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2013: The year in superlatives

2013, Supreme Court, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, Proposition 8, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay marriage advocates rallied at the Supreme Court earlier this year during oral arguments for two major cases. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The year 2013 will be remembered as the tipping point for LGBT rights, thanks largely to the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8. More states are marrying same-sex couples; we even have hints of a supportive new pope. So before we get too far into 2014, a look back at the 2013 year in superlatives.

Happy New Year and thanks for supporting the Blade.

 

2013, Edith Windsor, gay news, Washington Blade

Edith Windsor (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

PERSON OF THE YEAR: Edith Windsor. Forget Time and the Advocate — they both named Pope Francis person of the year — Windsor deserves this accolade for ignoring the advice of so-called experts and pressing ahead with her ultimately successful lawsuit that led to the demise of Article 3 of DOMA. She’s a remarkably courageous and fearless woman who deserves recognition and our gratitude.

 

MOST OVER-HYPED STORY: Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. President Obama had barely finished his eloquent, inclusive inaugural address when LGBT rights activists began laying the groundwork for Hillary’s inevitable 2016 run. Yes, she’s smart, tough and finally came around to endorsing marriage equality in 2013 but Obama represents a generational turning-of-the-page and we shouldn’t go back to the divisive, petty Clinton-Bush years. The U.S. isn’t a monarchy; we don’t need dynasties. We need new ideas, new leaders, a new generation stepping forward. Hillary has earned her place in history and the nation’s first female president will owe her a huge debt but let’s move on.

 

Anderson Cooper, CNN, gay news, Washington Blade

Anderson Cooper (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MOST SANCTIMONIOUS JOHNNY-COME-LATELY ACTIVIST: Anderson Cooper. After hiding in the closet for 45 years, Cooper finally came out in 2012 and suddenly he’s our most prominent scold — bravely taking Alec Baldwin and others to task on Twitter for their homophobic slips. Cooper should let GLAAD enforce all the politically correct language rules and stick to reading his CNN teleprompter.

 

BIGGEST TOOL: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. Talk about delusional. Roberts in 2013 snapped up Andy Cohen’s sloppy seconds and agreed to host the cheesy Miss Universe pageant for Donald Trump in Moscow. In defense of taking a paycheck from the homophobic birther Trump, Roberts inexplicably likened himself to Harvey Milk, writing that going to Moscow would somehow give LGBT Russians “hope.” Of course, Roberts didn’t even mention gay rights from the Miss Universe stage. He dutifully did Trump’s bidding, all the while giving cover to Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay crackdown. Shame.

 

Pope Francis I, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis (Photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho via Wikimedia Commons)

MOST IMPROVED: The papacy. Just a few years ago, the Blade featured Pope Benedict on the year-in-review cover, labeled “Public enemy No. 1.” What a difference Pope Francis has made. In less than a year, he’s questioned the church’s attacks on marriage equality and contraception and turned the focus back to serving the poor. He’s questioned capitalism and is a welcome voice for challenging income disparities around the world, arguably one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. economy.

 

LEAST CONVINCING CLOSET CASE: It’s a tie! Queen Latifah, who debuted her eponymous talk show in 2013, and longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, share this dubious honor. Latifah could have followed Anderson Cooper’s lead and come out just in time to juice ratings for her talk show. Instead she stubbornly refuses to answer “the question,” and in the process fools no one. Smith, meanwhile, made headlines in 2013 when two New York Times columnists debated the ethics of outing him. (This was old news to Blade readers — I wrote back in 2005 of Smith’s efforts to pick me up at a NYC bar.) Like Latifah, Smith is fooling no one and should finally acknowledge what the rest of the world has been whispering about for years.

 

MOST ANTICIPATED 2014 LOCAL STORY: The Maryland gubernatorial election. The primary is scheduled for June 24 and on the Democratic side, three candidates are vying to replace Martin O’Malley: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and lesbian Del. Heather Mizeur. Most expect Brown to win the primary but don’t count Mizeur out. With Gansler prone to gaffes and his campaign likely to implode at any moment, Mizeur would remain the only alternative to the bland Brown who is merely waiting his turn. Mizeur has made several bold policy announcements and, if she can raise the necessary money, could shock the political establishment to become the nation’s first openly gay governor (we don’t count former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey).

 

MOST ANTICIPATED 2014 INTERNATIONAL STORY: The Sochi Olympics. Will gay athletes protest? Who will lead the U.S. delegation? Will NBC do any tough reporting about Putin’s anti-gay crackdown or will the sunny, lobotomized Today show team engage in more Russia cheerleading? Will Rachel Maddow get to go? What will Johnny Weir wear? The anticipation is almost too much to bear.

01
Jan
2014

2013: The year in quotes

Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, gay news, marriage equality, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Washington Blade, quotes

Edith Windsor (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies … Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.” Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, reacting to be named one of the Top 3 individuals for “Person of the Year.” (Joe.My.God, Dec. 11)

 

“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life. My confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most-beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. “

Jodie Foster during her Jan. 13 acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards (ABC News, Jan. 14)

 

Cory Booker, United States Senate, New Jersey, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself. It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.”

Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker in a 1992 op-ed where he wrote about coming to terms with his negative feelings toward homosexuals. (Stanford Daily, Jan. 9)

 

“Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab”

NBA star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, responding via Twitter to someone using “you’re gay” as an insult. In 2011, Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling an NBA official a fag. (CBS Sports, Feb. 11)

 

“I don’t think it’s very controversial to suggest that a candidate who favors gay marriage and free contraception might have more appeal to a younger demographic. Does anyone want to argue … that there are more gay rights organizations on college campuses than in VFW halls?

— Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s lead presidential campaign strategist, in an op-ed about what caused Romney to lose to President Obama. (Washington Post, Feb. 24)

 

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is … incompatible with our Constitution.”

Former President Bill Clinton, in a column against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed in 1996. The law, which the Supreme Court will take up on March 27, denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states. (Washington Post, March 7)

 

“Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?”

One of several scenarios included in a Boy Scouts of America survey sent to members and their parents as the BSA considers whether to relax its ban on gay Scouts, volunteers and leaders. The BSA board may consider the policy in May. (Dallas Voice, March 11)

 

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, responding at the company’s annual shareholder meeting to a stock owner who questioned whether the coffee chain was being hurt by its support for same-sex marriage. (NPR.org, March 20)

 

“Life is life and love is love, and I’m just trying to be a better me, you know what I’m saying?”

Rapper Snoop Lion, asked by paparazzi his stand on gay marriage. “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies,” he also said. (TMZ.com, April 7)

 

“I think this is going to be good for a lot of black young people who want to come out. E.J. is going to be that symbol — a symbol of hope that they can now come and tell their parents, tell their friends.”

Basketball legend Magic Johnson, who came out as HIV-positive in 1992, on his support for his son, Ervin “E.J.” Johnson III, coming out as gay after being photographed by TMZ holding hands with his boyfriend. (Denver Post, April 7)

 

Jason Collins, Washington Wizards, NBA, gay news, Washington Blade, Sports Illustrated

Jason Collins (Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. … If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

NBA veteran Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, coming out in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. Collins becomes the first gay athlete in major U.S. men’s professional sports to come out during his career. (Sports Illustrated, released online April 29)

 

“In making the film, the socio-political aspect of it was not really in my mind but I was focused on … trying to make this relationship as believable and realistic as we could. When this issue comes up, of equal rights for gays, I am hoping 50 years from now we will look back on this and wonder why this was even a debate and why it took so long.”

Director Steven Soderbergh discussing his latest film, Liberace biopic “Behind the Candlebra,” which made its Cannes debut May 21 (Reuters, May 21)

 

Robbie Rogers, soccer, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Robbie Rogers (Photo by Noah Salzman via Wikimedia Commons)

“I’ve been on this huge journey to figure out my life, and now I am back here I think where I am supposed to be.”

Professional soccer player Robbie Rogers in a May 26 post-game press conference after his debut with the LA Galaxy made him the first openly gay athlete to compete in U.S. men’s professional team sports. Rogers, a former national team player, came out in April and announced his retirement. (YouTube, May 27)

 

“Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love … Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.”

Open letter from national LGBT organizations supporting a federal investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death after his accused killer was found not guilty. (Press release, July 15)

 

“We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of different races, religions, genders and national origins. Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, announcing new code of conduct that will be distributed individually to professional baseball players at every level of the game. (New York Attorney General’s Office press release, July 16)

 

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, telling reporters that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. The former pope, Benedict XVI, had said gay men should not be priests. (New York Times, July 29)

 

“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads.”

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, stating at a rally that homosexuality “seeks to destroy our lineage” and Zimbabwe will not “accept the homosexuality practice” even if it costs the country U.S. aid. (News Day, July 25)

 

“As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.”

White House press release announcing that Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut in space, will also receive the Medal of Freedom; she became known publicly as gay when her obituary listed her longtime partner. (Aug. 8)

 

“I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however, am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.”

Actress Raven-Symone, who gained fame as a child on “The Cosby Show,” coming out in a statement after tweeting, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” (Washington Times, Aug. 4)

 

“Dude, lesbians love me. I’m tall, I have a deep voice, I’m like, ‘Hello, catnip!’ Now that this show’s out I’m curious what happens from here because whenever I go out lesbians try to, y’know, turn me.”

Actress Laura Prepon, discussing playing lesbian drug dealer Alex Vaus on “Orange is the New Black.” (Canada.com, Aug. 1)

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

“Putin, end your war on Russian gays!” a shout by an unidentified man at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” Gay activists protested the opera to bring awareness to Russia’s law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” that President Vladimir Putin signed into law in June. (Sept. 23, The New York Times)

 

“I am usually a very strong and confident person, but I have my moments too. Although there was positive feedback, there was a lot of negative too, and the negative affected me more than it ever has before. I recorded this because I didn’t know how else to vent, I didn’t want to talk to anybody.” – Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a transgender teen who was named Huntington Beach high school homecoming queen, in a YouTube post where she was visibly upset by negative reactions. (Sept. 23, Los Angeles Times)

 

“Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.” Mary Cheney responding on Facebook on Nov. 17 to her sister’s response on “Fox New Sunday” saying she opposed same-sex marriage and that was an area where she and her sister disagreed. Liz Cheney is running for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

Compiled by Georgia Voice

 

01
Jan
2014

Spacing out the fun

Baltimore Pride, gay pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Baltimore Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride is far from the only gay Pride event in the Mid-Atlantic with fabulous festivities and must-see entertainment. Those celebrating the LGBT community can extend the fun by taking road-trips to festivals in Baltimore, New York, Frederick, Md., and Annapolis, Md.

CHECK OUT ALL OF OUR PRIDE COVERAGE HERE!

The Baltimore Pride Celebration has been Maryland’s largest LGBT visibility event since 1975. Baltimore’s Pride Parade and Block Party are on June 15 from 3:30-9 p.m. in the heart of the city’s historic gay neighborhood, Mount Vernon. The Pride Festival on the following Sunday is held in lakeside Druid Hill Park from noon-5 p.m.

Baltimore Pride attracts roughly 30,000 people annually from all over the Mid-Atlantic. This year, there will likely be an even higher turnout with “WeDo Baltimore,” a mass LGBT marriage ceremony during the festival on Sunday. Carrie Heirs, the event organizer, describes “WeDo” as symbolic of a turning point for Maryland.

“We’re doing the first ever LGBT mass wedding in Maryland. We just won the referendum, so it’s the first time we’ve been able to legally marry during Pride,” Heirs says. “I think it symbolizes what we as a community have always known. We’ve known this in our hearts always: love is love.”

Heirs says it’s time for Maryland to celebrate after years of hard work, but that does not mean the national struggle for LGBT equality is over.

“We are the first state below the Mason-Dixon line for this to happen. It wasn’t just a one-time shot. We’ve always been given the opportunity to celebrate our own uniqueness during Pride, but why not take this chance to say what this actually means,” Heirs says. “I think that we’re celebrating because it’s Pride month, but it should not just be in our state. It should be in all 50 states. It should be the law, the norm.”

In addition to “WeDo Baltimore,” this year’s Baltimore Pride is also introducing “Summer Reign,” a dance party for ladies 25 and over, at Paparazzi Nightclub (407 East Saratoga St., Baltimore) from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. on June 15. Early bird tickets are $10 and tickets the day of are $20. For details and to purchase tickets, visit sumreign.eventbrite.com.

The headlining performer at the Saturday Block Party will be Ultra Naté, a Baltimore native who has proven her talent in a wide span of genres, including R&B, hip-hop, soul, house, rock and electro-pop. J Pope and Funk Friday, a female soul band, headline the Sunday Pride Festival. Septimius the Great, who cites Madonna and Lady Gaga as musical influences, will also be performing at the festival, as well as the Baltimore-based reggae group Unity.

Other Baltimore Pride events include Twilight on the Terrace, a cocktail party benefiting Baltimore Pride on June 14 at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Dr. Baltimore) from 7-11 p.m., and the High Heel Race at 3 p.m. on June 15 (corner of Charles and Read Streets in Baltimore). For more details on Baltimore Pride, visit baltimorepride.org.

New York City Pride, of course, is a hugely popular weeklong celebration of LGBT visibility just a bus or train ride away. The NYC Pride Rally kicks off the week’s festivities on June 28 from 7-10 p.m. at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 in TriBeCa. The Rally features motivating speakers and popular performers who have yet to be announced.

The NYC Pride March has been an annual civil rights demonstration free and open to the public since 1970. The march starts on June 30 at 11 a.m. at 36 St. and 5 Ave.  This year’s grand marshals are Edith Windsor, Harry Belafonte and Earl Fowlkes. Following the march is PrideFest, a massive LGBT public street fair with vendors and entertainers on Hudson St. between Abdingdon Sq. and West 14 St. PrideFest is from 11 a.m. -6 p.m.

NYC Pride has many other events during the week, finishing with the glamorous Dance on the Pier party on June 30 from 3-10 p.m. on Pier 26 in Hudson River Park. Tickets are $75 and $125 for VIP passes, and all proceeds go to NYC Pride Week events and community organizations. For more details on NYC Pride, visit nycpride.org.

Frederick Pride 2013 is Frederick, Md.’s second Pride festival after a successful turnout at last year’s event. The gathering takes place in Utica Park (10-200 B Old Frederick, Rd., Frederick, MD) at noon on June 29. Tons of fun outdoor activities will be featured, including Capture the Flag, Football, Dodgeball and a pie-eating contest. For more information, visit the “Frederick Pride 2013” event on Facebook.

For late summer gay Pride, the Chesapeake Pride Festival will be held Aug. 3 from noon-6 p.m. at Mayo Beach Park (4150 Honeysuckle Dr., Edgewater, MD) in the Annapolis area. The afternoon will include a drag performance by Stormy Vain, as well as food, music and other activities. On June 22, guests can board the Richard Lee wooden tour boat for the Chesapeake Pride River Cruise from 6-8 p.m. to benefit Chesapeake Pride. Tickets are $40 and the boat will depart from the Discovery Village Marina (4800 Atwell Rd., Shady Side, MD). For more details and to purchase tickets, visit chesapeakepridefestival.org.

Other nearby pride events include OBX Pridefest in Outer Banks, N.C., the weekend of Sept. 13, Philly Pride this weekend and Pittsburgh Pride next weekend. Roanoke Pride is in September.

06
Jun
2013

A tribute to our hero, Edith Windsor

Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, gay news, marriage equality, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Washington Blade

Edith Windsor, whose suit went to the U.S. Supreme Court, finally toppling the anti-gay law known as DOMA. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like many I know, I’ve been on a high since the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court. Hero is a word too often thrown around loosely. Yet, Edith Windsor, 83, who fought against DOMA all the way to the nation’s highest court is a true hero.

Windsor sued the federal government after being told that she owed more than $360,000 in inheritance taxes after Thea Spyer, her spouse of more than 40 years, died. Spyer, a psychologist, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. As the season of LGBT Pride ends, and July, the month when Disability Pride is celebrated in many cities across the country, Windsor and Spyer’s loving relationship has a particular resonance for those of us who are queer and have disabilities.

Some may think this is a downer. Why, you might ask, bring up disability when we want to bask in the glow of DOMA’s defeat? Perhaps, you’re wondering, what do folks with disabilities have to be proud of? Contrary to these misgivings, I’m not trying to bring you down.  I’m telling you this to open your eyes to a vibrant, but largely invisible and uncelebrated, part of the queer community.

The story of Windsor and Spyer, whose love was celebrated when they got married in Canada in 2007 and again when New York recognized their marriage, is a stellar reminder that LGBT people with disabilities not only exist, but love, work, marry, and, even (you might want to sit down while reading this!) have sex.

I don’t want to sugarcoat what it means to have a disability or to love someone with a disability. As Spyer’s MS progressed, she went from walking with a cane to using two crutches to being in a wheelchair. Windsor retired early from her job to care for Spyer. Yet, as the couple discovered, despite these often painful, difficulties, disability and a joyful, loving relationship aren’t mutually exclusive.

The MS didn’t keep Windsor and Spyer from enjoying sex and intimacy.  In the documentary “Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement,” the couple (Spyer in her wheelchair) is shown dancing.  “I had read a lot of books and talked to people at Berkeley about this business of independent living for the disabled,” Windsor said in a “New York Times Magazine” interview, “There were warnings about what not to give up and how to handle it. I read all of that, and I knew what not to give up.”

Often, people believe that folks with disabilities are asexual (or sexual in an exotic, strange way).  “I’d like to be broadminded enough to date a woman in a wheelchair,” a queer, well-meaning, able-bodied friend once said to me, “but who knows what she might do.”  (She would have watched the movie, sipped her drink or whatever else one does on a date, I wanted to say.)

Sometimes we’re intellectualized. Once, I, legally blind, was in a lesbian bar in New York City. Seeing my white cane, a woman exclaimed,  “I love Helen Keller! She did great work! But what are you doing in a place like this?”

At times, disabled people are seen as folks who need to be healed. I respect religion. But faith-healing in the 21 century? Last month, at Whole Foods, a man said to me, “Your eyes make you look bad. Let me pray for you!”

The modern disability rights movement was started in Berkeley, Calif. and New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. People with disabilities began to insist that we’re fully evolved, loving, sexual, human beings.

Nearly one in five (51.2 million) Americans has a disability and from three to five million people are LGBT and have a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As we celebrate the heroism of Edith Windsor, let’s embrace the people with disabilities in our community.

Kathi Wolfe is a poet and writer. She is a regular contributor to The Blade.

03
Jul
2013

Christine Quinn seeks to be mayor of ‘all 8.4 million’ New Yorkers

Christine Quinn, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade

Openly gay New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is leading the Democratic Primary for mayor of America’s largest city. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Wednesday said she is running for mayor because she wants to ensure New Yorkers have the same opportunities her grandparents had when they immigrated from Ireland a century ago.

“This is the greatest city in the world,” she told the Washington Blade. “I want to be mayor because I want to make sure the power and the possibility that existed for them exists in greater amounts for New Yorkers in our city and all the immigrants who are coming here every day.”

Quinn, 47, remains the frontrunner among her Democratic challengers going into the September 10 primary.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on July 29 shows Quinn leading New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio by a 27-21 percent margin among likely Democratic primary voters. Former New York City Comptroller William Thompson, Jr., came in third with 20 percent, while former Congressman Anthony Weiner garnered 16 percent.

Quinn would become the city’s first female and first openly LGBT mayor if voters elect her to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion in November.

“We’re running to be the mayor of all 8.4 million people of all genders and all sexual orientations,” Quinn told the Blade, referring to a person whom she said whispered in her ear while on the campaign trail that her decision to run for mayor helped them come out. She said a man whom she hugged during June’s Brooklyn Pride had tears in his eyes. “It isn’t lost on me, the historic nature of this.”

Quinn also referenced her wife, Kim Catullo, whom she married in May 2012, as she discussed her campaign and the fact New York is a global financial capital.

“The top CEOs from all across the world, the leading international figures meet with the mayor of the city of New York,” Quinn said. “Their briefing will always talk about Christine Quinn and the wife.”

Quinn receives gay backing, criticism

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund; the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City; Empire State Pride Agenda and Edith Windsor, the Manhattan widow who successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court, are among those who have endorsed Quinn. She is also scheduled to attend two campaign fundraisers on Fire Island later this month.

In spite of this support, Quinn continues to face criticism from some LGBT New Yorkers.

She faced widespread criticism from LGBT Democrats and others in 2008 when she supported the extension of term-limits that allowed Bloomberg and other city officials, including herself, to run for a third-term. Quinn earlier in the same year also acknowledged a City Council slush fund appropriated more than $17 million to community organizations that did not exist since 2001.

Brooklyn attorney Garfield Heslop in June filed a complaint with the New York City Campaign Finance Board that asked it to investigate Quinn over more than $20,000 in contributions her campaign received from donors in Houston, San Diego and Chicago after she attended Victory Fund events in the three cities in 2011 and 2012.

Quinn’s spokesperson Mike Morey defended the campaign’s actions in a statement he sent to the Blade after news of Heslop’s complaint broke.

“The question I think really is about what I have done with my time in office,” Quinn said in response to the Blade’s request for comment on criticisms she continues to receive from Allen Roskoff, co-founder of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and others. She pointed out she has balanced eight budgets on time as speaker of the City Council and stopped Bloomberg from laying off 4,100 teachers. “Everyone who is running for mayor was opposed to it. They may have even gone to press conferences. They may have attended a rally. I’m the one who stopped those layoffs. I’m the one who kept every firehouse and every library open during the recession. That’s a record of results during my time as speaker.”

Quinn also criticized Weiner for referring to Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald as “grandpa” during an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) forum in Manhattan on Tuesday.

“There’s no reason for name calling, ever,” she said. “When people in public life are speaking of senior citizens, they should do it with respect and gratitude and not in a derogatory way.”

Quinn categorized the former congressman’s campaign as a “circus” in a statement she released last month after revelations that Weiner had sent lewd text messages to women after he resigned from Congress in 2011. She stopped short of saying he should drop out of the race.

“Anthony Weiner has clearly decided to run,” Quinn told the Blade. “Now it’s a question for the voters.”

Quinn weighs in on hate crimes, Russia

Quinn, who was executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project from 1996 to 1999, told the Blade that as mayor she would set a goal of the five boroughs “becoming a hate crime-free city” through working with the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, expanding the city’s anti-bullying curriculum and partnering with faith-based organizations. Her comments come less than three months after Elliott Morales allegedly shot Mark Carson, a gay man from Brooklyn, to death in Greenwich Village during what the NYPD has classified as a hate crime.

“That’s the work we have to keep doing until we get to the place where we get to zero as the statistics of hate crimes against any community,” Quinn said, speaking to the Blade shortly after she and other officials expressed outrage over racist graffiti that defaced a statue of Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn.

Quinn stopped short of calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country’s LGBT rights record. She praised President Obama’s decision to cancel a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that had been scheduled to take place in Moscow ahead of next month’s G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.

“We all need to focus immediately on doing everything we can as Americans and as part of a larger international community to change what is going on in Russia,” Quinn told the Blade. “We’ve all got to keep pushing to make change. It’s really a life and death issue.”

08
Aug
2013

Lopez to appear at HRC Dinner

HRC, Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Human Rights Campaign gives Jennifer Lopez its 2013 Ally for Equality Award at the sold out National Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl., N.W.) Saturday night.

Lopez has supported the LGBT community for years by donating to HIV/AIDS research and supporting marriage equality. Lopez also is the executive producer of ABC Family’s hit show “The Fosters,” the story of a multi-ethnic family raised by two mothers, that garnered backlash from One Million Moms for its display of a lesbian relationship.

The keynote speaker for the evening was to be Vice President Joe Biden, however he has subsequently cancelled amid the government shutdown. DOMA Plaintiff Edie Windsor and Attorney Roberta Kaplan receive the National Equality Award. Sara Bareilles also performs her new single “Brave.” For more information, visit hrcnationaldinner.org.

03
Oct
2013

Windsor to Supreme Court: Strike down DOMA

Edith Windsor, gay news, Washington Blade

Attorneys for Edith Windsor filed their against DOMA before the Supreme Court on Tuesday (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Attorneys for New York lesbian widow Edith Windsor are arguing that the Supreme Court should strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on the basis that it violates her right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

In a 63-page brief filed on Tuesday, Windsor’s lawyers make their case against DOMA — saying it furthers no federal interest in procreation or dual sovereignty with the states — and argue the law should be subjected to heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption it’s unconstitutional.

“DOMA’s discriminatory treatment of married gay couples violates Ms. Windsor’s right to the equal protections of the laws as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment,” the brief states.

Signers of the brief include private attorney Robbie Kaplan and attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, who filed the lawsuit on behalf on Windsor.

The case pending before the Supreme Court is known as Windsor v. United States and challenges Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Windsor is suing the U.S. government because in 2009 under the law she had to pay $363,000 in estate taxes upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. Married straight couples are exempt from the estate tax under current law.

A substantial portion of the brief is devoted to countering the arguments of the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which filed a brief in favor of DOMA in late January. Under the direction of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), BLAG has taken up defense of DOMA following the Obama administration’s announcement in February 2011 that it would no longer defend the law.

Windsor’s attorneys, for example, say BLAG’s argument that DOMA serves a federal interest by preserving marriage as one man, one woman to encourage responsible procreation “speaks volumes” about the lack of validity of the law.

“This one difference cannot explain the federal government’s decision to impose a sweeping disability on married gay couples that excludes them from countless federal programs and protections, and that only harms their children,” the brief states. “Because this distinction is based on the one feature that distinguishes married gay couples from married straight couples, what BLAG is really arguing is that it is acceptable to discriminate against married gay couples simply because they are gay.”

The brief from Windsor’s attorneys comes on the heels of a similar brief filed against DOMA before the Supreme Court by the Justice Department, which has assisted in litigation against the law. Both briefs argue that the court should apply heightened scrutiny to its review of DOMA.

Windsor’s attorneys makes the argument that DOMA should be subjected to heightened scrutiny because, like other suspect classes, gay people have suffered a long history of discrimination, sexual orientation is a central part of a person’s identity, and gay people lack power in the political process.

The brief also states that gay people should be considered a suspect class because sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to contribute to society.

“Despite pervasive discrimination, lesbians and gay men have served with great distinction in virtually every facet of American society, as artists, athletes, academics, soldiers, scientists, lawyers, judges, psychologists like Dr. Spyer, and computer programmers like Ms. Windsor,” the brief states.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals applied heightened scrutiny to DOMA in its ruling against the law. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will do the same, but if it did, that could have widespread implications on laws affecting gay people.

However, there’s a key difference between the arguments in the briefs with regard to how DOMA hold against an application of a lower standard of rational basis review. Windsor’s attorneys say the court should strike down DOMA even it applied this lower standard and didn’t apply heightened scrutiny. The Justice Department does not challenge the law on the basis of rational basis review, but admits DOMA would fail under a more searching form of that review.

The next step in the case is for other interested parties to file their friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of Windsor. Those briefs are due Friday.

The House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has 30 days to respond to the brief filed by Windsor’s attorneys. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 27 and justices are expected to render a decision before their term ends in June.

26
Feb
2013

Windsor: Oral arguments ‘went beautifully’

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Edith Windsor on the steps of the Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The New York widow who challenged the Defense of Marriage Act said after she left the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday she feels the oral arguments in her case went “really well.”

“I think it went great,” Edith Windsor told reporters during a news conference after she and her attorneys left the court. “I think it went beautifully. I thought the justices were gentle… they were direct. They asked all the right questions. I didn’t feel any hostility or any sense of inferiority.”

Windsor, who married her partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007, paid $363,000 in estate taxes after her 2009 death.

“In the midst of my grief I realized that the federal government was treating us as strangers,” Windsor said. “I paid a humongous estate tax. And it means selling a lot of stuff to do it, and it wasn’t easy.”

She also noted during the news conference that she did not wear a wedding ring when she and Spyer became engaged because she had not come out of the closet.

“I am today an out lesbian who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me,” Windsor said.

She added she remains optimistic the justices will rule in her favor.

“I think it’s going to be good,” Windsor said.

27
Mar
2013

Same-sex marriage supporters again gather outside Supreme Court

gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Several hundred same-sex marriage supporters once again gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as the justices heard oral arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

National Black Justice Coalition CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Tyler Deaton of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron and Earl Fowlkes of the Center for Black Equality are among those who spoke at a rally near the steps of the Supreme Court. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church gathered along First Street, N.E., but the vast majority of those who gathered outside the court backed nuptials for gays and lesbians.

“I think it’s important for all of us, regardless of whether we’re LGBTQ, to be here in support of change and [in] support of getting DOMA overturned and expanding federal benefits to all legally married couples,” D.C. resident June Crenshaw told the Washington Blade.

Yonkers, N.Y., City Councilmember Michael Sabatino and his husband Robert Voorheis visited Edith Windsor, the New York City widow who challenged DOMA after she paid $363,000 in estate taxes following her partner’s 2009 death, on Tuesday night. Sabatino told the Blade while he and Voorheis stood outside the Supreme Court with a sign that included a picture of them on their wedding day in Canada that she seemed “pretty relaxed” and “looked very well.”

“It was just great to spend a little quiet time with her before her big day today,” Voorheis said. “I am so excited about being here. It is a culmination of years of work to get to this point and I’m really optimistic. I’m really excited and I’m very proud of Edie.”

Brian Cain of Raleigh, N.C., held a poster with a picture of his husband Juan Grajales, whom he married last September in Mexico City, while standing near the court’s steps.

DOMA prevents gays and lesbians from sponsoring their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes, but Cain told the Blade he is hopeful the justices will overturn the statute that then-President Clinton signed into law in 1996.

“[Juan is] very proud that I’m here,” Cain said. “He is hopeful because this is all we have.”

Several thousand same-sex marriage supporters and opponents descended upon the court on Tuesday as the justices heard oral arguments in the case that challenges the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Golden State in 2008.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris told the Blade after yesterday’s oral arguments that she feels the justices will uphold two lower court rulings that found Prop 8 unconstitutional.

Crenshaw, who was outside the court on Tuesday with other same-sex marriage supporters, was less optimistic about the case’s outcome.

“There’s all kinds of possibilities,” she said. “I’m very hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide on the right side of the law and support equality.”

Shauna Vert of Ottawa said nuptials for gays and lesbians has “always been a no-brainer” to her. Canada is among the countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry, but she told the Blade she feels opponents of the issue have a right to their opinion.

“I’m glad they’re using their freedom of speech,” Vert said. “We’re going to win anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.”

28
Mar
2013

Year in review: DOMA, Prop 8 challenges advance in the courts

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The Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Supreme Court set the stage this year for what might be the demise of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act when it agreed to take up litigation challenging the anti-gay measures.

On Dec. 7, justices agreed to take up Hollingsworth v. Perry, the lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 8, and Windsor v. United States, a lawsuit filed by 83-year-old New York lesbian Edith Windsor seeking to overturn DOMA.

Ted Olson, one of the co-counsels representing plaintiffs, expressed optimism following the announcement that justices would rule against the California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2008.

“We have an exhaustive record on which to build this case, and it will be an education for the American people,” Olson said. “We are very confident the outcome of this case will be to support the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

The case comes to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in February ruled against Prop 8. Had the Supreme Court declined to accept the case, the ruling would have stood and marriage equality would have been restored to California.

The DOMA case comes to the Supreme Court after numerous lower courts determined the anti-gay law was unconstitutional. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals became the first appellate court ever to strike down the law and was followed by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. This year alone, four federal district courts also ruled against DOMA.

27
Dec
2012