February 10, 2011 | by Staff reports
Local news in brief

Dignity Washington honored D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) for their efforts at passing a marriage equality bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay Catholics honor Catania, Mendelson

The local LGBT Catholic group Dignity Washington presented its annual community service award Sunday night to D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) in recognition of their role in securing passage of the city’s same-sex marriage law.

Several same-sex couples whose marriages became possible when the law took effect last March joined Dignity Washington President Allen Rose in presenting the group’s Veronica & Gerald Golfer Award to the two Council members at St. Margaret’s Church near Dupont Circle, where Dignity holds its weekly Sunday Mass.

Catania wrote and introduced the marriage measure and Mendelson, as chair of the committee with jurisdiction over the bill, managed its progress through the Council’s legislative process. Catania said he was pleased that polling data showed that D.C.-area Roman Catholics supported marriage equality in greater percentages than members of all other Christian denominations, despite the strong opposition to same-sex marriage by the Catholic hierarchy.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Whitman-Walker Clinic posts first operating gain in 10 years

The Whitman-Walker Clinic announced this week that it posted a four percent operating gain for 2010, its first such positive result in nearly 10 years.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our entire Whitman-Walker family especially in light of the many challenges the Clinic has faced in recent years,” said executive director Don Blanchon. “With our 2010 results, we have answered longstanding questions in the community about the Clinic’s financial viability. But more important than that, we have demonstrated that the Clinic offers high quality care to our patients.”

The Clinic’s management drew the ire of City Council member David Catania after posting consecutive years of multi-million dollar losses. Blanchon responded with layoffs and a restructuring plan. The Clinic posted operating losses of more than $4 million in 2007 and 2008. Losses were cut to about $750,000 in 2009 and for 2010 the Clinic posted an operating gain of about $890,000 on more than $20 million in revenue.

“To have such a dramatic turnaround in such a relatively short period of time, particularly given the state of the economy, is incredible,” Blanchon said.

STAFF REPORTS

Rehoboth’s outdoor bars can stay open until 1 a.m. — for now

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — The Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners placed a one-year moratorium on enforcing a law governing the hours a restaurant patio may stay open, and agreed to hire and train noise enforcement officers on how to use noise meters to measure noise levels.

The moratorium will allow restaurants with patios to serve food and drinks until 1 a.m., instead of 10 p.m. this summer.

The decisions followed a series of arrests in September of several business owners, including at establishments popular with LGBT patrons like Purple Parrot and Aqua, because of late night noise violations on their patios. The moves come after several months of discussions within the commission with business and community leaders, as well as a meeting with police officials from Newark, Del.

At the meeting last month, Commissioner Bill Sargent suggested that the noise ordinance should be based on noise being plainly audible, with distances of hearing the sounds being closer at night, but gay Commissioner Dennis Barbour suggested that would be a subjective way of determining noise levels.

Commissioner Stan Mills, who Barbour cited as the instigator of the police raids last year, said, “complaints of noise came from all over the place including from a residence known as the Arc, which is directly across Rehoboth Avenue from Rigby’s.” Rigby’s is another gay-owned establishment.

Lesbian Commissioner Pat Coluzzi introduced the resolution to keep the same noise ordinance and hire officials to monitor levels.

Because the moratorium requires a change in code, hearings must be held before the commission makes it official, but Mills expects that it could be implemented by mid-March.

PETER SCHOTT

D.C. family group elects officers

The Campaign for All DC Families, which helped lead the fight for marriage equality in the city, has elected its 2011 officers.

The organization will be led by: president Peter Rosenstein, vice president Aisha Mills, treasurer Reggie Stanley and secretary Joanne Savage.

“We will be vigilant as we fight spurious efforts by some members of Congress to interfere with the right of the people of the District to govern themselves. We will work with other supportive groups and the mayor’s office to ensure that marriage equality remains in place in D.C.,” Rosenstein said.

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