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Halo bar to change name, go green



The D.C. gay bar Halo is changing its name to MOVA and will evolve over the next year into an environmentally friendly “green” business with an expanded program to support both LGBT and broader community causes and projects.

Gay attorney and businessman Babak Movahedi, owner of Logan Circle Spectrum, LLC, the company that owns Halo bars in D.C. and Miami Beach, said the name change and plans for the business’s community-related projects would be formally announced during a Jan. 1 celebration at the club in D.C. at 7 p.m. Halo is located at 1435 P St., N.W.

“The event is the beginning of a year-long process for Logan Circle Spectrum to institute a philosophical shift in corporate culture and set the foundation for national expansion of a new entertainment concept,” Movahedi said in a statement announcing the changes.

“The LGBT community today has evolved and we want to create a place where people can have fun while having the opportunity to make a more direct impact in our local communities,” he said.

In an interview with DC Agenda, Movahedi said some of his environmental or “green” plans include using furnishings and products in his bars in D.C., Miami Beach and other locations yet to open that are produced by manufacturers that use processes to minimize environmental harm.

He said the newly named MOVA bar in D.C. will soon institute other changes to support LGBT and D.C.-area community causes and projects. He noted that some will involve sponsorship nights for a particular community organization in which the club will publicize the group and ask patrons to make a donation.

According to Movahedi, Halo in Miami, for example, offers a free drink to customers for every $15 they donate to a community group during nights in which the group is highlighted at the club.

“That’s just one idea,” he said. “We will launch different things for different cities depending on what the needs of that location are.”

He said his staff will get more involved, too, with efforts such as “having a cleaning the park day [in D.C.] or cleaning the beach day in Miami — things that give back to the community.”

Movahedi said he decided to change the name of his two bars after discovering that a bar in Minnesota owns the trademark for the Halo name and that other bars and clubs have been opening recently in a number of cities using that name. He noted that the name and concept for other bars he’s planning to open, including a soon-to-be-opened bar in Fort Lauderdale, would result in confusion among customers if he retained the Halo name.

The new name, MOVA, was taken from the first four letters of Movahedi’s last name.

“So for us, it’s a good time to include everything that we’re trying to do into a new brand and a new name and go forward with this in a new decade,” he said.

City argues against voter initiative in marriage case

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles argues in a court brief that the city’s congressionally approved Home Rule charter gives it full legal authority to prohibit a voter initiative calling for banning same-sex marriage in the District.

Nickles filed the 46-page legal brief Dec. 18 in D.C. Superior Court for the city in opposition to a lawsuit filed by same-sex marriage opponents, including Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of a church in Beltsville, Md.

The lawsuit calls for overturning a ruling by the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics that a voter initiative seeking to ban same-sex marriage cannot be held because it would violate the city’s Human Rights Act. The board held that the city’s election law governing initiatives and referenda bars such ballot measures if they would take away rights from minorities, including gays.

“[I]n exalting the people’s supposedly fundamental right of initiative above all else (except apparently the prohibition on popular appropriation of funds), petitioners disregard the basic republican principles that have governed the nation since its founding,” Nickles says in the brief.

“While petitioners treat the right of initiative as fundamental, the Founding Fathers recognized the threat that an unchecked majority posed to the liberty of disfavored minorities and thus created a republican form of government, even requiring the newly created Congress to ‘guarantee’ that form of government to ‘every state in the Union,’” Nickles says.

In their opposition to a ballot initiative on the marriage issue, LGBT activists have made similar arguments — that the city’s republican form of government empowers a City Council elected by the voters to pass laws, such as a same-sex marriage bill, and that laws providing civil rights for minorities should not be subjected to a popular vote.

Nickles called on the court to dismiss the lawsuit on other grounds, including a claim that it would be counter to the Supreme Court decision of Lawrence v. Texas, in which the high court overturned state sodomy laws. According to Nickles, the Lawrence decision, among other things, held that “moral objections are not a sufficient basis for infringing on the fundamental rights of homosexuals.



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

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress



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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Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency



A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep



Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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