March 17, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Local news in brief: March 18

Dana Beyer, center. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Ethics complaint dismissed against Beyer

The Montgomery County Ethics Commission on March 8 dismissed a complaint against retired eye surgeon and transgender activist Dana Beyer that alleged Beyer violated county ethics rules in 2008 by improperly campaigning against a proposed referendum to overturn a transgender non-discrimination law.

The complaint was filed by Ruth Jacobs, president of the Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, an anti-LGBT group. The group filed petitions calling for a voter referendum to overturn a transgender non-discrimination law passed by the Montgomery County Council in November 2007.

The referendum never made it to the ballot because supporters failed to gather the required number of petition signatures.

Beyer had been working at the time on the staff of County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg, an at-large Democrat, who authored the law. The law bans discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas based on a person’s gender identity.

Jacobs alleged in her complaint that Beyer and others opposed to the referendum improperly interfered with efforts by her group to gather signatures outside various Giant Food stores by, among other things, “yelling and screaming” at petition circulators and potential signers of the petitions. Jacobs also charged that Beyer abused her role as an employee of the County Council by allegedly telling the manager of one of the Giant stores that he would have “problems” with the county if he allowed the petitions to be circulated on store property.

Beyer denied the allegations, saying they were fabricated by Jacobs and others as a means of retaliating against legitimate efforts by supporters of the non-discrimination law to campaign against the referendum.

“In order for [the ethics code] to be violated, the employee’s conduct must be on the job, include self-identification as a public employee, or otherwise entail the prestige of office,” the Ethics Commission said in its ruling. “Assuming that Dr. Beyer did confront MCRG volunteers, Giant Food managers, and patrons, there is no credible evidence that she invoked her county position while doing so.”

In a statement Beyer hailed the decision to dismiss the case but expressed concern that the commission’s earlier decision to find probable cause that she may have violated ethics rules indicates the county’s ethics process is flawed.

“After having failed to defeat anti-discrimination protections for transgender citizens in the County Council, and then failing to get their referendum on the ballot, a small group of narrow-minded, political motivated individuals tried to obstruct justice a third time by going after me personally,” she said.

Jacobs could not be immediately reached for comment.

Murder trial opens in anti-gay ‘hate’ case

A trial began this week for a 26-year-old D.C. man charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the November 2009 stabbing death of a man that prosecutors have classified as an anti-gay hate crime.

In charging documents filed in D.C. Superior Court, police and prosecutors said Justin L. Navarro, 26, stabbed D.C. resident Kevin Massey at least 18 times inside Massey’s apartment in the 4200 block of 2nd St., N.W., on Nov. 6, 2009.

The court documents say an eyewitness told police the witness saw Navarro enter Massey’s bedroom after asking the witness, “Where is the faggy ass nigger?”

“Witness 1 observed the defendant armed with a large kitchen knife which the defendant used to thrust into the decedent’s body,” a police arrest affidavit says. “Witness 1 stated that it observed the defendant thrust the knife into the decedent’s body twice before Witness 1 fled the apartment for its safety,” the affidavit says.

An eight-count grand jury indictment of Navarro charges that, “the murder demonstrated the prejudice of Justin L. Navarro…based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation of Kevin Massey.”

A law enforcement source said Navarro allegedly stabbed Massey because he incorrectly believed that Massey had made a pass at him weeks before the murder and that “rumors were spreading about the two men.”

Prosecutors filed a motion last September objecting to plans by the defense to argue that Navarro committed the stabbing in self-defense. An attorney representing Navarro could not be immediately reached for comment.

The trial before Judge Lynn Leibovitz was expected to last through this week.

San Fran mayoral candidate seeks support in D.C.

A gay candidate running for mayor in San Francisco, who served for eight years on that city’s Board of Supervisors, is scheduled to hold a fundraiser in D.C. on March 21.

D.C. area supporters of Bevan Dufty say Dufty has the “drive, energy, responsiveness and effectiveness” to be an excellent mayor and are calling on local activists to contribute to his campaign. Dufty is a former D.C. resident who started his career as a staff member to former U.S. Reps. Shirley Chisholm and Julian Dixon, both Democrats.

He is the only gay candidate in a field of eight competing for the mayoral post in the Nov. 8 election.

Dufty’s campaign announced earlier this year that he reversed an earlier decision to limit the amount of campaign contributions he would accept to $200 rather than the legal limit of $500. He also initially vowed not to accept contributions from donors outside San Francisco. Those restrictions hurt his campaign, according to political pundits, who noted he had fallen behind most of his competitors in funds raised.

In addition to seeking support from individual donors in D.C., Dufty is applying for the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that supports openly LGBT candidates for public office.

Information about the D.C. event, set to take place at a private residence near Dupont Circle, can be obtained by contacting Jill McCarthy at 202-316-8006 or jillmc6@gmail.com.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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