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2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 

03
Jan
2014

Pride House

The Human Rights Campaign, Team DC, Capital Pride, Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies and Pride House International hosted “Pride House: Washington Olympics Opening Ceremony Watch Event” at HRC headquarters on Friday to benefit the Russia LGBT Sport Federation. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) Pride House 

08
Feb
2014

‘Juno’ actress comes out

Ellen Page, Juno, X-Men, hollywood, gay, lesbian, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress Ellen Page. (Photo by Ninha Morandini; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Ellen Page, Oscar nominated for playing a pregnant teen in the hit 2007 film “Juno,” told a Human Rights Campaign crowd in Las Vegas Friday that she’s gay, several media outlets have reported.

“I’m here today because I am gay,” Page, 26, told the audience gathered at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for HRC’s THRIVE LGBT youth conference. “And because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”

“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” Page said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain.”

She’s slated to appear next in the upcoming film “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story and has more here.

15
Feb
2014

Cartoon: Ellen Page comes out

Ellen Page, Human Rights Campaign, Juno, coming out, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Ellen Page comes out. (Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)

19
Feb
2014

Victory Fund’s dangerous endorsement

Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Republican Richard Tisei is challenging a pro-LGBT Democrat for Congress in Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of Tisei).

By JOE RACALTO

 

Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed former Massachusetts Republican Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, for Congress. Although I applaud Tisei — and all LGBT political candidates who run for public office — this endorsement is not justified and sets a dangerous precedent.

Tisei’s opponent, Democratic Rep. John Tierney, has been a staunch champion for LGBT rights — even when it wasn’t popular. He backed marriage equality in Massachusetts, despite the criticism. He has supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; he was a strong and early supporter of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and he has a HRC score of 100 percent in the 112th Congress.

Tierney’s support for LGBT causes is clean, clear and perfect.

And, Congressman Tierney will do one thing Tisei will not do — vote for Leader Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House.

It is no secret that Speaker John Boehner does not support ENDA, claiming it is not necessary. Nor is it a secret that the GOP continues to block or stall every single LGBT advancement at all levels, and in all parts of the country. Given the recent events in Arizona, ENDA is needed now more than ever and if Democrats were in control, ENDA would be the law of the land. Make no mistake, Tisei’s potential vote for Boehner would be a vote to further delay justice for LGBT Americans who face employment discrimination.

Torey Carter, COO of the Victory Fund, said Tisei’s election to Congress would “shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party” and “further the dialogue within the GOP about LGBT issues.”  With all due respect to Carter, at what cost and at whose expense? Should those who fight for LGBT rights have to sit by and wait for the Republicans to understand? Additionally, in order to “further” one must “start.” They have had 40 years to start the dialogue and who is gullible enough to believe Tisei can help them with that process?

This country has moved on and the election of Tisei over Rep. Tierney would represent a major setback for LGBT Americans. We must never, ever turn our backs on those who have championed our causes, like Tierney, simply to “shatter glass” or “further dialogue (within the GOP)” or whatever other reason the Victory Fund uses to describe this dangerous endorsement.

Joe Racalto is president of Giesta Racalto, LLC. He served as former Rep. Barney Frank’s senior policy adviser and is a board member at Freedom to Work.

04
Mar
2014

Mississippi city passes LGBT ordinance

Oxford, Mississippi, gay news, Washington Blade

Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Kathy Jean; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

OXFORD, Miss.–A third Mississippi city has passed a resolution in support of adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to its diversity statement.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen on March 4 unanimously approved the resolution.

“Tolerance and acceptance creates the strongest bonds between neighbors,” said Alderman Jay Hughes in a Human Rights Campaign press release. “I am proud to be on the right side of history in reaffirming Oxford’s long-standing commitment to that most fundamental principle.”

Hattiesburg last month added LGBT-specific language to its diversity statement. The Starkville Board of Alderman in January approved the state’s first pro-LGBT municipal resolution.

05
Mar
2014

Bowser’s gay campaign manager shuns spotlight

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, Washington D.C., D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

Muriel Bowser’s gay campaign manager says she’ll be a champion for LGBT issues if elected mayor. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

With D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser’s dramatic rise in the polls placing her in a statistical tie with Mayor Vincent Gray in the April 1 Democratic primary for mayor, some of Bowser’s LGBT supporters are pointing to the efforts of her campaign manager, Bo Shuff, who has shied away from the media spotlight.

Shuff, who’s gay and has worked in the past for the LGBT rights groups Equality Ohio and the Human Rights Campaign, has been serving as Bowser’s campaign manager since last September.
Beginning in 2000, as regional field director for the Florida Democratic Party, Shuff has worked on political campaigns for candidates and progressive advocacy groups for more than a dozen years as a specialist in grassroots organizing and field operations.

Since 2009 he has provided campaign-related consulting services to a wide range of clients as owner of the D.C. firm Top Shelf Consulting.

Shuff said he joined the Bowser campaign after mutual friends informed him that Bowser was looking for a campaign manager.

“They introduced us and I interviewed,” Shuff said, both with Bowser and former D.C. Council member William Lightfoot (I-At-Large), who is serving as chair of the Bowser campaign.

When asked about assertions by Gray’s LGBT supporters that Gray’s record on LGBT issues is far more extensive than Bowser’s, Shuff said Bowser would be a champion for LGBT people both on LGBT issues and other issues that impact their lives.

“Muriel voted for every piece of legislation that’s been positive for the LGBT community that’s come across her desk,” he said. “She’s going to be a strong advocate for minority populations across the board, not just LGBT but the full diversity of this city.”

31
Mar
2014

Team D.C. Sportsfest

Team D.C., the umbrella organization for D.C.-area LGBT sports teams and leagues, held its annual Sportsfest at Room & Board on Thursday. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) Sportsfest 

11
Apr
2014

FBI investigates ‘suspicious’ envelope mailed to HRC building

Mark Glaze, Rabin Group, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Glaze received a threatening letter at his office located in the HRC building.

D.C. police, Fire Department investigators and FBI agents rushed to the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in downtown Washington shortly after 5 p.m. on Memorial Day to investigate a threatening letter containing a suspicious powdery substance, according to police and a Fire Department spokesperson.

Fire Department investigators determined from tests that the substance found on the letter was not hazardous and posed no threat to those who may have come into contact with it, said Fire Department spokesperson Lon Walls.

The letter, which had no return address or name on it, was mailed to nationally recognized gun control advocate Mark Glaze, who had been working for the Raben Group, a lobbying and political consulting firm that rents space in the HRC building, a police report and people familiar with the incident said.

Although Robert Raben, founder and owner of the Raben Group, and Glaze are gay, the threatening letter addressed the subject of gun control and had nothing to do with LGBT rights, said Erika Soto Lamb, communications director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, for which Glaze serves as director.

Glaze reported that “he arrived [at] his office and retrieved his mail and then went outside into the park area to open his mail,” the police report says. “One of the envelopes opened by [Glaze] contained a threatening message which had a whitish orange substance on the note,” the police report says.

Glaze “left the envelope on the park bench, which was located on the side of the building. The letter was addressed to Complainant 1 [Glaze] but there was no return address or sender’s name,” the report says.

Glaze then called police, triggering the arrival of police and Fire Department members.

“I’ll be working with the FBI and MPD to learn more,” Raben told the Blade in a statement. “I’m grateful no one is physically injured, and sad that hard working professionals have to be concerned about this, but regrettably we do,” he said.

A witness at the scene sent a text message to a friend reporting that police blocked the street near the intersection of 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, N.W., where the HRC building is located, shortly after Fire Department and police vehicles arrived on the scene.

The witness also reported that police put yellow crime scene tape around the HRC building as law enforcement officials conferred among each other.

Walls of the Fire Department said the FBI routinely joins D.C. police to investigate incidents in which threatening communications are sent, including those sent with a powdery substance.  He said the substance almost always turns out to be harmless.

“We get about two or three of these calls each day, mostly on work days,” he said. “But we always test it and investigate. We take this very seriously.”

The threatening note sent to Glaze at the HRC building came just over a year after a bomb threat prompted D.C. police to evacuate the HRC building and another D.C. office building in which other national LGBT organizations are located.

For unknown reasons, an unidentified person telephoned the bomb threat to police in Los Angeles, saying a bomb had been placed in the “LGBT building” in Washington, Los Angeles police reported.

As a precaution, D.C. police, when contacted by the LAPD, ordered the evacuation of at least two buildings known to be home to as many as 11 national LGBT organizations – the HRC building and a nearby building on Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

The latter building is home to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and other national LGBT groups.

Both Raben and Glaze have worked on LGBT-related issues and national politics for many years. Raben, an attorney, served as a legislative assistant to gay former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Raben later served as an assistant U.S. Attorney General during the Clinton administration before founding the Raben Group in 2001.

Glaze, 42, has worked on a number of issues for Raben Group clients, including campaign finance reform, government ethics, and LGBT-related issues.

Under the auspices of the Raben Group, Glaze recently became a highly visible figure in advocating for federal gun control legislation in his role as director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, of which more than 950 U.S. mayors are members.

The Washington Blade reported on Glaze’s gun control activities in a profile on him in January, noting that he had been widely featured in mainstream news media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico and the Associated Press as well as in TV news programs.

Lamb, spokesperson for the mayor’s group, said Glaze recently decided to leave the Raben Group to become a full-time staff member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She noted that Glaze coincidently had been packing his personal items and moving out of the Raben Group offices at the HRC building at the time the threatening letter arrived.

Glaze “stated…that he was at the location cleaning out his office and is no longer an employee at this location,” the police report says.

28
May
2013

Baltimore wins top score in HRC study

Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade, Prime Tiimers

Baltimore was among 25 cities that received a perfect score on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index. (Photo public domain)

The Human Rights Campaign released the findings of a study that showed Baltimore received a perfect score when it comes to equality for its LGBT population. Titled the Municipal Equality Index, the survey, which was co-published by the Equality Federation Institute, rates 291 municipalities drawn from each state in the nation on the basis of how inclusive their laws and policies are of LGBT people. These laws and policies include non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, relationship recognition, inclusive city services and leadership on matters of equality.

Twenty-five cities in 2013 earned a perfect 100-point score with Baltimore among them compared to only 11 in 2012. Other cities in Maryland and their scores were: Annapolis (70), College Park (62), Rockville (58) and Frederick (52). The national average was 57.

Baltimore’s total score benefitted from nine bonus points awarded because of the city’s strong showing in some areas, such as providing services to vulnerable populations of the LGBT community. Baltimore lost five points for not having a city contractor non-discrimination ordinance.

“I was pleased to see that the HRC’s MEI has shown what we here in Baltimore have known for a long time — that Charm City is a welcoming and wonderfully unique place for our LGBT brothers and sisters to settle roots,” Matt Thorn, executive director for the GLCCB told the Blade. “Baltimore has a rich history of LGBT activism, including being one of the first four cities to open an LGBT Community Center in the country back in the ’70s, and I’m excited to see what our future holds.”

25
Nov
2013