Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

MOVA liquor license faces challenge

Mova, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT nightlife, bar guide

Mova (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B, which has jurisdiction over the 14th and U Street, N.W. corridor, voted earlier this month to protest the liquor license renewal application of the D.C. gay bar MOVA Lounge, which is located at 2204 14th St., N.W.

The action by the ANC follows by three months a decision by a group of 14 residents of a condominium building 1407 W St., N.W. and the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association to file separate protests against the MOVA license renewal. The condo building is located directly behind MOVA.

Each of the three protests say the bar is adversely impacting the “peace, order, and quiet” of nearby residents.

“MOVA has an open-air roof deck that is open late into the evening with loud music played directly into the bedrooms of residents in our building,” the protest by the condo residents says.

MOVA’s general manager, who identified himself only as Brad, told the Blade Tuesday night that MOVA owner Babak Movahedi was taking steps to address the neighbors’ concerns with the intent of resolving the protest.

Gay ANC Commissioner Marc Morgan said he was among the commissioners that voted for the protest. He said the ANC’s intent is to persuade MOVA to enter into a settlement agreement with the ANC that would ensure that the bar curtails any noise that may be disturbing its neighbors. He said he sees no indication that MOVA is being targeted because it’s a gay bar.

“Just because we file a protest doesn’t mean we want to see an establishment closed,” said Morgan. “We plan to drop the protest if a settlement agreement is reached.”

The D.C. City Charter, which created the ANCs, limits their authority to providing advisory recommendations to city government agencies, which must give “great weight” to ANC recommendations. The final decision on liquor license matters rests with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which is an arm of ABRA.

26
Feb
2014

Gray, Mendelson receive top GLAA ratings for April primary

Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is running for re-election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and City Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) on Thursday received a +10 rating from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the highest possible rating score on a scale of -10 to +10, in their respective races for re-election in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary.

Gray and Mendelson, who are longtime supporters of the LGBT community, were the only two candidates to receive a +10 among a total of 43 candidates rated in contests for mayor and seats on the City Council.

Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who are running for mayor, came in close behind Gray with ratings of +9.5 and +8 respectively. Both have also been longtime supporters of the LGBT community.

GLAA is a non-partisan LGBT advocacy group founded in 1971. It says it rates candidates on the basis of their past records on LGBT, AIDS and other issues deemed important to the LGBT community and on their responses to a detailed questionnaire that asks about those issues.

The group has said it gives higher ratings to candidates that go beyond just expressing support on LGBT issues when they show through their questionnaire responses an understanding of the issues and how best to address them.

GLAA President Rick Rosendall called the LGBT related records of Wells and Evans “excellent” and noted that the group said in its statement that Evans has the longest record of support due to his 20-year tenure as a Council member. He said Gray and Mendelson received a +10 score because both had undertaken a large number of pro-LGBT initiatives in the last few years that, along with their strong past records, gave them an edge over the other candidates.

“Mr. Gray’s accessibility, responsiveness, and follow-through have made him highly effective on LGBT issues,” GLAA said in its statement. “He has been a champion for transgender people, including with Project Empowerment job training.”

Among the other mayoral candidates running in the April primary, Busboys and Poets restaurant owner and progressive political activist Andy Shallal received a +6; Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) received a +5.5; attorney and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis received a +4.5, Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) received a +3; and businessman and civic activist Carlos Allen received a “0” rating.

In its statement accompanying the ratings, GLAA said Allen received an automatic score of “0” under the group’s policy for candidates who don’t return the questionnaire and have no known record on LGBT issues.

All of the Democratic mayoral candidates that returned the questionnaire expressed strong support for LGBT rights in general.

Among the non-Democratic mayoral candidates, GLAA gave Statehood-Green Party candidate Faith a +3.5 and gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors a +2.

Majors, a longtime LGBT rights advocate, received a +2 rating because “his party’s ideological distrust of government is at odds with policies and reforms favored by GLAA,” the group said in its statement. “Consequently, many of his responses were interpreted as non-responsive or negative,” the statement says.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) received a +7.5 compared to his sole opponent in the Democratic primary, public relations executive and community activist Brianne Nadeau, who received a +5.

Political observers say Graham is facing his toughest re-election race this year for a fifth term on the Council

GLAA said it gave Graham higher points for his long record of support on LGBT and AIDS related issues, citing his work recently on pushing through a bill to provide better services to homeless LGBT youth. The group gave him a slight edge over Nadeau in the substance of his questionnaire responses.

But the group gave Nadeau a slight edge over Graham over the two candidates’ positions on an issue GLAA has long considered important – whether tiny, ad hoc neighborhood citizens groups should be given legal standing to protest liquor licenses of restaurants and bars.

GLAA favors giving exclusive authority to challenge liquor licenses to the city’s elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions rather than un-elected ad hoc groups, which nightlife advocates say unnecessarily block or delay the approval of licenses for nightlife establishments, both gay and straight. Nadeau, a former ANC commissioner, said she supports giving ANCs the sole legal standing to contest liquor licenses.

GLAA said Graham didn’t take a position on the issue in his questionnaire response, saying he described instead how he helped facilitate a committee of citizens and businesses representatives to consider the issue.

In the Council Chair race, GLAA said Mendelson’s +10 rating reflects his record as an ally who has shepherded through the Council a long list of LGBT supportive bills, including the marriage equality bill.

The group said it gave Mendelson’s opponent, Democrat Calvin Gurley, a “0” rating because Gurley didn’t return the questionnaire and also has no known record on LGBT issues.

Among the five Democrats running in the At-Large Council race, challenger Nate Bennett-Fleming, who currently serves as the city’s non-paid “shadow” U.S. Representatives, received a +7, one point higher than the +6 rating GLAA gave to incumbent Council member Anita Bonds, who won the seat in a special election last year.

Both are strong supporters of LGBT rights. But the slightly higher rating for Bennett-Fleming, a recent law school graduate relatively new to the local political scene compared to Bonds, who has been active in politics and government since the 1970s, is likely to raise eyebrows among some local activists.

GLAA President Rick Rosendall said Bennett-Fleming’s questionnaire responses included a few more substantive insights than Bonds’ but called both candidates’ responses “very good,” saying GLAA considers a rating of +5 and above to be a good showing for a candidate.

The ratings for the other At-Large Democratic candidates were: Pedro Rubio, +3; John Settles II, +2.5; and Kevin Valentine Jr., 0. Valentine is among the candidates who didn’t return the questionnaire and have no known LGBT record, GLAA said.

Among the non-Democratic At-Large candidates running in their respective party primaries, Statehood-Green Party candidate Eugene Puryear received a 4.5; Statehood-Green Party candidate G. Lee Aikin received a +3; and Libertarian Party candidate Frederick Stein, who didn’t return the questionnaire, received a “0.”

Gay Republican candidate Marc Morgan, who’s running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the At-Large Council seat, received a +2. GLAA said he didn’t return the questionnaire.

In its statement accompanying the ratings, GLAA said Morgan’s record of involvement in LGBT rights activities in Ohio and Arizona and his involvement with the National Minority AIDS Council in D.C. were counted in his favor and viewed as “very admirable.”

The statement says Morgan lost points for “his support for anti-gay politicians John Boehner, Robert Ehrlich, and Laura Knapereck,” which “detract from his record.” Boehner, a Republican and Speaker of the U.S. House, among other things, has blocked the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, an LGBT rights bill, from coming up for a vote in the House. Ehrlich is a former Maryland governor and Knapereck has served in the Arizona legislature.

In the remaining Council races, GLAA issued these ratings:

Ward 3: Council member Mary Cheh (D), +8.5; Ryan Sabot (Libertarian), “0” [Questionnaire wasn’t returned].

Ward 5: Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D), +4.5; Kathy Henderson (D), “0” [Questionnaire was returned but GLAA disagreed with most responses]; Carolyn Steptoe (D), -2.

GLAA said Steptoe didn’t return the questionnaire and is viewed as having a negative record for testifying in support of placing D.C.’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum in 2010.

Ward 6: Charles Allen (D), +8.5; Darrel Thompson (D), +2; Pranav Badhwar (Libertarian), +2.

Allen, the former chief of staff for Wells, received the highest rating for a non-incumbent running in the primary. In its statement, GLAA said Allen has a long record of support for LGBT issues both as a former Council staffer and former president of the Ward 6 Democrats.

GLAA’s detailed analysis of its ratings, including links to the candidates’ questionnaire responses, can be found here: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2014/primaryratings.shtml

14
Feb
2014

Norton, Cheh win Stein endorsement

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mary Cheh, United States House of Representatives, District of Columbia Council, Democratic Party, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

The Stein Club voted to endorse the re-election races of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) (on left) and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political organization, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to endorse the re-election races of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).

The club also voted unanimously to endorse Democrat Franklin Garcia in his race for the city’s shadow U.S. House seat.

All three are running unopposed in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary. Norton and Cheh are longtime supporters of the LGBT community. Norton faces opposition in the November general election from Republican, Statehood-Green Party, and Libertarian Party candidates but is considered the strong favorite to win the election.

Cheh and Garcia are being challenged in the general election by Libertarian Party candidates. Cheh is viewed as the odds-on favorite to beat lesser-known Libertarian Ryan Sabot.

Garcia, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and an LGBT rights supporter, is being challenged in November by gay Libertarian candidate Martin Moulton, who is expected to reach out for support in the LGBT community.

The Stein Club has scheduled an endorsement meeting and forum for City Council candidates running in the Democratic Primary for 7 p.m., Feb. 26, at the Unity Church of Washington at 1225 R St., N.W. The club will hold a mayoral candidates forum at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington at 474 Ridge St., N.W.

Stein Club Vice President Martin Garcia said that depending on time constraints, the club would listen to candidates running for the city’s shadow U.S. Senate seat and vote on an endorsement in that race either during the mayoral forum on March 6 or during the club’s regular meeting the following week on March 10.

12
Feb
2014

SPECIAL REPORT: Poverty in the LGBT community

Kadeem Swenson, poverty, LGBT, gay news, Washington Blade

Kadeem Swenson told the Blade in 2010 that his parents kicked him out of the house for being gay. He spent a year living in abandoned buildings in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: This week, the Blade kicks off a special yearlong focus on poverty in the LGBT community. The occasional series will examine the problem with special reports from D.C. and around the country. To share your ideas or personal story, visit us on Facebook or email knaff@washblade.com.

 

As the 50th anniversary of the U.S. war on poverty launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 is commemorated this year, LGBT advocates are pointing to little noticed studies showing that the rate of poverty in the LGBT community is higher than that of the general population.

In a 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other data measuring poverty in the United States, the Williams Institute, a research arm at the University of California Law School in Los Angeles that specializes in LGBT issues, concludes that rates of poverty are higher than the general population among gay men and lesbians between the ages of 18-44 and gay men and lesbians living alone.

The report shows that couples – both gay and straight – tend to have a lower rate of poverty than single people and the population as a whole. But it found that the poverty rate for lesbian couples is higher than that of gay male couples and opposite-sex couples and the poverty rate of same-sex African-American couples is higher than it is for opposite-sex African-American couples.

Among the report’s findings that surprised LGBT activists were data showing that bisexual men and women had poverty rates of 25.9 percent and 29.4 percent respectively – higher than gay men (20.5 percent) and lesbians (22.7 percent). The report says the same set of data show that heterosexual men had a poverty rate of 15.3 percent compared to a rate of 21.1 percent for heterosexual women.

“The LGB poverty data help to debunk the persistent stereotype of the affluent gay man or lesbian,” the Williams Institute report says.

“Instead, the poverty data are consistent with the view that LGB people continue to face economic challenges that affect their income and life chances, such as susceptibility to employment discrimination, higher rates of being uninsured, and a lack of access to various tax and other financial benefits via exclusion from the right to marry,” the report says.

The report uses the U.S. Census Bureau definition of poverty for 2012 in its analysis of LGBT poverty levels based on family income. That definition lists the “poverty line” for a single person household as an annual income of $11,815 or less. The poverty line for a two-person household was $15,079, and for a four-person household was $23,684 in 2012.

 

poverty, gay news, Washington Blade

Researchers with the Williams Institute say this graph summarizes their findings of higher poverty rates among samples of mostly LGB and some LGBT people in the U.S. The bar graph on the left represents data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). The chart in the center is taken from data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The chart at right is from a 2012 phone survey conducted by the Gallup Poll organization. (Graph courtesy of the Williams Institute)

Trans poverty ‘extraordinarily high’

 

A separate study prepared jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011, called “Injustice at Every Turn,” shows dramatically higher rates of poverty and homelessness among transgender Americans in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Kylar Broadus, senior policy counsel and director of the Trans Civil Rights Project for The Task Force, called the poverty rate in the transgender community “extraordinarily high.” He said a key factor leading to economic hardship among transgender people is the persistent problem of employment discrimination.

“There’s double the national rate of unemployment,” he said in discussing the trans community of which he said he’s a member. “And once we’re employed 90 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment and discrimination on the job,” he noted in pointing to the NCTE-Task Force study.

“Forty-seven percent said they experienced adverse outcomes such as being fired, not hired or denied promotions because of being transgender or gender non-conforming,” Broadus said.

He said the respondents reported various forms of housing discrimination that are contributing factors to homelessness in the transgender community. According to the study, 19 percent of respondents reported having been refused a home or an apartment to rent and 11 percent reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression.

“Nineteen percent experienced homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or didn’t conform as well, and then 55 percent were denied access to shelters,” he said.

Another study released by the Williams Institute last week reports that 2.4 million LGBT adults, or 29 percent, “experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.”

The study, written by Williams Institute demographer Gary Gates, found that LGBT people are more likely to rely on the federal food stamp program for assistance than their heterosexual counterparts.

“One in four bisexuals (25 percent) receive food stamps,” the report says, “34 percent of LGBT women were food insecure in the last year; and LGBT African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians experienced food insecurity in the last year at rates of 37 percent, 55 percent, and 78 percent respectively,” the report says.

 

LGBT homeless rate high in San Fran

 

Yet another report released last June found that 29 percent of the homeless population in San Francisco identified as LGBT. The report, which was part of the city’s biennial homeless count, included for the first time a count of the number of homeless people who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brian Bassinger, director of the San Francisco-based AIDS Housing Alliance, which provides services to the HIV and LGBT communities, said although the finding to some degree reflects the high LGBT population in San Francisco, which is 15 percent, he believes LGBT people make up a sizable percent of the homeless population in other cities throughout the country.

Bassinger said he also believes the 29 percent figure for San Francisco is most likely an under count and that the actual number is higher.

“LGBT people in the shelter system here are regularly targeted for violence, harassment and hate crimes, which are very well documented,” he said.

Since much of the effort to count homeless people in the city takes place at shelters, large numbers of LGBT homeless people are not counted because they generally avoid the shelters out of fear of harassment and violence, Bassinger said.

He said his group also closely monitors a development in San Francisco threatening to push the city’s older LGBT population into poverty and which may be occurring in other cities – the enormous rise in the cost of housing due to gentrification and a booming real estate market. Those who for years have lived in popular gay neighborhoods as tenants are being displaced by the conversion of rental apartment buildings and houses into upscale condominiums, Bassinger said.

“Long-term San Franciscans who have spent decades building the system to deliver access to equal treatment under the law here in San Francisco are getting displaced by all of these people moving into our community,” he said.

And because they can no longer afford to live in San Francisco many are being forced to move to other parts of the state or other states that are less LGBT friendly and don’t have the support community they came to enjoy for so many years, according to Bassinger.

The Williams Institute’s 2013 report, meanwhile, analyzes data from four surveys of the U.S. population with a demographic breakdown that included mostly gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals as well as a smaller, combined “LGBT” sample.

The four surveys were conducted by these organizations or government agencies:

• The 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with a sample of more than 500,000 and which included data from same-sex couple households.

• The National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics from 2006-2010 included a sample of more than 19,000 people throughout the country, including people who identified as LGB, the Williams Institute study says.

• The California Health Interview Survey conducted by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research in collaboration with California Department of Public Health surveyed more than 50,000 Californians, including LGB adults from 2007 to 2009.

• A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012 with a sample of more than 120,000 adults from 18 and older, included people who identified themselves as LGBT in all 50 states and D.C. The poll was conducted by phone.

The report includes these additional findings on the subject of poverty in the LGBT community:

• African-American same-sex couples have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans.

• One-third of lesbian couples and 20.1 percent of gay male couples who don’t have a high school diploma are in poverty, compared to 18.8 percent of heterosexual couples.

• Lesbian couples living in rural areas are more likely to be poor (14.1 percent) compared to 4.5 percent of lesbian couples in large cities; 10.2 percent of gay male couples who live in small metropolitan areas are poor compared with just 3.3 percent of gay male couples who live in large metropolitan areas.

• Nearly one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple is in poverty. This compares with 12.1 percent of children living with married heterosexual couples who are in poverty.

• African-American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type.

• 14 percent of lesbian couples and 7.7 percent of gay male couples received food stamps, compared to 6.5 percent of straight married couples. In addition, 2.2 percent of same-sex female couples received government cash assistance compared to 0.8 percent of women in different-sex couples. And 1.2 percent of men in same-sex couples received cash assistance compared to 0.6 percent of men in different-sex couple relationships who received cash assistance.

The report’s co-author Lee Badgett, a Williams Institute senior fellow and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said it’s difficult to draw a conclusion from the Williams Institute and other studies as to why there are higher poverty levels in the LGBT community.

“The people that I know who worked with LGBT people in poverty talk about the reasons being very complex,” she said.

“I suspect that there are lots of disadvantages that people face, whether it’s in the labor market or in schools and that maybe somehow they kind of come together, that they are sort of cumulative over time and make people more vulnerable to poverty. But I think we don’t really know exactly why that happens,” Badgett told the Blade.

In the Williams Institute report, she and co-authors Laura Durso and Alyssa Schneebaum call for further studies to explore the factors that contribute both to “poverty and economic resilience” within the LGBT community.

“Our analyses highlight different demographic subpopulations that may be particularly at-risk; however, we are unable to take a more fine-grained approach to identifying factors that contribute to poverty in these different communities,” the report says.

“Identifying the conditions under which individuals and families descend into and escape from poverty will aid service organizations and government agencies in designing interventions to address this significant social problem,” the report concludes.

Broadus of the Task Force said discrimination and bias make up at least some of the conditions that force LGBT people into poverty.

“We are less economically secure as a community due to suffering at the hands of discrimination in employment, marriage, insurance and less familial and societal support,” he said. “The LGBT community as a whole lives at the margins and some at the margins of the margins such as women, people of color and children. When some of our community is vulnerable we are all vulnerable.”

12
Feb
2014

Judge finds probable cause in Bachelor’s Mill stabbing

police, stabbing, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department

A Maryland man is charged in a stabbing that reportedly occurred outside Bachelor’s Mill. (Photo by Cliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 7 that prosecutors established probable cause that Terrill Terry Jr., 22, of La Plata, Md., committed an assault with intent to kill while armed outside the Capitol Hill gay bar Bachelor’s Mill five days earlier.

D.C. police arrested Terry on Feb. 4 for allegedly slashing a Bachelor’s Mill customer multiple times on the street one block from the bar following an altercation he allegedly started in the bar minutes earlier.

Judge John R. Johnson ordered Terry held without bond while he awaits trial during a Feb. 7 court hearing in which a D.C. police detective testified that jealousy may have been the motive behind Terry’s action.

An arrest affidavit prepared by Det. David Gargac says the incident began inside the Bachelor’s Mill at 1104 8th St., S.E., about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, when Terry struck an acquaintance in the head with a beer bottle while the two men were on the dance floor.

Gargac testified that witnesses told police that Terry believed the acquaintance was making advances toward someone he described as his “husband” at a private party earlier that evening. The detective said several of the people at the party – including Terry and the acquaintance – went to the Bachelor’s Mill after leaving the party.

The affidavit says that when Terry struck the acquaintance with the bottle a scuffle broke out on the dance floor and bar employees escorted the acquaintance and Terry out of the club. According to the affidavit, bar security personnel and police officers out front did not respond to the acquaintance’s assertion that Terry assaulted him with the bottle, and the acquaintance and a friend walked away in one direction and Terry walked in the opposite direction.

But minutes later, according to the affidavit, Terry approached the acquaintance and charged toward him, prompting the acquaintance’s friend to block Terry’s path and urged him to back off. It was at that point that Terry slashed the friend at least six times with a sharp object that Det. Gargac said witnesses think may have been a box cutter, the affidavit says. The weapon has not been found.

Gargac testified that the friend suffered slash wounds to the neck, face, shoulder and wrist, among other places, and was bleeding “profusely” before an ambulance took him to Washington Hospital Center’s Med Start Unit, where he underwent emergency surgery.

He has since been released and is recovering from injuries that could have been fatal had they landed in a slightly different place, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Petkun at the Feb. 7 court hearing.

The acquaintance spoke to the Blade on condition that he not be identified by name. He said the person Terry called his “husband” came on to him at the party and he politely declined that person’s overtures.

He said Terry expressed annoyance that he and Terry’s friend had a brief conversation at the party, but he never thought that interaction would prompt Terry to become violent when group left the party and arrived at the Bachelor’s Mill.

Webster Knight, Terry’s attorney, argued during the court hearing that the government presented insufficient evidence to show probable cause that Terry committed an assault with intent to kill. Knight did not disclose what, if any, explanation his client has for how the altercation started or whether or not Terry acknowledges hitting the acquaintance and slashing the acquaintance’s friend.

12
Feb
2014

Police gay liaison unit transferred to patrol duty

Cathy Lanier, Metropolitan Police Department, MPD, GLLU, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has reassigned members of the department’s GLLU to street patrol duties. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A decision by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to indefinitely reassign members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to street patrol duties in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts is hindering their ability to respond to LGBT-related calls throughout the city, according to sources familiar with the Metropolitan Police Department.

A statement released on behalf of Lanier by MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump disputes this claim, saying the GLLU and at least one other specialized unit whose officers have also been detailed to other assignments “are still operational and doing what they have done in the past” to serve the LGBT and other communities.

But the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the GLLU’s four active officers previously assigned to the GLLU headquarters office in Dupont Circle have most recently been assigned to patrol a single location deemed a high-crime area – the 1500 block of Alabama Avenue, S.E. – and must obtain permission to answer a GLLU call outside that location.

“That permission is not always granted,” said one of the sources.

The GLLU and the three other specialized units serving the Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, and deaf and hard of hearing communities routinely have been temporarily detailed to street patrol and other assignments since former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the units in the 1990s.

The latest change, believed to have been initiated by Assistant Chief Diane Groomes, who heads the department’s patrol division, is different than past detail assignments because it has no known termination date and appears to be an indefinite reassignment for the units, the sources said.

One of the sources said the department also rearranged the work shifts for members of all four liaison units. Prior to these changes, the four units collectively had officers on duty seven days a week, 24 hours a day except for one hour, the source said. Now, according to the source, no core liaison officer is on duty during a period from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day.

“Specific units such as the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit have been deployed to the Sixth and Seventh Police District over the last several weeks to enhance community outreach in areas of the city that have seen a high demand and call volume from specific communities represented by the Liaison Division,” Crump said in her statement.

“Even though the officers were given specific areas to patrol and provide community outreach in, the officers are still available to respond to any area of the city to assist when calls for service come in as well as follow up with victims as they have in the past,” Crump said.

She noted in her statement to the Blade that the latest change came in response to a review of last year’s calls for service to the GLLU. She said a “large volume” of calls came from the Sixth and Seventh Districts and that many of the calls were for incidents of domestic violence.

“Domestic/family violence is a huge concern, and the number of domestic/family violence crimes and incidents that are taking place in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts involving members of the LGBT community is something that urgently needs to be addressed by the members of the GLLU and Special Liaison Division,” Crump said.

The Seventh District is located in the far Southeast section of the city east of the Anacostia River. The Sixth District consists of a section of far Southeast and part of far Northeast D.C.

The sources familiar with the GLLU who spoke to the Blade said GLLU officers are committed to responding to domestic violence calls and doing all they can to assist victims of domestic violence. But two of the sources said deploying the GLLU’s four currently active core officers to a single block on Alabama Avenue would do little to help curtail domestic violence.

“So how do they respond more quickly to domestic violence if they’re told not to leave the area that they’ve been assigned?” asked one of the sources.

Another source said that since the GLLU officers were detailed nearly two months ago “they haven’t been doing what they normally do and that’s to go out to all wards of the city and all the districts and do outreach and crime patrols and stuff like that,” said the source. “So that’s why they haven’t been around” and seen in the LGBT community in other parts of the city, the source said.

Capt. Edward Delgado, commander of the Special Liaison Division, has in the past issued a weekly and sometimes biweekly report sent by email describing the types of calls to which each of the four liaison units responded and the location of the calls. Delgado’s report also described specific patrol locations where the units, including the GLLU, were assigned each week.

The Blade stopped receiving the reports around the time the GLLU officers were detailed to their new assignments in the Sixth and Seventh Districts.

One of the sources said all four special liaison units had been detailed to areas in the Sixth and Seventh Districts. Crump’s statement only mentions the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit as having been detailed to the new locations.

Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, said Delgado told him the changes were limited to the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit.

The MPD website page for the Special Liaison Division included a chart early this week that showed there were six “core” members of the GLLU and 110 affiliate GLLU members based in the seven police districts and in other police units.

Lanier created the affiliate program for the liaison units shortly after becoming chief in 2007 as a means of strengthening the reach and capabilities of the units. Affiliate members receive special training related to the specific liaison unit to which they join, the chief has said. She has said they are trained to respond to liaison unit calls but remain assigned to their regular police duties in the police districts.

The sources, however, said the core GLLU officers, who are in charge of training the affiliate members, aren’t informed by police officials about how many affiliate members respond to GLLU-related calls. One source wondered whether most of the officers listed as affiliate members actually respond to any GLLU calls or are involved in LGBT related police matters.

The sources said the list of core GLLU officers shown on the website was outdated in that only four of the six listed were currently active with the unit. The website chart identifies the core GLLU members as Officers Kevin Johnson, Justin Markiewicz, Joseph Morquecho, Zunnobia Hakir, Juanita Foreman, and Sgt. Carlos Mejia. The chart shows Mejia as serving both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

According to the sources, Officer Hakir is on indefinite maternity leave and Sgt. Mejia was no longer with the GLLU or the Latino Liaison Unit. Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who had been serving as acting supervisor of the GLLU in the recent past, is currently working with the GLLU three days a week on limited duty while recovering from a work-related injury, the sources said.

In her statement, Crump said plans are under way for new activities for the GLLU and other liaison units.

“In the coming months, members of the GLLU and the Special Liaison Division as a whole will launch various community outreach initiatives throughout all of the police districts focusing on the different concerns within each specific community and geographic location,” she said.

“Each police district has different needs, so the Special Liaison Division remains flexible to provide the best possible service and community outreach everywhere,” Crump said.

12
Feb
2014

Pro-LGBT banner set on fire at D.C. church

St. Luke's United Methodist Church Mission Center, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police are investigating the Feb. 5 burning of a banner outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in D.C. that includes St. Luke’s Mission Center Church at Wisconsin and Calvert streets, N.W.)

D.C. police are investigating the burning of a banner last week outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W., as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime.

Rev. Charles Parker, senior pastor of three LGBT supportive United Methodist churches in D.C., including St. Luke’s, said in a Feb. 6 statement posted on the church website that the incident appeared to be related to the heated debate within the Methodist church over same-sex marriage.

Church spokesperson Jeff Clouser told the Blade on Monday, Feb. 10, that St. Luke’s employees discovered last Tuesday, Feb. 4, that the banner had been burned but weren’t sure exactly when it happened.

“I visited our St. Luke’s campus yesterday to find that someone had burned – yes, burned – our ‘Stop the Trials’ banner calling for a stop to church trials of clergy officiating at same-gender weddings,” Parker wrote in his statement.

He was referring to a banner currently being displayed by LGBT supportive Methodist churches in D.C. and other cities that consists of a rainbow flag bearing the words, “Stop the Trials.” The message refers to a decision by church leaders to put on trial and defrock pastors who defy Methodist Church rules that prohibit its pastors from performing same-sex marriages.

“I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” Parker said in his statement. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion,” he said.

“What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’”

Foundry United Methodist Church, another LGBT supportive church on 16th Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, has twice welcomed as a guest speaker Frank Schaefer, a former Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked for performing his son’s same-sex wedding.

Foundry is among the D.C.-area Methodist churches that are displaying the “Stop the Trials” banner.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the incident occurred on Feb. 4 and was reported to police on Feb. 5. She said police have classified it as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.”

10
Feb
2014

Mayor, council members pay tribute to slain trans woman

Deoni JaParker Jones, Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the annual memorial. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and four members of the City Council joined more than 100 people Saturday night for the second annual memorial rally for slain transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones.

Jones’ family members organized the event at the parish hall of St. Luke Roman Catholic Church at 4925 E. Capitol St., S.E., less than two blocks from a bus stop where Jones was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2012, in a development that shocked the city’s LGBT community.

Judean Jones and Alvin Bethea, Deoni Jones’ mother and stepfather, said they have sought to channel their pain and sadness over the loss of their daughter into a positive effort to change hearts and minds and build understanding and support for trans people and the LGBT community.

“God chose to take Deoni,” Bethea told the gathering. “That’s the way we look at it. And we continue to see to it that transgender people get a fair shot at life and a fair shot at jobs,” he said.

Bethea announced the launching of the Deoni Jones Foundation, which he said his family and supporters plan to use to help strengthen efforts to combat anti-LGBT violence.

Saturday’s memorial gathering took place one day after a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled that Gary Niles Montgomery, 57, the D.C. man charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Deoni Jones’ death, is mentally competent to stand trial.

Judge Robert E. Morin’s decision on Friday reversed an earlier ruling that Montgomery was not competent to stand trial. He said his latest ruling was based on the findings of a mental competency exam conducted at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the fourth such examination given to Montgomery since the time of his arrest two weeks after Deoni Jones’ murder.

Morin scheduled the trial to begin on Oct. 6, 2014.

Some LGBT activists have joined the Jones family in expressing concern that the U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t list Deoni Jones’ murder as a hate crime. Video footage from a city surveillance camera shows Montgomery stabbing her in the head with a knife and then taking her handbag. Bethea has said the brutality of Montgomery’s action went far beyond a simple robbery and had all the makings of someone targeting a trans person for murder.

“Deoni was going to be who she wanted to be,” he said, in noting that she chose not to hide her status as a trans woman. “She was not going to walk out of the house being something she was not.”

The City Council members participating in the Deoni Jones memorial rally on Saturday were David Catania (I-At Large), David Grosso (I-At-Large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Each of them joined Gray in calling for continued efforts to secure the full rights and dignity of trans people by working hard to overcome hate and prejudice.

Also attending the event were Capt. Edward Delgado, commander of the D.C. Police Department’s Special Liaison Division, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit; and Officer Juanita Foreman, a member of the GLLU.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Deoni JaParker Jones (Screenshot via Facebook)

Others who spoke at the event included veteran trans activists Earline Budd and Jeri Hughes; Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence; Je-Shawna Wholley, program manager for the national LGBT rights group National Black Justice Coalition and Ronald King, staff assistant to D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7).

Last August, Gray signed what activists have called a landmark bill approved by the City Council called the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013. Catania, the bill’s author, said chose the name to honor Jones. The bill removes obstacles to the process through which trans people change their birth certificate to reflect their new gender.

09
Feb
2014

Defense calls for new trial in Marine murder case

Marine Barracks, gay news, Washington Blade

Witnesses said Lance Corp. Phillip Bushong was stabbed in the upper chest with a pocketknife on 8th Street, S.E., across the street from the Marine Barracks. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge has postponed the sentencing of a former U.S. Marine convicted in December of voluntary manslaughter for the April 2012 stabbing death of a fellow Marine following an altercation in which he reportedly called the victim an anti-gay name.

The postponement of the sentencing set for Feb. 7 came after Judge Russell Canan agreed to a request by defense attorney Bernard Grimm for more time to prepare a motion to request a new trial for his client, 22-year-old former Pfc. Michael Poth.

According to court records, Canan gave Grimm until March 24 to file his motion, known as a Rule 33 Motion, for a new trial. Canan directed prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office to file a response to the defense motion by April 21.

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether Grimm, who represented Poth during the trial, cited a reason for seeking a new trial rather than appealing the conviction before the D.C. Court of Appeals.

A Superior Court jury found Poth guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Dec. 2 following a 9-day trial. The jury found him not guilty of a more serious charge of second-degree murder while armed.

Poth has been held in jail since his arrest on April 21, 2012, minutes after witnesses said he stabbed Lance Corp. Phillip Bushong, 23, in the upper chest with a pocketknife on 8th Street, S.E., across the street from the Marine Barracks.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman, the lead prosecutor in the case, stated at a pre-trial hearing last year that the stabbing appeared to be a hate crime. But the government never formally classified the case as a hate crime. Had it done so, the judge would have had an option of handing down a more severe sentence.

Liebman argued during the trial that Poth called Bushong a faggot when the two crossed paths on the street outside a bar on 8th Street near the barracks with the intent of provoking Bushong into a confrontation to give Poth an excuse to stab him.

He said the hurling of the anti-gay slur took place a short time after Bushong called Poth a “boot,” a term used by Marines to describe a new recruit that’s considered an insult. Liebman argued that the “boot” remark angered Poth to such a degree that he made plans to track down Bushong after the two initially went their separate ways with the intent to stab him and kill him.

Grimm argued that Poth stabbed Bushong in self-defense after Bushong, who was taller and heavier than Poth, walked toward him with a friend and pulled back his arm with a clinched fist in an attempt to assault him.

The D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence planned to submit a victims impact statement to the judge at the time of the sentencing describing how Poth’s use of an anti-gay slur immediately prior to the fatal stabbing had a negative impact on the LGBT community, according to GLOV co-chair Hassan Naveed.

06
Feb
2014

Md. man charged in stabbing outside D.C. gay bar

police, stabbing, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department

A Maryland man is charged in a stabbing that reportedly occurred outside Bachelor’s Mill. (Photo by Cliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. police on Tuesday charged a 22-year-old man with assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly stabbing another man on the street outside the Bachelor’s Mill, a gay bar at 1104 8th St., S.E. near the Washington Navy Yard.

A police statement says officers arrested Terrill Terry Jr. of La Plata, Md., on Tuesday, Feb. 4 after obtaining a D.C. Superior Court warrant that identified the weapon as a knife.

The statement says the incident began about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, when officers responded to a call for help and discovered an adult male had been struck with a bottle at an establishment on the 1100 block of 8th St., S.E.

Although the statement doesn’t identify the establishment, a source familiar with the incident said the initial altercation took place inside the Bachelor’s Mill.

“The suspect fled the scene and engaged in a second altercation in the 1100 block of 7th St., S.E., where he assaulted a second adult male with a sharp item,” the statement says. “The suspect then fled the scene. Both victims received treatment at local hospitals for their injuries.”

Court records show Terry was being held without bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled or 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7.

05
Feb
2014