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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.


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.


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.


Ebbin, Fisette on ‘short list’ for U.S. House seat in Northern Va.

Adam Ebbin, Jay FIsette, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (left) and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette are possible candidates for Congress. (Washington Blade file photos. Photo of Ebbin by Michael K. Lavers; photo of Fisette by Jeff Surprenant)

Political insiders in Northern Virginia have placed two openly gay elected officials near the top of a list of at least a dozen possible candidates considered qualified to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who announced he’s not running for re-election this year.

Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin, whose district includes parts of the City of Alexandria and parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties; and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, who represents the entire county, are well known and have longstanding ties to the 8th Congressional District, according to people familiar with the district.

Ebbin and Fisette are both Democrats. The 8th District, which Moran has represented for more than 20 years, is a Democratic stronghold. Virtually all political observers say the candidate that wins the Democratic primary scheduled for June 10 is almost certain to win the general election in November.

“The 8th District is a highly educated, progressive, engaged district that has embraced LGBT equality for years,” said Joshua Israel, former president of Virginia Partisans, a statewide LGBT Democratic group that recently changed its name to Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Virginia.

Israel says he knows most of the other candidates considering entering the race and all of them are strong supporters of LGBT rights, just as Moran has been a staunch ally of the LGBT community during his tenure as a congressman.

“The field will no doubt be an embarrassment of riches,” he said.

Fisette became the first known openly gay candidate to win election to public office in Virginia in 1997, when he won his race for a seat on the Arlington County Board, which serves as the county’s legislative body. He has won re-election four times since then by wide margins, with his latest electoral victory in 2013.

Fisette’s colleagues elected him chair of the five-member board in 2001, 2005, 2010, and again this year under a system in which the board rotates its leadership posts every year.

Ebbin became the first openly gay candidate to win election to the Virginia General Assembly when he won his race for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2003 in a district in Alexandria, which is his home base. He won re-election to the seat in 2007.

When a seat in the 30th State Senate district came open in 2011 Ebbin tossed his hat in the ring and won the Democratic primary in a hotly contested, three-candidate race by a three-point margin. He won the general election against a Republican opponent by a margin of 64.4 percent to 35.4 percent.

Political observers note that Ebbin is the only potential candidate for the 8th District congressional seat who represents parts of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, giving him an advantage in the June primary should he enter the race.

“With the 2014 legislative session just beginning, I am working hard every day for the people of the 30th District,” Ebbin said in a statement released last week. “I am honored that people think I’d make a good congressman, and I will give it the serious consideration it deserves,” he said. “I hope to have more to say about this in the future.”

Ebbin told the Blade on Monday that a report posted on Twitter by Virginia political blogger Ben Tribbett incorrectly claimed Ebbin announced his candidacy for the congressional seat at a Jan. 18 meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

“I don’t know why he tweeted that,” said Ebbin. “I didn’t make an announcement.”

Although Ebbin told the Blade he isn’t ready to announce his decision on whether or not to run, Charlie Conrad, vice chair of elections for Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Virginia said “the word is out” that Ebbin plans to run for the congressional seat.

“I’m supporting Adam,” he said. “He is very popular and very well respected.”

Fisette, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, had not made a public statement about whether he was considering running for the congressional seat as of early this week.

A spokesperson for the Virginia election board said that if the Democratic Party decides to hold a primary, as expected, rather than a caucus to nominate a candidate for the seat, candidates must file petitions with 1,000 valid signatures by March 27 to gain placement on the June 10 ballot.

Other potential Democratic candidates for the 8th District seat mentioned by political insiders  include Alexandria Mayor William Euille and former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley; Del. Charniele Herring (Alexandria); Del. Patrick Hope (Arlington); Del. K. Robert Krupicka Jr. (Alexandria); Del. Alfonso Lopez (Arlington); Fairfax Board of Supervisors member Jeff McKay; Del. Mark Sickles (Fairfax); and Del. Scott Surovell (Fairfax).

Surovell and Krupicka have sponsored bills in the House of Delegates in support of same-sex marriage rights. Hope has proposed legislation to ban “ex-gay” therapy for minors.

Chesterfield resident Maggie Sacra, the current chair of Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Virginia, which recently became an official arm of the Virginia Democratic Party, said the organization can no longer endorse candidates in a primary under party rules.

Thus the state’s largest LGBT Democratic group won’t be able to endorse Ebbin or Fisette should they decide to run in the primary. Sacra said the group nevertheless will be “very active” in the primary campaign by reaching out to all of the Democratic candidates to discuss their positions on LGBT issues and inform them of the issues of concern to the LGBT community.

“I think we will have a good group of candidates,” she said. “All are pro-equality.”

She added, “It would be a great thing for the state if we were to get an openly gay congressman,” noting that such a development would be an historic first in the South.

Israel, who lives in Arlington, said the LGBT vote could be a key factor in the primary if a large number of candidates enter the race.

“The biggest question is going to be how many people run and who is able to turn out a plurality of their supporters,” he said. “Given the number of potential candidates considering this race, one candidate with a particularly committed base of support could become a U.S. representative for decades to come.”

In August 2003, Fisette announced he would run against Moran in the 2004 Democratic primary at a time when Moran came under fire for what political observers called a series of widely reported “missteps.” Among other things, fellow Democrats criticized him for suggesting that the Jewish lobby was responsible for persuading President George W. Bush to start the Iraq war.

“Jim deserves credit for his past work, but it’s time to move forward,” the Free Republic blog quoted Fisette as saying at the time. “I’m convinced that there’s an overwhelming number of people looking for a change.”

But less than two weeks later, Fisette changed his mind and withdrew from the race, saying that while he had differences with Moran he agreed with the congressman on most issues and didn’t want to engage in a negative campaign.

“He made the very smart decision not to run,” said Nick Benton, the gay editor and publisher of the Falls Church News-Press and an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights. “It would have been very destructive of his future ambitions to run.” Benton has been a longtime supporter of Moran.

Moran defeated another primary challenger who ran against him in 2004 by a wide margin.

As of early this week, the only candidate to officially declare his candidacy for the 8th District congressional seat was Bruce Shuttleworth, a retired Navy fighter pilot and marketing executive.

“I have roomed with at least two gay midshipmen and I will be the loudest voice in the land for equal rights for all minorities to include our transgender brothers and sisters who remain outside a proper embrace,” he said in a declaration of candidacy statement.

Shuttleworth ran against and lost to Moran by a wide margin in the 2012 Democratic primary.


Anti-LGBT group: Va. marriage ban is ‘rational’

Josh Duggar, Victoria Cobb, Family Foundation of Virginia, Allison Howard, Concerned Women for America, E.W. Jackson, Norfolk, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Anti-LGBT groups on April 4 filed 21 briefs with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Photo courtesy of the Family Foundation of Virginia)

Anti-LGBT organizations on April 4 filed 21 amicus briefs with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“There is a rational and even compelling justification for the Virginia amendment and statutes,” wrote Mathew Staver in a brief he filed with the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., on behalf of the Liberty Counsel and the American College of Pediatricians. “The inherent harms of living a homosexual lifestyle and the inherent benefits of encouraging intact biological families for the rearing of children.”

The Liberty Counsel and the American College of Pediatricians told the 4th Circuit the “lack of exclusivity and permanence in same-sex relationships” and “the irresponsible sexual practices associated therewith greatly affect the health, safety and welfare of homosexuals.”

Staver in his brief included a statistic that says gay and bisexual men are roughly 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than “men who only have sex with women.” He also references Mark Regnerus’ disputed study that suggests children who are raised by their mother and father are better off than those who grow up with same-sex parents.

Frank D. Mylar, a Salt Lake City lawyer, argues in a brief he filed on behalf of the American Leadership Fund and 19 professors and scholars that marriage between a man and a woman is necessary for the procreation of children.

“This social institution is rooted in deep realities and oriented towards a purpose uniquely tied to its nature as the union of the sexes – a pairing that alone may naturally create a child and provide that child with a social context that accounts for his or her biological origins,” wrote Mylar.

Mylar also dismissed comparisons that U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen – who struck down the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban in February – and others have made between this case and the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1967 that found interracial marriage prohibitions unconstitutional.

“[Mildred] Loving, who, as per her name, seemed a goodhearted soul, equated the struggle for gay marriage with her own struggle for interracial marriage,” writes David Boyle, a lawyer from Long Beach, Calif., in a brief he filed with the 4th Circuit. “The judge in Bostic uses this idea… to justify mandating gay marriage in the Old Dominion. However, this well-intentioned idea lacks logical foundation.”

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr., writes in a brief he filed with the federal appeals court on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod that marriage as between a man and a woman is a “time-honored tradition.”

“We support the husband-wife definition of marriage because we believe it is right and good for children, families and societies,” said Picarello.

Steven W. Fitschen of the National Legal Foundation of Virginia Beach, Va., which filed a brief on behalf of Concerned Women for America, argues “homosexuals and lesbians are not politically powerless.” He notes recent polls indicate a majority of Virginians now support marriage rights for same-sex couples and the first executive order that Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed as governor bans discrimination against LGBT state employees.

The brief also references a Washington Blade article on the 2011 election of gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) to the Virginia Senate.

“The rapid shift in voter opinion evinces that homosexuals and lesbians do not need to shortcut the political process through judicial intervention,” writes Fitschen.

Attorneys general from Alabama; Alaska; Colorado; Idaho; Louisiana; Montana; South Carolina; South Dakota; Utah and Wyoming, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrison; the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Family Research Council, former National Organization for Marriage Chair Robert George and Ryan Anderson of the Witherspoon Institute are among those who also filed briefs with the 4th Circuit.

Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield last year challenged the commonwealth’s marriage amendment after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal – which filed a separate lawsuit last summer on behalf of Victoria Kidd and Christy Berghoff of Winchester and Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton – have been allowed to join the Bostic case.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski in January certified the ACLU and Lambda Legal lawsuit as a class action.

Attorney General Mark Herring earlier this year announced he would not defend the marriage amendment. He said on April 5 during the annual Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner in Richmond that same-sex couples are not seeking “special treatment” in the state.

The 4th Circuit on May 13 is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments in the Bostic case.

The Alliance Defending Freedom argued in a brief it filed late last month on behalf of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is necessary for the “procreation” of children. Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, III, has also challenged Allen’s ruling.

Staver and Eric Rassbach of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty both refer to a New Mexico photographer who challenged a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that said she violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when she refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s wedding ceremony because of her religious beliefs.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it will not hear the case.


Fisette not running for U.S. House seat

Jay Fisette, Arlington County Board, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette won’t run for Rep. James Moran’s seat. (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Gay Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette announced late Wednesday that he has decided not to run this year for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.).

Fisette was among about a dozen prominent Northern Virginia politicians, including gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin, mentioned by political observers as potential candidates to run in the June 10 Democratic primary to seek the nomination for Moran’s seat in the 8th Congressional District.

The overwhelmingly Democratic district includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties and most of the City of Alexandria. The winner of the primary is expected to easily win the general election in November.

“Many friends and colleagues have asked of my interest in running for this seat and have encouraged me to run,” Fisette said in a statement. “While appreciative of those comments, I have decided that I will not seek this position,” he said.

“One reason for my decision is the contrast between the dysfunctional climate on Capitol Hill and the can-do atmosphere in Arlington,” Fisette said. “The state of politics at the national level is disheartening, with the outsized influence of shrill, well-financed forces and the disintegration of sincere efforts to forge compromise, respect one’s colleagues and realize the potential of government to make people’s lives better.”

Fisette became the first known openly gay elected official in Virginia in 1997 when he won election to an at-large seat on the five-member Arlington Board, which serves as the county’s governing body. He has won re-election four times since then by wide margins, with his latest electoral victory last year.

Although Ebbin has yet to make an official announcement, a prominent gay Democratic activist in Arlington has said “the word is out” that Ebbin plans to run for the congressional seat.

Ebbin became the first out gay to win election to the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 when he won his race for a seat in the House of Delegates. He won election to the State Senate in 2011 in a district that covers most of the territory of the 8th Congressional District.

In a related development, the Washington Post reported that Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) planned to announce on Thursday he was forming an exploratory committee to assess whether to run for the 8th District congressional seat. Businessman and former Navy fighter pilot Bruce Shuttleworth announced his candidacy for the congressional seat last week. Both are Democrats who have expressed strong support for LGBT rights as have all of the Democrats thought to be considering running for Moran’s seat.

In his statement saying he isn’t running, Fisette added, “There are many qualified Democrats who could represent the Eighth District very capably. I will work with our party’s nominee to secure a victory in the November election and keep the Eighth District in the progressive ranks.”


Ebbin has earned our support in Va. House race

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

Adam Ebbin is running in a crowded field to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran in Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

Residents of the 8th Congressional District are in the midst of a unique Democratic primary to replace our retiring Congressman Jim Moran. At this point we have 12 candidates vying to show that they are more progressive than the others — regardless of when they adopted their progressive platforms.

After reading in the Blade about three out gay Republicans running for Congress in other states I realized that our nation has turned a major political corner.  With every candidate in this race fully supporting LGBT rights, marriage, non-discrimination, etc., we no longer have to focus on LGBT candidates in the same way.  In fact, I am strongly supporting Adam Ebbin for many different reasons.

Yes, many of us know that Adam, who 11 years ago became the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, was also the man who persuaded two governors to sign the first executive orders protecting LGBT Virginians from discrimination in state employment and the legislator who expanded life insurance benefits to domestic partners long before the current wave of marriage victories. But we have moved past the time when it was essential to support the out candidate because they were out.

Why then am I strongly supporting Adam in this race? The answer is simple: He is by far the most successful legislator in the race. Adam is that rare individual who upholds our progressive values while partnering with the other party to get good legislation passed. Democrats have been in the minority in the Virginia General Assembly until the recent switch in the Senate. Adam has never let that stop him from reaching out to Republicans and finding ways to get progressive legislation passed.

Adam has written good legislation and, most importantly, passed many bills. Thanks to Adam, pregnant immigrant mothers now have access to Medicare; hybrid car owners no longer pay a tax penalty; and every homeowner can install solar panels. In other areas, Adam passed legislation establishing mental health pilot programs in community colleges, led our Commonwealth in fighting human trafficking and won approval of legislation to enable lower interest rates on deferred property taxes for seniors.

I encourage you to compare Adam’s record and consider who can most effectively champion our progressive values in the highly partisan House of Representatives.

Please join me, the Victory Fund, Sens. Chap Peterson and Mark Sickles, retired Sen. Patsy Ticer and many others, straight and gay alike, in supporting Adam’s campaign. America needs his unique ability to bring together legislators with very differing viewpoints to pass progressive legislation.

Seth Morrison is a resident of Arlington, Va.


Gay PR exec considering running for Moran seat

Bob Witeck, gay news, Washington Blade

Bob Witeck is considering running for Congress. (Photo courtesy of Bob Witeck)

Bob Witeck, president and founder of the public relations firm Witeck Communications and a longtime LGBT rights advocate, says he’s thinking about running for the U.S. House seat in Northern Virginia currently held by Democratic Rep. James Moran, who’s retiring.

“I would say I’m talking to some folks about the idea,” Witeck told the Blade on Monday. “I would say my chances of doing it are not great but it’s something I want to consider before I would say absolutely not.”

Witeck said friends and supporters approached him about running and offered to help raise money for his campaign should he choose to enter the race.

As many as a dozen or more Democrats are considering or have announced plans to run for the seat in the 8th congressional district in the Democratic primary in June. The winner of the primary is strongly favored to win the November general election in the heavily Democratic district.

Among those expressing interest in running is gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), whose Senate district includes most of the sections of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County that make up the 8th congressional district.

Jay Fisette, chair of the Arlington County Board who’s gay, announced last week he isn’t running for Moran’s seat following speculation that he might become a candidate.

“I’m a native of the 8th District,” Witeck said. “I grew up there. It’s my hometown and a community I obviously care about.”

He said one factor making the race attractive to him is the idea of adding to the ranks of openly LGBT people in Congress.

“So there’s something I would want to give some serious thought to,” he said. “I think whoever is the nominee is going to be a very good one because we have a field of very strong people. So to me, getting behind someone is also very likely but at the same time I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Witeck noted that because so many people are likely to compete for the seat in the primary, garnering a plurality rather than an absolute majority of the vote would be sufficient to win the race.

“I think it means that individuals who may not be well known politically will have an opportunity to create a base,” he said.

Since founding the D.C.-based Witeck Communications in 1993, Witeck has represented some of the nation’s major corporations as clients, including American Airlines, Comcast/NBC Universal, NTV Networks, Volvo, and the U.S. Census Bureau. He is a recognized expert in advising businesses on how best to reach out and build bridges to the LGBT community.

Before starting his firm, Witeck served as senior vice president for the international public affairs and public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. Prior to that, he worked on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, serving as communications director for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and as a press secretary and legislative assistant.

Among those who have announced they are running for the congressional seat are Don Beyer, the Virginia businessman and former lieutenant governor; Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), who resigned from her post as chair of the Virginia Democratic Party to make way to run for the congressional seat; Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax); Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington); and businessman Bruce Shuttleworth, who lost to Moran in the 2012 Democratic primary.

All have records of support for LGBT rights.


Ebbin wins informal Alexandria straw poll

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

Virginia Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Gay Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) came in first place in an April 6 straw poll among voters in the June primary in which 10 Democratic candidates are running for the 8th District U.S. House seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

“We won last night not because our campaign bought the most tickets or because we have popular friends — we won because you and I know that Congress needs a representative who can get progressive legislation passed,” Ebbin said in an April 7 statement.

“The win shows the continued momentum my grassroots driven campaign has been gathering,” he said.

The straw poll was conducted at a “beer tasting” fundraising party for the Alexandria Democratic Committee at the Port City Brewing Company in which participants paid $40 for advance tickets or $45 at the door to gain admission. The Democratic Committee organized the poll.

Although not scientific, political observers noted that Ebbin, who received 90 votes, beat Alexandria Mayor William ‘Bill’ Euille, who came in second place with 68 votes, and former Virginia Lt. Gov. Donald Beyer, who came in third place with 62 votes.

Beyer, a businessman who has widespread name recognition, is considered by political pundits to be the frontrunner in the race.

Among the other candidates, Patrick Hope came in fourth with 58 votes; Charniele Herring received 21 votes; Laver Chatman received 12 votes; gay rights attorney and TV talk show host Mark Levine finished seventh with 8 votes; Satish Korpe came in eighth place with 3 votes; Derek Hyra finished ninth with 2 votes; and Bruce Shuttleworth finished tenth with 1 vote.


Adam Ebbin enters race for Congress

Adam Ebbin

Adam Ebbin (Photo courtesy Adam Ebbin)

Gay Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) officially tossed his hat in the ring on Thursday as a candidate for the Northern Virginia U.S. House seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Jim Moran.

Ebbin joins seven other declared candidates running in the June 10 Democratic primary for a seat representing the strongly Democratic-leaning 8th Congressional District. The district includes parts of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County.

Other Democrats are expected to enter the race in a contest where the winner of the primary is considered the odds-on favorite to win the general election in November. All of the declared and potential candidates that have surfaced so far are supporters of LGBT rights.

“Today, I am excited to announce that I will be running to succeed Congressman Moran,” Ebbin said in a statement. “For over a decade in Richmond, I’ve been a strong voice for progressive values who’s gotten results. I’ve fought to end human trafficking, to strengthen protections for seniors and the disabled, to ensure LGBT equality and to expand Medicaid in Virginia,” he said.

On the same day Ebbin announced his candidacy Alexandria Mayor William Euille declared his candidacy for the congressional seat.

Earlier this week gay public relations executive Bob Witeck of Arlington said he was considering running for the seat, raising the possibility that two openly gay candidates might be among the contenders for Moran’s seat.

Last week, Jay Fisette, chair of the Arlington County Board, who’s gay and who many considered a possible candidate for the congressional seat, announced he would not be running.

Others who have formally declared their candidacies include Don Beyer, the former Virginia lieutenant governor; and state Dels. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax), Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) and Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington). Also running is businessman Bruce Shuttleworth, who lost to Moran in the 2012 Democratic primary.

On the day of his announcement, Ebbin launched a campaign website,, and sent out a fundraising email to potential voters that includes a video of Ebbin discussing the issues he would work for if elected.

“In Congress, I will work with President Obama to protect the Affordable Care Act and ensure access to quality health care,” he said. “I will protect federal workers from mean-spirited attacks. I will work alongside representatives from every state and political party to raise the minimum wage, fight climate change, and ensure that we never abandon the promise of Social Security and Medicare,” he said.