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Senate bill would force D.C. marriage referendum

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

Nine U.S. senators have agreed to introduce a bill that would prohibit D.C. from allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the city until voters are allowed to decide the issue through a referendum or initiative.

The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, issued a statement Tuesday announcing the senators’ plans to introduce the legislation in the next few days. The statement says the bill will be similar to the one introduced last month in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

“An out-of-control city council tried to do an end run around the D.C. Charter, refusing to recognize the rights of D.C. voters to file an initiative petition on marriage,” said NOM Executive Director Brian Brown in the statement, which urges same-sex marriage opponents to call on Congress to pass the bill.

“Regardless of where your representatives stand on same-sex marriage, tell them that we ought not to stand for this sort of government abuse against the residents of the nation’s capital,” Brown said in the statement.

A same-sex marriage bill passed by the D.C. City Council and signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty in December is undergoing its required congressional review. Most political observers predict that Democratic leaders in the House and Senate will block attempts to derail the bill before the congressional review is completed in early March.

NOM identified the nine lawmakers expected to introduce and co-sponsor the bill calling for a D.C. marriage referendum as Sens. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Chaffetz’s House version of the bill has only one co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

A “findings” section in Chaffetz’s bill says, “The unelected District of Columbia Board of Elections & Ethics and the unelected District of Columbia Superior Court thwarted the residents’ initiative effort to define marriage democratically, holding that the initiative amounted to discrimination prohibited by the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.”

The bill also says, “Notwithstanding any other provision, including the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, the government of the District of Columbia shall not issue a marriage license to any couple of the same sex until the people of the District of Columbia have the opportunity to hold a referendum or initiative on the question of whether the District of Columbia should issue same-sex marriage licenses.”

Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said last week she received assurances from House and Senate Democratic leaders that Chaffetz’s bill — or a similar bill in the Senate — would die in committee.

Norton said Democratic leaders, along with rank and file Democrats and some Republicans, believe D.C. should be allowed to pass its own laws like the 50 states without congressional interference.

Same-sex marriage advocates in the city have defended a city law prohibiting proposed bills or laws protecting the rights of minorities from being subjected to a popular vote. African American LGBT activists have said the black civil rights bills of the 1960s and 1970s would likely have gone down to defeat in many parts of the country if they were subject to an initiative or referendum.

“We should never underestimate our opponents and we will continue to work with our allies in the Senate to protect marriage equality in the District,” said Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, which is lobbying Congress in support of the same-sex marriage bill.

Peter Rosenstein, a gay Democratic activist, noted the Senate bill “had practically no chance of passage.

“But it is significant for D.C. voters to look at because these are the same Republicans who would deny us a vote in the Congress,” he said. “Their hypocrisy is amazing.”

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Pride flags vandalized, stolen in Loudoun County town

‘Bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand’

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Vandals destroyed or stole several Pride flags that had been displayed at homes in Lovettsville, Va. (Screen capture via WUSA9))

Vandals this week destroyed or stole Pride flags that Lovettsville residents had displayed on their homes.

Calvin Woehrie told WUSA the vandals used a blade to slash the Pride flag that was hanging from his house. The D.C. television station reported the vandals also targeted Woehrie’s neighbors who are a lesbian couple with four children.

The Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office said the vandals damaged five Pride flags from three homes and they stole two more. A spokesperson for the Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office told WUSA the vandalism is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

“I wanted to address events that happened over the weekend, that are deplorable and devastating to the entire community,” said Lovettsville Mayor Nate Fontaine in a letter he sent to town residents on June 16. “Over the weekend, there was destruction of property that specifically targeted our LGBTQ community. To make this even more heinous is that the destruction of property was done during Pride Month. To have property destroyed targeting members of our community is horrible and can be frightening for those targeted.” 

“For the individuals who committed these crimes, know that your bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand,” added Fontaine. “We are working closely with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and this has also been added as an agenda item for our June 24th Council meeting.”

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, on Saturday described the vandalism as “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Whether someone is voicing an opinion or flying a flag, as Virginians — and as human beings — we must be respectful of one another,” wrote Youngkin in a Facebook post.

“Politicians always seem to be pitting neighbor against neighbor, but I am committed to bringing people together around our shared values, like treating others the same way you want to be treated,” he added. “We must all do better by respecting others’ right to live their lives freely, without being targeted because of who they are.”

WUSA reported Lovettsville residents bought Pride flags to replace the ones that had been vandalized and stolen.

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Transgender man murdered in Va.

EJ Boykin was shot outside Lynchburg store on June 14

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EJ Boykin (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A transgender man was murdered in Lynchburg, Va., on June 14.

The News and Advance, a local newspaper, reported EJ Boykin, who was also known as Novaa Watson, was shot outside a Family Dollar store on the city’s Fort Avenue at around 6 p.m. Boykin passed away at Lynchburg General Hospital a short time later.

A spokesperson for the Lynchburg Police Department told the News and Advance the shooting may have been the result of a domestic dispute. Authorities added there is no evidence to currently suggest the shooting was a hate crime based on Boykin’s gender identity.

Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reported Boykin was born and raised in Baltimore and was a student at Morgan State University. The blog said Boykin celebrated his 23rd Birthday on June 10, four days before his murder.

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement notes Boykin is the fifth trans man reported killed in 2021. HRC notes at least 29 trans or gender non-conforming people are known to have been murdered so far this year.

“The level of fatal violence we’ve recorded this year is higher than we’ve ever seen,” said Cooper. “All of these individuals deserved to live. We must strike at the roots of racism and transphobia, and continue to work toward justice and equality for trans and gender non-conforming people.”

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Comings & Goings

Jarvis lands lead consultant role at Meridian

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Ted Jarvis

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: [email protected].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Ted Jarvis on his new position as Lead Consultant with Meridian Compensation Partners, in D.C. He will work on executive compensation, governance research and development. When asked for a response to news of his new role, Jarvis told this story: “I was on the prowl for a new job, I contacted the CEO of Meridian, who worked closely with me during our years at Towers Perrin. After half an hour on the phone, he asked: ‘Send me a list of things you really like to do.’ I followed up with a list of activities that continually engage my interest. Within a few days he mailed me a job description that reiterated my list almost word-for-word. I feel truly blessed to have a job so aligned with what I enjoy doing. This is going to be great.”

Prior to working for Meridian, Jarvis worked as Managing Director with Main Data Group in D.C. and Wilton Manors, Fla. He has also worked as Global Director of Executive Compensation Data, Research & Publications, Mercer, in D.C.; principal with Willis Towers Watson; and as a research consultant with McKinsey & Company. Jarvis is a member of the Lotos Club (New York); a benefactor at Drew University (Morristown, N.J.). He funded two undergraduate prizes (Wettstein Drama Prize; Norton Wettstein and Jane Brown Memorial Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement); a benefactor, Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia): funded William Joseph Coverley-Smith Prize, awarded annually at the Juried Art Competition; and a benefactor, St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church (Rochester, N.Y.).

Jarvis earned his MBA from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business; his bachelor’s (cum laude); his Ph.D. (ABD) major in music history, literature and theory from NYU. He earned a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Vienna.

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