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Philly gay man met killer on Grindr

Grindr, social media app, gay news, Washington Blade

Philadelphia police have issued a warning about criminals using dating apps to target potential victims.

CHESTER, Pa. — Police say a Philadelphia man was murdered by someone he met on a gay hook-up app.

WPVI reported a passerby found Dino Dizdarevic’s body in Chester on May 2.

Police told the Philadelphia television station the 25-year-old whose family fled Bosnia-Herzegovina during the country’s civil war in the 1990s suffered blunt force trauma to the head. WPVI also reported Dizdarevic likely met his killer on Grindr two days before his body was found.

Dizdarevic’s death comes less than a week after Philadelphia police issued a warning about criminals using dating apps to target potential victims.

07
May
2014

Double delights

marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Victoria Kidd and Christy Berghoff of Winchester, Va. (Photo courtesy of the ACLU)

Mother’s Day brings double blessings for lesbian parents. But in most of the country, there’s a downside — couples in many states are fighting for the legal protections only available to some same-sex U.S. couples. We asked several couples involved in marriage equality lawsuits — three in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania — what they’ll be doing on Sunday and why the day is special to them.

NAME: Victoria L. Kidd

PARTNER’S NAME: Christy J. Berghoff

OCCUPATION: Writer

KIDS’ NAME(S) AND AGES: Lydia Berghoff-Kidd, 1

CITY/STATE: Winchester, VA

CASE INVOLVED IN: Harris Et Al. V. Rainer et al. (Formerly Harris et al. V. McDonnell et al.)

 

As a lesbian mom, what does Mother’s Day mean to you? Does it have any special significance as an LGBT parent? 

 

I suspect much of what I feel on Mother’s Day is similar to that felt by mothers in opposite-sex relationships or by single mothers. I feel the same humble gratitude for being fortunate enough to be a mother to my daughter. I feel the same sense of thankfulness that my little one is here to share my life with me and to give my life a purpose greater than any other.

The one uniqueness about being a mother involved in a same-sex relationship is that it is a life experience shared with someone you love completely, your wife. In that sense, Mother’s Day takes on a special significance, because the day marks that shared experience and allows you to demonstrate your love and commitment to another person who is equally mother to your child.

 

What is your Mother’s Day tradition? Do you and your partner celebrate it together?

 

Our family is still working to define our traditions, as our daughter is just a little over a year old. Certainly, we both endeavor to show our own mothers that we appreciate them, but as far as celebrating in our home, we more or less simply spend the day together. We share a special meal and have hours of “play time” as a family. For us, celebrating this particular day is not about what you do, it is about sharing time together. Christy and I do exchange cards filled with messages of support, because parenting is not easy. We both simply try to find the words and the ways available to say we love each other, support each other and would not want to share life or the responsibilities of motherhood with anyone else.

 

You’re a plaintiff in a state marriage case — in your own words, please tell us why you feel it’s important for gay families to have legal protections.

 

Our family is built upon love and commitment. Christy and I committed to being each other’s “forever” when we were married in 2011 in D.C., but life is delicate and uncertain. Should anything happen to either of us, we want to ensure the other is afforded the same protections and benefits granted to legally married opposite-sex couples. More importantly, we want our daughter to be fully protected. Protections extend beyond benefits allowed after death; they provide the foundation for greater everyday acceptance in our communities. When people are separated out as somehow different at an institutional level, it makes it easier for others to perceive them, and subsequently to treat them, differently. Gaining protections under law advances the idea that our families should be treated equally and without bias while going about our day-to-day lives.

 

Joanne Harris, Jabari, Jessica Duff, gay news, Washington Blade, Virginia, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff with Jabari. (Photo courtesy of the couple)

NAME: Joanne Harris

PARTNER’S NAME: Jessica Duff

OCCUPATION: Director of diversity and advocacy

KIDS’ NAME(S) AND AGES: Jabari, age 5

CITY/STATE: Staunton, VA

CASE INVOLVED IN: Harris et al vs. Janet Rainey

 

As a lesbian mom, what does Mother’s Day mean to you? Does it have any special significance as an LGBT parent? 

 

Being a mother has been the most rewarding and important experience of our lives, and being Jabari’s mothers makes every day feel like Mother’s Day. Although we celebrate this day together with our own mothers, we also take this opportunity to remind our friends and family members being acknowledged as Jabari’s legal parent is one of many reasons why marriage equality is important in Virginia.

 

What is your Mother’s Day tradition? Do you and your partner celebrate it together?

 

We celebrate Mother’s Day with our extended family. It’s a special day for us to celebrate the most influential women in our family, not just our mothers, but all of those who have supported us. 

Yes we celebrate every family tradition together.

 

You’re a plaintiff in a state marriage case — in your own words, please tell us why you feel it’s important for gay families to have legal protections. 

 

We feel it’s important for all families to be treated equally. Every devoted partner and loving parent should have the opportunity to provide all the legal intricacies of functioning as a family. This sometimes may include authorizing medical treatment, academic guidance and full financial support. These things are only a few of the things not possible without full legal marriage rights. We want the same rights as other loving couples and parents in our beautiful extended family and network of friends.

Whitewood, same-sex marriage, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

The Whitewood family (Photo courtesy of the family)

NAME: Deb Whitewood

PARTNER’S NAME: Susan Whitewood

OCCUPATION: Full-time Mom

KIDS’ NAME(S) AND AGES: Abbey, 17; Katie, 15; Landon, 3.

CITY/STATE: Bridgeville, PA

CASE INVOLVED IN: Whitewood v. Wolfe

 

As a lesbian mom, what does Mother’s Day mean to you? Does it have any special significance as an LGBT parent? 

 

To me, Mother’s Day means the same that I think it means to any mom, to have our children, families, friends and community members recognize the mothers, or mother figures, in our lives for the hardworking and loving presence that they faithfully provide to not only their own children, but often to other children in their communities. Being a mother was once described to me as akin to having your heart walk around outside of your body. That’s what I feel, I feel like I have at least three or four or more pieces of my heart walking around the world with me.

As a lesbian couple, becoming mothers wasn’t easy for Susan and me. We had to work very hard to create our family and we had to jump through a lot of hoops, legally, emotionally and physically. But the result is that we have three wonderful kids who call us Mummy and Momma, and they know, without a shadow of a doubt, just how much they were wanted and how precious each of them is to us.

 

What is your Mother’s Day tradition? Do you and your partner celebrate together? 

 

I have to laugh, because until this Mother’s Day, Susan and I have always been together on Mother’s Day. The kids would make cards, often really, really large, creative cards, for us. We would go to church together and then head out to celebrate with our own mothers and my grandmas, often with a brunch together in downtown Pittsburgh.  Things have changed though. Susan’s mom and both of my grandmas have passed away. And in true mother form, our kids’ activities take precedence over even our Mother’s Day celebration. Our daughter, Katie, has a volleyball tournament in Columbus, Ohio on Mother’s Day. (Whomever planned that should have their head examined!) So off to Columbus we will go. My mom will be joining us later in the afternoon. So we will make our own Mother’s Day celebration wherever we end up. That’s the thing about moms; we go with the flow and do whatever is necessary to make it work out best for all members of the family.

 

You’re a plaintiff in a state marriage case — in your own words, please tell us why you feel it’s important for gay families to have legal protections. 

 

Gay and lesbian families are in communities all around us and many are raising children. We live and work alongside our straight married friends and do things almost exactly the same way. We change diapers, help with homework, clean the house, car pool, shop for prom dresses, cheer at volleyball games, visit the zoo, shop at the grocery, see the doctor and play at the park just like our straight counterparts do. In many of our communities we are viewed as equal to our straight counterparts and our families are valued and supported. But even when our families are valued and supported, there is disparity. Our families are treated like second-class families in so many ways. Children are denied health insurance because their parents are not allowed to be married and the employer won’t provide insurance for the same-sex spouse and her children. Gay and lesbian parents have to pay large legal fees to create a patchwork of legal protections to give their families some, but nowhere near all, the protections that come with marriage.  We file for second-parent adoptions and hope they will be granted. We notarize wills, powers of attorney, guardianship papers and other paperwork and pray that we will never need them, but we carry them everywhere, just in case. No married, straight friend of mine has ever had to scramble to find her power of attorney paperwork when she heard her husband had been rushed to the hospital. I have. I made sure I had it when Susan went to the hospital last year because all I could think was, “What am I going to do if they won’t let me see her?”

Our families deserve the same recognition and protection that other families have because we ARE a family. A family that loves each other, supports each other, cares for each other and will always be there for each other.

Mary Townley, Emily Townley-Schall, Carol Schall, Virginia, Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner, gay news, Washington Blade, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality

From left, Mary Townley, Emily Townley-Schall and Carol Schall attended the 2014 Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner on April 5. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

 

NAME: Carol Schall

PARTNER’S NAME: Mary Townley

OCCUPATION: Assistant professor and researcher, Virginia Commonwealth University

KIDS’ NAME(S) AND AGES: Emily, age 16

CITY/STATE: Richmond, VA

CASE INVOLVED IN: Bostic v Rainey

 

As a lesbian mom, what does Mother’s Day mean to you? Does it have any special significance as an LGBT parent? 

 

It is a celebration of our job as moms. It is a day to recognize the wonder and joy of being a mom. It is also a recognition that being a mom is not intuitive, easy or second nature. It requires mindfulness and awareness of your role to raise the next generation and even the generations to come. According to experts, we parent as our parents do. Emily will probably parent her children as we have parented her. So, Mother’s Day is a day for me to reflect on the generations past and the generations yet to come that will carry our light forward into the ages. Beyond all other endeavors, being a mom is the most important and lasting. Being a mom has been a dream of mine from the time I could first think. For Mary and I, we didn’t think this could be a reality until we set a vision to become moms. I love being Emily’s mom more than any other job I have ever had. It is my greatest joy and my greatest worry all at the same time!

 

What is your Mother’s Day tradition? Do you and your partner celebrate it together? 

 

Emily usually shops for gifts for us with a good friend of ours the week before Mother’s Day. Our morning is usually pretty easy. As a teen, she likes to sleep late, that means her moms get to sleep late too! Once we are up and moving, we usually go out to Sunday brunch. We also try to have all chores done to make it a really relaxed family day. When Emily was a baby, we would shop for each other. Now that she is older, she shops for us. I love to recognize the amazing mom that Mary is. She is warm and kind and tenderhearted when it comes to Emily. Mother’s Day is my opportunity to recognize all that she is and means to Emily.

 

You’re a plaintiff in a state marriage case — in your own words, please tell us why you feel it’s important for gay families to have legal protections. 

 

Mary gave birth to Emily, but I am the main “bread winner” in our family. Without marriage, the state of Virginia will never recognize me as Emily’s parent. Marriage matters for Emily and all of our children. Without the protections of marriage, Virginia would not recognize my estate as Emily’s should anything ever happen to me. They would not automatically notify me if anything ever happened to her. Finally, they could even prohibit me from seeing her or coming to her aid if anything were to happen to Mary. Without marriage, I am a legal stranger to my own daughter. I am in this fight for Emily. I want her to have a family that is recognized. I want to be able to legally and finally be her mom. We celebrate Mother’s Day as a family. I long for the day when we can legally celebrate Mother’s Day as a nation.

09
May
2014

Gay marriage mania, and more to come

There are currently at least 70 court cases challenging gay marriage bans across the country.

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21
May
2014

Gay marriage legalized in Pennsylvania by Santorum’s judge!

Federal judge strikes down state's DOMA law, wedding licenses already being granted to gay couples!

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20
May
2014

Penna. court may legalize gay marriage today

A federal judge in Pennsylvania will issue a ruling today on whether the state gay marriage ban is constitutional.

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20
May
2014

Same-sex couples begin to marry in Pa.

Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to marry several gay and lesbian couples on Friday after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gays and lesbians have begun to marry in Pennsylvania after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that District Judge Hugh McGough on Wednesday married Jess Garrity and Pamela VanHaitsma of Pittsburgh after they received a waiver allowing them to forgo the three-day waiting period between the time a couple receives a marriage license and they can exchange vows under state law.

The newspaper said the women were the first same-sex couple in Allegheny County to receive a marriage license after U.S. District Judge John Jones, III, on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Ashley and Lindsay Wilson exchanged vows on the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art just after midnight on Friday as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Eight same-sex couples exchanged vows at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to officiate same-sex weddings this weekend.

“As elected officials, we must represent the interests of all of our constituents — every person, every family and every life,” said Nutter in a statement after Jones issued his ruling. “In Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, and Pennsylvania, a state founded on the basic tenets of tolerance, we all benefit when the rights of a group are attained or reaffirmed.”

Rue Landau, chair of the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission, and her partner, Kerry Smith, on May 20 became the first same-sex couple in Philadelphia to receive a marriage license — they applied for it shortly after Jones issued his ruling.

Rue Landau, Kerry Smith, Pennsylvania, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Rue Landau and Kerry Smith receive a marriage license in Philadelphia on May 20. (Photo by Ben Bowens)

The Philadelphia Register of Wills told the Washington Blade on Friday it has thus far issued 102 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

An Allegheny County spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that 160 marriage license applications had been filed by midnight on May 20. She said only 29 had been filed the day before.

Pennsylvania is among the 19 states and D.C. in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced he will not appeal Jones’ ruling.

North Dakota is the only state in which same-sex couples cannot marry where gays and lesbians have yet to file a lawsuit seeking marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

23
May
2014

Creating art that pops

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago, he bartended at some of the gay community’s most popular nightlife venues and nightclub events. Quickly pegged as a recent transplant due to his failure to observe the local habit of reflexively asking customers what they do for a living, Fry remembers those exchanges from his perspective.

“People didn’t know how to process my being an artist,” Fry recalls, “although they were intrigued.” “Danger, Will Robinson,” was the comic strip thought bubble he would imagine floating over their heads while he concocted beverages.

“Ever since I was a kid I loved cartoons, loved the Pop Art movement,” Fry explains. “I would have loved to have been a part of that whole Manhattan ‘new art’ scene during the days of Andy Warhol.” “Warhol, along with fellow New York City pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, brought silkscreening to the forefront as a respected and appreciated art form.”

Fry chuckles when re-telling an art patron compliment, “if Warhol and Lichenstein had a kid, it would be you.”

The iconographic, bold, colorful, thought-provoking, graphic-inspired silkscreen prints Fry composes blend the pop art cultural influence of his youth and the marketing designs that would follow college. Printing on heavy paper, wood, glass or canvas in often oversized formats, he creates both one-of-a-kind and limited-edition images. From inspiration to composition to production, Fry fashions all aspects of his craft.

After earning a Fine Arts degree from Edinboro University in Northwestern Pennsylvania, Fry moved to Cleveland to work as a graphic designer. Specializing in corporate advertising for 10 years, he grew increasingly impatient to focus on more creative endeavors.

Now 47 and a full-time artist-entrepreneur managing Glenn Fry Art as his business enterprise, Fry is glad he gravitated to D.C. “I may not have been able to continue as an artist had I not moved here,” pointing out that economic downturns have largely not affected Washington – or interest in art. “D.C. has been good to me, my art has been well-received and I’m appreciative of that.” Besides, he notes, “New York’s bohemian culture isn’t around anymore.”

The stark simplicity of his silkscreened compositions initially belies both the complexity of their thoughtful origination and multi-layered manual execution. “I’m often inspired by situations I’ve gone through or those friends have experienced,” Fry says in describing the genesis of a piece. “I want my art to be fun, uplifting, colorful, graphic and bold, with a contemporary twist.”

While Fry designs pieces at his apartment near Logan Circle, he produces his prints at a nearby studio, organized by local artist Gary Fisher. Ten years ago, Fisher invited Fry to join him and three other artists in renting the basement level in a small commercial building at 1327 14th St., N.W., near Rhode Island Avenue. “Gary was the one who prodded me and inspired me,” Fry says, recalling his professional transition while still bartending.

Fry launched his first exhibit at Gallery Plan B, a couple of blocks north on 14th Street. “They really helped me spring to life in my profession,” says Fry. Working full-time as an artist since 2008, Fry has since garnered high-profile commissions for permanent installations at two Federal Reserve Board buildings, IBM, National Geographic Channels, and the Washington Design Center.

As his art gained exposure and grew in popularity, requests for commissioned pieces by both local businesses and individuals would follow. “Trusting me to create something they’ll enjoy, knowing my style and investing in my work” gives Fry great satisfaction.

“I’m grateful every day that I’ve found my passion,” Fry says, “I’m doing the thing that makes me happy.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Glenn Fry (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

07
Jan
2014

Hoping for a business boom in New Hope

New Hope, gay news, Washington Blade

Picturesque New Hope, Pa., has long been a popular destination for gay and lesbian couples. (Photo courtesy Visit New Hope)

There are more than 22,000 LGBT couples living in Pennsylvania, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and many of them have already tied the knot since the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down last week.

“I am happy that many couples that have been together for a long time can finally be legal,” said Kim Haggerty, owner of The Pod Shop Flowers in New Hope, Pa. “It is heartwarming to see.”

Experts predict that last week’s ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf will bode well for local businesses as couples spend their money in Pennsylvania instead of in neighboring states that have been more welcoming in the past.

“I think we will see more weddings,” said Brittany Booz, co-owner of the Golden Pheasant Inn, located about 20 minutes outside of New Hope. “I have some customers on a regular basis that have stated, ‘As soon as we are recognized in the state of Pennsylvania, this is the place that we’d love to have our ceremony at.’ I hope that more people do get married, whether it be at our place or another place.”

Booz said her inn, which hosts about 20 weddings a year, plans to host same-sex weddings in the same way as opposite-sex weddings.

“I don’t think whether it’s a male and a male or a female and a female or a male and a female it should change how you move forward with an event,” she said. “Our philosophy is equality for all.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who just months ago likened gay marriage to incest, said he wouldn’t challenge the court’s ruling striking down his state’s marriage ban.

“People who are looking to move to a state or take a job and they want marriage equality now can look to Pennsylvania and say ‘OK, they’re in the running,’” said Bruce Yelk, who manages the LGBT marketing program at Visit Philly, Philadelphia’s largest travel and tourism site.

His group has rolled out a series of new online advertisements to promote gay tourism for couples looking to get married. “Brotherly or sisterly, love is love,” the ad reads, with the hashtag “visit gay Philly” at the bottom.

“Before [same-sex marriage was legalized] we could have lost talent,” Yelk said. “I know that some people moved from the state to another state where they could get married. It was really hindering us being in the Northeast because every other state had marriage equality. We won’t have those negative impacts now, which is a good thing.”

The number of same-sex weddings expected in the state over the next three years is likely between about 8,000 and 11,000, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank that conducts research on LGBT law and public policy.

Same-sex marriage could generate between $65 and $92.1 million for the state over the next three years, the Williams Institute estimates. Marriage could contribute $4.2 to $5.8 million in sales tax revenue – not to mention the creation of about 1,000 local jobs.

But for New Hope, a region known for its vibrant LGBT community, the economic benefits of gay tourism have been around long before same-sex marriage became a legal institution.

“LGBT tourism in not an unknown commodity,” said Daniel Brooks, founder of New Hope Celebrates, an LGBT tourism agency, noting that many same-sex couples have historically traveled to the New Hope area for honeymoons. “But the focus will now shift because people can get married and honeymoon.”

Brooks, who also owns The Wishing Well Guesthouse, a small inn in New Hope, said he’s looking forward to hosting weddings there, and expects the number of requests to increase. He said that in his experience, same-sex couples looking to get married tend to prefer “small, intimate” events.

“New Hope is perfect for same-sex weddings,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of small places. There are no huge hotels – just bed and breakfasts.”

Haggerty said her flower shop has seen increased business from engaged gay and lesbian couples since neighboring New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage in October 2013.

28
May
2014

Defrocked Methodist pastor returns to D.C.

Frank Schaefer, United Methodist Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry United Methodist Church in December. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

A Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked as a clergyman in December for refusing to stop performing same-sex marriages is scheduled to return to D.C.’s Foundry United Methodist Church on Jan. 26.

Ex-pastor Frank Schaefer will deliver guest sermons at a service for “hope and justice” at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the 26th, according to a statement released by Foundry. Foundry’s pastor, Rev. Dean Snyder, is a longtime ally of the LGBT community and has performed same-sex marriages.

The statement says two other United Methodist ministers who were defrocked will also participate in the services – Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud. Church officials revoked Creech’s credentials as a Methodist minister in 1999 after he performed a holy union ceremony for a gay male couple in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Stroud was defrocked in 2001 after coming out as a lesbian while assigned as a minister for a United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

Schaefer, Creech, Stroud and others will participate in a panel discussion at the church following the 11 a.m. worship service, the Foundry statement says.

“Foundry is on the forefront of full inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the life of the church,” the statement says, adding that Foundry continues to push for the United Methodist Church to end the “discriminatory language” related to LGBT people in its Book of Discipline or church law.

22
Jan
2014

Gay Pa. Republican wins Dem nomination

Mike Fleck, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

State Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon County) narrowly won the Democratic nomination to appear on the November ballot after losing the Republican primary to a write-in candidate. (Photo courtesy of Fleck)

THREE SPRINGS, Pa. — A gay state representative who is the only out Republican in the Pennsylvania Legislature and the first openly gay state lawmaker there, will appear on the November ballot as a Democrat after he narrowly lost to a primary opponent.

Huntingdon County Treasurer Richard Irvin defeated state Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon County) on May 20 after he staged a successful write-in campaign. The Patriot-News on May 27 reported that Fleck won the Democratic nomination to appear on the November ballot by a 901-886 vote margin.

“Thank you to the 15 democrats who put me over the top on the democratic write-in,” wrote Fleck on his Facebook page on May 27. “And thank you to the three thousand plus republicans who voted based on my job performance. While a lot can still happen legally, today is a new day and if we are ultimately successful in our bid to continue thru the fall, rest assured, I will give it my all.”

Fleck, who was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2006, came out in 2012 during an interview with a local newspaper.

He told the Patriot-News on May 27 he feels his opponents voted against him because of his sexual orientation.

“I think we all know what the race was about,” said Fleck. “For the most part it was a vote against me, not necessarily a vote for [Irvin.]“

28
May
2014