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Conservative group blasts gay D.C. mayoral candidate

Bruce Majors, Libertarian Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Majors)

The Republican Security Council, a conservative group that advocates for U.S. “military strength,” released a statement this week denouncing gay D.C. mayoral candidate Bruce Majors as an “avowed homosexual” whose positions on foreign policy are “well to the left” of President Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Majors is running as a Libertarian Party candidate. The Republican Security Council says in its statement that Majors has embraced the Libertarian Party’s “anti-war” positions that it says would weaken U.S. foreign policy initiatives and hinder the fight against terrorism.

“I actually pledge, if elected mayor of D.C., not to remove any of the D.C. government military bases from Japan or Germany,” Majors quipped in a statement of his own. “So the Republican Security Council has nothing to fear.”

The RSC says on its website that it has no official connection with the Republican Party. In its statement about Majors, the group criticizes him for backing the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Virginia last year.

The group says the Libertarian candidate took away votes from GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who opposes LGBT rights, resulting in the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a strong supporter of LGBT rights.

“He completely supports gay marriage and has worked against candidates who back the Defense of Marriage Act,” the group said of Majors.

Robert Turner, the gay executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, said the D.C. GOP supports marriage equality and its representatives testified in favor of D.C.’s marriage equality law in 2009.

20
Feb
2014

What does evil do when it retires?

Michele Bachmann, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has been in Congress since 2006 with not one bill she sponsored signed into law. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

What do people with truly evil thoughts like Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) do when they retire from Congress? One hopes she just fades away but that is likely wishful thinking.

I spent the week in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and had coffee with friends Keith Brengle and Kevin Keller who were there to care for Keith’s parents. Keith threw out this question in a joking way but it is more than that. There just seem to be so many people whose hearts are filled with hatred who are given the opportunity to spout that hatred in the national media. Bachmann is just one example of that breed — a woman with no real accomplishments yet an oversized ego that can attract attention. Bachmann has been in Congress since 2006 with not one bill she sponsored signed into law. That is sad for constituents who elected her believing that she would do something to earn her salary.

What she has accomplished as an acolyte of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is convince the Republicans in the House of Representatives to scuttle any chance of an immigration bill or funding to deal with the children crossing our borders illegally to escape dangers in their home countries. She was a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which some say actually called into question the committee’s name. But the reality is she attracted attention and the hatred she spewed against the LGBT community and so many others got her enough followers that she even had a thankfully short-lived presidential campaign.

She is only one of many that raise the question of what happens to their evil ways when they retire. With a 24-hour news cycle, a beast that must be constantly fed, these haters like Bachmann continue to get attention. Sarah Palin is another example of someone thrust into the national media spotlight based on zero accomplishments and who has managed to stay in the public eye by making outrageous and often hateful statements while accomplishing nothing. Another one not yet retired who spreads hate as a way to draw attention is Ann Coulter. Someone who seems intent on getting her name on that list is Maureen Dowd, who writes columns for the New York Times. Dowd, once well respected, seems to have discovered that if she spews enough hatred she gets more attention.

To answer the question: Evil doesn’t ever really go away. Even when the evil is so egregious that you would think what the person did can never again happen, like a Hitler, we see the likes of Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad rise to power. When Joe McCarthy finally died many thought a senator spewing hate like that couldn’t appear again and yet today we have Sen. Cruz who is doing his best to match McCarthy.

What we can be thankful for is that for every person spewing evil there are those that spread love and acceptance. For every Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell there is a Gloria Steinem and a Bella Abzug. For every Anita Bryant there is a Harvey Milk and Barney Frank.

There are heroes who the world can look up to who have led people from despair to hope; from Moses and Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. There are those who served in Congress who spoke up for what is right and made themselves heard across racial and gender biases including Barbara Jordon (D-Texas) and Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.). For every Michele Bachmann there is a Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

But the spreading of evil will never disappear even when one of those who spreads it retires or dies. Today in our world of social media the message of the haters gets amplified more than it ever has before. We can only be thankful that the majority of people actually have love rather than hate in their hearts. They are open to listen and change, and to acceptance and the willingness to see the good in all people. We just need to make sure that when we see evil in the world we call it out. That when we see and hear someone spreading evil we call them out and counter it with a message of love and positivity.

28
Aug
2014

How did LGBT candidates fare in D.C. elections?

Phil Pannell, Ready for Hillary, Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, LOOK, gay news, Washington Blade

Phil Pannell won election as Alternate National Committeeman as part of a slate of candidates called Ready for Hillary. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Eight gay or lesbian candidates won their races on Tuesday in the city’s primary and Democratic Party election while another eight LGBT candidates were defeated.

Among the winners were gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell and lesbian Democratic activist Courtney Snowden, who won election as Alternate National Committeeman and Alternate National Committeewoman as part of a slate of candidates called Ready for Hillary.

The two have said the slate was created to encourage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.

Gay Libertarian Party candidates Bruce Majors, who’s running for mayor, and Martin Mouton, who’s running for the city’s shadow U.S. House seat, ran unopposed in their party’s primary. Both will be on the general election ballot in November.

Also winning was gay Republican activist and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Marc Morgan, who ran unopposed for the Replication nomination for an at-large D.C. Council seat in November.

Six out of seven LGBT candidates that ran for seats on the Democratic State Committee as part of an insurgent slate called The Rent is Too Darn High lost their races on Tuesday. Among the losing candidates was transgender activist Alexandra Beninda, who was vying to become the first known transgender person to win election to a D.C. citywide office. Beninda was running for an at-large seat on the State Committee.

Others who ran on the ‘Rent is Too High’ slate and lost were gay or lesbian Democratic activists Gregory Cendana, Edgardo Guerrero, Nikisha Carpenter, Jessica Pierce and Andy Litsky. Lesbian Tamara Angela Ferrell was the only LGBT member of the slate to win her race in Ward 4.

Gay Democrats Ron Collins and David Meadows, who were challenged by members of the ‘Rent is Too High’ slate, won their races for State Committee seats representing Ward 6.

Incumbent gay State Committee member Bill O’Field, who didn’t run on a slate, lost his bid for re-election to the State Committee for a seat representing Ward 1.

Gay Democratic activist and former Gertrude Stein Democratic Club treasurer Barry Daneker is listed by the Board of Elections as having won an at-large seat on the State Committee on Tuesday more than a month after he announced he was leaving D.C. to take a job in Rhode Island in March. Neither Daneker nor a spokesperson for the State Committee could be immediately reached to determine whether Daneker’s election would be invalidated if he’s no longer a D.C. resident.

02
Apr
2014

Texas GOP backs ‘reparative therapy’

Republican Party of Texas, gay news, Washington Blade

Republican Party of Texas logo.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Texas Republican Party’s new platform that backs so-called “reparative therapy” on June 7 received final approval.

The Associated Press reported the roughly 7,000 delegates who attended the party’s annual convention never debated the proposed plank before they ratified the platform at the Forth Worth Convention Hall. The Texas Eagle Forum, a Tea Party organization that supports what its website describes as “traditional values,” spearheaded efforts to add support of “reparative therapy” to the platform.

“The Republican Party of Texas should not allow its platform to be used to promote psychological quackery,” said Steve Rudner, chair of the Equality Texas Foundation board of directors.

Rudy Oeftering, vice president of Metroplex Republicans Dallas, a gay conservative group, is among those who also criticized the “reparative therapy” plank.

California and New Jersey currently ban “reparative therapy” to minors. Lawmakers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other states have proposed similar prohibitions on the controversial practice the American Psychological Association and other groups have condemned.

11
Jun
2014

Will it matter if gays zero-out in D.C. elections?

David Catania, Jim Graham, District of Columbia, D.C. Council, D.C. election, gay news, Washington Blade

Openly gay D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) both face tough races. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Two potential political developments in the current D.C. election cycle could result in both local gay elected officials not retaining their positions. If that occurs, it would be the first time in 17 years without a gay politician holding major elected office in the District.

Would it matter?

When David Catania became D.C.’s first gay elected official in 1997 it was a significant development that startled political observers. Catania, then a Republican, won a citywide D.C. Council At-Large seat in a special election to fill a vacancy on the 13-member legislature. He defeated a high-profile Democratic prior officeholder who had been selected by the party to fill the vacant seat as interim incumbent. Catania was re-elected in 1998 and 2002 as a Republican, and won in 2006 and 2010 as an Independent after changing his registration.

Catania, whose current four-year term is expiring, has formed a mayoral campaign exploratory committee and has indicated he is almost certain to run in the general election. Campaigning for mayor would preclude Catania from seeking re-election to his Council seat. While polling competitively against likely Democratic primary winner Mayor Vincent Gray in a recent Washington Post survey, odds are long that he could win.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, a gay Democrat and former director of then-named Whitman-Walker Clinic, was elected to represent one of eight Council districts in 1998. Graham won the determinative party primary in Ward 1 with a plurality, defeating the incumbent in a five-person race that included another gay candidate. Now seeking a fifth term, he previously won re-election in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Graham, 68, had delayed until December a decision on whether to seek re-election. His last primary race was his most competitive, winning 57 percent with two candidates splitting the opposition vote. Graham’s challenge in this year’s primary is facing only one opponent while tarnished by multiple instances of alleged questionable ethical behavior, resulting in censure by his Council colleagues and loss of alcohol-licensing oversight. Should Graham survive the primary, he will face a well-known Democrat running as an Independent in the general election. Many political observers consider Graham’s decision to seek re-election as the fight of his political life.

If Graham loses either the primary or general election and Catania surrenders his seat to run unsuccessfully for mayor, it is almost certain that D.C. will not have any openly gay politicians serving in cardinal positions. Two announced gay candidacies, Council At-Large Republican candidate Marc Morgan and Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors, are unlikely to be competitive.

When Catania first won election, he enthused at his victory celebration that “I think we’ve made two important milestones. One is the first time a Republican has beaten a Democrat in a head-on race in the city. And as the first openly gay member of the [Council], that is a breakthrough, and it shows how marvelous … open-minded, accepting and truly magnificent the people of this city are.”

Catania’s characterization of the local electorate is truer today than then.

In a city distinguished by its community consensus and public policies providing comprehensive LGBT civil equality, legal protections and administrative equity, the sexual orientation of elected officials is inconsequential. No anti-gay politician is a credible candidate for public office anywhere in the city, and it has been that way for a long time.

Likewise, public acceptance and political accommodation are neither generated nor guaranteed by gay politicians. The non-controversial adoption of Council legislation or city rulemaking related to LGBT-specific concerns is more a matter of delegated domain than cause championing.

LGBT residents are fully integrated into the fabric of local life. Most of us vote for or against candidates, including gay ones, based on a multiplicity of considerations. Similar to those everyone else examines.

Other than mere symbolism, it doesn’t matter whether any or all of the city’s elected officials are gay or not.

This is what equality looks like.

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

20
Feb
2014

Dems should value party loyalty in mayor’s race

Muriel Bowser, mayor, D.C. Council, Democratic Party, primary, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

To answer Lane Hudson’s question: Yes, Democrats should place a high premium on party loyalty in this fall’s mayor’s race.

In his April 23 op-ed, Hudson delivered a litany of reasons why former Republican David Catania should get the votes of Democrats over Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser. According to Hudson, Council member Catania has the superior list of achievements in general, and is more qualified for the job of mayor. Taking his case right to the gutter, Hudson labeled Bowser “an unqualified Democrat,” who doesn’t deserve our vote just because of a party label.

We get it! You like David Catania, and you want him to be mayor. That’s fine. Why not just leave it at that? Muriel Bowser is an equally fine choice; she’s a solid Democrat and has a solid record on LGBT issues. More importantly, she’s done nothing to disqualify herself as the nominee of Democrats in the District. And quite frankly, it’s absurd to claim that Council member Bowser is “unqualified” given her own time on the Council and her other civic achievements. Would Muriel Bowser be deemed qualified enough if she were a white gay man like David Catania or Lane Hudson? I wonder.

Setting Bowser and Catania aside for a moment, the underlying premise of Hudson’s commentary is equally disturbing. He apparently sees no value in political parties. The whole purpose of a party primary is for competing factions to come to a consensus about a general election candidate.

As Democrats, we considered Mayor Gray, Muriel Bowser and others for this nomination. After hearing all the arguments, Democrats picked Bowser as their standard-bearer. From this point forward, unless she does something disqualifying, it’s completely rational to assume that the vast majority of Democrats will support Bowser in the general election. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not bullying in the least to expect a party to fall in line behind its nominee after a primary election. In fact, that’s the whole point of being a political party and having a primary election. The only difference this time is that Catania supporters would rather have him over Bowser, so they’re whining about a process that plays out exactly this way every election year.

As fabulous as David Catania may be, he’s not a member of the Democratic Party. And even gay Democrats need a more compelling reason to vote for a non-Democrat than the fact that said candidate is also gay. If Catania is so progressive, so in touch with Democratic values and so qualified to get the votes of Democrats – then he should join our party and ask for our nomination. Until that day arrives, Democrats should absolutely coalesce around Muriel Bowser, and they should continue to press all factions of the party to fall in line.

Isaiah Webster III lives in Ward 6.

30
Apr
2014

Schwartz a gadfly to goose up grim race

Carol Schwartz, gay news, Washington Blade

Carol Schwartz (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

There is a flaw that can attach to a politician. Former D.C. Council member and four-time mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz suffers it in abundance.

Possessing an outsized personality distinguished by four decades of service to the city, the effervescent Schwartz has allowed this political ailment to cloud her judgment in launching a surprising fifth campaign for mayor. Explaining what motivated her decision, she has mistaken the superficial support of sycophants for the considered counsel of advisers.

Reactions to her announcement this week have not been kind, or supportive.

If there has been a consistent criticism of her colorful political persona, it is that everything is too often “all about her” due a center-of-gravity ego. Schwartz, 70, reignited that observation in response to a lengthy news release announcing her intention to run, this time as an independent candidate.

Schwartz switched her registration from Republican to “No Party” in December, and a local party official revealed she declined a standard-bearer invitation earlier this year. She has contemplated running since at least April, when a campaign website was registered, but asserted she made a final decision only two weeks ago. She told almost no one in advance.

Not content enjoying retirement after failing in 2008 to win re-election to an At-Large Council seat she first won in 1985 resulting from a primary loss and a failed general election write-in campaign, Schwartz begrudgingly acknowledged she would likely be referred to as a “perennial mayoral candidate.”

She’s also a delightful person, in the glad-handing way common to many elected officials. You get the sense she genuinely enjoys the game, perhaps now suddenly “jonesing” for its opiate effects. She has always been the kind of person who could, and would, light up a room in raucous laughter with a finely honed innocent bawdiness.

Popular in the gay community for her straight-talking, full-throated brashness and frequently oversized accessories, she was beloved partly for being the closest thing to a drag queen on the dais – in the most positive possible portrayal of both. Until her confounding reluctance to break from a controversial go-slow stance on same-sex marriage through most of her final term diminished support, the woman known city-wide as “Carol” had long garnered the lion’s share of the gay vote.

Given the lackadaisical nature of past campaigns and tepid public enthusiasm for this one, collecting the 3,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot is not assured. The disorganized nature of her lackluster launch appeared as if hastily concocted over a bottomless brunch during Pride festivities last weekend.

If successful, Schwartz will compete against Democratic nominee and Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser and former Republican now independent At-Large Council member David Catania, and three minor party candidates.

Because Schwartz’s prospects hover well south of nil, speculation regarding motive and potential effect quickly ensued. In the first misstep of an otherwise disciplined effort, the Catania campaign attributed the development to Bowser “panic” over his success in generating broad-based support and charged that “Bowser has convinced her confidante Carol Schwartz to enter the race in a transparent attempt to help her campaign” by diluting support for the underdog challenger. A “political trick” characterization was an unfounded overreaction.

What is more likely is that Schwartz herself hopes to prevent Catania from winning. An infamously bitter mutual-dislike-cum-feud was bred over legislation and in payback for Catania’s endorsement of the primary challenger ending her Council career.

A gadfly Schwartz campaign, however, might impact Bowser as well. Not only could her entry spark a mud-wrestling dynamic in a campaign not yet of much voter interest, the deer-in-headlights uncertain cautiousness of Bowser may not contrast well alongside seasoned debaters.

Schwartz, admirably more steadfast to commonsense approaches, fiscal restraint, tax reform, and engendering a more positive business environment, might loosen Catania from his middling strategic path-to-victory pose.

Although Schwartz’s startling decision is ill advised for preserving her legacy, voters might just benefit from it.

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

11
Jun
2014

Horrifically anti-gay Regnerus study conceived at top GOP think tank Heritage

The study, that suggests gay parents push their children to suicide, was conceived at the Heritage Foundation.

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24
Feb
2014

Bob Gray, lobbyist and PR executive, dies at 92

Bob Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Bob Gray (Photo courtesy of Charles Francis)

Robert Keith “Bob” Gray, a nationally recognized Washington lobbyist and public relations executive who started his career as an aide to President Dwight Eisenhower, died April 18 in a Miami hospital of heart disease.  He was 92.

As founder and CEO of the highly influential lobbying and PR firm Gray & Company in the 1980s, Gray had close ties to the Reagan administration and Republican Party leaders. He worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign and co-chaired Reagan’s inaugural committee.

At the same time, according to people who worked for him, Gray was widely known among political insiders and a wide circle of friends as a gay man with ties to Washington’s gay community.

“He has always been out in his private life and among his circle of friends,” said Charles Francis, a gay Republican activist and public relations executive who worked for Gray & Company in the early and middle 1980s. “He was not out politically,” said Francis.

Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck Communications, a D.C.-based communications and PR firm who also worked for Gray & Company in the 1980s, said Gray served as a mentor for many young and aspiring employees of his firm, both gay and straight and Republican and Democrat.

Witeck, a Democratic Party activist, said he, Francis, and gay Democratic activist and political consultant Jeff Trammell are just a few of the many gay communications professionals that worked for Gray in the 1980s and who later rose in the profession or started their own firms.

“He gave us a lot of inspiration for doing our own thing,” Witeck said.

Francis said Gray was born and raised in Nebraska. He served in the Navy during World War II and remained in the Navy Reserve, where he rose to the rank of commander. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carleton College in Minnesota and master’s degree in business administration at Harvard University.

Francis, who interviewed Gray two years ago for an article published last week in the online newsletter of the Mattachine Society of Washington, said Gray began work at the White House in 1956 as Appointments Secretary and later as Secretary of the Cabinet to President Eisenhower.

Following the election of President John F. Kennedy, Gray left the White House to join the Hill & Knowlton public relations firm in 1961, where he rose to become director of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He left Hill & Knowlton in 1980 to form Gray & Company, solidifying his stature as one of the most influential lobbyists with access to the reins of power in Washington.

Trammell, who worked for Gray during the Reagan years, said Gray hired many Democrats like Trammell and Witeck and maintained a work environment in which Democrats and Republicans respected one another even though they disagreed politically.

“It was the old days in Washington when people didn’t let their party and ideological differences get in the way of their respect for one another,” Trammell said.

Trammell and Francis noted that Gray, who remained closeted in his public role, was a generous financial contributor behind the scenes to D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Clinic in the 1980s, when Gray lost many friends to AIDS.

The two said Gray also was a longtime financial supporter of famed AIDS researcher and former National Institutes of Health official Dr. Robert Gallo after Gallo founded the Institute of Human Virology as an arm of the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus. Trammell said Gray was a member of the Institute’s board of directors at the time of his death.

In his interview with Francis in May 2012, Gray provided a glimpse into his life as a gay man that he never before shared in a public way. Among other things, he told of how he felt about being named as White House Appointments Secretary three years after then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover “outed” a closeted gay man that Eisenhower had named for that job just prior to Eisenhower taking office in 1953.

Francis, who researched the incident years later, said Eisenhower ordered that no public disclosure would be made that the appointee, Arthur Vandenberg Jr., the son of then-Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich.), was a homosexual. Instead, the then president-elect said Vandenberg had to give up the job for “health reasons.”

“It took six weeks to get a clearance,” Gray said in the interview in discussing his status as a gay man being named to fill the job for which Vandenberg was rejected because of his sexual orientation.

“I tried to act as nonchalant as I could, even though my heart was pounding,” Gray said. “I was still trying to make myself straight, dating women. If I had been in any way sexually active, I would have been outed,” he said.

“I was an open book, working 20-hour days. That was fulfilling enough for me,” he said.

Near the end of the interview, Francis asked Gray what he thought of the changes that have taken place in the country on LGBT rights in the more than 50 years since he became involved in politics and about the irony of his being hired by President Eisenhower as a closeted gay man.

“I don’t want to be known as the gay guy who worked at the White House!” Gray replied. “Being gay is a minuscule part of who I am, not my whole being; nor am I a standard-bearer. I was not hired because of it, nor was I hired because I was heterosexual.”

Gray’s survivors include his partner of 20 years, Efrain Machado of Miami Beach, Fla.

01
May
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

 

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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.

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Jan
2014