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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

Bill to grant Va. lawmakers ability to defend state laws advances

Mark Herring, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring last month announced he will not defend the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. (Photo courtesy of Herring for Attorney General)

The Virginia House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill that would allow any state lawmaker to defend a law if the governor and attorney general decline to do so.

The 65-32 vote in the Republican-controlled chamber took place three days after lawmakers approved House Bill 706 in a voice vote. The Washington Post reported that state Del. Tom Rust (R-Fairfax County) is among those who opposed the measure.

“A member of the General Assembly has standing to represent the interests of the commonwealth in a proceeding in which the constitutionality, legality or application of a law established under legislative authority is at issue and the governor and attorney general choose not to defend the law,” reads HB 706.

A House committee on Jan. 24 approved HB 706; one day after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Everybody knows that this wouldn’t even be an issue if Herring didn’t do what he did yesterday,” state Del. Mark Keam (D-Fairfax County) told the Washington Blade during a Jan. 24 interview.

State Dels. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) and Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County), who introduced HB 706, are among the 30 lawmakers who urged Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a Jan. 24 letter to appoint a special counsel to defend the marriage amendment. The governor last week denied the request.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit that two couples – Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mark Townley of Chesterfield – filed last year against the marriage amendment. A federal judge in Harrisonburg on Jan. 31 certified a second lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia filed on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who are seeking marriage rights in the commonwealth as a class action.

The Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate is expected to kill HB 706.

04
Feb
2014

D.C. lobbyist proposes bill to ban gays from NFL

football, Willamette University, Conner Mertens, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. lobbyist has proposed a bill to ban gays from the NFL. (Photo by Jayel Aheram/Creative Commons)

A D.C. lobbyist on Monday said he is preparing a bill that would ban gays from the National Football League.

“It’s about restoring common decency,” said Jack Burkman during an interview with Mike Conneen on News Channel 8’s “Capital Insider.”

Burkman told Conneen he expects the measure will have the support of 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators within 20 days. He repeatedly declined to name a specific lawmaker who will back the measure.

“We welcome you to name one lawmaker who supports your legislation,” said Conneen during the segment.

Burkman also denied his bill is a stunt.

Burkman’s announcement comes one day after Jason Collins became the first openly gay person to play in a game for a major American professional sports league – the former Washington Wizards center played 11 minutes during a Brooklyn Nets game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam earlier this month came out to the New York Times and ESPN. The Texas native is poised to become the country’s first openly gay professional football player.

“What he is doing is positioning himself very well,” Burkman told Conneen, referring to Sam. “He’s shrewd.”

25
Feb
2014

B’More Queer Fest presents Del Shores

Del Shores, Sordid Lives, gay news, Washington Blade

Del Shores will be in Baltimore next month. (Photo courtesy Shores)

The third event of B’More QFest will be a Del Shores double bill on April 6 that is called a Southern Tragic Double Bill: Del Shores’ “Sordid Lives” and “Southern Baptist Sissies”.

Guests will have the opportunity to meet Del Shores, writer/director of “Sordid Lives” and Emerson Collins, the producer/star of “Southern Baptist Sissies” and Bravo’s “The People’s Couch.” There will be a church potluck style meet and greet for $50.

If you come as your favorite “Sordid Lives” character you can win prizes like all access passes, tickets to other events and festival films. If you are just interested in the films the price is $15.

The event takes place between 2-8 p.m. at Chase Brexton Health Services, 1111 North Charles St. For tickets, visit bmorequeer.org.

19
Mar
2014

Marriage and more

The momentous events of 2013 hit close to home, as marriage equality arrived in Maryland and Delaware. But last year wasn’t all about marriage. It was a big year for Democrats in Virginia and a lesbian lawmaker announced a bid for Maryland governor.

Here’s a look at the top 10 local news stories of 2013 as chosen by Blade editorial staffers.

 

#1 Marriage equality comes to Md., Del.

 

Clayton Zook, Tracy Staples, Wayne MacKenzie, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, Tilghman Island

Marriage equality expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic in 2013 with Maryland and Delaware joining D.C. in allowing same-sex couples to wed. Clayton Zook and Wayne MacKenzie tied the knot on New Year’s Day on Tilghman Island. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland and Delaware were among the states in which same-sex couples began to legally marry in 2013.

Seven same-sex couples married at Baltimore City Hall on Jan. 1 shortly after Maryland’s same-sex marriage law took effect in a ceremony that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated. They include long-time mayoral aide James Scales and his partner, William Tasker.

“New Year’s Day will have a new meaning for the hundreds — if not thousands — of couples who will finally have the right to marry the person they love,” said Rawlings-Blake.

More than half a dozen same-sex couples exchanged vows at the Black Walnut Point Inn on Tilghman Island in Talbot County on Jan. 1. These include innkeepers Tracy Staples and Bob Zuber who tied the knot almost immediately after the law took effect at midnight.

“I’m very proud of Maryland,” Michelle Miller of Stevensville in Queen Anne’s County told the Washington Blade on Jan. 1 after she married Nora Clouse at the Black Walnut Point Inn.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on May 7 signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

State Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) came out as a lesbian on the floor of the state Senate while she and her colleagues debated the measure. The New Castle County Democrat and her partner of more than 20 years, Vikki Bandy, on July 1 became the state’s first legally married same-sex couple when the couple converted their civil union into a marriage during a ceremony that New Castle County Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden officiated.

“It’s exciting, both historically and personally,” Peterson told reporters after she and Bandy exchanged vows inside the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office in Wilmington. “I never thought in our lifetimes we would be getting married.”

Boulden later on July 1 also officiated Joseph Daigle, II, and Daniel Cote’s wedding in Wilmington that Attorney General Beau Biden, New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and other local and state officials attended.

“Today we are witnesses to a historic event for Delaware and for our community and quite frankly our future,” said Biden.

Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis and Rev. Leonard Klein of the Diocese of Wilmington are among those who testified against the same-sex marriage bill. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church on July 1 protested the law outside the New Castle County Clerk of the Peace’s office in Wilmington and at other locations throughout the state.

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley) is the only Republican lawmaker who co-sponsored the measure. John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, on March 15 came out during an exclusive interview with the Blade at an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington.

“I’m here this evening because I support marriage equality,” said Fluharty. “It’s an issue that’s of personal importance for me as a gay man.”

 

#2 McAuliffe elected Va. governor

 

Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe is Virginia’s next governor after a campaign that prominently featured gay issues. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Nov. 6 defeated Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race.

McAuliffe has repeatedly said his first executive order as governor will be to ban discrimination against LGBT state employees. The former DNC chair in February also endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) easily defeated Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson in the state’s lieutenant gubernatorial race. The State Board of Elections on Nov. 25 officially certified state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun County) as the winner of the race to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general, but state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) requested a recount because he lost to his Democratic rival by only 165 votes.

Cuccinelli highlighted his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples during two debates against McAuliffe that took place in Hot Springs and McLean in July and September respectively. LGBT rights advocates also blasted the outgoing attorney general for appealing a federal appellate court’s March ruling that found Virginia’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

Jackson faced persistent criticism during the campaign over his previous comments that equated gay men to pedophiles and “very sick people.”

“Without exception, the Democratic candidates for statewide office offered unflinching support for marriage equality, a welcoming business climate and respect for a woman’s right to choose,” said gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) after the election. “The people of Virginia aligned themselves with McAuliffe’s and Northam’s vision of an inclusive, forward moving commonwealth.”

 

 

#3 Va. lawmakers confirm gay judge

 

Virginia lawmakers on Jan. 15 confirmed gay Richmond Circuit Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland’s judgeship.

The Virginia House of Delegates in May 2012 blocked the former prosecutor’s nomination to the Richmond General Court after state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) alleged he misrepresented himself when he failed to disclose his sexual orientation when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the late 1980s.

Thorne-Begland in 1992 publicly discussed his sexual orientation during an interview on ABC’s “Nightline.” He unsuccessfully challenged his discharge from the U.S. Navy under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

Thorne-Begland is also a former Equality Virginia board member.

“Equality Virginia is pleased that the House of Delegates could see that Thorne-Begland is a qualified candidate with integrity and a long history of public service,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement after lawmakers approved Thorne-Begland’s judgeship. “Thorne-Begland has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor.”

Thorne-Begland is Virginia’s first openly gay judge.

 

 #4 10 percent of D.C. residents are gay: report

 

gay news, Washington Blade, National Equality March

Gallup says that 10 percent of D.C. residents are gay. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A report released in February by the Gallup polling organization showed that the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of self-identified LGBT residents in the nation in comparison to the 50 states.

Ten percent of 493 D.C. residents who responded to Gallup’s daily tracking polls between June 1 and Dec. 30, 2012 identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the report. By comparison, 3.3 percent of a sample of 4,195 Maryland residents and 2.9 percent of a sample of 6,323 Virginians identified themselves as LGBT.

The report did not compare D.C. to other cities. Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which studies LGBT related demographics, told the Blade the Gallop statistics appeared to be a more accurate snapshot of the country’s LGBT population than previous studies.

 

#5 Mizeur runs for governor in Md.

 

Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Heather Mizeur is seeking to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on July 16 officially entered the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together,” the Montgomery County Democrat told the Washington Blade before she announced her candidacy. “There are great challenges facing us and also incredible opportunities.”

Mizeur last month raised eyebrows when she tapped Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton as her running mate. The Prince George’s County pastor in 2012 emerged as one of the most prominent supporters of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters approved in a referendum.

“I have stood up for justice,” said Coates at a Nov. 14 campaign event during which Mizeur officially introduced him as her running mate. “I stand before you today not driven by professional or personal ambition, but by a calling to bring hope to others when they need it the most.”

Mizeur will face Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in the state Democratic primary in June. She could become the country’s first openly gay governor if Maryland voters elect her to succeed Martin O’Malley.

“Diversity is enormously important,” Mizeur told the Blade in July. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

 

#6 Rash of violent incidents in June

 

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Drag performer Miles Denaro was beaten and dragged by the hair by two women at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria in June. (Screen capture)

Four transgender women, a gay man dressed in drag, and a lesbian were victims of separate violent attacks, including a murder, during the last two weeks of June, prompting LGBT activists to call a “community response” meeting to address the incidents.

Lesbian Malika Stover, 35, of Southeast D.C., was shot to death on June 22 following what police said was an argument with a neighbor that did not appear to be linked to her sexual orientation.

But transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized the meeting, said Stover’s slaying stunned people in the LGBT community who knew her.

“This is really putting all of us on edge,” she said. “You’re seeing all of these incidents happening in such a short period of time.”

Police arrested a 23-year-old male suspect for allegedly stabbing transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, multiple times on June 21 in an abandoned house in Southeast D.C. Police said the incident stemmed from a dispute and did not appear to be a hate crime. In another incident on June 23, gay male drag performer Miles Denaro was beaten and dragged by the hair by two women at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria near 14th and U streets, N.W. in an incident that was captured on video and posted on the Internet. The two women were arrested and pleaded guilty to a charge simple assault.

 

#7 Trans birth certificate bill hailed  

 

Vincent Gray, JaParker Deoni Jones, David Grosso, Ruby Corado, Rick Rosendall, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill in August enabling trans people to change their birth certificates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bill signed into law by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in August that removes obstacles to the process of enabling transgender people to change their birth certificates to reflect their new gender has been hailed as a groundbreaking measure.

Among other things, the new law repealed a provision in an existing law that required transgender individuals to undergo gender reassignment surgery as a condition for obtaining a new birth certificate. Transgender advocates said the surgery was too expensive for many people and medically hazardous to others.

The new law is named the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013 in honor of a transgender woman murdered near her home in 2012.

Another key provision in the law requires the D.C. Registrar to issue a new birth certificate designating a new gender for “any individual who provides a written request and a signed statement from a licensed healthcare provider that the individual has undergone a gender transition.”

 

 

#8 T.H.E. declares bankruptcy

 

Earline Budd, gay news, Washington Blade

Earline Budd called on the city to investigate T.H.E.’s management practices. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Transgender Health Empowerment, D.C.’s leading transgender services and advocacy organization for nearly 10 years, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 7. A short time later it discontinued all of its transgender-related programs.

The bankruptcy filing came after the D.C. Department of Health abruptly cut off its funding for T.H.E. when it learned that the IRS placed liens on the organization for its failure to pay more than $260,000 in employee withholding taxes over a period of at least three years. The bankruptcy filing shows that T.H.E.’s total debt comes to more than $560,000.

During a bankruptcy trustee’s hearing in August, T.H.E. executive director Anthony Hall said the group’s only source of income at the time of the hearing was a city grant calling for the organization to operate a non-LGBT related temporary housing facility for crime victims.

Longtime transgender activist Earline Budd, a former T.H.E. employee and one of its founders, has called on the city to investigate the group’s management practices to determine the cause of its financial problems.

 

 

#9 Mautner merges with Whitman-Walker

 

Don Blanchon, Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

Whitman-Walker CEO Don Blanchon said Whitman-Walker had been looking for ways to expand its services to women. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Mautner Project, a national lesbian health organization based in Washington, D.C. since its founding in 1990, became an arm of D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Health in 2013 in what leaders of both groups called an “historic collaboration.”

In a joint statement released in June, the two organizations said the arrangement would bring the Mautner Project’s programs and staff under the “umbrella” of Whitman-Walker, an LGBT community health care provider founded in 1978.

Leslie Calman, Mautner Project’s executive director at the time the merger was announced, said the joining of the two groups would allow Mautner to “offer more critical services to a greater number of women who need those services throughout the region. It’s a natural fit.”

Whitman-Walker CEO Don Blanchon said Whitman-Walker had been looking for ways to expand its services to women. He said the Mautner Project’s “programs and reach within their community will help us fulfill that mission.”

Calman said that in addition to continuing its services for lesbians with serious illnesses such as cancer, the Mautner programs at Whitman-Walker would also continue various illness prevention programs such as cancer screening, smoking cessation and obesity reduction.

 

 

#10 Carson steps down as Hopkins speaker

 

Ben Carson, Values Voter Summit, Washington Blade, gay news

Ben Carson compared LGBT activism to bestiality and pedophilia. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman).

A rising star in the Republican Party stirred controversy by comparing LGBT activism to bestiality and pedophilia, leading him to give up his role as commencement speaker at John Hopkins University.

The former neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins made the remarks during an appearance on Fox News’ Sean Hannity when expressing his opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.

“And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association,) be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are — they don’t get to change the definition” of marriage, Carson said.

Carson’s remarks invoked the ire of students at John Hopkins University, where he was selected to speak as commencement speaker. The organization Media Matters asserted a majority of the graduating class, or around 700 students, called for his ouster. Although sources initially said Carson wouldn’t relinquish his speaking role at commencement, Carson eventually indicated he would acquiesce to students’ desires and step down as speaker.

But Carson went on to other public appearances, including one later in the year at a venue closer in tune with his views. Carson was among the speakers the anti-gay Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, where he articulated his opposition to marriage equality.

“We need to recognize that God created the family structure for a reason and marriage is a sacred institution from God himself, and there is no reason that man needs to change the definition of marriage,” Carson said.

02
Jan
2014

Fisette not running for U.S. House seat

Jay Fisette, Arlington County Board, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette won’t run for Rep. James Moran’s seat. (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Gay Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette announced late Wednesday that he has decided not to run this year for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.).

Fisette was among about a dozen prominent Northern Virginia politicians, including gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin, mentioned by political observers as potential candidates to run in the June 10 Democratic primary to seek the nomination for Moran’s seat in the 8th Congressional District.

The overwhelmingly Democratic district includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties and most of the City of Alexandria. The winner of the primary is expected to easily win the general election in November.

“Many friends and colleagues have asked of my interest in running for this seat and have encouraged me to run,” Fisette said in a statement. “While appreciative of those comments, I have decided that I will not seek this position,” he said.

“One reason for my decision is the contrast between the dysfunctional climate on Capitol Hill and the can-do atmosphere in Arlington,” Fisette said. “The state of politics at the national level is disheartening, with the outsized influence of shrill, well-financed forces and the disintegration of sincere efforts to forge compromise, respect one’s colleagues and realize the potential of government to make people’s lives better.”

Fisette became the first known openly gay elected official in Virginia in 1997 when he won election to an at-large seat on the five-member Arlington Board, which serves as the county’s governing body. He has won re-election four times since then by wide margins, with his latest electoral victory last year.

Although Ebbin has yet to make an official announcement, a prominent gay Democratic activist in Arlington has said “the word is out” that Ebbin plans to run for the congressional seat.

Ebbin became the first out gay to win election to the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 when he won his race for a seat in the House of Delegates. He won election to the State Senate in 2011 in a district that covers most of the territory of the 8th Congressional District.

In a related development, the Washington Post reported that Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) planned to announce on Thursday he was forming an exploratory committee to assess whether to run for the 8th District congressional seat. Businessman and former Navy fighter pilot Bruce Shuttleworth announced his candidacy for the congressional seat last week. Both are Democrats who have expressed strong support for LGBT rights as have all of the Democrats thought to be considering running for Moran’s seat.

In his statement saying he isn’t running, Fisette added, “There are many qualified Democrats who could represent the Eighth District very capably. I will work with our party’s nominee to secure a victory in the November election and keep the Eighth District in the progressive ranks.”

23
Jan
2014

Pro-LGBT banner set on fire at D.C. church

St. Luke's United Methodist Church Mission Center, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police are investigating the Feb. 5 burning of a banner outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in D.C. that includes St. Luke’s Mission Center Church at Wisconsin and Calvert streets, N.W.)

D.C. police are investigating the burning of a banner last week outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W., as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime.

Rev. Charles Parker, senior pastor of three LGBT supportive United Methodist churches in D.C., including St. Luke’s, said in a Feb. 6 statement posted on the church website that the incident appeared to be related to the heated debate within the Methodist church over same-sex marriage.

Church spokesperson Jeff Clouser told the Blade on Monday, Feb. 10, that St. Luke’s employees discovered last Tuesday, Feb. 4, that the banner had been burned but weren’t sure exactly when it happened.

“I visited our St. Luke’s campus yesterday to find that someone had burned – yes, burned – our ‘Stop the Trials’ banner calling for a stop to church trials of clergy officiating at same-gender weddings,” Parker wrote in his statement.

He was referring to a banner currently being displayed by LGBT supportive Methodist churches in D.C. and other cities that consists of a rainbow flag bearing the words, “Stop the Trials.” The message refers to a decision by church leaders to put on trial and defrock pastors who defy Methodist Church rules that prohibit its pastors from performing same-sex marriages.

“I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” Parker said in his statement. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion,” he said.

“What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’”

Foundry United Methodist Church, another LGBT supportive church on 16th Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, has twice welcomed as a guest speaker Frank Schaefer, a former Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked for performing his son’s same-sex wedding.

Foundry is among the D.C.-area Methodist churches that are displaying the “Stop the Trials” banner.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the incident occurred on Feb. 4 and was reported to police on Feb. 5. She said police have classified it as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.”

10
Feb
2014

Report critical of D.C. police response to hate crimes

Cathy Lanier, DC Metro Police, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier (Washington Blade photo by Strother Gaines)

The restructuring of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 2009 “weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes” and hindered its ability to reach out to the LGBT community, according to a newly released report.

The 41-page Hate Crimes Assessment Report was prepared by an independent task force created in 2012 by the Anti-Defamation League of Washington, a nationally recognized civil rights group, at the request of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

In announcing the launching of the task force, Lanier said she asked the ADL to assist the MPD by conducting an impartial review of its programs directed toward the LGBT community, comparing them with other police departments and identifying areas that could be improved.

“MPD policies on the identification and handling of bias or hate crimes are strong and reflect many best practices of law enforcement agencies nationally,” the report concludes.

It also concludes that the “vast majority” of MPD leaders and rank and file officers have a deep commitment to “ensuring the safety and security of the LGBT community and to all of those who live, work, or visit the District of Columbia.”

But the report says a series of structural changes that the department put in place for the GLLU beginning in 2009, which were aimed at expanding the reach of the unit throughout the city, appear to have weakened its effectiveness and diminished its credibility within the LGBT community.

“MPD’s outreach to the LGBT community, which is a critical component of preventing and responding to hate crimes, is significantly less visible and effective than it was prior to the restructuring,” the report says.

“The restructuring of the GLLU reduced the size and limited the role of the central core of the GLLU, weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes and engaging in outreach, and made it less accessible and visible to the LGBT community,” says the report.

“The GLLU’s reduced visibility and presence in the LGBT community has significantly impacted the level of trust the LGBT community has in MPD,” it says.

Former Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the GLLU along with separate liaison units working with the Latino, Asian, and deaf and hard of hearing communities in the late 1990s. Unlike police liaison units in other cities, whose responsibilities were limited mostly to public relations and educational duties, Ramsey arranged for the GLLU and the other units to investigate crimes and make arrests.

Under the leadership of its former commander, Sgt. Brett Parson, the GLLU developed strong ties to the LGBT community, assigning its officers to attend LGBT events and meetings and to patrol neighborhoods with high concentrations of LGBT residents. Although the officers were based in the GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle, they responded to calls throughout the city and played an active role in investigating crimes targeting LGBT people, including hate crimes.

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government recognized the GLLU as a highly effective agent for community policing and awarded the unit a grant to expand its work and assist police departments in other cities set up similar units.

In 2009, two years after then Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her, Lanier put in place a restructuring plan that, among other things, decentralized the GLLU and the other liaison units through the creation of an affiliate officers program that placed affiliate liaison unit members in each of the seven police districts. The restructuring included downsizing the central GLLU office.

LGBT activists, who said they had no objections to the creation of the affiliate program, expressed strong opposition to what they said was an initial plan by Lanier to close the GLLU’s headquarters office. Activists said at the time that the affiliate officers, who were to receive limited training on LGBT related issues, would not have the experience and depth of understanding of the LGBT community that the core GLLU officers, most of whom were gay or lesbian, had.

Lanier quickly backed down from her initial plan to disband the headquarters unit after opposition surfaced from members of the City Council. However, according to activists, she appeared to be gradually decreasing the core unit’s size.

A short time after the restructuring began, Parson requested and was given a transfer out of the unit to patrol duties. Citing budget constraints, the department replaced Parson with a sergeant who was assigned to supervise both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

LGBT representatives said the lack of a full-time supervisor for the GLLU was a further indication that the chief was diminishing the ability of the GLLU to carry out its mission.

Other changes associated with the restructuring included restrictions on the types of events or meetings GLLU officers could attend and what appeared to critics as an increase in the frequency that GLLU officers were detailed to other assignments unrelated to the LGBT community.

Lanier has said that due to police personnel limitations, officers from various specialized units would be temporarily detailed to other, street patrol duties as needed.

In a series of recommendations, the Hate Crimes Assessment Report calls on the department to appoint a full-time supervisor of the GLLU and to ensure that the GLLU’s core unit is sufficiently staffed with officers.

In an 8-page response to the task force report, Lanier said she and the department’s leadership agree with most of the conclusions and recommendations of the report.

“Admittedly, some of this is difficult for me to read as it clearly details where the Department has fallen short in our goal to foster strong relationships with our great and diverse communities that enable us to jointly combat the scourge of crimes motivated by hate or bias,” Lanier said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Nonetheless, I strongly support the recommendations of the Task Force, and the Department will be working to implement them,” she said.

Among other things, Lanier said the department agrees with the report’s finding that neither the GLLU nor its affiliate officers “have the visibility in the community that is our goal, and we must improve that.”

She added, however, that it became clear from the report and meetings MPD officials had with the task force that some members of the LGBT community have “expectations” that the MPD cannot meet.

“While we value a strong relationship with the LGBT community, we are also responsible for being sound stewards of public resources,” she said in her response. “Members of the GLLU had attended events in the past that we have determined are inappropriate for police officers on-duty, including bar crawls, book clubs, and certain events in Leather Week,” according to Lanier.

“That said, we believe there are plenty of opportunities for MPD – GLLU as well as its affiliates – to strengthen outreach with the community,” she said.

In her response to the report, Lanier said Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who had been detailed to serve as the GLLU’s supervisor for over a year, “has been assigned to oversee GLLU exclusively since November 2013.” She added that Mahl “is a good fit for the GLLU and its next stage of development.”

In another finding, the report says there is a belief in the LGBT community that “homophobia and transphobia are widespread within MPD, with several describing it as rampant.”

Interviews with members of the community revealed that the hostility toward transgender people, especially transgender women of color, is common among many MPD officers, the report says.

“Virtually every transgender person who spoke to us at the four community meetings reported that they had been harassed or mistreated because of their gender identity or expression, ranging from acts of ignorance and insensitivity to outright hostility and overt expressions of bigotry and harassment,” the report says.

In citing hate crimes data released by the MPD, the report notes that hate crimes targeting the LGBT community make up the highest percentage of hate crimes compared to other categories of victims, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. In 2012, the most recently year for which full data is available, there were 46 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation, comprising 57 percent of a total of 81 hate crimes for all categories.

Police data show there were 9 hate crimes reported in 2012 based on gender identity or expression.

The report doesn’t say how many cases of anti-LGBT hate crimes resulted in an arrest by police or how many of the cases remain unsolved.

“It remains unclear whether the reported increase [in anti-LGBT hate crimes] reflects an actual higher level of hate violence directed against the LGBT community, better reporting by LGBT victims, or the lack of reporting by victims in other categories,” the report says.

The task force members who wrote the report are: David Friedman, Sophie Dornstreich, Michael Liberman – Anti-Defamation League; Sara Warbelow – Human Rights Campaign; Lisa Bornstein – Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Mara Keisling and Vincent Paolo Villano – National Center for Transgender Equality; Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean and Director of the Institute of Race and Justice, Northeastern University in Boston; and Jim Nolan, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology, West Virginia University in Morgantown.

“We welcome the recommendations in the ADL report,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “GLOV and other LGBT organizations plan to issue a community response to the recommendations in the next two weeks.”

The full report along with Lanier’s response can be seen here: http://mpdc.dc.gov/publication/report-hate-crimes-assessment-task-force

01
Mar
2014

All-American Genderf*ck coming to Baltimore

All-American Genderf*ck, gay news, Glass Mind Theatre, Washington Blade

(Image courtesy of Glass Mind Theatre)

The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret by Mariah MacCarthy presented by Glass Mind Theatre makes its Baltimore premiere April 11-19. A gender-bending emcee guides the audience as limitations of sexuality are redefined throughout confines and confusion.

Playwright MacCarthy says that she wanted to write vignettes about female experience. She then had a revelation: “I couldn’t create a piece about women that had no men in it.”

Aside from the androgynous emcee, Genderf*ck revolves around eight seeming-stereotypes of gender and sex. The 20-somethings are all intertwined in each other’s lives as they navigate sex, gender identity and their relationships with each other. MacCarthy combines humor, drama, raunchy jokes and dance parties.

“I might be feminine, androgynous or a tomboy; straight, a lesbian, pansexual, or just ‘queer’; a livid, no-bullshit Feminazi robot queen, or the most people-pleasing boy-crazy girl next door you’ve ever met,” says MacCarthy. “In a way, Genderf*ck has been my way of investigating and teasing out all my contradictions, by putting those aspects into different characters and setting them loose on each other.”

The play is contemporary, but director Susan Stroupe layers in the lens of the Gilded Age in the 1900s, where cabarets began.

The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret will run at Gallery 788, 3602 Hickory Ave. in Hampden. Tickets are $15, with discounts available for artists, students, seniors and groups. Visit glassmindtheatre.com for tickets and more information.

25
Mar
2014

Gansler: Equality Maryland ‘traded’ Brown endorsement for trans bill support

Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Attorney General Doug Gansler told the Washington Blade last week that Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown for governor for his support of a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

Gansler told the Blade during a Jan. 10 telephone interview that Brown should “honor” the Equality Maryland endorsement by making the trans rights measure an administration bill as Gov. Martin O’Malley did in 2012 when he designated the same-sex marriage bill a legislative priority. Gansler – who is running against Brown and state Del. Heather Mizeur in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June – further stressed he feels the bill would have “a stronger chance of becoming law” this year if the lieutenant governor did so.

“That would be sort of putting his money where his mouth is,” said Gansler. “If it’s not an administration bill, I just don’t know.”

All three gubernatorial candidates have pledged to testify in support of the trans rights bill in Annapolis. O’Malley, along with Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, are also expected to speak for the measure that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) is set to introduce in the coming days.

Gansler’s running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), and Mizeur co-sponsored a 2011 trans rights measure that passed in the House of Delegates.

“The three Democratic candidates for governor indicated strong support for the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, both on their questionnaires and during their interviews,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade late on Sunday. “All three told us they would help pass this bill. None of them indicated their support or help was going to change based on our endorsement decisions.”

Brown’s campaign manager, Justin Schall, blasted Gansler’s comments.

“The leaders of Equality Maryland are dedicated, honest people and this unfounded accusation by Gansler is incredibly disrespectful of their process and the integrity of their organization,” Schall told the Blade on Monday. “Anthony Brown is, and has always been, a strong supporter of equality and justice because it’s the right thing to do.”

13
Jan
2014