Peter Rosenstein – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights http://www.washingtonblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Fri, 21 Sep 2018 19:46:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Comings & Goings http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/21/will-thomas-sam-mcclure/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/21/will-thomas-sam-mcclure/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48289974 Longtime Fox 5 anchor Will Thomas lands at Sotheby’s

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Sam McClure, Will Thomas, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings and Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Sam McClure, gay news, Washington Blade

Sam McClure (Photo courtesy of McClure)

Congratulations to Sam McClure who is the new director at the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care. The Center’s mission is to provide health information and resources to Baltimore’s LGBT community. Patrick Mutch, president and CEO said of McClure, “We were impressed by Sam’s dedication to the LGBT community, and her understanding of the current challenges its members face in accessing welcoming health care and other essential resources. We welcome her to the Chase Brexton team and know she will carry on the important work that our LGBT Health Resource Center does each day.”

Upon taking her new job McClure said, “Wellness means more than access to medical treatment when it’s needed. It’s also about individuals having the ability to live well and sustain themselves and their families. LGBTQ people can face barriers when trying to do this and some of them are multiplied and magnified by a shortage of informed and affirming health care providers. Chase Brexton’s LGBT Health Resource Center is leading from this intersection of needs. I’m looking forward to leading the center’s efforts to improve healthcare access and outcomes for all LGBTQ people.” Among her first priorities will be meeting local LGBTQ community leaders in Baltimore and building on the center’s existing relationships and partnerships.

In her previous role, she was senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, where she led affiliate relations, external affairs, public policy and advocacy, and supplier diversity teams, as well as serving as part of the organization’s executive leadership team.

McClure is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, commentator, panelist, and a subject matter expert on LGBTQ Economic Development. An award-winning strategist, she created the LGBT Business Builder initiative (a collaboration between the NGLCC and the U.S. Small Business Administration) and built local collaboration models in 13 cities. The program won a Bright Idea Award from Harvard University.

Congratulations also to Will Thomas who is joining TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Prior to working in real estate full-time, Thomas was an Emmy Award-winning journalist and anchor on Fox 5. At Fox he helped re-launch the weeknight 11 o’clock newscast as co-anchor and developed a three anchor format for evening newscasts. He created signature on-air segments including “Will You Eat There” that focused on the D.C. region’s restaurant scene.

Thomas began his career after graduation having won first place in the national William Randolph Hearst competition during his last semester in school. He first worked at the ABC affiliate in Albuquerque, N.M., and then became an anchor-reporter at the CBS station in Austin, Texas. He was then wooed by Fox stations in Los Angeles and D.C. and, as we know, he chose D.C. When Thomas came to D.C., the station was making moves to hire younger people to infuse more energy into the newscasts. He soon received anchoring opportunities and within a couple of years became the weekend evening anchor.

Thomas said, “After a 20-year run at Fox 5, choosing to leave the station was a very difficult decision but one I did for family reasons.” He added, “I first moved to the nation’s capital thinking it would be a stopover in my career but fell in love with the Washington metropolitan area and its people.”

Thomas noted, “I am not saying goodbye to broadcasting altogether. I have created a digital studio in the District to file reports on luxury real estate including my own client listings, topical news about real estate, finance, design, lifestyle and philanthropy. I will invite my colleagues to appear to talk about some of Sotheby’s other prestigious listings.”

Will Thomas (Photo courtesy of Thomas)

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In Trump era, we need a robust Human Rights Campaign http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/in-trump-era-we-need-a-robust-human-rights-campaign/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/in-trump-era-we-need-a-robust-human-rights-campaign/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 10:54:36 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48234866 LGBTQ group embarks on largest expansion in its history

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HRC National Dinner, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Biden speaks at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner on Sept. 15 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign seems to always top its previous national dinners with both entertainment and a keynote speaker. But last Saturday evening they had a nearly impossible task in matching the reception Hillary Rodham Clinton got last year. In this craziness we are living one cannot help but think of what could have been had Hillary been president including the raft of administration officials who would have been at this year’s dinner.

This year’s keynote speaker was Joe Biden. Dr. Jill Biden spoke first about their foundation and she is quite a person in her own right. Then it was ‘Uncle Joe’ as so many call him who stepped to the podium and got a standing ovation with some shouts of 2020. This was reminiscent of the reception he got when he spoke at the dinner in 2015. He said all the right things and as always with passion. The speech meandered without direction and you couldn’t help but feel ‘I love this man’ and thank him for all he has done; but many in the room said they hoped like in 2015 he would eventually announce he has decided not to run. Reality sets in and he would be nearly 80 when he took office and like with so many of us Baby Boomers, age begins to show.

The second major speaker of the evening, former Attorney General Eric Holder, has also made some noise about wanting to run in 2020. He gave a good speech and spoke of the important work he is doing with former President Obama on the issue of redistricting. He is right we need to stop the gerrymandering of congressional districts.

The program also featured trailblazing Virginia Del. Danica Roem and candidate for Nevada Secretary of State, Nelson Araujo. Unfortunately those at the dinner didn’t get to hear Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia who earlier in the day had addressed HRC leaders and members from across the country. But Andrew Gillum, hopefully the next governor of Florida, was in the room.

HRC’s President Chad Griffin spoke eloquently addressing the sell-out crowd of more than 3,600 people at the Walter Washington Convention Center. His words were similar to those he spoke last year when he said “It’s not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime — we’ve got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That’s why we’re going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC’s 37-year history. Our grassroots army of over 3 million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who’ve been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize.”

He said because of our work and that of our allies we can be proud record numbers of LGBTQ+ candidates are on the ballot in November running for school board to state legislature, from governors to members of Congress. He reminded the crowd “we have 51 days of work before we can claim victory for all those candidates and that will only happen if we VOTE.”

Actress Anne Hathaway received HRC’s National Equality Award. One of the biggest ovations of the evening came for Adam Rippon, Olympic figure skating champion who has used his voice to speak out for the LGBTQ+ community in a way that has reached millions. Adam introduced Shea Diamond, a transgender woman of color, who sang and wowed the audience both with her voice and the words of her song. Comedian Dana Goldberg hosted the live auction which raised nearly $300,000 for the organization.

There is much people find to criticize about HRC. The dinner as always was attended overwhelmingly by white people of privilege. It is stunning how much money is in the room. This year, two people competed with the winning bid being $100,000 for a cruise to Antarctica. I have criticized the organization many times over many issues. But reality is the people at the national dinner and those at similar dinners across the nation (and many of their members who can’t afford to attend the dinners but donate) understand organizations like HRC need money to exist and to do their work. Make no mistake the work they do is important.

In today’s world we need HRC and Griffin is doing a good job leading the organization. We can argue with one or the other of the decisions the organization makes but I for one am glad they exist and continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community here and around the globe.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Media misreading Democratic voters http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/media-misreading-democratic-voters/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/media-misreading-democratic-voters/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 17:25:45 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47686200 Electorate looking for diverse representation, not socialism

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Democratic voters, gay news, Washington Blade

The fight isn’t about progressive vs. far left for the Democratic Party; it is simply to get everyone to the ballot box.

I am a staunch supporter of a free press and don’t believe in ‘alternative facts.’ Today it seems too many journalists are writing their stories with a view of getting noticed and being asked to be commentators on TV. Headline writers are dreaming up clickbait headlines to attract readers. Journalism is suffering because of this.

There are still those like Bob Woodward who research their work exhaustively and can document what they write. But more and more columns are written without this exhaustive research, many because their editors are competing to be first with a scoop and stories end up just being part of what appears to be a pack mentality.

We see this in the glorification of someone like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez whom the press deemed a super-hero of the left by apparently purposely misreading her victory in a New York congressional primary. A closer look at the District easily explains her win in a majority-minority district against an opponent who was too arrogant to mount a real campaign. The positions she took were not all that different from the votes of her opponent but she ran a good campaign. The same can be said for Ayanna Pressley in her win in a Boston district. It wasn’t the positions she took, but rather a good campaign in a district that had changed and was now younger and more diverse and those constituents rightly wanted representation that looked more like them. In Delaware, where Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Socialists tried to install their own candidate in a Senate primary, they found the voting base hadn’t changed as much and their candidate lost to Sen. Tom Carper in a landslide.

What is happening in the Democratic Party is not a version of the Tea Party that took over the Republican Party as Paul Kane in his Washington Post column posits. The change occurring in the Democratic Party is more about age, gender and diversity than it is about policy. There was an outcry when David Hogg, a Parkland survivor, called Nancy Pelosi old. Well from his perspective she is. She could be his great-grandmother and who can honestly say they don’t consider their great-grandmother old.

The change coming to the Democratic Party and supported by many is knowing if we are to be the party of the future we need to have more women, more people of color, more representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and younger people representing the diversity of the country in leadership positions. That is what is happening in Democratic elections. These elections aren’t about being Democrats or Democratic Socialists. The huge bloc of Democratic voters, and all voters, are not Democratic Socialists and will never be. The media, which are trying to make this a fight between progressives and the far-left of the party, are getting it wrong. The party is not far left and will never be.

The goal for the Democratic Party must be to convince millennials and younger voters that voting matters. As President Obama said, “It is not enough to complain, hashtag, attend a protest rally or send out a message on FB or twitter.” All that is worthless if you don’t take the time to actually VOTE.

Democrats must also educate voters to understand what Obama meant when he said “vote for better not for perfect” and that there are only two choices when it comes to taking over the Congress: Democrat or Republican. Voting for a third-party candidate as a protest begets Donald Trump and Trump begets Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The fight isn’t about progressive vs. far left for the Democratic Party; it is simply to get everyone to the ballot box.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Comings & Goings http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/07/jeffrey-brier-martin-toews-anne-friedman/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/07/jeffrey-brier-martin-toews-anne-friedman/#respond Fri, 07 Sep 2018 20:32:17 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47423356 Martin and Jeff group lands at Compass Real Estate

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Jeffrey Brier, Nathan A. Cardon, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

From left, Jeffrey Brier and Martin Toews (Photos courtesy of the subjects)

Congratulations to Jeffrey Brier and Martin Toews of the Martin and Jeff group on joining Compass Real Estate. They said “Compass is a brokerage whose mission is similar to ours. They pair the industry’s top technology with unsurpassed service to make the process of buying and selling a home smart and seamless.”  Joining them at Compass will be the third member of their team, Olivia Kibler.

Brier moved to D.C. in 1982 and Toews has lived in D.C. since 1986. In 1995 they formed their real estate partnership and “The Martin and Jeff Group” was born. They were one of the pioneers in the now very common Real Estate team concept. They believed bringing multiple agents together in a group with varied skills and talents makes for a better approach to helping clients achieve their goals. Together they have received many awards are are rated in the top 3 percent of real estate agents in Washington and listed in Washingtonian as top real estate agents 2014-2017.

Toews is a graduate of Washburn University in Kansas (undergrad and MBA) and Brier graduated from the University of Connecticut.

Congratulations also to Anne Friedman the new National Director of Gay For Good (G4G). She is the first paid staffer for this organization celebrating its 10th year. G4G was founded in Los Angeles. Over the past 10 years organizers have developed chapters across the nation and have made a positive impact on the greater community by having members of the LGBTQ+ community volunteer their time to social and environmental organizations.

Each volunteer service project their volunteers participate in fosters stronger relationships and promotes goodwill. Through Gay For Good’s grassroots efforts, parks have been cleaned, homeless people have been fed, schools have been restored and more. Friedman said, “When we show up, the narrative about the LGBTQ+ community is changed. Gay for Good volunteers have logged thousands of hours with our 14 chapters throughout the USA and we are steadily growing to become leaders in making a social impact.”

Previously, she was marketing and communications coordinator with the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County. For many years she was a director and instructor with Music ’N’ Kids, in Chino Hills, Calif. She and her wife life in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s in Communication Studies from California State University Long Beach.

Anne Friedman (Photo courtesy of Friedman)

Congratulations and thanks also to Peter Morgan who is now leading a team that formed the newest chapter of G4G in D.C. He was there in LA when the group was founded. He said “I’m excited to be a part of the team launching G4G in Washington, D.C. I hope G4G-DC brings that same sense to the LGBTQ community here as we volunteer monthly on service projects with non-LGBTQ organizations bridging the gap that may still exist between LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.”

Morgan currently owns Morgan Ink. Marketing, LLC, a firm providing marketing, public relations, and special event services. His clients include DC Shorts Film Festival, Capital Pride Alliance, and Oasis Marketing. Previously he was director of programming and promotions for Studio 4 Networks, Inc. in Los Angeles and general manager of SAVVY Management Public Relations in New York City.

Peter Morgan (Photo courtesy of Morgan)

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Elissa Silverman for Council-at-large http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/06/opinion-elissa-silverman/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/06/opinion-elissa-silverman/#respond Thu, 06 Sep 2018 23:11:11 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47378054 Re-elect the independent, progressive incumbent

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Elissa Silverman, tipped workers, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (D-At-Large) (Photo courtesy of Silverman)

The voters of the District of Columbia should make a statement with their vote Nov. 6 and tell lobbyists they won’t accept them trying to control the votes of our City Council. There has never been a Council member with whom I agree all the time and Elissa Silverman is no exception; she is independent and stands unabashedly for workers and their families. She understands the District has become a place where the average worker finds it hard to afford living and is willing to do everything she can to make it easier for them to support themselves and their families here.

According to the Washington Post, Anthony Williams, former mayor and highly paid executive director of the Federal City Council and David Catania, former Council member, losing mayoral candidate and now lobbyist are “teaming up in an effort to unseat Silverman in November.” They don’t like the bill providing family leave to workers Silverman co-introduced with David Grosso. The final bill with support from Council Chair Mendelson won overwhelming support on the Council. According to the Post it is “among the nation’s most generous and imposes a new tax on business.” Now Catania and Williams don’t like the bill or the tax it creates and figure Silverman is the easiest target to go after; she is standing strong. They aren’t going after the chair or any of the other Council members who voted for it thinking they could be convinced/bullied to make changes before it goes into effect. I recently wondered why Catania wrote an opinion piece in the Blade supporting Anita Bonds and from the Post got my answer; he opened a new lobbying firm in the District.

This kind of heavy handed political action is not what the people of the District should lend their support to. Elissa is the most liberal member of the D.C. Council. She can be counted on to support workers and economic fairness which is why she is supported by unions like SEIU and the D.C. Nurses Association, and other groups like Democracy for America, the D.C. Chapter of NOW, TENAC, Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund, and is also supported by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

There are others aside from Williams and Catania’s candidate who announced they were running for the independent seat Silverman holds. When Catania and Williams stepped in to push a businesswoman there was already another businesswoman in the race and she happens to be a lesbian and someone I admire. My assumption is she wasn’t willing to commit as much to those two lobbyists. Their candidate is now having problems with her petition signatures. Maybe karma, but one would think that was something Williams, who had problems with his petitions and got tossed from the ballot, could have helped her avoid.

Before the Post column I was not sure who I would endorse in this race. But after this self-styled dynamic duo got involved friends who read the column called asking what I thought. They told me how infuriated they were after reading it. These were lawyers and business people who were aghast at what Williams and Catania were doing.

They were people who have lived in the District for years and were strong Williams supporters in both his campaigns as was I. They tend to follow more national politics than local and this just caught their eye and made them mad and they didn’t even know Elissa.

So I sought a meeting with Elissa to talk about the campaign. She told me in the next four years she will continue to fight for workers. She intends to introduce a bill to mandate national chains like CVS and Safeway give their employees their work schedules at least two weeks in advance so they can realistically arrange everything from childcare to doctor’s appointments. Low-salaried employees in those stores don’t always get that now. She wants to work with the city to ensure the city’s Infrastructure Academy that trains D.C. residents for D.C. jobs is actually doing the job and training potential employees for the jobs that are coming to the District. If we build the new proposed hospital east of the river she wants to ensure local residents will be prepared to work there. For that to happen some may need training not only in the actual job responsibilities/skills, but may need training in what are often called the soft skills — including how to answer a phone, write a resume and handle an interview. She has also pledged to continue to fight for a minimum of at least $100 million each year for affordable housing.

The voters in the District of Columbia are some of the most progressive in the nation. They believe in fairness for all and it is important we have some people like Elissa, un-pledged to any particular lobbyists, on the Council to stand up for fairness and the little guy. There are more than enough Council members already responsive to the business community and at times too responsive to lobbyists like Catania and Williams. That is why I urge voters to cast their ballot on Nov. 6 for Elissa Silverman for Council-at-large.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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McCain: a Republican, a hero, an enigma http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/28/opinion-john-mccain-enigma/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/28/opinion-john-mccain-enigma/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 19:13:23 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46866780 Agree or disagree with him, his voice will be missed

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John McCain, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

John McCain is many things. He is a Republican, a hero and an enigma. I respect and honor his service to the nation during war and peace but was not sorry he lost especially in the general election when the person he lost to was Barack Obama. In his last Senate campaign he took an ultra-right wing position on immigration to satisfy his Arizona constituents. He was a rich man who once couldn’t remember how many houses he owned.

He is an enigma in so many ways. Every time he did something I agreed with friends would remind me of where he stood on so many issues. He opposed a federal minimum wage, voted for privatizing Social Security and even once voted against a more robust education bill for veterans.

As he did during his last Senate campaign he often took positions to try to get elected and then backed away from them. One example was during a presidential primary campaign, when McCain sharply criticized leaders of the religious right as “agents of intolerance” allied to his rival, Gov. George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of “division and slander.” McCain even singled out Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as corrupting influences on religion and politics and said parts of the religious right were divisive.” Then in an interview in March 2007, David Brody for CBN news asked McCain about these comments, “Do you regret saying it? Do you feel like you need to apologize for it at all? To which McCain responded, “I was angry. And sometimes you say things in anger that you don’t mean. But I have put that behind me. It’s over.”

McCain often mixed religion with politics forgetting the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state. When interviewed in 2007 by Beliefnet, a website that covers religious affairs, McCain was asked if he thought a non-Christian should be president of the United States. He answered, “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith.” Later he said, “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.” But later added his belief that “America is a Judeo-Christian nation.”

McCain voted against federal funding of birth control and sex education and against spending $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives. He also voted more than once against legislation requiring insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to also cover birth control. Yet he voted yes on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

In 2017, his vote saved the Affordable Care Act when he voted against abolishing it making a strong statement on the floor of the Senate about not passing legislation that hadn’t gone through proper order, which included all the committees and hearings. But even before the applause for that speech died down he apparently reversed himself by voting for the Trump tax bill even though it included significant last minute changes made behind closed doors.

In 1983, McCain opposed creating a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and only reversed his position when Arizona rescinded a King State holiday and there was an economic boycott and image problems for the state. Then in April 2008, McCain said, “We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong.”

When it came to LGBTQ rights he was against a federal right to gay marriage wanting it left to the states and he voted no on a bill that would have extended the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. He also voted no on giving the LGBTQ community job protections. Yet he was a strong supporter of Eric Fanning, an openly gay man, speaking out and fighting for his confirmation on the Senate floor when he was nominated as Secretary of the Army.

You can understand how much McCain will be missed when looking at the acquiescence and sycophantic behavior of the current Republican Congress to the despot in the White House. Agree or disagree with him his voice and wisdom will be missed.

There are millions of Americans of all races, genders, nationalities and political persuasions who honor him and thank him for his service to our nation.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Comings & Goings http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/josh-levie-nick-martin/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/josh-levie-nick-martin/#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:32:28 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46567833 JEL Creative becomes Brunch Digital

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Tony Uceda, Nathan A. Cardon, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Josh Levie, gay news, Washington Blade

Josh Levie (Photo courtesy Levie)

Congratulations to Josh Levie who has just rebranded his business formerly JEL Creative and re-launched it as Brunch Digital. Levie has built the company over the last 10 years and currently has six full-time employees and three interns working for him.

He said, “I launched Brunch Digital as an open invitation for a truly inclusive experience for both my employees and client partners. Brunch is about a team, really a community, coming together to work on projects with people we would want to have over for brunch. I see everything I do as an adventure, and it’s one I want to take with my friends, colleagues, and client partners.”

One of Brunch Digital’s first projects was the development of all of the brand identity (including the mural on the bar’s patio) and website for the new LGBT sports bar, Pitchers DC.  Other area nonprofits and businesses Levie has developed branding and web design for include:  Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, Duplex Diner, Hummingbird Inn (LGBT-owned BnB in Easton, Md.), George Washington University’s Annual LGBT Health Forum, and LUNA+EISENLA media. Brunch Digital has developed a strategic partnership with RJ Whyte Event Production, another LGBT-owned business offering event experiences for high-profile events in the area including the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s annual RAMMY Awards Gala, and Wooly Mammoth Theatre among others. Levie grew up the D.C. area and only left when he went to college earning his bachelor’s in psychology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

Congratulations also to Nick Martin who began his new position as director on the Public Affairs team at Forbes Tate Partners (FTP). He brings to them nearly a decade of experience combining policy, politics, and grassroots advocacy, specializing in healthcare issues. The FTP team has a history of working with government officials, C-Suite executives from Fortune 100 companies, and leaders of some of America’s most dynamic organizations. According to its website, “Our knowledge of the complex anatomy of government decision-making processes opens doors to our clients across the nation’s capital and around the country. We have developed and continue to maintain productive working relationships with local, state, national, and international policymakers that allow us to provide successful, integrated solutions for our clients.”

Martin’s experience includes having worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, focused on implementation of the Affordable Care Act and MACRA. Working with a variety of different stakeholder groups, he also developed engagement strategies around open enrollment, delivery system reform, and public health crises. Additionally, he advised the Secretary of Health and Human Services and senior HHS officials on the priorities of industry and advocacy organizations before the department. He has also worked as a member of the grassroots field team at the Human Rights Campaign. Most recently he led communications and outreach efforts for the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, where he received a degree in international affairs. He is a native of upstate New York and has called Washington, D.C. home for many years.

Nick Martin (Photo courtesy of Martin)

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Term limits, retirement at 80 for Congress, Supreme Court http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/opinion-term-limits/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/23/opinion-term-limits/#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:06:11 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46565959 Rethinking the rules of our democracy

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State of the Union, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

We are approaching the time to seriously discuss term limits and a mandatory retirement age for Congress and the Supreme Court. While never before a proponent of either looking at the current members of Congress and the court has me rethinking my position. Doing this would require a constitutional amendment, which is unlikely to pass today; but it is something worth having a national discussion about. Also included in the discussion should be doing away with the Electoral College.

For years the percentage of voters actually voting in a presidential election has hovered in the 50-58 percent range. There are many reasons for the low numbers and much lower ones in midterm elections. A major one might be people no longer think it matters. Young people and millennials apparently don’t believe they have a connection to the people leading our nation.

The Democratic Party has a number of politicians who will be 80 or within spitting range of it saying they are actively considering running for president in 2020. Others nearing that age will be in line to become president due to the office they hold. There is a mandatory retirement age for membership on many corporate boards and other jobs such as airline pilots and air-traffic controllers have mandatory retirement ages. Currently in the U.S. Senate, 25 members (or 25 percent) are over 70 and eight members are over 80.

Any discussion on term limits should look at whether the current two-year term for members of the House of Representatives makes sense. With today’s need to raise exorbitant amounts of money to run; members find the day after they are sworn in they must start running for reelection. It might make more sense to have a four-year term for members of the House. Then we should consider a six-term limit allowing members to serve up to 24 years. If Senate terms remain at six years there could be a four-term limit allowing them up to 24 years in office. Instead of lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court it might make sense to apply a 24-year limit on service. These limits would allow people to serve for what is generally considered a full generation. Then the retirement age could be applied to all of them.

The idea of asking people to retire at 80 will be attacked as ageist and the concept of term limits has been attacked by those who say term limits already exist because voters have the right to not reelect someone. Up until recently I agreed. But today there are people running for the Senate who will be nearly 90 when their term ends and others, one in South Florida, running in a primary to be a freshman member of the House when she will be nearly 80 when sworn in should she win. Considering achieving seniority in the House today takes about 10 years, she would have to be reelected five times and would be nearly 90 by that time.

If we are serious about getting young people and a generation of millennials to vote it might be easier if we aren’t asking them to vote for candidates who are old enough to be their grandparents or great grandparents.

This is not to say there aren’t many people age 80 and over who are able to do their jobs. But reality is anyone who has followed the careers of the septuagenarians and those older in Congress closely over the past few years has seen they, like others their age, do start to slow down. Now members of Congress are given large staffs to work for them and members of the Supreme Court don’t have that heavy a load; but we must question why they wouldn’t want to step off center stage and allow younger generations to take the reins of leadership. It can be assumed some of the reason involves ego but that shouldn’t be enough to keep them there.

There are many opportunities for those of us over 70 to make use of the experience and the wisdom we have gained over the years. We can advise young people and mentor them if they ask as they move up in their careers. There are countless non-profit organizations that would welcome a former member of Congress working with them. And nothing would stop them from becoming advisers to a new generation of politicians. They won’t need the money because if they are of retirement age after 24 years of service they are provided with generous pensions and healthcare for life.

I am not naïve enough to think this will happen right away but it should be part of the discussion on how we can improve our political system and make the Congress and the court more representative of what the country looks like today and what it will look like in the future.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Omarosa, Trump deserve each other http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/15/omarosa-trump-deserve-each-other/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/15/omarosa-trump-deserve-each-other/#respond Wed, 15 Aug 2018 20:17:28 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46162309 In new book, one greedy egomaniac writes about another one

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Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist.

The latest installment of our obscene reality show, otherwise known as the Trump presidency, has one of the characters, Omarosa, fired and writing a book about Trump, calling him a liar and a racist.

Trump in response calls her a low life. Well it takes one to know one as they say. The crazier part of all this is why anyone would think this is news. It would have been more newsworthy, though not believable, had she written that in one-on-one conversations he is actually a decent guy.

Lest we forget, Omarosa is the nobody Trump turned into a reality TV star on “The Apprentice.” She tried to convince us that through editing he made her into the ‘bitch’ that season; now we know it didn’t require editing. Reading her Wikipedia page you find out “in the 1990s, Omarosa worked in the office of Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton Administration.” She later stated the job had been “a very difficult environment, because they don’t believe in training. They just kind of throw you in the fire.” Gore’s former office administrator, Mary Margaret Overbey, has said Omarosa “was the worst hire we ever made.” She was later transferred to the Commerce Department via the White House personnel office. Cheryl Shavers, who then served as the department’s under secretary for technology administration, has said that at the time, Omarosa was “unqualified and disruptive,” adding, “I had her removed.”

Omarosa Manigault-Newman. (Photo by Gaga Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

I won’t read the book but the media are giving her all the free publicity she craves. She lives for being famous and having people talk about her. They are certainly doing that on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and “Meet the Press,” where Chuck Todd got into the mud with her simply by having her on as a guest.

She says she knew Trump was a racist from when he was doing “The Apprentice.” Yet she didn’t let that bother her when she agreed to work for his company and then took the White House job. Clearly to her it is all about money and fame, being connected to power, and the ensuing publicity that brings. She got all those things but must have known through it all people were laughing not with her, but at her. She has outdone even some of his most ardent supporters in what she has said about Trump prior to writing this book. “Referring to the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, in which President Barack Obama mocked Trump, then in the midst of his ‘birther’ campaign and considering a run for the presidency, Omarosa said ‘Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him — it is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.’” So will she now join those bowing down to him?

I met Omarosa Manigault Newman once. It was at a cocktail party to honor David Shulkin after he was confirmed as Secretary of the Veterans Administration. Through some good investigative reporting we now know that was a fiasco in which he was complicit.

At the party I chatted with Omarosa and also with General Kelly who was then Secretary of Homeland Security. She seemed pleasant enough. During our conversation I mentioned I had a letter with me for Ivanka, which was a copy of my Blade column, ‘An Open Letter to Ivanka’ and had hoped to meet someone at the party from the White House. Omarosa said she would be happy to take the letter and personally give it to Ivanka. That was at a time many of us thought Ivanka had some clout in the administration and was a decent human being. During our conversation Omarosa spoke proudly about her work in the White House and spoke glowingly of Trump. It was funny reading in the Washington Post that she was fired for “abusing the government car service.” At that cocktail party, which wasn’t an official event but a private party, she mentioned a couple of times how her driver had dropped her off and was waiting for her outside. I actually kidded her saying I have a driver too, he works for Uber. Turns out I never heard from Ivanka about the letter and Omarosa never responded to the two emails I sent her asking if she had delivered it.

With Omarosa’s book we are treated to one greedy egomaniac writing about another one. It would be funny if one of them wasn’t the president of the United States.

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Two gay artists plan Rehoboth exhibits http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/15/two-gay-artists-plan-rehoboth-exhibits/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/15/two-gay-artists-plan-rehoboth-exhibits/#respond Wed, 15 Aug 2018 19:31:14 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46159960 Fisher, Wright to display work at Gallery 50 this month

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Gallery 50, Gary Fisher, gay news, Washington Blade

Gary Fisher (Photo courtesy of Fisher)

Two talented gay artists will exhibit their work in Rehoboth Beach this month. Their art will line the walls of Gallery 50, at 50 Wilmington Avenue (m.me/gallery50art or 302-227-2050).

The gallery opened its doors in 2007 and regularly offers a variety of artworks from renowned, established and emerging artists in a variety of mediums. During each exhibition, the gallery focuses primarily on the work of one to two artists. The gallery also hosts private events, parties, book signings, film screenings and more. In addition to being a gallery, it retains a master framer who can frame anything from your important works of art to your children’s masterpieces.

The first show opens Friday, Aug. 17 and will feature the works of one of D.C. and Rehoboth’s premier artists, Gary Fisher, who’s has had a long career as an environmental enforcement attorney with the U.S. Justice Department. He began painting almost 30 years ago and has developed a wide following.

“It is an expression of the beauty I see around me and my optimistic outlook on life,” Fisher says. “My paintings reflect my highly individual vision of the scenery or subject matter that surrounds me. Color dominates my vibrant surfaces as the play of light is expressed in applications of intense and sometimes surprising hues. Paint strokes are infused with an exuberant energy. The results are dream-like canvases that evoke a sense of playfulness and spontaneity.”

His canvases often appear to take on a life of their own — fresh and exciting.

It isn’t always easy to get one of his pieces as much of his work is now on a commission basis. Over the years, Fisher has been featured in special exhibits at the Children’s National Medical Center, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, U.S. Government buildings and U.S. embassies around the world as part of the State Department’s Art in Embassies Program.

The second show begins on Friday, Aug. 31 and will feature the work of Jason Wright, a Hawaii resident. He studied painting and graphic design at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington. While there he began his career illustrating and designing graphics for the surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding industry.  That makes sense as aside from being a talented and accomplished artist Jason is a medaled athlete and skydiving instructor. I think he just likes the freedom of being in the water and up in the sky and the challenges the sports he participates in represent.

“This show continues my study on the beauty of isolation,” Wright says. “I wanted to evoke the mystery and magic one feels during first light on a cold winter day. That special moment when the golden hues of the sun collide with the cool tones of the water, which often reminds me of childhood. It’s a feeling I’ve always wanted to capture. These paintings are inspired by my time spent on the eastern shore over the years chasing winter swells and my love of the small towns and rural areas that surround the beach towns.” 

Wright’s paintings are created with a palette knife and are a mixture of oil and acrylic paint. His studio is located on The Big Island of Hawaii.

“My love for nature has never faded,” he says. “I still catch the surf on my way to the studio every day.”

Jason Wright (Photo courtesy of Wright)

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