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D.C. restaurant accused of anti-gay discrimination

Bidwell, discrimination, gay news, Washington Blade

A former waiter at the newly opened Bidwell in Union Market says his manager fired him for being gay. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. man has filed a lawsuit and a separate complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights accusing a manager at the newly opened restaurant Bidwell of firing him from his job as a waiter because he’s gay.

Jacques Chevalier, 22, says in the lawsuit filed Jan. 14 in D.C. Superior Court that manager Scott Wood fired him the day before the restaurant’s grand opening on Jan. 9, telling him he was not a “good fit” for the company.

Bidwell is the newest food-related business to open at the Union Market in Northeast D.C. near Gallaudet University. Nationally acclaimed chef John Mooney, who specializes in preparing dishes made from fresh, organic produce, is a principal owner of the restaurant.

When approached by the Blade at the restaurant on Tuesday, Wood said he would have no comment on Chevalier’s allegations.

Chevalier filed his lawsuit jointly with Cherokee Harris, who charges in the lawsuit that Wood fired her from her job as a server assistant because she’s black.

Court records show that Chevalier and Harris are representing themselves without an attorney. Chevalier said he has contacted the gay litigation group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund for legal help. He said a Lambda representative told him the group was considering taking his case and would inform him of its decision soon.

According to Chevalier, Wood hired him in late December after he responded to a help-wanted ad that the restaurant posted online. He said he never discussed his sexual orientation with Wood and Wood never raised the issue with him.

“Scott Wood most likely found out I was gay because of the handbags I brought to work,” Chevalier told the Blade. “That would be the way I would think he came to that conclusion. Heterosexual men don’t carry the bags that I carry.”

But he said it’s also possible that Wood learned of his sexual orientation in some other way.

Although the restaurant didn’t open officially until Jan. 9, Chevalier said the kitchen staff and servers were assigned to work as if it had opened during a trial period of about two weeks prior to the official opening when they waited on guests who ordered food.

He said he suspected something was wrong when he wasn’t chosen to attend special events the restaurant held “and when special guests came I was ignored or not introduced,” the said in the lawsuit.

“Scott Wood gave me funny looks. We were not trained properly like the other employees,” he said of himself and Harris. “The day after our firing we were replaced by Caucasians.”

Chevalier told the Blade that Wood told him that Wood, Chef Mooney and another restaurant manager thought “I was not a good fit for the company.”

“These three men could not have assessed me within that short period of time and determined that ‘I was not a good fit’ other than for the reason of me being gay,” he said.

Records filed with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration show that Bidwell restaurant is owned by Darien DC LLC and its three principal officials are Mooney, Michael O’Sullivan and Michael Laurent, according to ABRA spokesperson Jessie Cornelius.

In a Jan. 14 order, Judge Maurice Ross, among other things, called on defendant Wood to respond to the complaint by filing an answer within 20 days of when he was served papers notifying him of the lawsuit. Court records show he was served papers for the case on Feb. 5 and a notice of acknowledgement he was served was filed in court on Feb. 10.

19
Feb
2014

Mary Tuckey Requa dies at 65

Mary Tuckey Requa, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Mary Tuckey Requa, 65.

Mary Tuckey Requa died Dec. 16, 2013 at her home, according to her cousin, Susan McMillan. She succumbed to rectal cancer at the age of 65 and had been a Phelps, Wis., resident.

Originally of Lake Forest, Ill., Requa (who always went by “Tuckey,” her middle name) attended Marjorie Webster Junior College in Washington and continued to reside in Maryland for 34 years. In the 1970s, she worked for VIVA (Voices in Vital America) and for the Close-Up Foundation, which brings high school students to D.C. to learn about democracy.

For 20 years, Requa worked in theater administration, for Harlequin Dinner Theatre and NETworks, a theatrical production company that produces national tours of Broadway shows. She specialized in box office management as well as becoming an IT specialist. Requa, a lesbian, regularly sang and played guitar in Friday night cabarets at the theaters.

Requa was proficient in Spanish and in American Sign Language. She performed as a “voice actor” in musical theater productions at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University in Washington, serving as the singing voice for deaf actors who performed the roles using ASL. She was a great slow pitch softball player and played for the Montgomery County Gold Diggers women’s team from 1982-‘90.

She also enjoyed singing and playing guitar. She was an original member of the D.C. Area Feminist Chorus. One of her proudest moments was the chorus’s performance with Margie Adam at the “On the Road for Women’s Rights” concert in 1980. Tuckey performed both as a soloist and with friends at D.C.-area restaurants and clubs and at events, including at the Other Side, D.C. Pride, and at D.C. landmark club Mr. Henry’s. She also performed at fundraisers for several organizations, including a women’s shelter, My Sister’s Place. Requa performed on Judy Reagan’s 1982 album “Old Friends.” She sang with the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington and the Not What You Think a cappella ensemble for many years, and also played with the band, the Tom Boys. She loved nothing more than singing harmonies with friends. Requa loved her many guitars and treasured one originally owned by Steve Goodman whom she had opened for in Chicago in the ‘70s.

In 2005, Requa left D.C. to return to the Northwoods where her family had spent summers for more than a century. Requa moved to Phelps, Wis., and became the computer technician for the Phelps School District. She designed websites for local businesses through her Nakapaglaja Web Design. From 2005-2011, she co-hosted a local afternoon music show on public radio called “Your Favorites,” with her father Charley. She was the vice-chair of the WXPR board of directors. She was devoted to the town and volunteered countless hours for the Long Lake of Phelps Lake Association and the Phelps Chamber of Commerce. Requa was also an avid darts and horseshoe competitor.

She is survived by a large extended family and many friends.

Memorials can be sent to Patrick Requa (22486 West Illinois Route 173, Antioch, IL 60002). Initially, to be used to establish an osprey nest on Long Lake, a second memorial with the Phelps School District will also be created. A service and celebration of a great life will be held on July 27 at Hazen’s Inn, Phelps, Wis.

20
Feb
2014

Lawsuit by Gallaudet diversity official dismissed

Angela McCaskill, Wyndal Gordon, Maryland marriage petition, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Gallaudet University, Washington Blade, gay news

Angela McCaskill was suspended after she signed a petition to place Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination and defamation lawsuit filed by Gallaudet University’s former chief diversity officer against the university and two out lesbian faculty members who were accused of damaging her reputation by implying she held anti-gay views.

The lawsuit stemmed from an October 2012 decision by the university’s president to suspend Angela McCaskill from her job as Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion after news surfaced that she signed a petition to place Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum.

McCaskill, a Maryland resident, stated at the time that she signed the petition when it was being circulated at her church. She said her intention was to allow Maryland voters to decide on the gay marriage question and that she had taken no public position on the issue.

Some of the university’s gay students expressed concern that McCaskill’s decision to sign the petition was contrary to her role as chief diversity officer, which they said called for her to be sensitive to students and faculty who supported marriage equality.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accused Gallaudet faculty members Martina “MJ” Bienvenu and her partner Kendra Smith of pressuring Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz into violating the D.C. Human Rights Act by illegally suspending McCaskill.

The lawsuit called the suspension a form of retaliation against McCaskill for her decision to exercise her constitutional right to sign a petition on a pending civic matter.

In a 24-page opinion handed down on April 14, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg approved a motion by Gallaudet’s attorneys calling for the dismissal of the case on grounds that McCaskill “has not sufficiently pled facts to support any of her claims” of retaliation or discrimination.

Among other things, McCaskill’s attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, argued that the university’s decision to suspend McCaskill for signing the petition violated a provision of the D.C. Human Rights Act that bans discrimination based on “political affiliation.”

But Boasberg noted that the Human Rights Act defines “political affiliation” as belonging to or endorsing a political party. He said that provision of the act clearly didn’t apply to the university’s action toward McCaskill.

The judge similarly ruled that the university’s decision to suspend McCaskill because it believed her decision to sign a petition placing the gay marriage law before voters, where it could have been overturned, did not violate the Human Rights Act’s ban on discrimination based on her religion, race, or marital status as she claimed in the lawsuit.

McCaskill stated in her lawsuit that lesbian faculty member Bienvenu confronted her at a meeting and criticized her for signing an “anti-gay” petition.

McCaskill “attempted to shoehorn a First Amendment argument into her complaint against Gallaudet by dressing it up as an employment discrimination allegation,” Boasberg said in his decision.

“While a citizen has an unfettered right to petition her government, such a constitutional claim aimed at Gallaudet cannot succeed here, as the university and its employees are private parties not subject to the First Amendment’s strictures,” he said.

Boasberg’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit came several months after Gordon, McCaskill’s attorney, dismissed Bienvenu and Smith from the lawsuit while raising the possibility of filing a separate lawsuit against them in D.C. Superior Court.

Gordon couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether he and McCaskill plan to file a separate lawsuit against Bienvenu and Smith. Justin M. Flint, the attorney representing Bienvenu and Smith, didn’t immediately return a call from the Blade seeking comment.

23
Apr
2014

Gallaudet expands LGBTQA Resource Center

LGBTQA Resource Center, Gallaudet University, gay news, Washington Blade

Gallaudet University (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gallaudet University recently hired its first full-time staff member to coordinate an expanded Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Ally (LGBTQA) Resource Center that was created in 2011 with little notice beyond the university’s Northeast Washington campus.

Kaitlin Luna, the university’s Coordinator of Media and Public Relations, said faculty and administrators at the nationally acclaimed college for the deaf and hard of hearing have recognized similarities between the deaf and LGBT communities.

“The Deaf Community and the LGBTQA Community have many parallels,” Luna said in an email to the Blade. “Both have fought discrimination, oppression, and misconception and both are making strides toward equality.”

Cara Miller, who received her doctorate degree in clinical psychology at Gallaudet in 2011 and was named coordinator of the LGBTQA Resource Center in February of this year, told the Blade in a separate email that the Center has expanded its reach since its founding in 2011.

“Previously the Center was voluntarily staffed by students who went above and beyond to seek resources and offer LGBTQA programming, on top of attending to their academic responsibilities,” she said.

According to Miller, although students have played a key role in the operation of the Center it has always been a university program operating out of the Office of Diversity and Equity for Students (ODES).

It’s currently located in ODES suite of offices in Hall Memorial Building and includes a lounge called The HangOut, Miller said.

02
Jul
2014

Gallaudet official sues after marriage flap

Angela McCaskill, Wyndal Gordon, Maryland marriage petition, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Gallaudet University, Washington Blade, gay news

Gallaudet University Chief Diversity Officer Angela McCaskill (left) says the school discriminated against her after she signed an anti-gay marriage petition last year. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gallaudet University’s chief diversity officer filed a $16 million discrimination and defamation lawsuit on Sept. 27 against the university and two out lesbian faculty members on grounds that they “tarnished” her professional reputation by implying she held anti-gay views.

The university’s president suspended Angela McCaskill from her job as Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion last October after news surfaced that she signed a petition to place Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the November ballot in a voter referendum.

McCaskill, a Maryland resident, explained at the time that she signed the petition when it was circulated at her church. She said her intention was to allow Maryland voters to decide on the gay marriage question and that she had taken no public position on the controversial issue.

The 39-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accuses Gallaudet faculty members Martina “MJ” Bienvenu and Kendra Smith of pressuring Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz into violating the D.C. Human Rights act by illegally suspending McCaskill.

The lawsuit calls the suspension a form of retaliation against McCaskill for her decision to exercise her constitutional right to sign a petition on a pending civic matter.

A Gallaudet spokesperson told the Washington Post the university would have no comment on the lawsuit. Bienvenu and Smith couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. At the time of McCaskill’s suspension last October the two women told the Blade through an intermediary that they had no comment on the matter.

McCaskill’s lawsuit comes nine months after Gallaudet President Hurwitz reinstated McCaskill to her job in January. McCaskill states in her lawsuit that Hurwitz reinstated her to a slightly different position that represents a demotion.

“[O]n or about October 7-8, 2012, co-defendant, Bienvenu, and her same-sex partner, Smith, began making false and malicious statements that plaintiff was ‘anti-gay,’” the lawsuit says.

“[A]nd on those same dates, from the university campus, co-defendants, Bienvenu and Smith, falsely reported to PlanetDeafQueer.com, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (‘LGBT’) publication, that plaintiff, Gallaudet University Chief Diversity Officer, was ‘anti-gay’ in an article entitled ‘Gallaudet’s Chief Diversity Officer Sign’s Anti-gay Petition,’” the lawsuit states.

It adds, “Co-defendant, Bienvenu, and her same-sex partner, Smith, further falsely stated, ‘[S]igning that petition is an act against many of Gallaudet’s constituents.’”

The lawsuit charges Gallaudet University and Bienvenu and Smith with one count of a D.C. Human Rights Act violation, two counts of defamation, two counts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and one count of invasion of privacy.

The suit seeks $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages for the first count of a Human Rights Act violation and $1.5 million in compensatory and $1 million in punitive damages for each of the remaining counts. The total amount of damages sought by the lawsuit comes to $16 million.

The decision to suspend McCaskill came at a time when LGBT students at the school raised concerns about the appropriateness of McCaskill appearing to side with anti-gay groups that were pushing the ballot referendum while she served as chief diversity officer, a position thought to be a manifestation of the school’s support for equality for everyone, including gay people.

“The plaintiff explained that her signature on the petition solely represented her desire to have the same-sex marriage issue vetted through public discourse so that Maryland voters could become more understanding, informed, and enlightened about the issue once they entered the polls,” the lawsuit says.

“Plaintiff further explained that it was not an ‘anti-gay’ petition and plaintiff’s signature thereupon did not express an opinion on same-sex marriage one way or another,” it says.

According to the lawsuit, Bienvenu acted in a hostile way toward McCaskill after the two met last October at Bienvenu’s request to discuss revelations that McCaskill signed the marriage petition.

“…Co-defendant Bienvenu responded in a very animated manner with her sign-voice elevated, exclaiming, ‘I am really disgusted with you!” the lawsuit says. “She asked rhetorically, ‘Are you still a member of that church?’ and then criticized plaintiff’s Christian faith and belittled her religious beliefs,” the lawsuit says.

The Gallaudet website identifies Bienvenu as a professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. It says she received a doctorate degree in linguistics in 2003 and served as co-chair of the Deaf Lesbians Festival from 2000 to 2004.

The website identifies Smith as chairperson of the Gallaudet Department of Counseling. She has a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Counseling Education and Supervision. Among the areas she specializes in is “gay/lesbian/bisexual identity development and issues in counseling,” the website says.

03
Oct
2013

Betty Miller, 78

Betty G. Miller, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Betty G. Miller

Betty Gloria Miller died Dec. 3 of sepsis, a toxic bacterial infection that led to kidney failure, according to her partner of 25 years, Nancy Creighton. She was 78. She had lived in Philadelphia for about eight years but spent most of her adult life in Washington.

Born in Chicago, she was the third child, and the only daughter of Ralph Reese Miller, Sr. and Gladys Hedrick Miller. Both parents were deaf and her two older brothers, Ben and Ralph, were hearing. Betty was hard of hearing much of her life; she lost her hearing completely in her 50s as a result of a high fever.

Betty was known as a pioneer in two fields. She was nicknamed the “Mother of De’VIA” (Deaf View Image Art), a genre that intentionally expresses the deaf experience through art. She was also a pioneer in counseling deaf alcoholics and substance abusers, and author of “Deaf & Sober: Journeys through Recovery,” published by the National Association of the Deaf.

She taught art at Gallaudet College (now University) in Washington for 17 years, and was the first deaf woman who graduated from Gallaudet (1957) to earn a doctoral degree (in Art Education, Pennsylvania State University, 1976). She co-founded Spectrum, Focus on Deaf Artists in Austin, Texas in the late 1970s.

Long active in civic endeavors, she worked for and supported Deafpride Inc. in Washington. She was a member of the first board of directors for Deaf Women United and designed its first logo. Later, she was president of D.C. Association of the Deaf.

She is survived by Creighton and many friends. She also leaves behind a large body of artwork —  paintings, drawings, mixed media artwork and neon sculptures — in private collections throughout the world.

An open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting will be held this month with a memorial service planned for later in the year.

Donations in her memory may be made to De’VIA (nad.org), the D.C. Association of the Deaf (dcdeaf.org), Gallaudet University (giving.gallaudet.edu) or Deaf Women United (dwu.org).

09
Jan
2013

Queery: Mae Aquene Sellers

Mae Sellers, gay news, Washington Blade

Mae Sellers (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mae Aquene Sellers came to Washington to study at Gallaudet University and stayed after she graduated two years ago.

Working as an artist and graphic designer for various local and national organizations and individuals, the 43-year-old Austin, Texas native also considers herself a feminist. Deaf herself, she also volunteers extensively with the metro area’s deaf, hard of hearing and deaf/blind community. She’s in the process of applying for graduate school.

Sellers recently finished work on a community needs assessment project for the LGBT deaf local community. Started in October 2011, the project was initiated by the D.C. Center and Brother Help Thyself, which provided a grant. She and Alex Jackson-Nelson spent many months exploring the basic issue of “What are the strengths and needs of the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind LGBT community in the D.C. metro area?” They present their findings this evening at the Ole Jim Alumni House at Gallaudet University at 5:15 p.m. The presentation will last about one hour with entertainment to follow. The program is open to the public. Visit thedccenter.org for details.

Sellers says the research data will “inform and impact community engagement and focus action toward community improvement.”

Researchers hope to “create a platform for policy change and development” with the findings.

Sellers also works as an ASL interpreter and coach.

She’s single and lives in Washington. She enjoys art, social activities, spirituality, dance and nature exploration in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I knew I was born gay as early as 16 and at that time I knew that I was born this way but I wasn’t exposed to the queer community then and I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted at my school. However, I came out and everyone accepted me. The hardest person to tell was my family, my dad, mom and sister.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Everyone who is LGBTQ is my LGBTQ hero.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Phase 1 on 8th street S.E., it’s my best nightspot since they provide awesome drag king shows. They have some deaf performances and always provide an ASL interpreter and have the best kamikaze shots in town. I am inspired by Phase 1 for so deeply accepting and involving the deaf community. It’s a beautiful collaboration and big thanks to many people, including Stephanie Johnson (Butta) for making this happen.

Describe your dream wedding.

I’m not a wedding person but when I get married I want a simple ceremony with just me, my womyn and our officiant. Then I want to have a big celebration with our community so we can dance our asses off.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about domestic violence and sexual assault education and prevention as well as mental health advocacy. I’d like to set up an art therapy program for deaf youth, deaf folks in recovery and survivors where they could create art and then have their art displayed in a public gallery.

Which historical outcome would you change?

I believe that the past teaches us important lessons to encourage us to grow. I don’t use the word “history” because I feel strongly that this word does not encompass the female experience.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Maybe you’re surprised because I’m deaf, but I am able to hear the beats, not the words. I went to Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas and we all loved to watch that video and we all learned the whole dance and performed it at our senior night. It was a bit out of control briefly as a ton of students in the audience were inspired and ran onto the stage and danced with us. It was awesome and definitely memorable.

On what do you insist?

Respect with love and acceptance. Treat everyone equally.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

The “B Sign” Gallaudet University video: the video is dedicated to LGBTQ survivors. It’s about bullying on campus amongst LGBTQ students/people and I was fortunate to be involved in the making of this video.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Warped Art Mind”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I love who I am. Nothing I want to change.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in a deep spiritual world and that everything happens for a reason.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Be yourself and empower others with love.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Peace and love.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

People think I am butch just because I look and dress this way. I don’t identify as butch and when people tell me I’m butch I say that I dress this way because I am an artist.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Fingersmith”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Deaf LGBT coffee gatherings

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Award, Gallaudet University, Washington D.C., April 2011; Liberace Award for Excellence, Art Department, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, April 2011

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I don’t wish I knew anything different at age 18 because I had to learn from my experiences in order to grow from them.

Why Washington?

I came here to attend Gallaudet University and I’ve been living here for the past two years since graduation. The deaf and queer communities here are awesome and I value and enjoy the social opportunities and support systems.

27
Feb
2013

Calendar: Through March 7

Red and Glue Abstract, Sarah Alexander, Bits and Pieces, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Red and Glue Abstract’ is one of many pieces by Sarah Alexander that will be exhibited in her show “Bits and Pieces” at Foundry Gallery. The opening reception is tonight at 6 p.m. (Image courtesy Foundry)

Friday, March 1

Adodi-D.C. Black Same Gender Loving Men’s social group hosts a potluck at the Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., NW) this evening at 7 p.m. The night will include a discussion about internal and external homophobia in the black same-gender loving community. Attendees are asked to bring food to share with others. For more information, visit mccdc.com.

Foundry Gallery (1314 18th St., NW) hosts the opening reception for the show “Bits and Pieces,” photographs on canvas by Sarah Alexander starting at 6 p.m. For more information, visit foundrygallery.org.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. This event is for people 21 and older.  There is no cover charge.  Later in the evening, the club will be hosting “So, you think you’re a drag queen?” to find the newest drag talent in the area. Contestants will be judged on performance ability, outfits, attitude and the ability to navigate a contest that requires them to do “ridiculous feats of drag-agility!” This will be a monthly contest. In order to participate, sign up during the drag show a month before the contest. The club will take the first six contestants to sign up monthly. Winners will receive $200 and the title of the month’s winner. All winners are eligible for a final competition at the end of the year. For attendants of the show, the cover is $5 before 11 p.m. and $10 after for anyone 21 and older. For 18-20 year olds, cover is $10. For details, visit towndc.com.

Saturday, March 2

Unity Fellowship Church D.C., a mostly black LGBT church, holds its annual Prayer Breakfast and Women’s Health Conference at Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., NW) today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The keynote speaker is Mandy Carter. Registration is $50 per person. For more information, visit ufcdc.com.

The annual Rainbow Families dance takes place tonight from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th St., NW). The party is especially good for those who are older than 4, but there is a quiet room for younger children. There will be a family friendly DJ, games, pizza dinner and desserts. Tickets for adult members is $10, non-members is $13, children 5 and up are $5 and children 4 and under are free. For more information, visit rainbowfamiliesdc.org.

Burgundy Crescent volunteers this morning at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., NE) at 8 a.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. The shifts are limited to 10 per shift. Burgundy Crescent also volunteers today for the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation at Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) starting at 11:45 a.m. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega returns to Sixth and I Historic Synagogue (600 I St., NW) tonight at 8 p.m. She began writing poetry and music as a young girl and she attended the New York High School of the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35. For more information, visit sixthandi.org.

Honey Mahogany from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” comes to Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight at 10 p.m. In 2011, Mahogany was voted San Francisco Weekly’s Readers’ Poll “Best Drag Queen 2011,” was on San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Hot Pink List of “queers to watch” and was the cover girl for the Guardian’s 2011 Queer Issue. Her hit single, a cover of Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” was chosen one of the best cover songs of the year by Limelight. Cover is $8 before 11 p.m. and $12 after. For more information, visit towndc.com.

Sunday, March 3

Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., NW) holds its weekly 9 and 11 a.m. worship services. The church is the region’s largest mostly LGBT church. For more information, visit mccdc.com.

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS starts today at noon and ends March 9. Congregations from around the nation will be participating in the promotional campaign by incorporating lessons about HIV and showing compassion toward those with the virus. For more information about the week or to see how your congregation can get involved, visit nationalweekofprayerforthehealingsofaids.org.

Monday, March 4

Bears do Yoga takes place this evening 6:30 p.m. as part of a series at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). This is part of a basic yoga series that takes place every Monday and is open to people of varying body types and experience. There is no charge. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Lambda Squares holds its dance series tonight at 7:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, NW). The only square dance club located in Washington, the mostly LGBT group invites everybody to learn square dancing in just 16 Mondays. No special outfits, partner or prior dance experience is needed. The cost is $100. For more information or to register, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Tuesday, March 5

Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) hosts its Safer Sex Kit-packing program tonight from 7-10:30. The packing program is looking for more volunteers to help produce the kits because they say they are barely keeping up with demand. Admission is free and volunteers can just show up. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, March 6

The D.C. Center and Gallaudet University hold a special lecture titled “Sexuality and HIV/AIDS: Special Challenges for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adolescents” by Joan Garrity of Garrity Health Consulting and Training starting at noon today at Gallaudet University’s Merrill Learning Center (800 Florida Ave., NE). Attendees are asked to RSVP to Ashleigh.Doop@gallaudent.edu. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Thursday, March 7

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) is hosting its weekly Best Package Contest tonight at 9 p.m. There is a $3 cover and there are $2 vodka drinks. Participants in the contest can win $200 in cash prizes. The event is hosted by Lena Lett and music by DJ Chord, DJ Madscience, and DJ Sean Morris. For details, visit cobaltdc.com.

28
Feb
2013

Friday findings

Gallaudet University, gay news, Washington Blade

Gallaudet University (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Center celebrates the results of a study that assessed the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community this evening from 5:15-8 p.m. The event takes place at the Ole Jim Alumni House at Gallaudet University (800 Florida Ave., N.E).

In the past year the D.C. Center with a grant from Brother Help Thyself had a team of professionals and service providers assess the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community in the Washington area. This celebration reveals the results of those findings.

Light appetizers will be provided along with a cash bar. For more information visit thedccenter.org.

28
Feb
2013

Year in review: Gallaudet suspends administrator for signing marriage petition

Angela McCaskill, Wyndal Gordon, Maryland marriage petition, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Gallaudet University, Washington Blade, gay news

Angela McCaskill (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The suspension of a senior Gallaudet University administrator who signed the petition that prompted a referendum on Maryland’s same-sex marriage law sparked outrage a little more than a month before Election Day.

Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz on Oct. 10 announced he had placed Dr. Angela McCaskill, who is the D.C. school’s chief diversity officer, on paid administrative leave after two lesbian faculty members filed a complaint after they discovered she signed the petition. McCaskill, who has been in her current position since Jan. 2011, identified the women as Martina “MJ” Bienvenu and Kendra Smith during an Oct. 17 press conference in Annapolis.

“I was shocked, hurt, insulted,” she said through an interpreter, stressing Hurwitz had sought to punish her for her decision to sign the same-sex marriage referendum petition as a private citizen. “They have attempted to intimidate me and tarnish my reputation.”

Same-sex marriage opponents immediately sought to highlight McCaskill’s suspension as an example of the consequences those who oppose nuptials for gays and lesbians could face if voters upheld the law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March — the Maryland Marriage Alliance launched an ad that featured McCaskill. Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which backed the same-sex marriage law, and the governor also criticized her suspension.

Clergy on both sides of the issue spoke out against the university’s decision to place McCaskill on administrative leave.

“It is unacceptable for Dr. McCaskill to be professionally sanctioned for merely exercising her right as a citizen in our democracy,” Revs. Donté Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore and Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, who both endorsed the same-sex marriage law, said in a joint statement that announced they were to hold weekly protests outside Gallaudet to urge administrators to reinstate McCaskill. “Our advocacy for marriage equality is about protecting the rights of all people, gays and lesbians, as well as those who may have a traditional view of marriage.”

27
Dec
2012