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Much to celebrate this Pride season

Pride season, gay news, gay politics dc

Capital Pride (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

We have a lot to celebrate this year as Pride season arrives. The biggest reason may be the Windsor decision handed down by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013. Since that time, judges across the nation have based their rulings that states from Pennsylvania to Utah must recognize same-sex marriages on this decision. June 1 marked the day that same-sex marriages could begin in Illinois. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill banning discrimination against the transgender community in Maryland and a petition drive to put that up to a referendum in the state failed.

In Texas, Houston Mayor Annise Parker signed the Equal Rights Ordinance. That signature came after an 11-hour Council session of which the city secretary said, “it was the largest public turnout Houston had ever seen at a City Council meeting.” We have seen many changes in federal policy that give same-sex married couples more rights and no less a conservative than Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently said that though he personally doesn’t support same-sex marriage it is inevitable that it will become the law of the land.

A year ago, “Kinky Boots,” based on a film adapted by Harvey Fierstein with music by Cyndi Lauper, won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Sunday we can look forward to out and talented Neil Patrick Harris winning this year’s Tony Award for best actor in a musical for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Larry Kramer finally saw his play, “The Normal Heart,” made into a successful film for HBO. Our community is still fighting about issues surrounding AIDS as seen by the recent debate between Kramer and columnist Andrew Sullivan about the impact of the drug Truvada.

The Pride parade Saturday will wind through the Dupont and Logan Circle neighborhoods. The parade is fun but has always been a little long. One way to shorten it would be to have all politicians and candidates participate together. Have the mayor lead off the parade with other politicians joining him/her in a line at the front. If there is still a clamor by any of them to have a separate contingent there could be a lottery and they would be interspersed throughout the parade, between the fun floats and bands, so people wouldn’t have to watch the first hour of just politicians.

Pride festivities have grown over the years and this year there are more than 30 official events listed on the Capital Pride website that span from Jewish Pride Happy Hour at MOVA to the Night Out at the Nationals. Many of the events listed cater to specific groups within the LGBT community because, like the rest of society, we are a diverse community. We are young and old, men and women, black, white, Latino and Asian and have representation in every religious denomination and all of us want to celebrate and showcase our Pride.

As we celebrate we should always take a moment to remember those who have helped to move us forward over the years. We need to think about and thank all those who both publicly and behind the scenes fought for our civil and human rights when it wasn’t easy to be out and proud. We must also remember those friends and loved ones who died of AIDS during the years when our community fought to bring attention to the disease our government was failing to respond to.

And as we celebrate our victories we need to pledge to continue to work toward full equality — to fight to ensure the rights of transgender persons and to continue the fight to pass legislation like ENDA. We also need to demand that the president live up to a promise he made to us in 2008, and which he has pointedly not kept, to sign an executive order protecting the rights of LGBT workers in federal contracting. While we may thank him for announcing a history project in front of the Stonewall Inn, I am sure nearly all of us would trade that for a signature on the executive order.

03
Jun
2014

Chris Kluwe talks Michael Sam, marriage, Redskins name

Chris Kluwe, National Football League, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Kluwe (Photo by Joe Bielawa)

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe told the Washington Blade during a May 30 telephone interview that Michael Sam’s sexual orientation “definitely had something to do” with his low ranking in last month’s National Football League draft.

Kluwe — who is the grand marshal of this year’s Capital Pride parade — noted the Associated Press last year named Sam its 2013 Southeastern Conference co-defensive player of the year when he played for the University of Missouri. The outspoken punter who is now retired from the league said those with comparable rankings over the last decade have been drafted into the NFL no lower than during the second round.

“The only thing Michael Sam is is a first-round talent,” Kluwe says. “Michael Sam is definitely not a second-round talent.”

Sam had been projected to be drafted during the third or fourth round.

Observers noted his disappointing performance during the NFL scouting combine that took place shortly after he publicly came out during interviews with the New York Times and ESPN likely contributed to the St. Louis Rams choosing Sam during the seventh round.

Kluwe told the Blade that potential draftees who perform poorly during a combine may drop one and a half rounds — and not three as Sam did. He said the Rams choosing him so late in the draft is “an indication that there is something else going on there.”

“The only thing that is different about Michael Sam is his sexuality,” Kluwe says.

Sam coming out is a ‘brave step’

Kluwe says Sam did not seem “too nervous” about coming out when the two met during a dinner at the Los Angeles home of Howard Bragman, a gay Hollywood publicist, in February. The defensive lineman’s interviews with the New York Times and ESPN appeared the next day.

“It’s a brave step,” says Kluwe, noting Sam had been tipped to become the country’s first openly gay NFL player after coming out. “It’s great to see Michael be the one to do it.”

Kluwe told the Blade he hopes that Sam is “given a chance to succeed.”

“It’s tough to make it in the NFL and there’s so many plausible ways to get rid of someone,” Kluwe says. “I am hopeful that this is a situation where Mike is given a chance to show his talents, show if he can make it or not based on who he is as a football player, not who he is as defined by his sexuality.”

Kluwe also dismissed suggestions that Sam’s coming out has been too choreographed.

“There are a lot of people that pay attention to the NFL,” he told the Blade. “This isn’t like Pop Warner or little league. That just shows an understanding of the realities of the situation in that this is a historic moment.”

Kluwe added he feels using someone like Bragman allows Sam to “have ownership” and control over his message.

“You’re going to have to sit down and plan how this is going to go out,” Kluwe says. “That’s just reality.”

Kluwe: Vikings cut me because of marriage support

Kluwe, who played for the Vikings from 2005 until 2013, emerged as a prominent supporter of marriage rights for same-sex couples during the debate over a proposal that would have amended the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“I don’t think discrimination should be enshrined in the state constitution,” Kluwe says. “I’m in a position to say something about it, so I should say something about it.”

Kluwe in 2012 sharply criticized Maryland state Del. Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County) after he suggested then-Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo “should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base” over the issue of gay nuptials ahead of a referendum on the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed earlier in the year.

Kluwe said he initially found Burns’ comments against Ayanbadejo’s same-sex marriage advocacy as “kind of messed up.” He then proceeded to write a profanity-laced letter to the outgoing Maryland lawmaker who also voted against a transgender rights bill that O’Malley signed into law last month.

“Why do you care so much about what other people are doing with their lives?” says Kluwe, referring to Burns. “This isn’t going to affect your life in any way, shape or form. Why are you trying to tell other people that they can’t exercise their own free will? You’re essentially trying to take someone’s humanity away from them.”

Kluwe and Ayanbadejo — who guest edited the Blade’s sports issue last summer — in 2013 filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that challenged California’s Proposition 8.

The former punter earlier this year claimed his advocacy in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples prompted the Vikings to cut him from the team.

The team — which has claimed Kluwe’s performance and salary contributed to the decision — launched an investigation into the allegations. Kluwe told the Blade he “definitely” still feels his activism on gay nuptials prompted the team to cut him.

“It’s something where institutionally I don’t think the NFL has a policy has a place against same-sex rights, but I think on an individual level, there are a significant portion of people in the NFL that don’t believe same-sex rights are something worthy of respect,” he says. “That’s something that needs to be changed.”

Reluctance to change Redskins name ‘so stupid’

Kluwe also said he would have “been fine” with a U.S. boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Sochi, Russia, over the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record. He also sharply criticized Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder over his continued opposition to changing the team’s controversial name.

“Yeah, it’s going to cost some money in the short-term,” Kluwe says. “In the long-term do you want your children looking back at you saying, ‘Yeah, Dad, he was a racist, yeah he didn’t do the right thing.’ It’s so stupid.”

05
Jun
2014

Md. Senate campaign between Madaleno, Beyer grows heated

Dana Beyer, Richard Madaleno, Annapolis, Maryland, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade, incumbent

Dana Beyer and Richard Madaleno. (Washington Blade photo of Beyer by Michael Key; Blade photo of Madaleno by Jeff Surprenant)

The race between state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and challenger Dana Beyer in Maryland’s 18th Senate District has grown increasingly heated ahead of the June 24 primary.

Madaleno compared Beyer to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during a May 29 debate that aired on Montgomery Municipal Cable’s “Political Pulse.” The two also clashed during a District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club forum on Monday.

“She wants to be the person that just makes the big statement that gets attention, but actually spends little time in making the hard decisions about governing,” Madaleno told the Washington Blade in an interview on Tuesday. “You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who would not label me as a liberal, as a progressive in the state Senate. I’m also practical in recognizing that we have to make compromises that get the job done.”

Madaleno told the Blade that Beyer has “gone very negative” during the campaign.

His opponent in recent days has sent two mailers to voters that say Madaleno has “led the charge” against a so-called millionaire’s tax. Beyer has also said Madaleno voted in favor of cutting the state’s contribution to the public teachers’ pension fund.

“There’s nothing in any of my mailers … that is in any way negative,” Beyer told the Blade on Tuesday. “It’s about his record. He’s used it negatively because it’s highlighting what he’s done, which doesn’t fit with his record.”

Beyer provided the Blade with a screenshot of her Facebook page that shows Madaleno’s husband, Mark Madaleno Hodge, questioning why her campaign pays her canvassers $8.50 an hour.

“Economic justice doesn’t apply to you I guess,” wrote Hodge.

Beyer told the Blade her canvassers receive between $10.50-$12.50 an hour. She also categorized accusations that she asked District 18 voters whether Madaleno spent “too much time on gay issues” in a Celinda Lake poll she commissioned before declaring her candidacy in January as “another lie.”

“That was as classic, as detailed, as traditional a persuasion poll as possible,” Beyer told the Blade. “I’m trying to understand the race. I discovered that I could win this race, but it wasn’t on anything gay or trans.”

Madaleno, 48, has represented District 18 that includes Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring, Bethesda and Chevy Chase since 2007. He also became the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 when he won a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Beyer, 61, was a senior assistant to former Montgomery County Council woman Duchy Trachtenberg. The retired eye surgeon unsuccessfully challenged state Del. Alfred Carr (D-Montgomery County) in 2010.

Beyer, who is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors, is the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland that she founded in 2011.

Beyer: Madaleno introduced trans bill because he’s ‘the gay guy’

Beyer has repeatedly criticized Madaleno over his role in the passage of a transgender rights bill earlier this year that he introduced.

She told the Blade that Madaleno “wasn’t supposed to introduce” Senate Bill 212 or the Fairness for All Marylanders Act because she said her organization convinced state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) to do it because he is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that in 2013 struck down a similar measure. Beyer said Gender Rights Maryland also worked with state Del. James Hubbard (D-Prince George’s County) to put forth the bill in the Maryland House of Delegates because he is a member of the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

“These are people who’ve been with us in the past, who have superb rates of legislative success,” she said. “Rich introduced this because he’s the gay guy.”

Beyer said Madaleno was unable to define gender identity last year during the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a trans rights bill. She also accused her opponent of disinviting Gov. Martin O’Malley from testifying in support of it.

Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer, Jamie Raskin, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Rich Madaleno, Dana Beyer and Sen. Jamie Raskin during a 2013 Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Beyer told the Blade that she worked with state Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) who ultimately voted for Senate Bill 212 in February.

The three Democrats who sit on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in 2013 voted against a nearly identical bill.

“We got all three of those votes,” said Beyer. “[Madaleno] promoted himself as the lead sponsor because he wanted the credit for it. That’s what he does best — take credit for which he doesn’t deserve credit.”

Madaleno acknowledged he shares Beyer’s “frustration” that it took nearly a decade for a trans rights bill to become law. He accused her of being willing to compromise on a 2011 measure that did not include public accommodations.

Numerous LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent months have said Beyer did not play a significant role in the passage of SB 212 that O’Malley signed last month. They also questioned Gender Rights Maryland’s decision to oppose efforts to highlight efforts to prompt a referendum on the law that ultimately failed.

“Those of us who were actually in Annapolis day in and day out during the session will tell you that it was thousands of supporters, strong leadership from the governor, Lt. Gov. [Anthony Brown], Senate President [Thomas V. Mike Miller], Speaker of the House [Michael Busch], and most importantly, and the glue that held it all together, Sen. Rich Madaleno,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade.

Her organization late last year endorsed Madaleno and Brown, who is running against Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“It is unfortunate for our community that Beyer has employed tactics that attack Sen. Madaleno, his intentions and his record,” said Evans.

Jonathan Shurberg, chair of Gender Rights Maryland’s Legislative Committee who is running for the House of Delegates in House District 20, has repeatedly defended the role he says Beyer and her organization played to secure passage of SB 212.

The Blade was unable to immediately reach him for comment.

Madaleno: Beyer is ‘jealous’

Madaleno said that he also played a key role in securing marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state — a point Beyer has acknowledged. The incumbent Democrat suggested during the Montgomery Municipal Cable debate that his opponent is “jealous” of him, noting she described him as “the major stumbling block in getting the trans bill passed.”

“It’s clear that the only thing that triturates us is her belief that she should have the job,” said Madaleno.

Beyer insists her decision to challenge Madaleno is not just about the trans rights bill that O’Malley signed.

She told the Blade she will focus on economic issues, the environment and other progressive issues if voters elect her.

“I’m not running to be the trans senator,” said Beyer. “I’m running to be the senator from District 18 who happens to be a woman, a civil rights leader, trans, intersex, a physician, a surgeon, a writer. I am many, many things and in many respects certainly with respect to being an elected representative, being trans is the least of it.”

11
Jun
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

Denmark to allow legal gender changes without sterilization

trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade

Danish lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that will allow transgender people to legally change their gender without sterilization and surgery. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Denmark on Wednesday became the first European country to allow transgender people to legally change their gender without undergoing medical and psychological treatment.

Agence France Presse reported the law, which received final approval in the Danish Parliament, will allow Danes who are at least 18 to legally change their gender after stating their desire to “belong to the other sex” and completing what the Danish government describes as a six-month “reflection period.” They had previously been required to undergo sex-reassignment surgery and sterilization before making the request.

The law is slated to take effect on Sept. 1.

“Today we have dropped the requirement of sterilization when transgendered people need a new personal identification number as part of a legal sex change,” said Minister for Economics and the Interior Margrethe Vestager in a statement to Agence France Presse. “It will make life easier and more dignified for the individual.”

Danish LGBT rights advocates applauded the new law.

“We are highly satisfied that the government decided to go with the most progressive solution and that the Parliament provided a majority vote for it,” Søren Laursen, chair of LGBT Danmark, a Danish advocacy group, told the Washington Blade.

“We are very happy that the law regarding legal recognition of gender identity has been updated,” added Sarah Baagøe Petersen, vice chair of Lambda, another Danish LGBT advocacy group, in an e-mail to the Blade. “The fact that transgender people can now freely apply to change their gender — legally — without surgery or a psychological evaluation is a big step in the right direction. The entire LGBT community welcomes this change.”

Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2012 signed what is considered the world’s most progressive trans rights law that allows people in the South American country to legally change their gender on official documents without surgery and an affidavit from a doctor or another medical provider. Neighboring Uruguay has adopted a similar statute.

The Dutch Senate late last year approved a bill slated to take effect on July 1 that will allow trans people to legally change their gender without undergoing sterilization and sex-reassignment surgery. They will still need to obtain a statement from an “expert” to fulfill their request.

German parents have been able to designate the gender on their intersex children’s birth certificates as “indeterminate” since last November.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley last month signed a bill that added gender identity and expression to the state’s non-discrimination law. Efforts to prompt a referendum on the law failed after opponents did not collect enough signatures.

Laursen and other European LGBT rights advocates said they hope other countries enact laws that allow trans people to legally change their gender without surgery or sterilization.

“We are very pleased to see the Argentinian model for legal gender recognition being introduced in Europe by Denmark today,” said ILGA-Europe Co-Chair Paulo Côrte-Real. “The benchmark is set high now and we encourage other European countries to follow suit and to remove unnecessary, humiliating and degrading requirements which hinder people across Europe to fully enjoy their lives in preferred gender.”

“We are the first European country to go with this model – in fact, such a solution exists today only in Argentina and Uruguay,” added Laursen. “I am convinced that other European countries will now follow.”

12
Jun
2014

Maryland transgender rights bill introduced

Rich Madaleno, Maryland, Democratic Party, Montgomery County, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland State. Sen. Rich Madaleno

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders.

State Sens. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County), the chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee who is running for attorney general, and Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) are among the 25 senators who have co-sponsored the measure. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the bill in the House of Delegates where it passed in 2011.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote margin struck down an identical bill that Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure.

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) state Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) support the bill. House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) also backs the measure.

Governor Martin O’Malley and the three Democrats who are running to succeed him — Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) — are expected to testify in support of the bill. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, has also pledged to speak for the measure in Annapolis.

“No one should face discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade last week. “Equality in Maryland shouldn’t have to wait this long.”

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

“Inequality anywhere should be recognized as wrong for anybody,” Gansler told the Washington Blade during a Jan. 10 telephone interview. “Inequality for any person is inequality for all of us.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer welcomed the introduction of the bill.

“I’m glad to see that this year’s gender identity bill is now in play and we are all looking forward to an expedited hearing in the [Senate] Judicial Proceedings Committee,” she told the Blade. “With strong support in both the Senate and House, as well as from senior leadership, the administration and all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the time has come to finally move the bill from the Senate committee to the floor.”

The bill remains a legislative priority for Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, after voters in 2012 approved the Free State’s same-sex marriage law.

Gansler told the Blade the organization “traded” its endorsement of Brown for governor last month for his support of the trans rights bill. Gansler said the measure would have “a stronger chance of becoming law” this year if the lieutenant governor made it an administrative bill as O’Malley did when he made the same-sex marriage bill a legislative priority in 2012.

“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.”

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties have already added gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville last month became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that include gender identity and expression in their anti-discrimination laws. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last month announced his support of a bill that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the Keystone State.

14
Jan
2014

High marks for Obama, Clinton in Blade poll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Vice President Joseph Biden (D) – 3 percent

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

• Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) – 1 percent

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

18
Jun
2014

Maryland Senate committee holds hearing on transgender rights bill

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, House of Delegates, Annapolis, SB 212, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) on Tuesday testified in support of a transgender rights bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday held a hearing on a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the state.

Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 212 that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced last month. The measure would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit.

“At its core, SB 212 is about securing basic civil rights for transgender Marylanders: the right to a job, a place to live and fair treatment in public spaces,” said Madaleno.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is among those who submitted testimony in support of SB 212.

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur pointed out during her testimony that the Baltimore County Council passed a trans rights bill after two teenagers attacked Chrissy Lee Polis at a Rosedale McDonald’s in 2011.

“This is a protection we want to make sure gets extended statewide,” said Mizeur. “Protection against discrimination shouldn’t depend on your zip code.”

Mizeur’s Democratic challengers and their running mates — Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County) — back SB 212.

Brown and Gansler both submitted written testimony in support of the measure.

“The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 is critical to our ability to move forward as a state because no Marylander should face discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Brown. “Whether they’re using a public accommodation or finding housing, looking for private sector employment, leasing a commercial space for their business or deciding what to wear for work, all Marylanders deserve to be treated equally.”

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) also back SB 212.

“The protections in Senate Bill 212 are needed in real people’s lives,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans. “These individuals are our spouses, our friends, our co-workers and our fellow Marylanders.”

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry in Mount Rainier, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, executive co-director of the National Coalition of American Nuns, also testified in support of SB 212.

“We need to incorporate the vulnerable members of our society into our laws and our customs,” said Gramick.

The Maryland Catholic Conference is among the organizations that submitted testimony in opposition to SB 212.

“The church firmly opposes undue harassment or discrimination against any person,” said the group. “That principle does not, however, warrant creating a new class of protected individuals in the state’s anti-discrimination statute, especially when the extension of the law would presumably apply to only a small number of individuals.”

Elaine McDermott of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council are among those who also spoke against the measure.

“I am here to stand up for women, children and their safety,” said McDermott, who submitted to the committee newspaper articles that detail men who allegedly targeted women and girls in restrooms and locker rooms. “Women worry about their safety in bathrooms and locker rooms. Proponents of this bill deny that there will be problems with restrooms and locker rooms.”

Zane Walsh, 13, of Baltimore County countered McDermott.

“I am not a pervert lurking in the bathroom,” he said. “I’m pretty much a normal kid.”

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last year narrowly killed an identical bill that Madaleno introduced.

State Sens. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County), who voted against the aforementioned measure in 2013, asked Madaleno and other SB 212 supporters about access to restrooms and locker rooms during the hearing. Michael Lore, an aide to state Sen. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), told the Washington Blade on Monday that LGBT rights advocates should not expect the lawmaker’s position on the issue to change unless SB 212 supporters address his concerns over employment contracts.

“He was certainly sympathetic to some of the concerns,” said Lore, discussing Stone’s vote against the 2013 bill. “He’s willing to listen to all sides.”

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard Counties have already added gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination laws. Hyattsville in December became the first jurisdiction in Prince George’s County to pass a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance.

“It is time for Maryland to pass this legislation,” said Madaleno.

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, who announced last week she will challenge Madaleno in the June Democratic primary, noted only 47 percent of Marylanders live in jurisdictions that have adopted trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

“This situation is patently unfair,” said Beyer in written testimony. “I ask you to favorably report SB 212 to the floor to remedy that situation.”

Neighboring Delaware is among the 17 states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico that ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, New York and other states have introduced similar measures.

The Maryland House of Delegates in 2011 approved a trans rights bill. There are enough votes in the state Senate to ensure passage of SB 212 if it advances out of committee.

04
Feb
2014

Gansler turns up heat in Md. gubernatorial race

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Attorney General Doug Gansler will face Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) in the June 24 primary. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

Attorney General Doug Gansler this week attacked Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown’s record on LGBT rights ahead of the June 24 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Gansler repeatedly described Brown’s support for the same-sex marriage and transgender rights bills that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2012 and last month respectively as “lukewarm” during an interview with the Washington Blade on Monday.

The attorney general questioned whether the lieutenant governor voted for the same-sex marriage law when it went before voters in a 2012 referendum. Gansler acknowledged that Brown testified in support of the trans rights bill in March, but suggested he could have done more.

“There’s the public and then there’s the behind the scenes,” said Gansler. “My understanding [is] he really didn’t lift a finger to help except show up that one day to testify.”

Brown defended his record in support of same-sex marriage during an interview with the Blade on Monday.

He stressed he worked with LGBT rights advocates to raise money for the 2012 campaign to defend the gay nuptials law at the ballot box. Brown pointed out to the Blade that he discussed his support for the issue during his first national television interview with MSNBC the year before.

Brown noted he also opposed efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman while in the Maryland House of Delegates after gays and lesbians began to legally tie the knot in Massachusetts in 2004.

“We’re in the last week of an election and there’s a lot of comments that I think reveal desperation and a distortion or manipulation of the truth,” he said. “I can tell you that my commitment to marriage equality was long standing.”

Brown also reiterated his support for the trans rights bill, noting he spoke with “a number” of lawmakers and “coordinated my efforts with” Equality Maryland. He told the Blade he could not recall any specific conversations he may have had with state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and other lawmakers who had previously voted against similar measures.

“I said identify for me where you think I could be most helpful,” said Brown, referring to his work with Equality Maryland to advance the bill. “It was all based on what we thought was the best strategy to try to get the votes and the support we needed.”

Gansler says Equality Maryland ‘traded’ Brown endorsement

Gansler also told the Blade he still believes Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of Brown for his support of the trans rights bill.

“That is what we were told,” Gansler told the Blade. “They endorsed somebody who did absolutely nothing on the issue of marriage equality. He took no steps in advancing the cause of marriage equality or any other LGBT rights [issue] as far as I can tell. He was visibly uncomfortable talking about the issue.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans described Gansler’s claim as an “unfounded” and “untrue accusation.”

She noted the attorney general during his “on the record” interview with the Equality Maryland Political Action Committee last year questioned whether Brown voted for the same-sex marriage law during the 2012 referendum.

“The interview team was shocked to hear Gansler insinuate this and agreed that it did not bode well for Gansler’s ability to restrain himself and carry himself with integrity and dignity as our governor,” Evans told the Blade. “Moreover, for him to insinuate, twice, that Equality Maryland traded our endorsement for Brown’s support of [the Fairness for All Marylanders Act] is insulting.”

Gansler also told the Blade in response to a question about state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County)’s plan to legalize marijuana in Maryland that the Montgomery County Democrat is “not seen as a viable candidate in terms of the election.” He further suggested that a Republican could become Maryland’s next governor in November if Brown wins the Democratic primary because of his tax proposals.

“Voters want to hear about the issues, and are tired of these personal, baseless attacks from our opponents,” Mizeur’s campaign manager, Joanna Belanger, told the Blade on Tuesday. “That’s why Heather continues to see momentum as she runs a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter most to Maryland families and seniors.”

Gansler questioning Brown’s record on marriage rights for same-sex couples and trans rights comes as all three leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates continue to court LGBT voters ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.

The attorney general noted to the Blade that in 2008 he became the first statewide official in Maryland to back marriage rights for same-sex couples when he testified before a state Senate committee. State Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) later tried to impeach him over the issue.

Gansler in 2010 wrote an opinion that said Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

“I’ve never understood the arguments against marriage equality, so I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Gansler. “That’s why I ran for office; to stand up for things that I thought were unfair or unjust.”

Gansler submitted testimony in support of the trans rights bill. His running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored an identical measure in the House of Delegates that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced.

Mizeur, who could become the first openly gay governor in the country if she wins the general election in November, earlier this year testified in support of the trans rights bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

She and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, who testified in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, marched in the annual Baltimore Pride Parade on Saturday. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, also took part in the event.

“[Coates] and I are focused on not making history, but making a difference,” Mizeur told the Blade during an interview earlier this month. “Delman and I are the representation to the end of identity politics that divides communities.”

Campaign finance reports indicate that Brown continues to maintain a significant fundraising edge over Gansler and Mizeur, who has accepted public campaign funds. Polls also show the lieutenant governor has a double-digit lead over his two Democratic rivals ahead of the primary.

Frosh a ‘firm ally’

The outcome of a number of other statewide and local races will likely be determined in the June 24 Democratic primary.

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) will face state Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) in the race to succeed Gansler as attorney general.

Equality Maryland in April endorsed Frosh, noting the role that Evans said he played in securing passage of the trans rights bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Cardin earlier this year introduced a bill that sought to ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the state.

“Brian Frosh has been a firm ally and leader on LGBT issues in the General Assembly,” said Evans. “He has the maturity, experience and commitment to be an effective advocate for the LGBT communities of Maryland as our next attorney general.”

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will square off against Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer in the 18th Senate District that includes Chevy Chase, Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring and Bethesda.

George Zokle is running to represent House District 20 that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring. Kevin Walling, Equality Maryland’s director of communications and development from 2008-2010 — a period when the organization faced serious financial difficulties — dropped his bid to represent House District 16 that includes Bethesda and Potomac.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed both men, along with Madaleno.

18
Jun
2014

Despite advances, poverty persists for Baltimore’s LGBT residents

Baltimore Black Gay Pride, Carlton Smith, gay news, Washington Blade

Carlton Smith, executive director of Center for Black Equity-Baltimore. (Photo courtesy of Carlton Smith)

Courtney, a 20-year-old transgender woman from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has been trying to get a job for more than a year but has been unable to do so because of her gender identity and expression.

She said during a recent interview that she has been able to work odd jobs and received some money from her parents. Courtney, who spoke on condition that her last name not be used, is working with Free State Legal Project, a Baltimore-based organization that advocates on behalf of low-income LGBT Marylanders, to legally change her name.

“I don’t have a job,” said Courtney. “I can’t afford to do it myself.”

Courtney is among the estimated 50,000 to 75,000 Marylanders who live in poverty, according to Free State Legal Project Executive Director Aaron Merki. LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade has spoken indicate the problem is most acute in Baltimore.

The U.S. Census notes 23.4 percent of Baltimoreans lived below the poverty line between 2008-2012, compared to 9.4 percent of Marylanders during the same period.

A Williams Institute analysis of the 2000 Census notes LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts.

The report notes black same-sex couples are “significantly more likely” to be poor than African-American married heterosexuals. The Williams Institute also found these couples are three times as likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.

Free State Legal Project handles several hundred cases each year. Merki told the Blade his organization’s case load is growing at least 50 percent annually.

“It’s a large population,” he said.

Merki said the “concept” that African Americans are “more homophobic than white people” is largely a stereotype. He acknowledged there are many black Baltimoreans who are members of homophobic religious congregations.

New Harvest Ministries, Inc., in Baltimore in October 2012 hosted a rally against Maryland’s same-sex marriage law during which a California pastor described gay men as “predators.” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Rev. Donté Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore, Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County and state Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) are among the prominent people of color who backed the gay nuptials law that voters approved in November 2012.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, gay pride, gay news, Maryland, Washington Blade

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Polls released before the vote indicated a majority of black Marylanders backed the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed.

“For many people, the church is the foundation of their livelihood and their family,” said Rev. Meredith Moise, who has been an ordained minister in Baltimore for a decade. “If you’re hearing negative messages about homosexual persons or transgender persons, it is more likely to impact negatively how you see transgender people. Even if a black person is not religious, people may use religious texts or dogma to support their homophobia.”

Moise, an alumna of Morgan State University, told the Blade that President Obama’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples and the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s advocacy in support of the issue prompted “sustained conversations” around LGBT people in the black community.

“There was a lot of kitchen table talk, barber shop talk about this,” said Moise, referring to black gay couples, a “tom boy” who lost her job when she came out or a gender non-conforming man whose neighbors only see him late at night on the stretch of East Baltimore Avenue known as the Block where prostitution is common. “This literally changed the face of how we see gay and trans people.”

Criminal justice system exacerbates poverty

Other advocates with whom the Blade spoke attributed LGBT poverty in Baltimore to the city’s criminal justice system.

A study that Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health graduate students conducted in early 2005 found 33 percent of the 148 female inmates at the Baltimore City Women’s Detention Center surveyed identified as lesbian or bisexual; 70 percent of the respondents identified as black, compared to only 16 percent who said they are white.

Five percent of those who took part in the Johns Hopkins survey said they are living with HIV; 7.4 percent of inmates at the Baltimore City Women’s Detention Center had the virus in 2004.

A fifth of respondents who participated in the Johns Hopkins survey said they make less than $400 a month. More than a third of respondents said they had engaged in sex work for money, drugs or a place to stay within a month of their arrest.

The study also noted bisexual women were four times less likely to have a place to live upon their release from jail than heterosexual inmates.

Jacqui Robarge in 2001 founded Power Inside, an organization that serves more than 300 women each year who are either in jail or have had experiences with the criminal justice system.

She told the Blade that a third of her clients are lesbian, bisexual or trans. Robarge referenced an American Civil Liberties Union report that said black Baltimoreans were 5.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

She noted some of the young lesbians with whom her organization works have been homeless for up to a decade because their families threw them out of their homes because of their sexual orientation. Robarge said they enter the criminal justice system because they engage in prostitution, shoplift, sell drugs and other “survival strategies.”

“In our experience, African-American women who are masculine expressing or transgender are disproportionately and specifically targeted by law enforcement for harassment, searches, arrests and incarcerations,” she told the Blade. “Once released from jail, these women are routinely denied access to basic supports, driving them deeper into the street economy and often back to jail.”

“Violence, whether interpersonal or institutional, is often ignored if the survivor is black — and particularly if she is a lesbian or transgender,” added Robarge.

Carlton Smith, executive director of the Center for Black Equity-Baltimore who founded Baltimore Black Gay Pride in 2002, noted young and older LGBT Baltimoreans remain particularly vulnerable to poverty.

“When parents and guardians find out a young person is coming out, they tend to be thrown out and are not usually able to stay with relatives,” he said.

Smith said a low-income LGBT person may face discrimination in a city-run senior housing development in which he or she lives.

“If you’re LGBTQ, they’ll put you right back into the closet,” he said. “It makes people introvert and puts them back in the closet because they don’t feel safe.”

Baltimore City is among the five Maryland municipalities that have added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws.

The Maryland House of Delegates last month approved a measure that would ban anti-transgender discrimination throughout the state. The Free State Legal Project and the Center for Black Equity-Baltimore are among the members of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality that worked with Equality Maryland and other advocacy groups to increase support for Senate Bill 212 that state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced in January.

Robarge told the Blade there are “more subtle” forms of discrimination that take place against the backdrop of laws and other measures that officially prohibit it. These include dress codes and criminal background checks.

“It protects you against outright discrimination, but most isms aren’t outright,” she said.

5 percent of Baltimoreans with HIV homeless

A survey of the metropolitan area that includes Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne’s Counties the Greater Baltimore HIV Health Services Planning Council conducted last year found 85 percent of the 374 people with HIV/AIDS who responded identified themselves as “non-Hispanic black.” Nearly 60 percent of those who took part said their annual income that was less than the federal poverty line.

Slightly more than 5 percent of respondents said they were homeless.

The study also noted the Baltimore metropolitan area in 2010 had the third highest rate of HIV among U.S. cities, with only Miami and New York having higher infection statistics. Maryland in the same year had the fourth highest HIV rate among states and territories that include D.C.

“There are men, many other persons who are HIV-positive like myself and LGBTQ who are struggling to get housing for themselves and their families,” said Smith. “Even though we have marriage equality, the laws are slowly coming through. If you’re not aware of what the policy is as an LGBTQ person, you don’t know.”

Mayor: Poverty in Baltimore ‘breaks my heart’

Rawlings-Blake told the Blade “it breaks my heart, in general, to know about the many challenges that our impoverished residents face.”

“It is even more complex when it involves a member of the LGBT community, as they often times face extra challenges,” she said.

Rawlings-Blake said her administration is “focused on improving the quality of life for all residents and ending homelessness in Baltimore altogether.” She noted she supported a bill the Maryland Senate approved earlier this month that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018.

Rawlings-Blake pointed out to the Blade she hired a new director and recruited a new board for Baltimore’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. She noted her administration also partners with city agencies and non-profits to expand access to health care, employment and housing for low-income Baltimoreans.

“Although a lot has been accomplished, the LGBT community still has many barriers to overcome,” said Rawlings-Blake, acknowledging racial disparities often exacerbate the problem. “I remain a committed, vocal supporter of the LGBT community and it is my desire that everyone has a roof over his or her head and is able to provide for his or her family.”

Free State Legal Project’s Transgender Action Group, which conducts outreach and other services to Baltimore’s trans sex workers, is among the ways it continues to work on poverty reduction in the city. The organization’s Youth Equality Alliance is a coalition of city and state agencies and non-profits that work with school personnel and foster parents to ensure they are providing a supportive environment in which LGBT children can learn and live.

“LGBT poverty is rooted in stigma and discrimination a lot of the time,” said Merki. “LGBT poverty also starts with youth.”

24
Apr
2014