleagues -- but no media was present at the event.
When the Maryland General Assembly convened its opening session in 2002, Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore) was introduced as the first female House Majority Leader, a position she was appointed to in July. But what many watching the proceedings didn't know is that McIntosh is also the first openly gay person in the state's legislature.
McIntosh earned a standing ovation and her colleagues clapped every time her name was mentioned - not normal practice on the legislative floor. Activists say it is her personality and ability to relate to people that makes her so likable and able to move up the political notch. They also note that it speaks to McIntosh's political prowess that she was appointed to a powerful position because she is a woman, a lesbian, and from Baltimore - a city known for its liberal politicians.
In addition to being a lesbian, she is "known as a progressive legislator from Baltimore City," said Shannon Avery, chair of the legislative and political action committee for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Baltimore & Central Maryland. "All of that is really a testament to her personality. It will be interesting to see where her career goes from here."
McIntosh was named as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women in 2001 and was recognized by several organizations for her work in the legislature.