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ENDA’s long, frustrating path

Bella Abzug, ENDA, Democratic Party, New York, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Bella Abzug (Photo public domain)

May 1974 — Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), along with Rep. Ed Koch (D-N.Y.), introduce the Equality Act, which would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation under the protected classes for employment as well as housing and public accommodations.

 

Gerry Studds, ENDA, Democratic Party, Massachusetts, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Gerry Studds (Washington Blade photo by Clint Steib)

June 1994 — Gay Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) introduces the modern version of ENDA, which includes protections only for employment.

 

Ted Kennedy, ENDA, Democratic Party, United States Senate, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Edward Kennedy (Washington Blade photo by Doug Hinckle)

July 1994 — Under the leadership of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Senate Committee on Labor & Human Resources holds the first-ever congressional hearing on ENDA. Lesbian attorney Chai Feldblum is among the witnesses.

October 1994 — Running for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney pledges in a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans to co-sponsor ENDA “and if possible broaden to include housing and credit.” Romney would later say in 2006 he sees no need for ENDA before he pursued his presidential bid.

September 1996 — A deal is struck in the Senate to bring ENDA to a floor vote along with the Defense of Marriage Act. Although DOMA passes the Senate by a wide margin, ENDA fails narrowly by a 49-50 vote.

 

Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, Arkansas, gay news, Washington Blade

President Bill Clinton (Official White House Photo by Barbara Kinney public domain)

January 1999 — President Bill Clinton becomes the first U.S. president to call for ENDA passage during a State of the Union address, saying discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation “is wrong, and it ought to be illegal.”

April 2002 — Under the leadership of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee reports out ENDA to the Senate floor. The legislation never sees a floor vote.

 

Barney Frank, Massachusetts, Democratic Party, United States House of Representatives, ENDA, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Barney Frank (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

April 2007 — Gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduces a version of ENDA in the House that for the first time includes language barring employment discrimination against transgender people.

September 2007 — Much to the consternation of LGBT advocates, Frank introduces a new version of ENDA that strips the bill of its transgender provisions, saying the votes are lacking in the House to pass a trans-inclusive bill.

October 2007 — Even though the bill has been stripped of its transgender protections, the Human Rights Campaign is a signatory to a letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights urging members of Congress to continue to support ENDA.

November 2007 — The sexual orientation-only version of ENDA passes the House by a 235-184 vote. It’s never brought up for a Senate vote.

 

Barack Obama, ENDA, United States of America, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

President Barack Obama (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

May 2008 — In a heated primary with Hillary Clinton, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama vows in an open letter to the LGBT community to “place the weight of my administration” behind the enactment of a fully inclusive ENDA.

June 2009 — Following the inauguration of President Obama, Frank again introduces a transgender-inclusive version of ENDA, saying “we’re beyond” any possibility of removing that language.

August 2009 — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduces a trans-inclusive ENDA. It’s the first time a Senate version of the bill contains protections for the transgender community.

 

Thomas Perez, Obama Administration, ENDA, gay news, Washington Blade

Thomas Perez (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

November 2009 — Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez testifies on behalf of the Obama administration before the Senate, calling the bill “a top legislative priority for the Obama administration.”

 

Nancy Pelosi, ENDA, United States House of Representatives, California, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

June 2010 — After the House votes on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tells the Washington Blade a House vote on ENDA won’t take place until the Senate acts on the military’s gay ban. The House never acts on ENDA before Democrats lose control of the chamber.

 

Kylar Broadus (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kylar Broadus (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

June 2012 — Kylar Broadus testifies on behalf of ENDA before the Senate HELP Committee, becoming the first openly transgender person to testify before the chamber.

April 2013 — Gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduces ENDA as its new chief sponsor in the U.S. House following the retirement of Barney Frank.

June 2013 — President Obama makes ENDA passage a major component of his speech during a Pride reception at the White House, saying, “We can make that happen — because after the last four and a half years, you can’t tell me things can’t happen.”

July 2013 — Under the chairmanship of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions reports out on ENDA by 15-7 vote, marking the first time a trans-inclusive bill has passed out of committee.

November 2013 — The Senate votes 64-32 on a bipartisan basis to approve ENDA, marking the first time the chamber has passed ENDA and the first time either chamber of Congress has passed a version of the bill with transgender protections.

 

John Boehner, ENDA, United States House of Representatives, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

House Speaker John Boehner (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

November 2013 — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he sees “no basis or no need” for ENDA when asked by the Washington Blade if he’ll allow a vote on the bill. The House has yet to vote on the legislation.

14
May
2014

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

Books for the beach

summer reading, gay news, Washington Blade

There are plenty of books coming out for your summer reading.

You made your reservations months ago.

This was a vacation you’ve been planning for, well, it seems like forever. One of those once-in-a-lifetime trips is what you’ve always dreamed about and you’ve bought all new clothes and even a new suitcase for it.

So why would you take just any old book on your vacation this summer? Instead, why not look for something new by an author you love?

MAY

Conservative writer Ben Carson has a new book out about America’s future. There’s a new book out, co-written by Bill Geist, too. In fact, you’ll find quite a few memoirs out toward the end of May, as well as novels by Terry Hayes, Tom Robbins, Robert Ludlum and Joseph Finder. And Bob the Street Cat has a new book out, too, and fans will want it.

JUNE

Summertime reading bolts out the door like a teenager off curfew with new novels by Mary Alice Monroe, Dorothea Benton Frank and Jeff Shaara; a business book by William Poundstone and one on commodities; a book about Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr; and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s much-anticipated memoir. And that’s just the first week.

Later in June, look for new novels by Diana Gabaldon, Jennifer Weiner, Janet Evanovich, Linda Fairstein, Ridley Pearson, James Patterson, Jude Deveraux and Dean Koontz. You’ll find a book about a dog that flew during World War II (and why). Read about Justice Antonin Scalia. Pick up some new Will Shortz puzzle books in June. And learn how to use your manners when you have to swear.

For the kids, look for a new “Dork Diaries” installation; an encyclopedia of animated characters; a few new mysteries for middle-grade readers; a new book about Charlie the Ranch Dog; and a book about farting fish.

JULY

Just because summer’s half over doesn’t mean your reading list is. Before the fireworks even begin, look for new novels by Jojo Moyes, Susan Wiggs, J.A. Jance, Jacqueline Winspear and Amy Sohn. There’s a new book coming out about Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, a new book that debunks myths about sex, a new book by Ja Rule, a skinny book about crossword puzzles and why we love them, a self-help book on “wallowing” the right way and a cool true-crime book about how amateurs have been solving cold cases and bringing killers to justice.

Later in July, you’ll find more favorites: novels by Brad Thor, Iris & Roy Johansen, Anne Rivers Siddons, Terry Brooks, Catherine Coulter, Brad Taylor, Conn Igguldon, Stuart Woods, James Lee Burke, Ace Atkins and Julie Garwood; a new memoir by singer Rick James; a biography on Michelangelo; a new book about families and race; a tell-all about the Clinton’s political life; and a memoir of faith and football.

The kids will love finding new Guardians of the Galaxy books, new joke books to while away the summer, the latest Fancy Nancy installment and a new graphic novel by Neil Gaiman.

AUGUST

You’re not done yet. There’s still plenty of summer and plenty of time to read left.

The first part of August will see a new book by Andrew Cuomo, a new novel by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, a new W.E.B. Griffin tome, a new book about crime-scene profilers and a book about the woman behind theMona Lisa.

Also in August, look for new books by Carl Weber, William Kent Krueger, Debbie Macomber, Kelly Armstrong, Elaine Hussey, Randy Wayne White, Tami Hoag, Paul Coelho and Kathy Reichs.

Get the kids in back-to-school mode with a new children’s book by Malala Yousafzai; a new Cupcake Diaries installment; ghost stories; and a kid’s book about paying it forward.

14
May
2014

Ready for Hillary group hosts Town event

Ready for Hillary, Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Ready for Hillary is a grassroots organization that supports Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential run. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ready for Hillary, a grassroots organization that supports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential run, hosts “Out and Ready for Hillary” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) Tuesday from 7-9 p.m.

Ready for Hillary was formed last year and has grown to more than one million supporters and 25,00 donors. The event is the LGBT kick-off in the District. Clinton has not stated her plans for the 2016 election.

Tickets are $20.16. For more information and to RSVP, visit readyforhillary.com/events/outdc.

08
Jan
2014

Is it cool to be an independent?

Independent voter, elections, primary, candidates, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘I’ label on the ballot means the person doesn’t identify with a particular party and voters don’t necessarily have an indication what they believe. What set of political principles do they espouse?

Some voters believe that registering as an “independent” is a cutting-edge, even cool thing to do. That made me think about party labels, what they mean, and about those who reject party labels yet may want to vote in the primary of a party they made a conscious decision not to join.

I grew up in New York City and like D.C. most voters were Democrats. Many had experiences with discrimination and the Democratic Party was a comfortable political home. New York was a melting pot and home to many minority groups. There were Jews who escaped the Holocaust; Irish Americans whose ancestors escaped the famine; and Cubans who fled Castro. My parents weren’t political but mom was an activist fighting for everything from planting more trees, integrating schools and stopping Columbia University from taking over more of the Morningside Heights neighborhood.

At 12, I joined a local Democratic club. Being a Democrat meant joining the party of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. I was proud to be a member of the party that supported civil rights, women’s rights and, as I got older and came out, the party whose platform evolved to support the rights of the LGBT community.

Disliking a candidate of my party didn’t lead me to become a Republican or an independent but rather inspired me to join with others in the party to push for change. We fought to elect progressive Bill Ryan (D-N.Y.) to Congress. We supported Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. Though we lost the presidency, we continued to fight for the principles we believed in within the party. We had an intra-party fight that resulted in Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.) being the Democratic candidate for Congress after Bill Ryan died. Through the years, the party I choose has been more in tune with my beliefs than any other.

So it’s perplexing that mayoral candidate David Catania, who is smart and an independent, found that the Republican Party matched his principles for all the years it did. He moved to D.C. in 1986 for college and for the next 16 years until 2002, when he was already an elected official, proudly called himself a Republican even supporting and contributing to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. He left his party and registered as an ‘independent’ only when it became clear the GOP didn’t support gay rights and actually worked to make things worse for the LGBT community. I figured that was for personal expediency to keep his seat on the Council not realizing until recently that it was more than that when he was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “The Republican Party that I grew up with disappeared a long time ago. As far as being an Independent, it’s a suit that really fits. I joke that I’ve been in one bad marriage and I’m not about to jump into another.” He needs to explain what principles the Democratic Party stands for that were so abhorrent to him as to consider it would be a bad marriage.

The ‘I’ label on the ballot means the person doesn’t identify with a particular party and voters don’t necessarily have an indication what they believe. What set of political principles do they espouse? What is it about my Democratic Party they find objectionable? Is it support for unions? LGBT civil and human rights? Public education, women’s rights, choice, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, removing impediments to voting or working to deal with climate change? If they agree with all those positions are they simply afraid to run in a primary or are they ‘independent’ simply for political expediency?

Recently it’s been suggested that D.C. voters may be coerced or bullied into voting Democratic. That is absurd and offensive. People vote for candidates whose positions they like and who they feel comfortable with. When they do consider party in their decision, it’s often because it gives them a window into the candidates’ beliefs on issues that may not be part of the discussion in a particular election but are still very important to them.

Some ascribe the ethics problems in D.C. to a particular party. But ethics problems relate to individual candidates. Some might consider that George W. Bush being elected in 2000 caused more harm to District residents, especially those with family members in the military or National Guard, than lying on a mortgage application for which one D.C. Council member was appropriately indicted and convicted.

Positions, history and vision are important when considering who to vote for but don’t be coerced or bullied into not considering party affiliation when voting. It is one factor of so many in choosing a candidate. We have a Democratic president and likely will still have a Democratic Senate in 2015.

During the term of the next mayor we will very possibly elect the first woman president, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. So one additional factor voters might want to consider in choosing a mayor is who will have more access to power to benefit the people of the District. Would it be a former Republican who walked away from his party to become an independent, or a woman who is a proud fifth generation, D.C. Democrat? Just more food for thought.

28
May
2014

Out and Ready for Hillary

Hundreds of people attended the Out and Ready for Hillary event at Town Danceboutique on Wednesday. Speakers included Proposition 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier as well as “Queer as Folk” actress Michelle Clunie. (Washington Blade photos by Damien Salas) buyphoto, Hillary 

16
Jan
2014

High marks for Obama, Clinton in Blade poll

Hillary Clinton, Department of State, GLIFAA, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, gay news, Washington Blade

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the lopsided favorite for president in 2016 in a new Blade poll. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Participants in an unscientific straw poll conducted by the Washington Blade at the Capital Pride festival on June 8 gave President Barack Obama an overall job approval rating of 77 percent, a significantly higher rating than he received in a Gallup Poll conducted June 8-10.

Among the 319 mostly LGBT people who participated in the Blade poll, 21 percent expressed disapproval of the president’s job performance and 2 percent had no opinion.

According to the Gallup daily tracking poll on Obama’s job approval for the period of June 8-10, 46 percent of the approximately 1,500 people nationwide contacted by phone said they approved of the president’s job performance, compared to 47 percent who expressed disapproval. Seven percent had no opinion.

The most recent Gallup tracking poll for the period of June 12-14 — in the midst of the deteriorating military situation in Iraq — shows the president’s approval rating dropped to 40 percent and his disapproval rating rose to 55 percent, with 5 percent having no opinion.

In a separate question in the Blade’s Pride festival poll, participants were asked to rate Obama’s job performance specifically on LGBT issues. Forty-three percent rated his performance on LGBT issues as “excellent,” 38 percent rated his performance as “good,” 15 percent rated him as “fair” on LGBT issues, and 4 percent gave him a “poor” rating on those issues.

With attention among many political observers turning to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Blade’s Pride poll asked participants to express their current preference for one of 11 political figures – both Democrats and Republicans – who are believed to be considering running for president in 2016.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged as the choice of a lopsided 65 percent of the straw poll participants. The category of “undecided” came in second place, with 21 percent of those participating indicating they weren’t ready to commit to a candidate.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in a distant third, with 6 percent expressing support for her.

The remaining potential 2016 presidential candidates included in the Blade straw poll received 3 percent or less:

• Vice President Joseph Biden (D) – 3 percent

 

• Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) – 0.3 percent

 

• Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) – 1 percent

 

• Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) – 0.6 percent

 

• Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) – 2 percent

 

• Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) – 1 percent

 

• Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) – 0.3 percent

 

• Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – 0.3 percent

 

• Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-Utah) – 0.3 percent

 

The support expressed for Clinton in the Blade straw poll is consistent with anecdotal reports from LGBT activists throughout the country that Clinton enjoys strong support in the LGBT community.

The 319 participants in the Blade’s presidential approval and 2016 presidential preference straw poll represent a sample too small to statistically represent the sentiment of the more than 100,000 people who attended the June 8 Capital Pride festival.

18
Jun
2014

Hundreds turn out for LGBT ‘Out & Ready for Hillary’ fundraiser

Town Danceboutique, Out and Ready for Hillary, Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Hundreds turned out for a Ready for Hillary event at Town Wednesday. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

More than 300 people packed the D.C. gay nightclub Town Danceboutique Wednesday night for the first LGBT fundraiser and rally organized by Ready for Hillary, the independent committee formed last year to urge Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.

Organizers said the large turnout was in keeping with the outpouring of support the Ready for Hillary organization is receiving from the LGBT community across the nation.

Guest speakers at the event included Michelle Clunie, actress and star of the television series “Queer as Folk,” and Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the lesbian couple that became plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.

“I really like Hillary,” Clunie told the Blade. “I met her. I trust her. I believe in her. She’s always the smartest person in the room. I think she’s over qualified for the job and I think she’ll make one of the best presidents ever.”

Clunie said she traveled to D.C. from her home in California to attend and speak at the event at the invitation of D.C. gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson, who, along with D.C. gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, served as coordinators of the rally in which attendees paid $20.16 to attend.

Lisa Changadveja, Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans Director, told the gathering that more than 1.5 million people across the nation have signed on as supporters of the political action committee, or PAC, which under federal campaign finance rules cannot have any interaction with Clinton.

Changadveja said more than 35,000 people have made contributions of $100 or less to the organization as part of its outreach to small donors and potential campaign volunteers if and when Clinton decides to enter the 2016 presidential race.

Perry and Stier, who are longtime partners, were married last year shortly after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Prop 8 cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

“I’ve met the Secretary a few times and I’ve been incredibly impressed by her commitment to children, families, LGBT people and equal rights in general,” Perry said of Clinton. “She was amazing as Secretary of State and her leadership at the United Nations and elsewhere. I think she’s done an awful lot to prove to the community that she’s a good candidate.”

Perry said she just moved to D.C. to take a job with a children’s advocacy organization called the First Five Years Fund. With their four sons “grown up” and either attending college or living on their own, she and Stier plan to divide their time between Washington and their home in Berkley, Perry said.

Although Clinton herself couldn’t attend the event under campaign finance rules, organizers arranged for a substitute that appeared to delight the crowd. A life-size cut-out photo of Hillary Clinton was propped up on a platform in front of a backdrop with the words “Ready for Hillary” written on it multiple times.

A photographer working with the Ready for Hillary group took dozens of pictures of people standing beside the Hillary cut-out photo.

“This is incredible,” said Earl Fowlkes, a D.C. gay activist who, among other things, serves as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Americans Caucus.

“I never expected to see this many people here to encourage Hillary to run,” he said. “And this goes to show you the kind of depth she has in the LGBT community for this many people to come out on a Wednesday night and basically give her the message that we want you to run. We’re ready for her.”

Added Fowlkes, “We had a black president and now we’re ready for a woman president. I’m ready.”

Gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green, who represents an ANC district in Ward 8, said he too believes Clinton is the best-qualified candidate to succeed Barack Obama as president.

“I prefer Democrats with a backbone,” Green said. “And she has continuously proved that she is not afraid to stand up to these Republicans and let them know that there are people in this country that we really need to look out for and she is the right person to do that.”

To see more photos from the event, click here.

16
Jan
2014

Congress takes a vacation from what?

vacation, gay news, Washington Blade

The Republicans have changed their mantra to stop any initiatives that could help Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Congress is taking a six-week vacation and many question from what they are vacationing. They clearly haven’t done any work. They are leaving town while much of the world is at war; the Veterans Administration is a mess and even with some new funding needs much more than Congress is willing to fund; immigration reform is still not on their radar; they couldn’t agree on what needs to be done to shore up the nation’s infrastructure so simply passed a stop-gap measure; and ENDA, among so many other bills, is left unfinished.

Some would say that we are better off when they are home because they can’t cause trouble. I come from a background that suggests that people should actually do some work for their pay and that legislation is accomplished only when men and women of good will are willing to compromise. This Congress has a clear dearth of men and women of good will.

From the time Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his only goal was to see that President Obama wasn’t reelected to a second term it seems that Congress stopped working. Despite McConnell, who has his own reelection problems, the president was reelected and now the Republicans have changed their mantra to stop any initiatives that could help Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections. According to The Hill, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Senate’s current incarnation of Joseph McCarthy, “is urging House Republicans to reject legislation addressing the border crisis, arguing that passing the bill through the lower chamber would play into the hands of Senate Democrats.” In essence the kids be damned let’s keep playing politics.

As the 2014 elections approach there seems little chance that things will get much better. The public is disgusted if you can believe Real Clear Politics average of four recent polls showing Congress with a 13 percent approval rating. Instead of throwing all the bums out the public may just stay home and not vote. That would be sad.

We need to galvanize the public to again to understand that only by voting can they make a difference. The only politician today grabbing a majority of the public’s attention is Hillary Rodham Clinton and she isn’t currently a candidate.

In one of those useless but sometimes interesting polls, CNN recently asked voters if the 2012 election were run today who they would vote for. The result was Romney 55 percent to Obama 44 percent and the same people said they would vote for Clinton 55 percent over Romney 42 percent. That is what you get because neither Romney nor Clinton is currently responsible for making the hard choices a president has to make. But it matches every other poll recently taken where Clinton bests every potential Republican candidate. She is disliked by many but strikes a positive chord in more, including independents and women who make up the majority of the electorate.

What has become increasingly clear is that President Obama won’t get the credit for all his accomplishments until after he leaves office. Less clear is why the electorate is accepting a Congress that does nothing. In a Washington Post column on how the current Congress looks in relation to previous ones, “Not so well, according to the new Vital Statistics on Congress, which shows that the 112th Congress passed just 561 bills, the lowest number since they began keeping these stats way back in 1947.” Maybe we can divine something about Republicans from another piece of information in that same column. “The second lowest number of bills passed in a single Congress — 611 — was back in the 104th Congress, the two-year session that followed Republicans re-taking control of the House in 1994 after four decades of Democratic control.”

I am not giving up on the electorate entirely. It appears they will vote to have Democrats continue to control the Senate and avoid Republicans from taking us back to the 19th century. This has the added benefit of frustrating the goals of Ted Cruz. Voters could still come to their senses before November and turn the House back to Democrats allowing them, with the help of the few moderate Republicans remaining, to try to pass immigration reform, equal pay for equal work legislation, ENDA, legislation to improve the nation’s infrastructure, and reduce the interest rates on college loans. Legislative accomplishments that would both lift the economy and move America forward.

30
Jul
2014

Record number of LGBT candidates on primary ballot

Gay News, Washington Blade, Transgender D.C.

Alexandra Beninda is the first known transgender person to run for a citywide office in the District. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) will be one of 17 openly LGBT candidates to appear on the ballot in the city’s April 1 primary election, representing an all-time high for the number of out candidates running in a single D.C. election.

Among those running is Alexandra Beninda, a transgender activist and member of the city’s Human Rights Commission, who is seeking an at-large seat on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. She becomes the first known transgender person to run for a citywide office in the District.

Beninda is one of 11 LGBT candidates running for at-large or ward seats on the Democratic State Committee, which serves as the governing body of the city’s Democratic Party.

Graham is the only out gay person running this year in the city’s Democratic primary. He’s running for a fifth term in a hotly contested race against Democratic challenger Brianne Nadeau for the Ward 1 Council seat.

In other races, gay Libertarian Party activist Bruce Majors is running unopposed for his party’s nomination for mayor, ensuring that he will be among the mayoral candidates on the ballot in the November general election.

Gay Libertarian Party candidate Martin Moulton is running unopposed for his party’s nomination for the city’s shadow U.S. House seat, one of three unpaid elected “shadow” positions created to lobby Congress for D.C. statehood and congressional voting rights.

Moulton will face Democratic Party and Statehood-Green Party challengers in the general election in November.

In a race expected to draw widespread attention, gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Marc Morgan of Ward 1 is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for an at-large D.C. Council seat being vacated by gay incumbent David Catania (I-At-Large), who’s running for mayor.

Under the city’s home rule charter, the seat currently held by Catania is reserved for a non-majority party candidate, which prevents a Democrat from holding the seat. Morgan’s supporters, including Robert Turner, the gay executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, have said Morgan could have a shot at winning Catania’s seat depending on who else enters the race between now and the June cut-off date for an independent candidate.

In recent years, Democrats with widespread name recognition have switched their party registration from Democrat to independent to run for one of the two at-large Council seats reserved for a non-Democrat. As of this week, no independent candidate has filed papers to run for the seat in November.

Unlike other parts of the country, the D.C. Republican Party has embraced LGBT rights and supports the city’s same-sex marriage law.

In the D.C. primary races for Democratic Party positions, veteran gay rights advocate and Ward 8 civic leader Phil Pannell is running for the post of Alternate National Committeeman as part of a slate of candidates called D.C. Ready for Hillary. Lesbian activist Courtney Snowden is running on the same slate for the position of Alternate National Committee Woman.

Pannell and Snowden joined forces with former D.C. Council Chair Arrington Dixon and longtime Democratic Party activist Mary Eva Candon, who are running for National Committeeman and National Committee Woman respectively. All four positions are linked to the Democratic National Committee.

According to Pannell, the slate’s primary mission is to build support for a run for president by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In other races, seven out LGBT candidates, including Beninda, are running for Democratic State Committee seats on an insurgent slate called The Rent is Too Darn High.

In a statement released earlier this month, leaders of the 30-candidate slate made it clear that the candidates are dissatisfied with the current State Committee leadership team headed by D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), who serves as chair of the State Committee.

“The Committee’s recent history is riddled with mismanagement of elections, lack of transparency, and now wrestles with the perception of being complicit with scandal and corruption,” the statement says.

Gregory Cendana, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Gregory Cendana (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The LGBT candidates on the slate and the seats they are running for are Gregory Cendana (At-Large seat); Edgardo Ed Guerrero (At-Large seat); Beninda (At-Large seat); Nikisha Carpenter (At-Large seat);  Jessica ‘Jess’ Pierce (Ward 4 seat); Tamara Angela Ferrell (Ward 4 seat); and Andy Litsky (Ward 6 seat).

Cendana is among the leaders of the slate.

Gay Democratic activist Bill O’Field, who serves as treasurer of the State Committee, is running for re-election to a Ward 1 State Committee seat. O’Field is not running on a slate but he is widely known to be part of the State Committee faction supportive of Bonds.

Also running as Bonds supporters are gay Democratic activists Ron Collins and David Meadows. Collins, an incumbent, is running for re-election to a Ward 6 seat on the committee. Meadows is also running for a Ward 6 seat on the State Committee.

O’Field and Meadows, who works as communications director for Bond’s City Council office, have praised her leadership on the State Committee and on the Council, saying she is a strong supporter of LGBT equality and has a long record of support for city residents facing economic hardship.

19
Mar
2014