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Va. lawmakers repeal sodomy ban in unanimous vote

Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

‘The law was a terrible, symbolic insult,’ said gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin. ‘It will finally be off the books.’ (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday voted 100 to 0 to approve a bill that decriminalizes non-commercial sodomy between consenting adults in private, essentially repealing the state’s Crimes Against Nature statute that courts have declared unconstitutional.

The action follows a similar unanimous vote last month by the Virginia Senate to pass an identical bill. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe was expected to sign the bill.

“The bottom line is that the General Assembly made great progress for treating sex as sex and applying the same criminal laws regardless of what kind of sex somebody is having,” said Claire Gastanaga, director of the ACLU of Virginia.

“In terms of making it clear that it’s not a criminal act for two adults to have oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own home or some other private space, it accomplishes that,” she said.

State Sen. Thomas Garrett (R-Lynchburg) introduced an earlier version of the bill that was revised last month by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee following input from the ACLU.

Garrett and others pushing the bill said it was needed because a ruling last year by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond declaring the sodomy statute unconstitutional and unenforceable made it unclear whether prostitution involving oral or anal sex could be prosecuted.

Others, including former Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, argued that the appeals court ruling, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, would prevent the prosecution of adults seeking to have consensual oral sex with minors between the age of 15 and 18.

Virginia’s existing criminal code addressing prostitution and non-forcible sex was linked to the sodomy statute, which for years defined sodomy as a criminal felony regardless of whether the sex was between consenting adults in private.

“The law was a terrible, symbolic insult,” said gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria). “It will finally be off the books, 11 years after it was ruled unconstitutional [by the U.S. Supreme Court],” he said. “Once the governor signs it, I am glad that all consenting adults will finally be treated as adults.”

Maryland is among more than a dozen states that have yet to repeal their sodomy statutes more than a decade after the Supreme Court declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional in its landmark decision of Lawrence v. Texas.

The openly gay and lesbian members of the Maryland General Assembly — including Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County), who’s running for governor — have not responded to requests from the Blade about whether they plan to introduce legislation to repeal Maryland’s sodomy law.

“I’m always glad to see a situation where Virginia is more progressive than Maryland,” said Gastanaga of the ACLU. “It doesn’t happen often enough.”

07
Mar
2014

Why I support Adam Ebbin for Congress

Adam Ebbin, Democratic Party, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

By SALLY BAIRD

It has been my privilege to know and work with Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin. I have supported his groundbreaking campaigns since he was elected as Virginia’s first openly gay member of the General Assembly more than 10 years ago. Adam was a role model as I campaigned to be elected as Virginia’s first openly lesbian elected official in 2006, and I was privileged to work with him as a member of the Arlington School Board to fight at the state-government level for our students and teachers.

I am proud to endorse Adam in his campaign for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, not because he is a gay rights pioneer but because he is the best qualified to replace Rep. Jim Moran, who remains a significant straight ally. If elected, Adam will be the first openly gay member of Congress from the South.

Adam Ebbin has represented Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County with distinction, longer than any other candidate in this race. A masterful coalition builder, Adam skillfully unites those with divergent interests around common goals. On issues as varied as advocating for an Arlington-Falls Church Office of the Public Defender to expanding healthcare coverage for immigrants, Adam is a strong, results-focused leader. With Adam in Congress, Northern Virginia will have an effective representative who stands up for them when it matters most.

Adam has championed and passed liberal legislation with unlikely allies. From expanding solar energy options to uniting groups from the right and left, Adam has brought together interests that normally won’t talk to each other. Adam’s commonsense appeal has united them to pass such strong legislation as fighting human trafficking and ensuring insurance availability for the LGBTQ community. Adam’s record speaks for itself. He has truly earned the right to represent us in Congress, where he will apply his skills to an equally dysfunctional House of Representatives.

Adam has been endorsed by more elected officials than any other candidate, by two major unions — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) — by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Congressman Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House.

Adam has always stood up for our needs and values in the General Assembly and will do so in the U.S. Congress. Please join me in voting for Adam Ebbin as the 8th District’s next Representative.

Sally Baird is a member of the Arlington School Board and the first openly lesbian elected official in Virginia.

06
Jun
2014

‘It’s a new day’ in Virginia politics

Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe takes office three days after the 2014 legislative session begins. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Efforts to ban anti-LGBT discrimination and repeal a state constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage are among the priorities for Virginia LGBT rights advocates during the 2014 legislative session that begins on Wednesday.

State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County) has once again introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The state Senate last January approved the measure by a 24-16 vote margin, but a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee subsequently killed it. Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has repeatedly said the first executive order he will issue once he takes office on Saturday is a ban on anti-LGBT discrimination against state employees.

“We definitely want to continue that momentum,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish.

McEachin, state Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) and state Dels. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico County), Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County), Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria), Ken Plum (D-Fairfax County) and Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) have sponsored proposed resolutions that would seek a repeal of the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban that voters in 2006 approved by a 57-43 percent margin. Howell and state Del. Joseph Yost (D-Giles County) are expected to introduce bills in their respective chambers that would extend second-parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians.

Parrish told the Blade that more than 50 families have already said they want to testify in support of the measure.

“We expect that to be a big bill in the House and in the Senate,” he said.

State Del.-elect Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) has pre-filed a bill that would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in the commonwealth. State Del. Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) has introduced an identical measure.

Simon has also proposed a measure that seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

State Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) next week is expected to introduce a bill that would ban so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the commonwealth.

The Alliance for Progressive Values has worked with the Arlington County Democrat to write the bill that Ebbin is expected to introduce in the Senate.

Hope told the Blade on Tuesday similar bills that California Gov. Jerry Brown and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law last year “certainly inspired me that this is the right time to bring this to Virginia.”

Parrish said Equality Virginia would support the proposal, but Hope conceded it will likely face resistance.

“This is an uphill battle,” he said. “This is Virginia that we’re talking about, so I expect some stiff opposition and some hurdles.”

Christopher Doyle, director of the Maryland-based International Healing Foundation, singled out the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations that oppose “ex-gay” therapy for encouraging Hope and other state lawmakers to introduce measures that seek to ban the controversial practice.

“No one has ever tried to ban a specific therapeutic modality for any mental health issues,” Doyle told the Blade. “The foundations of the bill are incorrect and politicians are being misinformed and deceived.”

Krupicka and state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Fairfax County) have introduced bills that would allow the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates to Equality Virginia supporters that contain the slogan “Equality for All.”

Parrish said his group will also oppose a measure state Del. Bob Marshall (D-Prince William County) introduced that would require married same-sex couples to file their Virginia income tax returns as single individuals because the commonwealth does not recognize their unions. This measure seeks to codify the policy outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell announced in November.

“We have been reaching out to the new administration though about what we can possibly do about that very punitive tax opinion that came out of the [outgoing Gov. Bob] McDonnell administration,” said Parrish.

The 2014 legislative session will begin three days before McAuliffe, Lieutenant Gov.-elect Ralph Northam and Attorney General-elect Mark Herring take office.

All three men publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples. It remains unclear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend Virginia’s gay marriage ban in two federal lawsuits that challenge it.

“It’s a new day,” Ebbin told the Blade as he discussed McAuliffe, Northam and Herring. “We’ll be dealing with people who are looking to help us instead of looking to harm and stymie us.”

Parrish said the tone from the governor and the attorney general’s offices will be “a 180” compared to McDonnell and outgoing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He added the House will continue to remain a barrier to advancing LGBT-specific legislation during this legislative session.

“Now that we have a friendly administration in the governor and the attorney general’s office, it will allow us to better make the narrative that the Senate and the governor and the attorney general and the Virginia public are all on the same page,” said Parrish. “And it’s the House of Delegates that’s blocked any forward movement for the LGBT community.”

08
Jan
2014

Levine seeks U.S. House seat from Va.

Mark Levine, Democratic Party, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Levine (Photo courtesy of Levine for Congress)

Gay rights attorney and radio talk show host Mark Levine on March 9 officially launched his campaign for the U.S House seat in Northern Virginia being vacated by retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D).

At a rally in his Old Town Alexandria townhouse packed with supporters and family members, including his parents, Levine described himself as an “aggressive progressive” who will fight for the progressive causes and policies that he said many fellow Democrats have shied away from.

As a staff attorney for gay former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Levine said LGBT rights and marriage equality would be an important part of his campaign platform and would be at the top of his agenda if elected to Congress.

“I think all too often Democrats take what they can get and maybe cast a vote but aren’t out there changing the course of the debate,” he said.

“So those of you who know me and even some of you that don’t know me that well know that I’m really not a quiet person,” he said, drawing laughter and applause. “I don’t think we need quiet people in Congress.”

Levine is one of 11 candidates running in the hotly contested Democratic primary in a heavily Democratic district where the winner of the primary is expected to win the general election in November.

Among the others running are gay Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), and State Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax), who came out as gay last month in a column in the Washington Post.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which raises money for out LGBT candidates, has endorsed Ebbin. The group called Ebbin a champion for progressive causes and LGBT equality during his nine years in the Virginia General Assembly, both as a senator and former delegate.

Levine said he hopes to distinguish himself from his rivals by drawing attention to his experience in legal and public policy work for more than 20 years. He pointed to his stint as a congressional staffer and his outspoken advocacy for progressive causes, including universal health care, in his regular appearances on radio and TV political talk shows such as those on Fox News and MSNBC.

12
Mar
2014

Pride Parade Party

The Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health co-hosted a post-parade party at the end of the Capital Pride Parade Route. Guests included the NFL’s Chris Kluwe and several local politicians. The Pride Parade Party was sponsored by HAILO, DC Brau, Devil’s Backbone, Vino Lovers, Whitman-Walker Health, Flowers on Fourteenth, Miss Pixies and Chipotle. (Washington Blade photos by Damien Salas) Pride Parade 

09
Jun
2014

Terry McAuliffe sworn in as Virginia governor

Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe was sworn in on Saturday as Virginia’s 72nd governor. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

RICHMOND, Va.—Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Saturday became Virginia’s 72nd governor amid hopes his administration will extend rights to LGBT Virginians.

“An open and welcoming state is critical to the 21st century economy, but it’s also imperative for justice and fairness,” said McAuliffe.

The former DNC chair stressed throughout his inaugural address the economy remains among his administration’s top priorities. McAuliffe also said the commonwealth needs to “ensure that someone can’t lose their job simply because they are gay.”

“As the legislature and my administration work to diversity our economy, we need to remember that our sense of urgency is driven by those Virginians who struggle each and every day just to get buy and whose dream is simply to give their children the opportunities that may never have had,” said McAuliffe. “My administration will work tirelessly to ensure opportunities are equal for all Virginia’s children no matter if you are a girl or a boy, no matter what part of the commonwealth you live in, no matter your race or your religion and no matter who you love.”

Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring were also sworn in.

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Washington Blade in November after McAuliffe defeated then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the hotly contested gubernatorial race and Northam beat Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson that the election results were a “clear victory for equality” that brings “the promise of a new day for Virginia.”

McAuliffe, Northam and Herring support marriage rights for same-sex couples. The former Democratic National Committee chair later on Saturday is expected to issue an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT state employees.

“We couldn’t be more ecstatic,” Maggie Sacra, chair of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, told the Washington Blade earlier on Saturday during a brunch her group hosted at a downtown Richmond hotel.

Kathy Green of Henrico County said during the same event she feels former Gov. Bob McDonnell and Cuccinelli’s policies towards women’s reproductive health rights were “frightening.”

“Having Democrats in the statewide offices will really help to advance equal rights for our friends and co-workers and neighbors,” added Green.

Members of Public Advocate, an anti-LGBT group founded by Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delguadio, placed posters around the State House against the expected directive. They also handed out stickers that read “preserve traditional marriage” to passersby outside security checkpoints.

Lawmakers are expected to consider a number of LGBT-specific bills during the 2014 legislative session that began on Wednesday. These include measures that would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in Virginia, extend second-parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians and prohibit “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the commonwealth.

Eight lawmakers have also introduced proposed resolutions that would seek a repeal of Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban that voters in 2006 approved by a 57-43 percent margin.

A federal judge in Norfolk on Jan. 30 is scheduled to hold the first hearing in a case challenging the commonwealth’s gay marriage ban that Ted Olson and David Boies, who argued against California’s Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court, joined last September. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia in August filed a separate class action federal lawsuit against the state’s ban on nuptials for same-sex couples on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who were denied marriage licenses.

It remains unclear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish told the Blade during a Jan. 8 interview the tone from the governor and the attorney general’s offices will be “a 180” compared to former Gov. Bob McDonnell and Cuccinelli. He said the state House of Delegates will remain a barrier to advancing pro-LGBT measures even with McAuliffe, Northam and Herring in office.

“Now that we have a friendly administration in the governor and the attorney general’s office, it will allow us to better make the narrative that the Senate and the governor and the attorney general and the Virginia public are all on the same page,” said Parrish.

Equality Virginia is among the groups that marched in the inaugural parade after McAuliffe, Northam and Herring took office. It is the first time an LGBT organization had been invited to take part in the quadrennial event.

Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade, Richmond

Equality Virginia was among the groups that marched in the Inauguration parade in Richmond, Va., on Saturday. It was the first time an LGBT group took part in the quadrennial event. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Bokenkamp/Equality Virginia)

11
Jan
2014

Ebbin finishes fourth, Levine eighth in straw poll

Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

Gay congressional candidates Adam Ebbin and Mark Levine finished in fourth place and eighth place respectively in an unscientific straw poll conducted March 17 in a race in which 11 Democrats are competing in a June 10 primary for the 8th District U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

Former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, who’s considered the frontrunner in the race, finished first with 127 votes. Ebbin received 41 votes, with Levin receiving 22 votes.

The straw poll was conducted by the campaign of Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), whose 11th District boarders on the 8th District. Donald Brownlee, a Connolly campaign official, said the straw poll was taken at Connolly’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party in Fairfax just across the border from the 8th District. He said a majority of the attendees that participated in the poll are residents of the 8th District.

“We are neutral in the race,” he said of the 8th District contest. Connolly is running unopposed in the primary.

Beyer came in first place in another straw poll on March 1 conducted within the 8th District by the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee at the committee’s annual Mardi Gras party. Ebbin came in fifth and Levine came in 10th in that poll, which organizers also said was unscientific. Just over 400 people voted in the poll.

“Adam is proud of the support he’s gotten across the 8th District as the campaign continues to gain momentum,” said Michael Beckendorf, Ebbin’s campaign manager, who declined comment on the straw polls.

Levine said most straw polls are conducted at political fundraisers where people pay to attend, as was the case with the two straw polls for the 8th District congressional race.

“They are useful as good fundraisers,” he said. “But the only real poll will be the one on June 10.”

19
Mar
2014

Beyer defeats Ebbin, Levine in Va. congressional race

Adam Ebbin, Mark Levine, gay news, Washington Blade

Adam Ebbin and Mark Levine on Tuesday lost to former Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Don Beyer in the Democratic primary to succeed outgoing Congressman Jim Moran (Photos courtesy of the Ebbin and Levine campaigns)

Former Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Don Beyer on Tuesday easily won the Democratic primary for the commonwealth’s 8th Congressional District to succeed outgoing Congressman Jim Moran.

Beyer defeated state Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) by a 46-18 percent margin. Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) came in third with slightly less than 14 percent of the vote.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille received slightly more than eight percent of the vote. Mark Levine, a gay talk show host who served as former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank’s legislative counsel, came in fifth with slightly less than seven percent of the vote.

Ebbin told the Blade after speaking to his supporters at Los Tios Grill in Alexandria that he offered to work with Beyer ahead of the general election in November.

“I’m disappointed for my supporters, but I think we made a great effort,” said Ebbin. “I’m proud of the people who helped me and proud to have been associated with the people who supported me.”

Levine also congratulated Beyer.

 

All of the Democratic candidates who sought to succeed Moran in Congress back marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues.

Ebbin, who is the first openly gay person elected to the Virginia General Assembly, earlier this year introduced a bill alongside state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees. Hope in January introduced a measure that sought to prohibit so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the commonwealth.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in February endorsed Ebbin’s campaign to succeed Moran, but the Alexandria Democrat told the Blade he feels the organization could have done more to support his bid.

“They had indicated this would be a priroity for them,” said Ebbin, noting he raised more than $300,000 during his congressional bid. “It was challenging to get off the ground the way we needed with more active support from them.”

Beyer’s win coincides with Dave Brat defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District in a stunning upset that has sent shockwaves throughout Capitol Hill and the Republican establishment.

Beyer will face Republican Micah Edmond in the general election to succeed Moran who currently represents Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The good news is Don Beyer will not have to serve in Congress with Eric Cantor,” said Ebbin.

The Washington Blade will have more details as they become available.

11
Jun
2014

Efforts to repeal Virginia marriage amendment blocked

Adam Ebbin, Alexandria, Virginia, Senate, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) in November introduced a resolution that sought to repeal a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Virginia lawmakers this year will not consider proposed resolutions that sought to repeal the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

State Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), chair of the Virginia House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee, on Jan. 9 announced it will not hear any so-called first reference constitutional amendments during the 2014 legislative session. He said his committee will instead consider them next year.

“Virginia Republicans refusal to even consider same-sex marriage is backwards and proving increasingly archaic,” said state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) in a Monday press release that announced Cole’s decision. “Marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other, in good times and bad.”

A House subcommittee last year killed Surovell’s proposed resolution that sought to repeal the marriage amendment that Virginia voters approved by a 57-43 percent margin in 2006. The Fairfax County Democrat on Jan. 8 introduced a bill that would repeal the commonwealth’s statutory ban on marriages and civil unions for same-sex couples.

“Virginians are ready to repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment,” said gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) earlier on Monday during a Richmond press conference at which state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), state Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County), Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish and Rev. Robin Gorsline of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia discussed their 2014 legislative priorities. “This unfair and discriminatory law denies loving couples the chance to build a life together, throwing up burdens that straight couples never have to face.”

The Richmond press conference took place two days after Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office.

The former Democratic National Committee chair on Saturday signed an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT state employees.

McAuliffe, Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples. It remains unclear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban in two federal lawsuits that challenge it.

Other 2014 legislative priorities for LGBT rights advocates include McEachin’s bill that would ban discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Henrico County Democrat has also introduced a measure that would allow public colleges and universities and municipalities to offer benefits to their employees’ same-sex partners.

“Discrimination is wrong, and we should be doing more to prevent it,” said McEachin on Monday.

State Dels. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) and Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) have introduced measures that would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in the commonwealth. Simon and state Del. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County) have also proposed bills that seek to add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

Yost and state Del. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would extend second-parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians. Hope on Monday formally put forth a measure that would ban so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in Virginia.

Cole did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

13
Jan
2014

Ebbin launches campaign for Congress

Adam Ebbin, Democratic Party, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Just call me a liberal,’ said Adam Ebbin. (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

Gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) on Saturday formally launched his campaign for the U.S. House seat in Northern Virginia being vacated by retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), telling about 125 supporters he will be a “champion for the underserved.”

Among those attending Ebbin’s campaign kick-off rally at Los Tios Restaurant in the Del Ray section of Alexandria were Alexandria’s popular former mayor and former State Sen. Patsy Ticer (D) and State Sen. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax). Both have endorsed Ebbin.

Sickles, who came out as gay in a Washington Post column in January, was among at least 11 candidates running for Moran’s congressional seat before dropping out of the race two weeks ago.

“In Congress, I’m going to be a champion for the underserved,” Ebbin said. “And that includes working people, LGBT people, women, the poor, immigrants, victims of human trafficking – anyone who has it tough.”

Ebbin noted that he spent nine of his 11 years in the Virginia General Assembly as a member of the Republican-controlled House of Delegates before being elected in 2011 to the State Senate.

“I’ve spent more than a decade passing progressive legislation through the General Assembly, including a hostile House of Delegates,” he said. “With me and supporters of principled legislation like Sen. Ticer I led the opposition to the anti-marriage equality amendment in 2006 that was recently overturned,” he said. “We have turned the corner and there is no going back.”

Ebbin was referring to a federal district court in Virginia that earlier this year declared the 2006 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in the state constitution a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Supporters of the marriage ban are seeking to appeal the court ruling, and the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among the other issues he will push in Congress, Ebbin said, are comprehensive immigration reform, environmental protection, protecting Social Security and Medicare, raising the federal minimum wage and “a real raise for federal workers.”

Mark Levine, a gay rights attorney, radio talk show host and legal counsel to gay former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is among what had been 11 Democrats competing for Moran’s congressional seat in the solidly Democratic 8th District. Another two candidates reportedly have entered the race in the June 10 Democratic primary.

The winner of the primary is expected to be the strong favorite to win the general election in November.

“In this race there’s a lot of candidates, and you’re hearing a lot of progressive slogans,” Ebbin said at his rally on March 22. “We’ve got someone who is a proven principled progressive. We’ve got someone who is the aggressive progressive and someone who is even a progressive warrior,” he said.

“And if it’s easier, just call me a liberal,” said Ebbin.

24
Mar
2014