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2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 

03
Jan
2014

DNC to form Lesbian Leadership Council

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC, Democratic National Committee, Lesbian Leadership Council, gay news, Washington Blade

‘We’re going to make sure we have a vehicle here at the DNC for lesbian leadership,’ said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told members of the DNC’s LGBT Caucus at a March 1 meeting in Washington that the DNC is in the process of creating a Lesbian Leadership Council to boost the leadership role of lesbians in the party.

Wasserman Schultz was among a number of high-profile Democratic Party officials that addressed the LGBT Caucus meeting on the final day of the DNC’s annual winter meetings at the Capital Hilton Hotel.

“No offense to gay men in the room, but just like in the straight community, where women sometimes have been left behind and men have vaulted ahead on the leadership track, my message was it’s time for lesbians to step up,” she said in referring to a speech she gave to a lesbian gathering last month.

“And we’re going to make sure we have a vehicle here at the DNC for lesbian leadership…so we can have lesbians catch up and get them the tools they need and make sure they can be a strong part of our leadership team,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz said more details about the Lesbian Leadership Council would be announced later.

The DNC created an LGBT Leadership Council in 2000 as a party entity charged mostly with raising money for Democratic candidates.

She told LGBT Caucus members at the March 1 meeting that she is proud of the role the Democratic Party has played in pushing for advances in LGBT rights during the years of the Obama administration, including advances in marriage equality

“And we have a lot more to do,” she said. “We need to pass a transgender-inclusive ENDA. That’s absolutely critical. We need to make sure that marriage equality” continues to move forward.

Others speaking at the LGBT Caucus meeting were Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Speaker of the California Assembly John Perez, who’s gay; and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, who’s also gay.

At the request of LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes of D.C., the caucus voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of D.C. statehood.

One issue that wasn’t discussed at the caucus meeting was the status of the position of director of the DNC’s LGBT Outreach Desk. The position became vacant when D.C. gay Democratic activist Jeff Marootian, who held the post since 2011, resigned recently to become White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

DNC spokesperson Miryam Lipper said on Monday that she would inquire about the status of the vacant position with DNC officials this week and provide an update on the matter later in the week.

Fowlkes couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether DNC officials have discussed the matter with him.

“We’re all kind of pushing that we want this now,” said LGBT Caucus member Barbra Casbar Siperstein of New Jersey. “But we want to make sure that we have truly qualified people because they will be filling big shoes. We were very happy with Jeff Marootian,” she said.

Siperstein said with the 2014 midterm congressional elections approaching, having an LGBT outreach desk at the DNC is important, especially following the shutdown just over a year ago of the National Stonewall Democrats, which closed due to financial difficulties.

Buckley told the Blade that he and other LGBT Caucus members were taking steps to re-launch National Stonewall Democrats but it was unclear when that might happen.

04
Mar
2014

Mayor would welcome Arizona’s LGBT residents

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

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

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. In discussing the vetoed legislation in Arizona that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians on religious grounds, she invited LGBT residents from Arizona to move to Baltimore even though Arizona has better weather.

“On balance, I think the LGBT community would be better off, save the weather, we can’t promise you the weather, but better off in Baltimore. I’m more than happy to deal with the welcome. I think it’s a much friendlier place. It burns me up to know that a community that has given so much, particularly for the Democratic Party, is under siege. It’s 2014.

“We have a great LGBT community in Baltimore.  I’ve been a big supporter to the first LGBT, the same-sex marriage in the state right after New Year’s. And there’s no war going on in Baltimore.”

05
Mar
2014

Mayor celebrates birthday at Hippo

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

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

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake celebrated her birthday at the Club Hippo on March 19 with a round of “Gay Bingo” whose proceeds support House of Ruth Maryland. Long known for being a shelter for battered women and their children, House of Ruth, founded 37 years ago, has expanded its services to include men as well as members of the LGBT community. More than 100,000 victims have been served during its history.

The mayor won one of the games receiving loud cheers from the 60 who attended. For more information about the House of Ruth, visit hruth.org.

25
Mar
2014

Law of the land

Maryland, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will join several LGBT clergy at WeDo Baltimore Sunday for a mass wedding celebrating gay marriage. (Photo courtesy of Baltimore mayor’s office)

The idea of getting married at a public festival like Baltimore Pride may seem daunting and lacking in intimacy for a lot of couples, but for Carrietta Heirs, it’s an important option to provide the LGBT community after years of struggling for marriage equality in Maryland.

“It’s the way we’re validating what we’ve always known — that we have this right,” Heirs says of WeDo Baltimore, a mass LGBT wedding ceremony new to Baltimore Pride that she has organized. “We’ve finally earned this right, so the public should know.”

WeDo Baltimore will host about a dozen LGBT couples during the Baltimore Pride Festival on Sunday in lakeside Druid Hill Park (2600 Madison Ave., Baltimore) to celebrate the passage of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Maryland. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will lead the event and address the crowd. Rev. Meredith Moise, Father E. Skip Koritzer, Elder Harris Thomas and Rev. Dorothy Harris are among the local faith leaders who will officiate.

Heirs says WeDo Baltimore will be an integral part of Baltimore Pride in the coming years and is not just a one-time event.

“I think for the next couple years it very well may be. This is the month to celebrate,” Heirs says. “I think that this is historical. Today it’s gonna be a hell of a big deal, but in five years from now, I’d like it to be ‘Oh, it’s another wedding.’”

In addition to managing the event, Heirs will marry her partner of nearly 13 years, Tonya Cooke.

“We had a commitment ceremony in 2010. We said that when it became legal we would do it. We didn’t realize it would happen so soon. It really means a lot,” Heirs says. “I’m also so excited for the other couples who are finally able to get married.”

The ceremony will include couples that cannot get married in their own states, some traveling from as far away as Atlanta to share their vows. Heirs is especially touched that a couple that has been together for 50 years will tie the knot at WeDo.

“It was very powerful to find that couple who’s going to be celebrating over 50 years. It gives you chills to think about it. It’s amazing,” Heirs says. “It is so significant for people who have been together over 50 years to be able to stand up and say, ‘Love is love,’ no matter what.”

Baltimore Black Pride Inc., Strapped Up Baltimore, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore, SEIU Eastern Regions National Lavender Caucus, Alpha Eta Omega Sorority and the Alpha Alpha DMV Chapter of Beta Phi Omega Sorority are sponsoring the event.

The Baltimore Pride Festival, which includes WeDo Baltimore, will be held from noon-5 p.m. This year’s performers are duo J Pope and Funk Friday, Septimius and Unity. In addition to WeDo, there will also be a “Family Zone” with activities for children to enjoy. For more information on WeDo Baltimore and Baltimore Pride, visit baltimorepride.org.

13
Jun
2013

Mass wedding at Baltimore Pride

We Do, mass wedding, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore Pride Festival, Druid Hill Park, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Nineteen couples were surrounded by hundreds of well-wishers at Druid Hill Park on Sunday for Baltimore’s first mass same-sex wedding. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated at the ceremony held during the Baltimore Pride Festival. The event was organized by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB).

Same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland on Jan. 1 following a referendum passed in November 2012 by a 52-48 percent margin.

17
Jun
2013

Baltimore Pride Parade

The annual Baltimore Pride Parade was held on Saturday with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake serving as Grand Marshal. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) buyphoto 

18
Jun
2013

Mass wedding highlights Pride weekend

We Do, mass wedding, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore Pride Festival, Druid Hill Park, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Nineteen couples tied the knot during a mass wedding at Baltimore’s Pride Festival on June 16. Proclaiming “WeDo Baltimore Day,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the victory in achieving marriage equality in Maryland and then presided over the brief service in front of hundreds of the couples’ family members, friends and spectators at the main stage in Druid Hill Park.

Also on hand with the mayor and making remarks were four local clergy: Rev. Meredith Moise, Father E. Skip Koritzer, Elder Harris Thomas and Minister Clifton G. Speller.

Brittany and Alice Chong from southwest Baltimore were elated about the impending ceremony an hour before. “We’re so glad it’s legal now,” said Brittany who has been with Alice for five years. “We’re sealing the deal.”

A reception for the newly married couples and families followed the ceremony that was highlighted by a display of rainbow-colored cupcakes.

The previous day brought huge crowds to the annual parade that included 66 units representing a wide array of organizations, gay-friendly businesses and politicians. Rawlings-Blake was the parade’s grand marshal. Also in the parade were potential gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur.

The conclusion of the parade merged with the beginning of the block party whereby thousands crammed the intersection of Charles and Eager streets in Mount Vernon. Controversy formed the backdrop to the block party as business owners and residents complained a week before about underage drinking and other related issues. A compromise was worked out so that the party’s boundaries were shortened. No major problems were reported.

“The GLCCB is very proud of Baltimore Pride 2013,” Matt Thorn, the Center’s executive director, told the Blade. “From Pride with the Orioles, Twilight on the Terrace to the Parade, Block Party and Festival there were many functions for our community to participate in.”

19
Jun
2013

Chase Brexton relocates, expands services

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chase Brexton Health, Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke and helped cut the ribbon at Chase Brexton’s opening last week. (Photo by Daniel McGarrity Photography)

On a comfortable, sunny morning last week, Baltimore City leaders, Chase Brexton officials and supporters as well as a marching band were on hand to officially open Chase Brexton Health Care’s new primary care facility in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Chase Brexton Health Care CEO Richard Larison were among those who offered remarks and cut the ribbon for the grand opening.

The new facility in the former Monumental Life building at 1111 N. Charles St. will allow Chase Brexton, a nonprofit provider, to expand its services. The Mount Vernon Center sees about 9,000 patients annually; the new Center will allow for more than doubling that number to about 25,000 based on projections. It features a patient-centered “pod” design and space for new obstetrics/gynecology services.

“Beginning in just a few months, hundreds of thousands of uninsured Marylanders will have access to new health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act,” Larison said. “We look forward to meeting increasing demand and educating patients with the same compassionate care we’ve provided for 35 years.”

As part of this expansion and evolution of its services, the organization is changing its name to Chase Brexton Health Care to more accurately reflect the comprehensive primary care services that it provides.

Founded in 1978 as a volunteer-run health clinic for Baltimore’s LGBT community, Chase Brexton has a history of providing care to underserved members of the community and helping patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and HIV. Since then, it has expanded to a total of six locations in the region, annually serving nearly 25,000 patients from all walks of life.

Along with the newly relocated main Baltimore location, Chase Brexton has primary care offices in Randallstown, Columbia and Easton, as well as with Sheppard Pratt’s Way Station facility in Columbia. It is also provider of the student health services at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The new facility replaces its former location a few blocks away on the corner of Cathedral and Eager Streets.

“Chase Brexton is a model of healthcare equity in Baltimore and around the region,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “For decades, it has played a critical role in our area by providing high-quality care to anyone who needs it, no matter their ability to pay. With this new facility in the heart of Mount Vernon, Chase Brexton is poised to serve many more people, including many who will be newly insured.”

Building on its comprehensive care menu that includes dental, pharmacy, mental health and substance abuse services, Chase Brexton has recently added obstetrics and gynecology care.

With Chase Brexton’s “pod” design, patients are literally at the center of their own care. Treatment rooms line the perimeter of each pod and medical staff move among the rooms to visit patients, who are able to remain in a single room for their entire visit.

Chase Brexton’s leaders two years ago purchased the Monumental Life building and began renovations to transform the 192,000- square-foot property into its new headquarters.

“The primary goal of the renovation was to respect and preserve historically significant features of the ornate Monumental Life complex while adapting and reconfiguring the property to provide much needed health services for the downtown Baltimore community,” said Kim Price, president of Chase Brexton’s board of directors.

The expansion of services does not change its mission with respect to the LGBT community, according to Dr. Julie Eastin of the Behavioral Health department.

The facility is outpatient only, and appointments are needed. To schedule an appointment, call 410-837-2050. For more information, visit ChaseBrexton.org.

03
Oct
2013

Equality Maryland celebrates milestone

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

Maryland State. Sen. Rich Madaleno was honored last weekend at Equality Maryland’s anniversary event at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Looking back on the journey to achieve full equality in Maryland and its aspirations to continue the fight for social justice, Equality Maryland celebrated 25 years with a gala brunch at the venerable Lord Baltimore Hotel on Oct. 27 with nearly 500 in attendance. State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who’s gay, was the guest of honor.

The event, which was emceed by television journalists Derek Valcourt and Adam May, received congratulatory proclamations from Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin made brief remarks on Maryland’s successes in attaining equality. A message from Sen. Barbara Mikulski congratulating Equality Maryland was read to the audience.

To underscore the importance of wooing LGBT voters, gubernatorial candidates Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Attorney General Douglas Gansler as well as his running mate Del. Joline Ivey (D- Prince George’s County) were on hand. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, another candidate for governor, appeared later on a video honoring Madaleno.

“We have seen a sea change in elimination of discrimination over the last 25 years,” Cardin said but noted there is more to accomplish. “We will not be satisfied until we pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act. We have work to do.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans thanked the many folks who worked and volunteered for Equality Maryland over the years and the elected officials who helped reach its goals.

“The 25-year journey was climaxed with the achievement of marriage equality,” she said.

Evans made a special point to express gratitude to the Human Rights Campaign for its efforts during the Question 6 battle. She thanked the organization for increasing support during that time.

“Without HRC, we would not have won,” she said.

She said that Equality Maryland is determined to have a transgender non-discrimination law passed, integrate African-Americans into the movement, seek equality in immigration and help lesbian and bisexual women achieve pay parity with men.

Elected officials including Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, members of the LGBT caucus as well as current and former Equality Maryland leaders and volunteers all took light-hearted jabs at Madaleno in a video.

“The work is not done,” Madaleno told the audience. “We have a lot to achieve.”  He cited a gender identity non-discrimination law as the first priority. “Personally, it is appalling to me that we have to fight about the same ignorant comments about transgender individuals as we had to face as gays.”

His other priorities consist of fighting HIV/AIDS and homelessness of LGBT youth, which he considers intolerable. Echoing a theme that Delegate Maggie McIntosh articulated in the video, Madaleno said, “We have to stay focused and stick together.”

31
Oct
2013