Illinois State Capitol (Photo by Meagan Davis via wikimedia commons)
Despite nationwide momentum, encouraging polls and support from high places, the Illinois House of Representatives adjourned its legislative session Friday night withoutÂ voting on a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
An emotional Rep. Greg Harris â€” the bill’s sponsor â€” rose to announce the bill wouldn’t receive a vote in this session as he pledged to come back with the votes to win in the fall.
Harris told his colleagues the he was unable to forge the 60 vote majority needed to pass the bill, so he and House Speaker Michael Madigan chose not to call a vote â€” a decision some advocates are criticizing.
â€śIâ€™ve never been sadder,â€ť Harris said as he addressed the body.
Illinois LGBT organization The Civil Rights Agenda was highly critical in a statement sent out moments after the session ended.
“This is what happens when you allow a multi-billionaire and national organizations that have no clue about Illinois politics and how Springfield works call the shots. Sometimes we get exactly what we deserve,” said Rick Garica, Policy Director and Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project for The Civil Rights Agenda. “High priced media consultants and high priced lobbyists don’t get it done. What gets the job done is real people standing up and speaking out and that was horribly absent from this process. Today is a new day. Rich guys are no longer going to drive this – we are. And we will have marriage equality in Illinois.”
“From the beginning, we have been upset about the lack of diversity and inclusion in this process,” said Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “Unfortunately the Sponsor didn’t include people of color in the sponsorship of the bill and the rich white guys from the north side of Chicago thought they could get it done with their checkbook. That was the downfall of this bill. We will continue to push and get this done.”
HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement “neglected the rights of its constituents by failing to vote on marriage equality legislation the Illinois” and called on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a nationwide ruling in favor of marriage equality.
“For months, LGBT couples and their children have had their lives put on hold throughout an exhaustive political process that ultimately came up short,” Griffin said. “Todayâ€™s inaction is a prime example of why the U.S. Supreme Court must rule in favor of full marriage equality nationwide to ensure the security and welfare of these and countless other American families arenâ€™t left to chance in future political battles.”
Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, Marc Solomon said in a statement soon after the vote the result was a “disgrace.”
“After an overwhelming victory in the Senate, todayâ€™s failure by the Illinois House is a disgrace, especially for the thousands of committed same-sex couples who want and deserve to make the ultimate vow before their friends and family and spend the rest of their lives with the person they love, protected and supported by their marriage.”
The organization Lambda Legal already has a lawsuit pending in state court, Darby v. Orr, which aims to institute same-sex marriage. In a statement, Jim Bennett, Director of Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office, said that lawsuit would continue.
“This is a stunning failure in the Illinois House,” Bennett said. “This is too important to families across Illinois, and Lambda Legal’s lawsuit, Darby v. Orr which was filed a year ago yesterday will move forward. The day is coming when Illinois will have the freedom to marry.”
Demonstrators descended on the Indian embassy Wednesday to protest a court ruling that reinstates a sodomy ban in the country. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
LGBT Indian nationals and about 20 supporters gathered outside the Indian embassy in Washington on Wednesday to protest a decision by Indiaâ€™s Supreme Court to reinstate a British colonial era law that criminalizes sodomy between consenting adults.
The ruling Wednesday overturned a 2009 decision by a lower court that declared the sodomy law violated Indiaâ€™s constitution. The ruling this week by the Supreme Court said it would be up to Indiaâ€™s Parliament to decide whether to repeal or retain the sodomy statute.
â€śThe Indian Supreme Court just plunged its LGBT citizens â€“ 15 million by conservative estimates â€“ into being criminals yet again,â€ť said Tushar Malik, an Indian citizen and gay activist working temporarily in Washington as a Global Engagement Fellow with the Human Rights Campaign.
â€śFour years of freedom I enjoyed back home, and today in a foreign country I am sad to see that me and my friends and my brothers and sisters â€“ everyone in India who might not identity as straight â€“ can get imprisoned, can go to jail for 10 years up to a life sentence,â€ť he told participants in the protest.
The protesters gathered around a statue in front of the embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian freedom fighter and leader of the countryâ€™s non-violent movement to gain independence from Great Britain.
While facing the embassy, some of the protesters held signs saying, â€śI donâ€™t want to leave my country to be free and equal,â€ť and â€śCriminals in Our Own Country.â€ť
Malik, who organized the protest, called on President Obama and the U.S. State Department to put pressure on India to repeal the sodomy law or take steps to petition the high court to reverse its decision.
Sapna Pandya, president of Khush D.C., a group representing LGBT people from South Asia, said Khush is inviting the LGBT community to attend a candlelight vigil outside the Indian embassy on Friday night to continue to the protest of the Supreme Court ruling.
She said the vigil was expected to begin at 6 p.m. at the site of the Gandhi statue, which is located in a small triangular park where Massachusetts Avenue, 21st Street, and Q Street intersect.
â€śThe idea is to use the symbol of the candlelight to suggest that the Indian Supreme Court needs to be illuminated and needs to be re-enlightened,â€ť she said. â€śWe were all so joyous when the Delhi High Court read down [Article] 377 [the sodomy statute] in 2009. To see us go backwards into the darkness and going backwards in history is so upsetting,â€ť she said.
She said another objective of the vigil is to suggest to the Indian government that the state of democracy in the country â€śis not wellâ€ť in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that takes away freedoms from LGBT people.
Malik, who is from New Delhi, said that although the sodomy law for the most part was not enforced against consenting adults engaging in sexual acts in private, the law was used to discriminate against gay people by labeling them as law-breakers.Â He said the law was also used by police to harass LGBT people and by blackmailers to extort money from gay people.
â€śI am gay and Iâ€™m a criminal in the eyes of the law,â€ť Malik told the gathering on Wednesday. â€śIâ€™m not going to give up and Iâ€™m going to fight.â€ť
A group of protesters gathered at the base of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Peter LaBarbera of the anti-gay group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, organized the Pride Week news conference. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Representatives of five organizations that oppose LGBT rights held a news conference on Tuesday outside the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in D.C. to express opposition to HRCâ€™s advocacy for LGBT equality and the celebration of LGBT Pride.
â€śOur bottom line is that homosexuality is nothing to be proud of,â€ť said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, which organized the news conference.
â€śIn fact, practicing homosexual behavior, a destructive sin, is something to be ashamed of,â€ť LaBarbera said. â€śOut-and-proud homosexualism â€“ far from being a human right â€“ is actually a human wrong.â€ť
LaBarbera, whose organization is based in Chicago, said he and the other LGBT rights opponents chose to hold their news conference at the HRC building during LGBT Pride Month in June to voice their opposition to what they called a harmful â€ślifestyle.â€ť
In anticipation of the news conference HRC displayed a large banner from a first-floor window stating, â€śWelcome Peter.â€ť
Two members of the groups participating in the news conference displayed their own banner behind a podium where the representatives spoke stating, â€śHomosexuality is nothing to be proud of â€“ but overcoming it is.â€ť
Linda Harvey (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Others speaking at the news conference included Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, a legal group that opposes same-sex marriage and LGBT rights; Linda Harvey, founder of Mission America, a conservative Christian group; Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania; and Eric Holmberg, identified as a member of the Apologetics Group and producer of a documentary, â€śIs Gay the New Black? Homosexuality and the Civil Rights Movement.â€ť
Fred Sainz, HRCâ€™s vice president for communications, was among several HRC employees who came out to observe the news conference.
â€ś[T]hese are individuals who are out of the mainstream even within anti-equality activists circles,â€ť Sainz said in a statement to the Blade. â€śFringe is too polite a term for them.â€ť
He added, â€śThe unfortunate reality is that there are still Americans â€“ a diminishing number every day â€“ who will believe what these folks have to say and will pass on their beliefs in the form of discrimination and maybe even violence.â€ť
The leaked 990 IRS report, among other things, included the names of 50 contributors to NOMâ€™s 2008 campaign in support of Californiaâ€™s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Among the contributors on the list was a political action committee formed by 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
At the time of the leak, NOM President Brian Brown noted that then HRC President Joe Solmonese was among the ceremonial co-chairs of President Obamaâ€™s re-election committee and the IRS leak suggested that high-level Obama administration officials could be behind the leak.
At a hearing last month before the House Ways and Means Committee, Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller testified that the IRS investigated the leaked NOM 990 report and determined a low-level IRS employee inadvertently released the document. Miller said disciplinary action was taken against the employee for not following proper procedures.
Harvey of the Mission America group said at the news conference gay rights leaders were jeopardizing young people with same-sex attractions by pushing for lawsÂ that ban therapists and others from performing so called gay conversionÂ therapy onÂ people below the age of 18. Harvey said consenting youth should be allowed to undergo conversation therapy at any age to eliminate same-sex attractions.
â€śIs homosexuality a human right? No itâ€™s not,â€ť Harvey said. â€śBut the organization in the building behind me thinks it isâ€¦The Human Rights Campaign is spreading sweeping lies across America.â€ť
â€śIf the charges being made werenâ€™t so laughable, theyâ€™d be sad,â€ť HRCâ€™s Sainz said in his statement.
At various times during the news conference the voices of Harvey and other speakers were drowned out by loud engine noise from large dump trucks lined up in front of the HRC building waiting to haul away debris from a construction site next to the HRC building.
LAS VEGAS â€” A recent Human Rights Campaign report found that LGBT cancer survivors reported struggles with stigma, fear and support in their health care, according to mydesert.com, a Gannett news agency based in Las Vegas.
The report found that the history and/or fear of discrimination stopped some from coming out to their doctors during treatment and made them more cautious. The majority of those who had come out to their medical team, 58 percent, did so to correct assumptions, with no form or outlet to express their orientation otherwise. Most of those who did come out did not tell the entire medical staff, only the primary care physician and/or surgeon and oncologist, the HRC report said.
Their locations often affected how welcome they felt, partly due to legal reasons and how conservative or liberal the region was, the article said. Some were uncomfortable or afraid in religious institutions, afraid their care would be inadequate if their doctors found out about their orientation, HRC wrote in the report.
Some said they had experienced discrimination in treatment.
HRCâ€™s health survey, the Healthcare Equality Index saw record participation this year. (Photo via Bigstock)
WASHINGTON â€” The Human Rights Campaign this week released its 2013 Healthcare Equality Index which found participation for the first time including facilities in all 50 states and most U.S. veteransâ€™ hospitals with a record number receiving the designation â€śLeader in LGBT Healthcare Equalityâ€ť by meeting the Indexâ€™s â€ścore fourâ€ť criteria for LGBT â€śequity and inclusion,â€ť HRC announced this week.
Participation increased by 153 percent over 2012 with 309 responses this year versus 122 in 2012. HRC said that represents 718 individual health care facilities.
There was also a 199 percent increase this year in those being designated â€śleaders in LGBT healthcare equalityâ€ť going from 71 in 2012 to 212 this year representing 464 facilities.
And 93 percent of respondents said they include sexual orientation in their patient non-discrimination policies while 87 percent include gender identity, HRC, which started the survey in 2007, said.
To get a top HRC rating, a health care facility has to have a written non-discrimination policy for patients and employees that addresses both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,â€ť guarantee equal visitation rights for LGBT patients and train its staff to care for LGBT patients. The campaign asks facilities for documents to prove they have and publicize their LGBT policies. The advocacy group also provides free staff training in LGBT issues, although facilities still get credit if they choose to get training from another company instead, HRC said.
1963 March on Washington (Photo by Rowland Scherman for the U.S. Information Agency courtesy of the Still Picture Records Section of the Special Media Archives Services Division)
LGBT people from throughout the country are expected to join civil rights movement leaders in a series of events this week that include a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for civil rights.
The rally and several of the other events, among other things, will honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who delivered his â€śI Have a Dreamâ€ť speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, and the lead organizer of that event, black civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, who was gay.
Three national LGBT organizations â€“ the National Black Justice Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are among a broad coalition of U.S. civil rights groups participating in the events.
â€śThe LGBT community is a key part of this broad coalition of Americans that will participate in the march,â€ť HRC said in a statement on Monday.
1963 March on Washington (Photo public domain)
The HRC statement says the march on Saturday will call on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, an LGBT civil rights bill that has been stalled in Congress for decades. LGBT participants will also join mainline civil rights groups in calling on Congress to pass a restoration of the Voting Rights Act, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, and other key priorities of the civil and human rights movement.
Following is a list of some of the events over the coming week and beyond in which LGBT-related issues will be discussed, with at least three of the events focused on Rustin and his impact on civil rights in general and LGBT equality in particular.
The events related to Rustin come after President Obama earlier this month posthumouslyÂ awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service to the nation.
50th Anniversary March on Washington LGBT-related events
Tuesday, Aug. 20 March on Washington Attendees Reflect On Their Experiences
Paul Kuntzler, D.C. gay activist, will be one of four panelists to reflect on his participation in the 1963 March on Washington.
6:30 p.m. â€“ 8:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King Library, Lower Level Auditorium
901 G St., N.W.
Thursday, Aug. 22 Celebrating the Legacy of A. Philip Randolph & Bayard RustinÂ 44th Annual A. Philip Randolph Institute National Conference
2 p.m. â€“ 6 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Hotel
400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Friday, Aug. 23 Celebrating the Legacy of A. Philip Randolph & Bayard RustinÂ 44th Annual A. Philip Randolph Institute National Conference
8:00 a.m. â€“ 6:00 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Hotel
400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
What is the Unfinished Business for the LGBT Community? A Conversation and Reception on the Heels of the Anniversary of the March on Washington
4:30 â€“ 6:30 p.m.
Rayburn House Office Building
Welcoming Reception for LGBT ParticipantsÂ 50th Anniversary March on Washington
Us Helping Us HIV/AIDS services organization
3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.
Saturday, Aug. 24
LGBT March Contingent
Assembles at D.C. Statehood Rally
D.C. War Memorial (North side of Independence Ave. between World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial)
Mayor Vincent Gray to Speak
8:30 a.m. â€“ 9:30 a.m.
50th Anniversary March on Washington Rally
Speakers and Entertainers to be announced later in week
10 a.m. â€“ 6:00 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 26
A Tribute to Bayard Rustin & the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington
Sponsored by National Black Justice Coalition, American Federation of Teachers, A. Philip Randolph Institute
6:00 p.m. â€“ 9:00 p.m.
1215 U St., N.W.
Wednesday, Aug. 28 The Life and Legacy of Bayard Rustin: How an African American gay man became the lead organizers of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington Panel Discussion and Reception, hosted by the Center for Black Equity
Sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign
HRC Equality Forum Hall
1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W
Evan Darling (left) and Stephen Rhodes say NASCAR is not as leery of gays as one might suspect. (Photos courtesy of Darling and Rhodes)
To the casual observer, NASCAR may seem conservative, but the sport has been largely welcoming to LGBT professionals in the industry. The main hurdle for drivers of any demographic, including some openly gay drivers, is finding sponsors.
Michael Myers, founder of Queers4Gears, a website aimed at gay and lesbian NASCAR fans, sees NASCAR as â€śwarm and inclusiveâ€ť of the LGBT community. He notes that Mathew Pattison, a prominent official in the Timing and Scoring Department, is openly gay and feels accepted by NASCAR. On his website, Myers wrote in 2011 about an incident in which a crew member with Red Bull Racing (now Infiniti Red Bull Racing), Tweeted an inappropriate comment about gay people. Within two days, the crew member was fired.
Stephen Rhodes, an out driver, is currently working toward returning to the NASCAR Camping World Track Series for the 2014 season. Rhodes took a hiatus in 2010 to help his partner open a cafe.
Rhodesâ€™ sexuality was common knowledge in the garage for the majority of his career and had little impact. He did, however, experience a single negative experience related to his sexuality, but it is an anomaly he chooses not to dwell on.
â€śHaving 15 years in this business and having that one experience isnâ€™t going to hold me back,â€ť he said, â€śand I donâ€™t want to entertain and bring it back up because it is in the past.â€ť
â€śThere are at least 77 million NASCAR fans,â€ť said Rhodes. â€śAnd if I get one percent of them and the LGBT community behind them, Iâ€™ll have a huge fan base.â€ť
His role in the sport could help pave the way for future out drivers. Rhodes sees himself as, â€śfollowing in Danica [Patrick]â€™s footsteps … I look forward to potentially being a spokesperson in the business for [my] community and trying to create some equality.â€ť
The NASCAR Diversity Affairs department manages a Driver Development Program, which aids the careers of female and minority drivers. The mission statement does not include LGBT drivers. Representatives from Diversity Affairs were unavailable for comment.
Recently, Rhodes has spent time putting together media packages for sponsors and building his name in the NASCAR community in anticipation of the 2014 season.
He is encouraged by the leverage his sexual orientation may provide, saying, â€śby being a driver that happens to be gay and approaching LGBT-supportive corporations, I think itâ€™s going to pique a little interest and set me apart from many other drivers that are out there.â€ť
Like Rhodes, Evan Darling, an openly gay Grand-Am Road Racing driver, noticed positive reactions from those around him when he came out in 2007. Since then, however, he has lost sponsors, though he points to the economic crash of 2008 as a major factor.
Darling has not raced professionally for a year and is seeking sponsors to re-enter professional driving.
â€śThe demographic that I race in front of is very conservative,â€ť Darling said. â€śAnd all those people have kids that, whatever percentage are LGBT, get to see someone doing something positive in their community, in their little world. It could really make a big difference.
â€śItâ€™s a very expensive sport,â€ť Darling said. â€śI have to find … a good company that wants to get in front of a new demographic, a demographic they donâ€™t generally market to.â€ť
Myers echoed his sentiments, saying, â€śThe finding of sponsors these days for racers is difficult whether youâ€™re Dale Earnhart Jr., Evan Darling, Justin Mullikin (an out driver in the NASCAR Grand National Sportsman division), or anyone in these cash-strapped times. If a person could drive a racecar and win, then thereâ€™s going to be an owner and a sponsor out there that are going to want to be a part of that.â€ť
Each year, Myers crosschecks NASCAR sponsors with the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. Most recently, he found that many companies earned a perfect score of 100, including Toyota, Ford, Best Buy, Budweiser and Coca-Cola.
According to Myers, the companies currently sponsoring NASCAR earned an average score of 80 from HRC. He notes that ExxonMobil brought down the average. In 2013, the company earned a rating of -25.
‘Prison Breakâ€™ star Wentworth Miller told an audience of HRC supporters that he attempted suicide as a teenager because of distress about his sexual orientation. (Photo by watchwithkristin via Wikimedia Commons)
SEATTLE â€” Newly out â€śPrison Breakâ€ť star Wentworth Miller told an audience of Human Rights Campaign supporters last weekend that he attempted suicide as a teenager while struggling with his sexual orientation.
“The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15,” Miller said in the speech posted to YouTube this week. “I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don’t remember what happened over the next couple days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on a bus back to school pretending everything was fine. And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one.”
“You only cry for help if there is help to cry for.”
Capital Pride organizers this week announced the recipients of their annual awards. Winners of the â€śheroesâ€ť awards are: Ed Bailey, longtime community volunteer, DJ and business owner; Barbara Lewis, an advocate for culturally competent healthcare since the 1970s; Darren Phelps, founding pastor of Bethel Christian Church D.C.; Jamie Raskin, Maryland state senator; and Margot Rosen, HRCâ€™s director of membership outreach.
There are two recipients of the Engendered Spirit award: Consuella Lopez, a local activist, stylist, business owner and radio show host; and Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence. The Bill Miles Award went to Jennifer Hall and the Larry Stansbury Award winner is Dignity/Washington. The winners will be honored at an event May 29. Visit capitalpride.org/heroes for details.
British FTM transgender performer Lazlo Pearlman is Ravenâ€™s Nightâ€™s Master of Ceremonies at the Birchmere Saturday night. (Photo by Diaz Wichmann; courtesy Ravenâ€™s Night)
Friday, Oct. 25
Women in Their 20s, a social discussion group for lesbian, bisexual, transgender and all women interested in women, meets today at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) at 8 p.m. Come meet other queer women in a fun and friendly setting. All welcome to join. For details, visit thedccenter.org.
Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit towndc.com.
Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts â€śJOCKâ€ť tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. with DJ Jake Marx. Dress code is sports gear or just a jock. Dress code strictly enforced. There is an open bar from 9-10 p.m. Cover is $10. For details, visit greenlantendc.com.
Nellieâ€™s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts â€śKickoffâ€ť featuring DJ Matt Bailer tonight from 10 p.m.-closing. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.
Saturday, Oct. 26
The Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria Va.) hosts â€śRavenâ€™s Nightâ€ť tonight from 5:30-10 p.m. Enjoy a three-part event that includes â€śAll Hallowâ€™s Eve Exposition,â€ť a carnival and sideshow with a mystical theme, â€śSalon Lunaire Concertâ€ť dinner and drinks accompanied by live music entertainment and â€śVilliansâ€ť a cabaret belly dance show that pays homage to villains and villainesses. Lazlo Pearlman hosts the evening. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include all three events. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit birchmere.com.
The Arlington Artists Alliance hosts its third annual studio tour today and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The studios are located throughout Arlington County, the Crystal City Studios Underground and in private homes. Meet the artists and tour their studios while learning about their art, materials and process. For more details, visit arlingtonartistsalliance.org.
The Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts â€śGAY/BASH,â€ť a monthly dance party, tonight featuring rock and pop music. There will be performances by Rumor Millz, Dax Exclamationpont and Heidi GlĂĽm featuring special guest Summer Camp. DJs Joshua and Dean spin tracks. Doors open at 10 p.m. Performances are at midnight and 1:30 a.m. Cover is $5. For details, visit blackcatdc.com.
Metropolitan Community Church of Washington D.C. (474 Ridge St., N.W.) hosts its monthly â€śSpanish Speaker Outreach Ministryâ€ť at 6:30 p.m. today. The theme is â€śRemembering Our Heroes and Family Membersâ€™ Contributions to Social Justice.â€ť Come celebrate loved ones who have passed away and remember their struggles. Everyone is welcome to bring a picture or offering to place on the altar in their loved oneâ€™s memory. LGBT Latinos(as) and their friends are welcome. After enjoy an array of Latin-American appetizers and snacks. For more information, visit mccdc.com.
Equality Maryland celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Historic Lord Baltimore Hotel (20 W Baltimore St., Baltimore) today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr. will be honored for his contribution to LGBT equality in Maryland. The VIP cocktail reception and silent auction will be from 11 a.m.-noon. Brunch is from noon- 2 p.m. Entertainment includes Maryland LGBT performers. Tickets are $100. For details, visit equalitymaryland.org.
The OWN network presents â€śBridegroom,â€ť a documentary about a gay couple torn apart by tragedy, tonight at 10 p.m. It tells the emotional story of Tom Bridegroomâ€™s accidental death and the repercussions having a relationship outside the legal protection of marriage had on his partner Shane Bitney Crone. Check local listings for channel.
The Washington Concert Opera presents an Italian-themed brunch in honor of composer Gisueppe Verdiâ€™s 200thÂ birthday at the Josephine Butler Parks Center (2437 15th St., N.W.) today at 11 a.m. Enjoy Italian food and drink, a silent auction, an exhibition of Italian artwork and a live performance of Verdiâ€™s opera arias directed by Maestro Antony Walker. Tickets range from $60-$200. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit concertopera.org.
Imagination Stage begins six-week fall classes in drama, musical theater and dance for ages 1-18. For details on the variety of classes offered and tuition prices visit imaginationstage.org.
The Foundry Gallery (1314 18th St., N.W.) holds a â€śDialogue with Artistâ€ť with artist Linda Button today from 4-5 p.m. followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m. The dialogue closes out Buttonâ€™s solo show â€śBecoming,â€ť that explored the meaning of mannequins in her paintings, at Foundry Gallery. For more information, visit foundrygallery.org.
Monday, Oct. 28
The Bachelorâ€™s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts happy hour from 5-7:30 p.m. today. All drinks are half price. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is free. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.
Tuesday, Oct 29
SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) provides free and confidential HIV testingdrop-in hours today from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit smyal.org.
JR.â€™s Bar and Grill (1519 17th St., N.W.)Â hosts the 27th annual 17th Street High Heel Race, a costumed drag race, from 7-10 p.m. tonight. Parade starts at 7 p.m and race starts at 9 p.m. The race begins at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) and ends at JR.â€™s. Mayor Vincent Gray is the grand marshal along with Birdie LaCage and Baâ€™Naka. For more details, visit cobaltc.com.
Cobalt hosts a High Heel Race after party tonight (corner of 17thÂ and R streets, N.W.). DJ Keenan Orr will spin throwback R&B and hip-hop on the first floor. DJ Madscience will spin current pop and dance on the second floor with DJ Sean Morris spinning house on the third floor. It begins immediately after the race and runs until 2 a.m. For ages 18 and up. Cover is $5. Visit cobaltdc.com for details.
Wednesday, Oct. 30
The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and newcomers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.
SMYAL (410 7th St, S.E.) holds â€śFall Brunch Pizza Party and Info Sessionâ€ť today from 5-6:30 p.m. Come eat pizza and sign up to be a guest at SMYALâ€™s Fall Brunch. Learn what the brunch is all about and what to expect. For more details, visit smyal.org.
The Human Rights Campaign hosts its second annual â€śChefs for Equalityâ€ť at the Ritz Carlton (1150 22nd St., N.W.) today from 6:30-9:30 p.m. D.C., Maryland and Virginiaâ€™s top chefs and mixologists serve up food and drink for a night dedicated to equality. Tickets are $150. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit action.hrc.org.
Thursday, Oct. 31
British singer-songwriter Jessie Ware performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring (8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. Special guest Mikky Ekko also performs. Tickets are $30.50. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more details, visit fillmoresilverspring.com.
Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts â€śHauntâ€ť tonight from 9 p.m.- 2 a.m. There is a Halloween costume contest at midnight. First place winner gets a $750 prize, second place winner gets a $150 prize and third place winner gets a $100 prize. DJs MadScience and Sean Morris spin tunes for the night. Cover is $5 after 10 p.m. Guests must be 18 and over. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.
Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts its â€ś2nd Annual MIXTAPE Halloween Partyâ€ť tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Come in costume. Cover is $10. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over.
First Baptist Church of Washington (1328 16thÂ Street, N.W.) hosts a special Halloween-themed organ recital tonight from 7-8 p.m. featuring local organists Charles Miller, Sam Carabetta, Kevin Biggins, Paul Dolinsky, Irvin Peterson, Scott Matthias, Ted Gustin and Lon Schreiber, organist and choir master at the church. They will perform works on the churchâ€™s brand new Austin pipe organ. Attendees are asked to dress in costume to attend if possible. They will perform works of an especially gothic or â€śspookyâ€ť nature. Visit firstbaptistdc.org for details.