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Fairfax race to replace Cuccinelli a study in contrasts

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Virginia Partisans, the state’s gay Democratic group, was slated Thursday to endorse Del. David Marsden to fill incoming Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s state Senate seat.

Marsden told DC Agenda that he was “proud to accept” the group’s endorsement.

“As a 57-year resident of Fairfax County, I get it,” he said. “Fairfax voters want leaders to concentrate on the key issues: helping small businesses create jobs, protecting our world class schools and ensuring equal justice for all Virginians — not pushing a divisive agenda based on who people are.”

Marsden is running against Steve Hunt, the Republican nominee for the 37th district seat. The former Fairfax school board member drew local LGBT community ire in 2005 after he wrote a letter in support of “ex-gays” speaking in Fairfax schools.

Hunt’s nomination had spurred the Partisans to push hard to support Marsden, said the group’s president-elect Terry Mansberger.

“Hunt is cut from the same cloth [as Cuccinelli]. He’s got an anti-gay agenda,” he said.

“The conservatives have taken over the Republican Party. They are a minority in the county, and probably in the state, but in a special election situation they will get out the vote.

“This should be clear: You’ve got an anti-gay candidate versus a pro-gay candidate and there should be no reason for gay people in Fairfax County to stay home.”

Mansberger said the only protection LGBT Virginians had from further attempts to restrict their rights was the two-seat Democratic majority in the state Senate.

“The Republicans have gone after us in schools, in adoption, on marriage,” he said. “They’ve pushed back on non-discrimination policies in the county government. This next term, the House will put forth a lot of anti-gay legislation, as they always have.”

The race could be close; Cuccinelli only held the seat in 2008 by 91 votes after a recount.

The Partisans have endorsed Marsden in each House election since he first ran for office in 2005. He has not introduced any LGBT-related legislation in that time, but voted against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Virginia Log Cabin Republicans spokesperson David Lampo said the GOP’s LGBT group has not agreed to any endorsements, but feared an anti-gay agenda if Hunt were elected.

“I remember him from his days on the Fairfax school board. I haven’t seen anything to suggest he’s changed those views,” Lampo said.

Hunt later apologized for his letter, saying he was sorry for having offended school staff and breaking board policy by speaking without authorization.

“I apologize to those persons within the community, especially those of the homosexual community, that may have been given the impression that I do not respect their rights or discount them as individuals,” he said in a statement.

But Lampo and other LGBT Republicans felt the apology wasn’t strong enough then to warrant an endorsement now.

“My sense is he still comes out of that Ken Cuccinelli, anti-gay wing of the party. I sense his support is also from that side of the party,” Lampo said.

“Until I see any evidence that he’s moderated his views, I think it is a mistake to reflexively vote for someone like that. The party is in a struggle between the socially moderate and the right-wing faction that wants to pursue the culture war.”

Lampo said he blamed the Democratic Party for failing to sufficiently raise the “outrageous history” that Cuccinelli had on gay rights issues during the attorney general race, and it looked like they were making the same mistake with Hunt.

“The Democrats’ efforts were kind of weak and pathetic [against Cuccinelli]. I fear they’ll be just as apathetic against Hunt.”

Fairfax Equality, a non-partisan group, is working to get the next legislature to pass an employment non-discrimination bill barring government workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“At this stage we don’t know how supported it will be, but we do have many senators and delegates that support us in Fairfax County,” Fairfax Equality president Sarah Gustafson said.

Gustafson said LGBT activists would work with whoever is elected on Jan. 12, 2010.

Democratic nominee David Marsden has agreed to be interviewed by the DC Agenda in an upcoming issue. Republican nominee Steve Hunt’s campaign has not yet responded to DC Agenda’s e-mails or calls.

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District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 68

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

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Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, June 21, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 68.

“It is with great sadness that the Capital Pride Alliance mourns the passing of Bernie Delia,” the statement says. “We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The statement says that in addition to serving six years as the Capital Pride Alliance board president, Delia served for several years as president of Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, where he helped create “an environment for spiritual enrichment during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

“He also had a distinguished legal career, serving as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice and later as an appellate attorney,” the statement reads.

Delia’s LinkedIn page shows that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 26 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2019. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as associate deputy attorney general and from 1994 to 1997 served as senior counsel to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides executive and administrative support for 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the country.

His LinkedIn page shows he served from January-June 1993 as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President Bill Clinton, in which he was part of the White House staff. And it shows he began his career as legal editor of the Bureau of National Affairs, which published news reports on legal issues, from 1983-1993.

The Capital Pride Alliance statement describes Delia as “an avid runner who served as the coordinator of the D.C. Front Runners and Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ sports groups.”

“He understood the value, purpose, and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community to work together and support one another,” the statement says. “He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride, which was a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride.”

The statement adds, “Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic. We love you, Bernie!”

In a statement posted on social media, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she and her administration were “heartbroken” over the news of Delia’s passing.

“Bernie leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city and country — through his life and advocacy, he helped pave a path for LGBTQIA+ residents in our city and within the federal government to live and work openly and proudly,” the mayor says in her statement.

“He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations in the nation — a true reflection and representation of our people and values,” the statement says. “This is the D.C. that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind.”

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D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

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The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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