Local – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights http://www.washingtonblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Sun, 23 Sep 2018 02:25:31 +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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D.C. Council approves ‘Nonbinary’ I.D. card bill http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/d-c-council-approves-nonbinary-i-d-card-bill/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/d-c-council-approves-nonbinary-i-d-card-bill/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:22:32 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48243361 Allows residents third gender option for licenses

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nonbinary i.d., gay news, Washington Blade

Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) is the author of the non-binary identification measure. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. City Council on Tuesday gave final approval by unanimous voice vote to legislation that allows residents to choose a gender-neutral identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents.

The legislation, the Nonbinary Identification Cards Amendment Act of 2017, requires the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to “permit applicants for a license, permit, or identification card issued pursuant to this act to designate their gender as ‘non-binary’ in lieu of ‘male or ‘female.’”

The Council’s action came one year and three months after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a mayoral order directing the motor vehicles department to do essentially the same thing. The mayor’s order, which has been in effect since June 26, 2017, allows residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses or other city identification documents.

Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), author of the non-binary identification measure approved by the Council this week, praised Bowser for putting the gender-neutral policy into effect by a mayoral directive. But Nadeau said the legislation was needed to ensure that the policy would not be repealed by a future mayor without having to obtain approval by the Council.

“Gender is a spectrum and some of our residents do not identify as male or female,” Nadeau said in a statement at the time she and five of her Council colleagues co-introduced the bill last year shortly before Bowser issued her directive.

“Current licenses force residents to conform to gender that don’t accurately reflect their identity,” she said. “This bill changes District identification documents so they can accurately reflect the needs of our residents.”

At the time Bowser’s directive took effect on June 26, 2017, D.C. became the first jurisdiction in the nation to have its motor vehicles department allow residents to choose a gender-neutral identifier on a government-issued driver’s license or identity card. Less than one month later, on July 3, 2017, Oregon became the first state to allow a gender-neutral option on its identity documents.

Bowser has said she would sign the non-binary license and identification measure passed by the Council. Upon her signature, the legislation must undergo a 30 legislative day review by Congress before it becomes law similar to all D.C. approved legislation.

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DC Appleseed names Pannell 2018 Community Partner Honoree http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/dc-appleseed-honors-phil-pannell/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/20/dc-appleseed-honors-phil-pannell/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48242388 Longtime activist to receive award Sept. 25

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Phil Pannell, gay news, Washington Blade

Phil Pannell is set to receive the 2018 Community Partner Honoree Award from DC Appleseed. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a local nonprofit public policy advocacy group, has named longtime D.C. LGBT rights and community activist Phil Pannell for its 2018 Community Partner Honoree Award. The award will be presented to Pannell at the organization’s annual Awards Reception to be held Sept. 25 at the Arena Stage.

Pannell serves as executive director of the nonprofit Anacostia Coordinating Council. He is cited by DC Appleseed as a distinguished community activist of nearly 40 years in D.C., with a focus on communities east of the Anacostia River. He has received over 100 awards for community service related work, including the U.S. President’s Call to Service Award in 2012.

He also currently serves as president of the Congress Heights Community Association and the Anacostia/Bellevue/Congress Heights AARP Chapter No. 4870. In addition, he serves as treasurer of the Friends of the Parkland-Turner Neighborhood Library and the as vice chair of the board of the Community College Preparatory Academy Public Charter School. He is an outspoken supporter of the LGBT Youth advocacy group Check It Enterprises, which is located in Anacostia.

DC Appleseed spokesperson Renee Johnson called Pannell “our amazing honoree.”

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Bowser endorses Reeder in at-large D.C. Council race http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/19/bowser-endorses-reeder-in-at-large-d-c-council-race/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/19/bowser-endorses-reeder-in-at-large-d-c-council-race/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 18:33:45 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48196878 Lesbian candidate considered lead rival to incumbent Silverman

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Dionne Reeder, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that she is backing lesbian businesswoman Dionne Reeder for Council. (Photo via Reeder Campaign Twitter)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced through her campaign chairman on Wednesday that she is backing lesbian businesswoman Dionne Reeder in the hotly contested race for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election on Nov. 6.

The Washington Post reports that former D.C. Council member Bill Lightfoot, who is serving as Bowser’s campaign chairman, disclosed that the mayor plans to help raise money for Reeder and would encourage her volunteers to canvas city neighborhoods for Reeder.

Lightfoot told the Post that Bowser believes incumbent Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), who is Reeder’s main rival in the election, “has been not helpful to D.C. residents and has pushed a national agenda more than a local agenda and as a result has been divisive.”

According to the Post, Lightfoot added, “so for those reasons she is going to support Dionne Reeder, who has promised to focus on needs of D.C. residents.”

Silverman, who has been a strong supporter of the LGBT community, has disputed claims that she is pushing a national agenda, saying she has been an advocate for the city’s working families who are struggling to meet expenses due to the high cost of living in the city.

Reeder is also running as an independent. The seat held by Silverman under D.C. law cannot be held by a Democrat. Four other lesser-known candidates are running in the at-large race along with incumbent Anita Bonds (D-At-Large). Most political observers believe Bonds will win re-election to the so-called Democratic seat.

The dynamics of the at-large race changed dramatically earlier this month when the D.C. Board of Elections disqualified from the ballot S. Kathryn Allen, another independent that had been considered Silverman’s lead rival. In response to a challenge to Allen’s nominating petition signatures filed by Silverman, the election board found that a majority of Allen’s petition signatures were invalid and many of them were said to be forged.

That development immediately elevated Reeder as the leading challenger to Silverman. Bowser’s endorsement this week, some political observers believe, could prompt Allen’s supporters in the business community and establishment leaders such as former Mayor Anthony Williams, who had been supporting Allen, to back Reeder.

Silverman first won election to her at-large seat in 2014 by capturing just 15.4 percent of the vote in a 15-candidate general election race. Bonds won her seat that year with 31.4 percent of the vote.

If elected, Reeder would become the first LGBT person of color and the first LGBT woman to serve on the City Council. Two white gay men have previously served on the Council, the late Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and attorney David Catania, who was first elected to an at-large seat as a Republican and later changed his party affiliation to independent.

Reeder, a lifelong city resident and longtime community organizer, owns and operates Cheers at the Big Chair restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Anacostia.

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Food & Friends names new executive director http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/19/food-friends-carrie-stoltzfus/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/19/food-friends-carrie-stoltzfus/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:02:53 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48242701 Stoltzfus to replace Shniderman at year's end

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Food & Friends, the D.C.-based nonprofit organization that has provided home-delivered meals to people with serious illnesses, including HIV and AIDS since 1988, announced on Tuesday that it has named Carrie Stoltzfus, its current deputy director, as its next executive director.

Stoltzfus will succeed Craig Shniderman, who has served as the organization’s executive director for nearly 24 years. Shniderman announced last December that he planned to step down from his executive director’s post on Dec. 31, 2018 to pursue “avocational interests and some new professional experiences” rather than retire.

Stoltzfus holds a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She has been with Food & Friends for 15 years. In her current role as deputy executive director her responsibilities include leading a team that oversees client services, volunteer services, nutrition, kitchen and groceries, and delivery, according to a statement released by Food & Friends.

“Carrie brings passion for our work, deep concern for our staff, volunteers, clients and donors, and respect for everyone who is a part of the Food & Friends family,” said Peter Glassman, president of the organization’s board and head of the search committee that selected Stoltzfus.

“Food & Friends Board of Directors undertook a vigorous national search for its next leader, with aid from search consultants at Russell Reynolds Associates who screened more than 100 applications,” the statement released by the group says. “After meeting a substantial number of outstanding candidates from around the country, the Board of Directors determined that the best candidate was within the organization and selected Carrie Stoltzfus on Sept. 13,” the statement says.

“I am excited to take on this new opportunity as Food & Friends continues to fill an essential role in our community and as it evolves to work in lockstep with the broader public health sector to serve even more of our Washington area neighbors,” Stoltzfus said in the statement.

The group says it currently prepares and delivers nearly one million meals each year to clients free of charge across 5,300 square miles in a region that includes D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The group says over 5,500 volunteers help it serve more than 2,800 people annually.

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LGBT workers testify on bill to retain tipped wage system http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/18/lgbt-workers-to-testify-on-bill-to-retain-tipped-wage-system/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/18/lgbt-workers-to-testify-on-bill-to-retain-tipped-wage-system/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:58:47 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48125508 Marathon D.C. Council hearing to include 252 witnesses

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Initiative 77, divorce, Phil Mendelson, gay news, Washington Blade

Phil Mendelson co-introduced the bill calling for repeal of Initiative 77. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than a dozen LGBT tipped workers and representatives of the city’s gay bars were among at least 252 people who signed up as witnesses to testify at a D.C. City Council hearing on Monday on a bill calling for repealing an initiative passed by voters in June to end the so-called tipped wage system.

Sources familiar with the witness list believe as many as 65 percent of the witnesses would be tipped workers at D.C. restaurants, bars, and nightclubs who favor repeal of Initiative 77, which voters approved by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin in the city’s June 19 primary election.

If it were to remain in effect, Initiative 77 would require restaurants, bars and other employers of tipped workers to pay those workers the city’s full minimum wage, which is currently $13.25 per hour and which will increase to $15 per hour in 2020. The minimum wage for tipped workers is currently $3.89 per hour.

Under the city’s tipped wage law, employers in the city’s highly competitive restaurant bar and nightclub industries are allowed to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage on grounds that they make more than the city’s full minimum wage in tips. The law requires employers to pay the difference if workers’ tips fall short of the full minimum wage.

Restaurant owners have said Initiative 77 would increase their labor costs to a degree that could force them out of business or force them to raise prices for food and beverages, which they say would result in lower tips and a lower overall income for tipped workers.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who introduced the repeal bill in July, said he and his Council colleagues have been besieged by tipped workers urging the Council to exercise its authority to repeal the initiative on grounds that it will have a devastatingly harmful impact on their livelihoods as servers and bartenders in the city’s thriving hospitality and nightlife industry.

Supporters of Initiative 77, including LGBT labor activists, have said the “alarmist” predictions by restaurant industry leaders have been proven to be wrong in a number of cities and states, including California, that have adopted legislation requiring tipped workers to receive the full minimum wage in their states or cities.

Among those scheduled to testify at Monday’s hearing, which was to begin at 11 a.m. and last late into the night, were John Guggenmos, co-owner of the D.C. gay bars Trade and Number Nine; and Mark Lee, managing consultant for NO2DC77, one of the leading groups opposing the initiative. Guggenmos has also been an outspoken opponent of Initiative 77.

Among the LGBT witnesses expected to testify against repealing the initiative is gay labor activist Gregory Cendana.

Six other Council members have joined Mendelson in co-introducing the bill calling for repealing Initiative 77. Mendelson assigned the bill to the Council’s Committee of the Whole, which he chairs and which consists of all 13 Council members. He has yet to schedule a vote on the bill in the full Council.

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Lesbian deputy mayor to step down for new opportunity http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/17/deputy-mayor-snowden-step-down/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/17/deputy-mayor-snowden-step-down/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:11:46 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48067941 Bowser calls highest-ranking LGBT city official a ‘trailblazer’

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Courtney Snowden, gay news, Washington Blade

Courtney R. Snowden is leaving her job on Sept. 21. (Photo courtesy of the Raben Group)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Friday that Courtney R. Snowden, her Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity since April 2015, will be leaving her job as of Sept. 21 “to pursue a new career opportunity outside of District government.”

Snowden, a lesbian who has worked on LGBT rights issues in previous private sector jobs, has served in her current job as Bowser’s highest-ranking openly LGBT appointee.

The mayor’s announcement didn’t disclose where Snowden would be working when she leaves her deputy mayor’s position on Sept. 21, and Snowden couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In a press release making the announcement, Bowser praised Snowden for her groundbreaking work in fulfilling the mission of a newly created position intended to boost economic development in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River that had the city’s highest rates of unemployment and fewer sources of employment such as small businesses compared to other parts of the city.

“Courtney R. Snowden served as the District’s first-ever Deputy Mayor of Greater Economic Opportunity, and I don’t think I could have appointed a better person to build this post from the ground up and deliver for our residents,” Bowser said. “Courtney has been a trailblazer, forging pathways to the middle class for residents who needed someone to believe in them and give them a fair shot.”

The mayor’s press secretary, La Toya Foster, told the Washington Post that Snowden’s departure was not related to Snowden being the subject of at least two ethics investigations since May 2017 and that Snowden was not asked to step down.

Although Snowden was not cited for violating ethics rules, the city’s Inspector General in the spring of 2017 named Snowden as being among several city government officials who were given preferential treatment in 2015 by then D.C. Schools Superintendent Kaya Henderson by allowing their kids to be enrolled in prestigious schools without having to be placed on a long waiting list or a lottery.

Henderson disputed claims that her actions violated ethics rules. She said Snowden was among a number of parents, including those not associated with the D.C. government, who applied for a waiver of the school waiting lists based on a program Henderson said she created for children with special circumstances.

“The opportunity to petition the school chancellor for a waiver is available to all District parents,” mayoral spokesperson Kevin Harris said at the time. “Deputy Mayor Snowden did what any parent would do by pursuing every available option when her child faced a challenge,” he said.

In separate matter, the Inspector General’s Office in November 2017 issued a report saying Snowden violated D.C. personnel rules in 2015 when she reportedly instructed her staff to engage in babysitting duties for her son during working hours. The Washington Post reported that Bowser informed the IG’s Office that Snowden “admitted her conduct was not appropriate and expressed remorse” and that the mayor remained confident in Snowden’s ability to do her job.

Robert Raben, founder and CEO of the Raben Group, a D.C.-based progressive public policy and communications firm where Snowden worked before becoming deputy mayor, said Snowden was not returning there. But he said whoever works with her would be lucky.

“Courtney sees around corners, figures out how to get to where you want to go in ways you would not have dreamed,” Raben told the Washington Blade. “That, coupled with a singular ability to connect with anyone, and I mean anyone, of all stripes and types, makes her pretty much a rock star,” he said. “I learned an enormous amount from her.”

Prior to working at the Raben Group, Snowden worked as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), as a political aide for the Human Rights Campaign, and as federal and national policy manager for the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), where she worked on policies to prevent anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination in schools.

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Hogan to attend Log Cabin Republicans national dinner http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/hogan-to-attend-log-cabin-republicans-national-dinner/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/12/hogan-to-attend-log-cabin-republicans-national-dinner/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 02:37:36 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47750212 Incumbent Md. governor to face Benjamin Jealous in November

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Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Log Cabin Republicans on Sept. 12, 2018, announced Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will attend its annual Spirit of Lincoln Dinner next month in D.C. (Photo by Maryland GovPics; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Log Cabin Republicans on Wednesday announced Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will attend its annual dinner that is scheduled to take place in D.C. on Oct. 2.

An email that Log Cabin Republicans sent to its supporters describes Hogan as a “special guest.” The email also notes Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will deliver the keynote address.

Hogan, who took office in 2015, will face off against former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous in November.

A poll that Gonzales Research and Media Services conducted last month found Hogan is ahead of Jealous by a 52-36 percent margin. The Washington Post on Aug. 27 reported Hogan’s re-election campaign account has $9.3 million, compared to the $385,000 the Jealous campaign has on hand.

Hogan in May signed into law a bill that bans so-called conversion therapy to minors in Maryland.

Hogan before his 2014 election said he would not seek to repeal Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters upheld two years earlier.

Hogan specifically mentioned sexual orientation — but not gender identity — in his first executive order that outlined ethic standards for executive branch employees. He later signed an amended version of the mandate that included transgender-specific language.

Two pro-LGBT bills — one that allows trans Marylanders to change their name and gender on their birth certificates without surgery and another that ensures lesbian couples have equal access to fertility treatments — became law in 2015 without Hogan’s signature.

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Lesbian candidate emerges as lead challenger in D.C. Council race http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/11/lesbian-candidate-emerges-as-lead-challenger-in-d-c-council-race/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/11/lesbian-candidate-emerges-as-lead-challenger-in-d-c-council-race/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 14:21:19 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47614017 Main opponent disqualified from ballot in successful petition challenge

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Dionne Reeder, gay news, Washington Blade

Dionne Reader is now lead challenger in an at-large Council race after Kathryn Allen was disqualified. (Photo via Reeder Campaign Twitter)

In a development that has shaken up the hotly contested race for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election on Nov. 6, the city’s Board of Election late Monday night disqualified from the ballot R. Kathryn Allen (I), who was considered the main rival to incumbent Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large).

With Allen out of the race, lesbian businesswoman Dionne Reeder, who’s also running as an independent, immediately emerges as the new lead rival to Silverman.

The development creates a dilemma for many LGBT activists who supported Silverman, a longtime LGBT community ally, in her successful 2014 Council race but who also favor electing an LGBT person to the City Council.

In an 11-page Memorandum Opinion and Order released Monday night, the Board of Elections announced it had disqualified 3,642 of the 6,068 petition signatures that the Allen campaign submitted to obtain access to the ballot. Under the city’s election law, 3,000 valid petition signatures are required to be placed on the ballot for an at-large Council seat.

The election board examined the petition signatures submitted by Allen’s campaign in response to a challenge to the petitions filed by Silverman on Aug. 20. Silverman argued in a detailed statement submitted to the election board that large numbers of the signatures submitted by the Allen campaign were forged.

Silverman’s challenge also stated that several people identified on the petitions as circulators of the petitions said they were falsely listed as circulators and had nothing to do with Allen’s campaign. In its Memorandum Opinion and Order, the election board said its own investigation confirmed those allegations. The board said it determined that Allen presented 2,426 valid signatures, 574 fewer than the required 3,000.

Allen, an attorney and D.C. insurance commissioner under former Mayor Anthony Williams, said the disqualified petition signatures were the responsibility of a private company her campaign hired to gather the signatures. The election board stated in its opinion disqualifying Allen from the ballot that it would “refer the alleged instances of fraud to the Office of the Attorney General.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether many or some of the small and medium size businesses as well as big name politicians, including Williams and gay former D.C. Council member David Catania, who were backing Allen, would switch their support to Reeder.

Many of the business leaders have been open about seeking to replace Silverman with someone they consider to be a more business friendly Council member following Silverman’s lead role in backing and helping to pass legislation establishing one of the nation’s most generous employer paid family leave programs funded by a tax on businesses. Allen, who owns an insurance related business, was considered the business interests’ first choice.

Reeder, who owns and operates a restaurant in Anacostia, has also expressed opposition to the family leave bill in its current form, saying it should be modified so small businesses aren’t saddled with the burden of picking up the cost.

Reeder is a longtime advocate for LGBT rights. She is being supported by a number of LGBT activists. But in the at-large race, Silverman has a longstanding record of strong support for LGBT-related issues and also enjoys significant support in the LGBT community.

Under D.C.’s election law, two of the Council’s at-large seats will be on the same ballot and voters can select two candidates, although only one can be a Democrat. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), who is also a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, is considered the strong favorite to win re-election to the “Democratic” seat.

In addition to Silverman and Reeder, four other candidates are competing for the non-Democratic seat. Among them are independent Rustin Lewis; Republican Ralph Chittams Sr.; Libertarian Denise Hicks; and Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman.

Chittams and Hicks have yet to file a finance report with the Office of Campaign Finance, indicating they have yet to raise any significant funds for their campaigns. Lewis has raised $19,793 and Schwartzman has raised just $1,325, according to their most recent reports filed with the Office of Campaign Finance.

Silverman has raised $111,597 compared to Reeder, who has raised $93,546 at the time they filed their most recent finance reports on Aug. 10. Although Silverman had $80,135 in cash on hand as of the Aug. 10 filing compared to just $4,542 in cash on hand for Reeder as of Aug. 10, political observers say Reeder remains competitive and could have a shot at defeating Silverman if Allen’s supporters back her campaign.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBT political group, endorsed Bonds as a Democrat at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, according to Earl Fowlkes, the club’s president. Fowlkes told the Washington Blade the club has no plans to endorse any of the independent candidates running for D.C. Council, including Reeder or Silverman.

Fowlkes noted that the club’s longstanding policy has been to limit endorsements of non-Democratic candidates to races in which they are not running against a Democrat. Although most political observers consider it highly unlikely, it’s possible for Silverman and Reeder to win election to both at-large seats by receiving more votes than Bonds, resulting in Bonds losing her Council seat.

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Whitman-Walker receives $85,000 grant for immigrant legal services http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/whitman-walker-immigrant-justice-legal-services/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/10/whitman-walker-immigrant-justice-legal-services/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 19:32:46 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47571980 ‘We are committed to protecting the rights of all our residents’

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‘Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary city, and we are committed to protecting the rights and humanity of all our residents,’ said Mayor Muriel Bowser. (Photo by Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Sept. 7 that Whitman-Walker Health is one of 15 community-based organizations to receive city grant funding to provide legal services for immigrants under the city’s recently launched Immigrant Justice Legal Services program.

Amy Nelson, director of Whitman-Walker’s Legal Services Program, said the grant will provide the program an award of $85,000 for fiscal year 2019 “to provide direct legal services to immigrants seeking asylum in the United States as a result of the persecution and violence they endured in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Nelson said the grant will enable Whitman-Walker to expand its capacity to serve more foreign nationals who would otherwise not be able to afford legal counsel.

“Navigating the U.S. immigration maze is nearly impossible without an attorney, and our clients are especially vulnerable having already survived extreme violence in their home country because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Nelson told the Washington Blade.

“We appreciate the mayor’s commitment to the immigrant community through these grant funds to ensure that more families are connected to essential immigrant assistance,” Nelson said.

“Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary city, and we are committed to protecting the rights and humanity of all our residents,” Bowser said in a statement announcing the grant awards. “Through the Immigrant Justice Legal Services grant program, we are able to assist hundreds of residents each year with a wide range of issues, expand the reach of important community partners, and advance D.C. values,” Bowser said.

Whitman-Walker Health is the city’s largest private community-based health organization providing HIV services, with a special outreach to the LGBT community. Its Legal Services Program has provided legal assistance to the LGBT and other minority communities on a wide range of issues, including political asylum, naturalization, and refugee matters.

Human Rights First, another one of the organizations receiving a D.C. legal services grant for 2019, also provides services to LGBT immigrants in D.C. and other locations.

Casa Ruby, the D.C. LGBT community services center that has a special outreach to transgender people, provides a wide range of non-legal services for LGBT immigrants. It was not among the groups receiving one of the D.C. legal services grants for 2019 but it recently received a grant for HIV prevention services from the city’s Department of Health.

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