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Mayor attends ‘Gray Pride’ rally in campaign’s final days

Vince Gray, activists, Gray Pride, Vincent Gray, District of Columbia, gay news, Washington Blade, Capital Pride Parade

Mayor Vincent Gray, shown here marching in D.C.’s LGBT Pride Parade, joined about 50 LGBT activists last week for a fundraiser and rally sponsored by Gray Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) joined about 50 LGBT activists last Thursday night for a fundraiser and rally sponsored by Gray Pride, an LGBT group established in the past month to support his re-election campaign.

The event was held at the Northwest Washington home of longtime gay rights and AIDS activist A. Cornelius Baker. It took place three days after Lane Hudson, co-chair of Gray Pride, released the names of its 24 members, many of whom have been longtime activists in the LGBT rights movement.

“Comprised of a diverse group or people from all walks of life and all parts of the city, the Gray Pride Committee will work to highlight Mayor Gray’s solid record of accomplishment on LGBT issues in order to win LGBT support for his re-election,” according to a statement released by the group on March 24.

The group has had a presence on Facebook and Twitter before the official announcement of its members last week.

In addition to Hudson, Gray Pride co-chairs include Courtney Snowden, a principal at the Raben Group public affairs firm and former Capitol Hill staffer for then Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.); Jose Ramirez, HIV youth educator and board member of the Youth Pride Alliance; Alexis Blackmon, staff member of the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs and graduate of Project Empowerment, a city job training program with an outreach to the transgender community; and Peter Rosenstein, executive director of a national non-profit organization, Blade columnist and gay Democratic activist.

Members of the Gray Pride Committee include transgender activists Alexandra Beninda, Earline Budd, Jeri Hughes, Bobbi Elaine Strang, Ruby Corado, and Julius Agers; and gay or lesbian activists Brian Goldthorpe, Consuella Lopez, A. Cornelius Baker, Edgardo Guerrero, Ian Hedges, Jose Gutierrez, Justin Hill, Matt Ashburn, Miguel Ayala, Patricia Hawkins, Paul Kuntzler, Paul Morengo and Ted Eytan, M.D.

31
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

EXCLUSIVE: Va. Republican lawmaker backs gay nuptials

Joseph Yost, Virginia, Republican Party, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Del. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County) (Photo public domain)

RICHMOND, Va.—A member of the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday became the first Republican state lawmaker to back marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“As far as same-sex marriage goes, it does not bother me,” state Del. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County) told the Washington Blade during an interview at an Equality Virginia reception that took place at the Library of Virginia in downtown Richmond. “Why not?”

Yost, who represents the 12th Senate District that includes Radford, Giles County and portions of Montgomery and Pulaski Counties in southwestern Virginia, spoke with the Blade less than a week after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not defend the commonwealth’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Yost, 27, also discussed the Republican Party of Virginia’s blistering criticisms of Herring over his announcement.

“It boils down to tradition; it’s just a generational gap,” said Yost. “I don’t think the government should be involved in marriage period — straight or gay. I feel like we have bigger things to worry about.”

The House of Delegates Civil Law Committee later on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on Yost’s bill that seeks to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples in Virginia. A state Senate committee on Jan. 24 killed an identical measure that state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) introduced earlier this month.

Yost earlier this month introduced a bill that sought to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples in Virginia.

“It’s pretty much a no-brainer issue,” Yost told the Blade. “It’s not about Democrats; it’s not about Republicans; it’s not about gay couples; it’s not about straight couples. It’s about the kids.”

Yost further discussed the issue.

“If there are two loving individuals out there who want to raise a child together, I see no reason why they can’t,” he said. “Quite frankly it’s about fairness.”

State Del. Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) earlier this month introduced a bill that sought to ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in Virginia. State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) last week voted for a bill that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees, while state Dels. Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson) and Tom Rust (R-Fairfax County) have co-sponsored Yost’s second-parent adoption measure.

“I think when you look at where the party started and its history, it’s a party that was based on equality,” Yost told the Blade. “It’s what we do.”

Yost further described second-parent adoption and non-discrimination as “small potato issues.”

“I come from a younger generation,” he said. “I don’t get wrapped around the axle on these issues like some of my other colleagues. I think the more young people you see coming into politics, that’s what’s going to happen.”

29
Jan
2014

D.C. restaurant accused of anti-gay discrimination

Bidwell, discrimination, gay news, Washington Blade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19
Feb
2014

Court allows LGBT groups to join Va. marriage lawsuit

Carol Schall, Mary Townley, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Virginia

Carol Schall (left) with Mary Townley and their daughter Emily. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A federal appeals court on Monday said two LGBT rights groups can join a lawsuit that challenges Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., issued its motion in response to Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union’s petition to join a federal lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples from Norfolk and Chesterfield.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski in January certified a same-sex marriage lawsuit that Lambda Legal and the ACLU filed last August on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley as a class action. U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen on Feb. 13 struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in the case that Tim Bostic and Tony London and Carol Schall and Mary Townley brought last year.

The court also said oral arguments in the case are tentatively scheduled to begin on May 12.

“We’re thrilled that all of Virginia’s same-sex couples will be before the court of appeals together, arguing for the freedom to marry and bringing their many compelling stories to the common cause,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project.

Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs in the Bostic case alongside former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson and David Boies, welcomed the court’s decision to expedite oral arguments.

The briefing schedule begins on March 28.

“AFER is thrilled that the Fourth Circuit has granted its request to expedite the hearing schedule in our plaintiffs’ marriage equality case,” said Umhoefer. “The Fourth Circuit clearly recognizes the importance of the Bostic case to thousands of gay and lesbian Virginians and their families, and AFER looks forward to presenting our arguments before the court in May. We welcome the Harris case as interveners in support of our plaintiffs’ case.”

AFER and co-counsel in the Bostic case initially questioned why Lambda Legal and the ACLU petitioned the court to join the lawsuit.

A source involved in the case who asked to remain anonymous told the Washington Blade after the two groups filed their motion that there are “grave and serious consequences for an unwarranted ACLU intervention.” These could include the possibility that other groups from West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that fall under the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction could seek to join the case if allowed.

Attorney General Mark Herring in January announced he would not defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that voters approved in 2006.

11
Mar
2014

Brown tops Gansler in latest Md. fundraising report

Anthony Brown, Diane Stollenwerk, Maggie McIntosh, Mary Washington, Ken Ulman, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

From left: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Diane Stollenwerk, Del. Maggie McIntosh, Del. Mary Washington and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. (Photo by Sam O’Neil)

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown has developed a significant fundraising advantage over his Democratic challengers in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, raised nearly $5.4 million between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8, according to their latest campaign finance report they filed with state officials on Wednesday. This figure includes a $250 contribution Equality Maryland’s PAC made on Jan. 6 — less than two weeks after the statewide LGBT advocacy group endorsed Brown and Ulman.

Brown and Ulman, who ended his own gubernatorial bid last spring after Brown tapped him as his running mate, had slightly more than $7 million on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Attorney General Doug Gansler and his running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), reported they raised nearly $1.7 million during the same period. They reported they have slightly more than $6.2 million in the bank.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) reported she and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates, raised more than $1.1 million between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8. This figure includes slightly more than $284,359 in public funds the campaign has thus far received.

Mizeur and Coates’ campaign finance report indicates they had slightly more than $747,000 on hand at the end of the latest reporting period.

“I’m grateful for this tremendous outpouring of support from people who share our vision of a better Maryland for more Marylanders,” said Brown in a statement, noting education remains among his top priorities. “With a successful 2013 under our belt and growing momentum, we look forward to a busy and productive legislative session to build a better Maryland for more Marylanders.”

Gansler campaign spokesperson Bob Wheelock said the latest finance reports indicate the attorney general “has the resources and the record to not just win this race, but build the best Maryland for everyone.” Wheelock also criticized Brown and Ulman for reporting joint fundraising totals eight days after the start of the current legislative session during which lawmakers and elected statewide officials cannot accept campaign contributions under Maryland law.

“Their report of joint fundraising totals shows the mockery they are making of the ban on fundraising,” said Wheelock.

Joanna Belanger, campaign manager for Mizeur, said the Montgomery County Democrat’s report shows Marylanders are “responding” to her ticket’s message.

“We have a committed army of volunteers, grassroots donors and supporters who want to spread the word and ensure that Maryland families are number one in Annapolis next year,” said Belanger.

A Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies poll conducted last October indicates 41 percent of likely Democratic voters would vote for Brown in the June 24 primary, compared to 21 percent who support Gansler and 5 percent who back Mizeur. A third of respondents said they were undecided.

Republican gubernatorial candidates reported they raised far less money during the latest reporting period than their Democratic counterparts.

Harford County Executive David Craig raised nearly $250,000 between Jan. 10, 2013, and Jan. 8. He reported a bank balance of slightly less than $155,000.

State Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County) reported he raised slightly more than $130,000 during the same period and had $15,449.89 in his campaign bank account.

Former congressional candidate Charles Lollar raised about $65,000 between Nov. 27, 2012, and Jan. 8. His campaign finance report indicates he had only $5,731.35 on hand at the end of the reporting period.

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) reported his campaign to succeed Gansler as attorney general had slightly more than $795,000 on hand at the end of the latest filing period. State Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), Bill Frick (D-Montgomery County) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) reported slightly more than $374,000, $133,000 and $9,200 respectively.

Kevin Walling, a gay former Equality Maryland staffer who hopes to represent portions of Montgomery County in the House of Delegates, raised slightly more than $37,000 from when he formally declared his candidacy last June to Jan. 8. He reported he had nearly $31,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period.

16
Jan
2014

Anti-gay consultant working for Gray campaign

Bob King, National Organization for Marriage, NOM, gay news, Washington Blade

Vincent Gray’s campaign manager says Robert King is ‘not a political adviser’ to the campaign. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who was paid by an anti-gay group in 2010 to work on the unsuccessful effort to overturn D.C.’s same-sex marriage law in a voter referendum is working for Mayor Vincent Gray’s re-election campaign as a get-out-the-vote consultant aimed at senior citizens.

Chuck Thies, Gray’s campaign manager, said he hired Robert “Bob” King to assist with the effort to transport senior citizens to the polls on the day of the city’s April 1 Democratic primary.

“Bob is not a political adviser to this campaign,” Thies told the Blade. “He has no influence whatsoever on public policy, internal policy, or strategy — nothing — zero,” said Thies.

Instead, King, who has had ties to the city’s senior citizen community for more than 30 years, will organize logistics to transport mostly low-income seniors to the polls by bus on Election Day, Thies said.

King’s role as a paid consultant in 2010 for the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, surfaced last April when he emerged as an early supporter of the mayoral campaign of D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4). The Bowser campaign at the time listed King as a member of the host committee for the campaign’s kick-off celebration and fundraiser.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, King said he’s been a longtime friend of the Bowser family and decided to support Bowser for mayor before Gray announced he was running for a second term, believing Bowser was the best candidate at that time.

However, he said the Bowser campaign never responded to a proposal he submitted last spring to do get-out-the vote work targeting senior citizens for her campaign. So after Gray announced his candidacy in December and Gray supporters approached him to organize Gray’s senior citizen outreach effort he decided to join the Gray campaign, King said.

“I looked around and I said the lowering crime rate, the improvement in the schools, the bond ratings – and I thought he had done a great job in advancing Mayor Williams and Mayor Fenty’s blueprint” for the city were factors that prompted him to switch his support to Gray, King said.

The Gray campaign’s Jan. 31 report filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance shows that the campaign paid King $2,500 on Jan. 8 for his services during the campaign’s first reporting period.
King told the Blade last April, at the time he was supporting Bowser, that he has never taken a public position for or against the city’s same-sex marriage law. He said he was retained as a consultant by the National Organization for Marriage to coordinate a campaign to place the marriage law on the ballot in a referendum.

“My position was to give the people the right to vote on the issue,” he said. “My personal view is not the issue. The issue was democracy and whether the people should be given the right to vote.”

Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said at the time that King and others who clearly opposed marriage equality for same-sex couples have sought to “hide behind the ‘let the people vote mantra’ in their efforts to kill same-sex marriage laws in D.C. and elsewhere.

“The fact is that no other people’s rights are put to a plebiscite,” Rosendall said.

Thies noted that Gray is a strong supporter of marriage equality and LGBT rights and has taken heat from clergy members and many residents – including black senior citizens – for his outspoken advocacy for gay marriage.

“And so when it comes to Mayor Gray’s position on same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues, I don’t think anyone can question his commitment and his dedication to equal rights,” Thies said.

According to Thies, King told him he now accepts the city’s marriage equality law as the “law of the land.”

“I talked to him before I hired him,” said Thies. “I said Bob, I have a problem with this and you need to address this. And he said that’s the past. I accept the law and that is the status quo now.”

King reiterated that on Tuesday, saying he’s interested in meeting with representatives of the LGBT community to open the door to working together on future projects. He said he’s also doing senior citizen outreach on behalf of the re-election campaigns of D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5).

“They are marriage equality supporters and I am working with them,” he said.

Thies said King’s efforts to arrange transportation for senior citizens to the polls will be open to everyone regardless of who they are supporting for mayor.

“We will hire buses and bring them to the senior centers and anyone can board them, including someone wearing a sticker that belongs to one of our opponents,” he said.

04
Feb
2014

Evans says Ariz. should lose Super Bowl over anti-gay measure

Jack Evans, Washington Blade, gay news

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans said Arizona should not get the 2015 Super Bowl if the state’s anti-gay law is enacted. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is calling on the National Football League to move the 2015 Super Bowl out of Arizona if the governor signs legislation named by critics as the “turn away the gay” bill.

Gay rights advocates and the ACLU have said if the bill is enacted into law, it would allow businesses to deny services to gay, lesbian or transgender customers on grounds that doing business with them violates their deeply held religious beliefs.

“It is unconscionable to think that America’s largest and most celebrated sporting event could be held in a state that discriminates as a matter of law,” Evans said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Stadiums bring together thousands of people of diverse backgrounds by hosting events like the Super Bowl and are designed to boost local businesses and create jobs,” he said. “Arizona doesn’t deserve that benefit if its leaders single out the LGBT community and their supporters by declaring they are not welcomed.”

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) has said she has yet to decide whether to sign the measure, which the Arizona Legislature approved last week.

Although the bill doesn’t mention the words “gay,” or “sexual orientation,” it expands the state’s definition of the exercise of religion to allow an individual, a religious group or business to deny services based on religious belief. Opponents believe the bill would lead to discrimination against transgender people as well as gays and lesbians.

25
Feb
2014

Marylanders favor trans equality: poll

transgender, Maryland, trans equality, Marylanders, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image public domain)

A new poll finds that 71 percent of Marylanders support proposed legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation.

The Goucher Poll, conducted by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Baltimore-based Goucher College, found that of those supporting, 39 percent strongly favor the measure. Of the 20 percent who oppose the legislation, only 10 percent strongly oppose.  The bill was approved March 4 in the Senate and is awaiting action in the House of Delegates.

19
Mar
2014

Gay Orthodox Rabbi to speak at College Park

Steve Greenberg, orthodox rabbi, gay news, Washington Blade

Rabbi Steve Greenberg (Photo by BAswim; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi Steve Greenberg will speak Monday at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus on the topic, “Wrestling with God and Men” — the title of his 2004 book. The event will take place on at 7 p.m. in the McKeldin Library’s Special Events Room (6th floor).

Rabbi Greenberg will share his personal journey and introduce the challenges of living as an openly gay Jew in the Orthodox world. There will be a Q&A session following his talk. The event is free.

Regarded as the first openly gay Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, he publicly disclosed he was gay in an article in the Israeli newspaper Maariv in 1999 and participated in a 2001 documentary film about gay men and women raised in the Orthodox Jewish world. He was widely criticized, and some Orthodox Jews, including many rabbis, dispute his being an Orthodox rabbi.

25
Mar
2014