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Fairfax race to replace Cuccinelli a study in contrasts



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.



Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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