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Early win could be only pro-LGBT victory this year in Va.



A bill to reinstate sexual orientation in Virginia’s public employment non-discrimination policy passed the state Senate last week — marking what some LGBT activists fear could be their only success this year.

Virginia Partisans President Terry Mansberger said a near total shut-out by the minority Republican senators on Senate Bill 66 means it’s unlikely to see a vote in the Republican-controlled House. And he noted that any other LGBT-inclusive bill could meet the same fate.

“When you put forward things like this that protect people from discrimination, most people agree that’s wrong,” he said. “But the teabaggers who’ve taken over the Republican Party think any legislation that helps gays and lesbians is bad.”

Sen. Frederick Quayle (R-Suffolk) was the sole GOP member to back the bill that appeared to square with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s stance that expanding the policy was a matter for the legislature.

Newly elected Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke), who defeated anti-gay Republican Steve Hunt by 327 votes in the Fairfax special election, was among the 7-6 majority who earlier endorsed the bill in subcommittee.

Mansberger said the narrow victory in subcommittee showed the importance of supporting pro-gay candidates like Marsden, even if the bill itself doesn’t become law this year.

Aside from the public employment non-discrimination push, several bills advancing LGBT rights have been introduced at the Virginia General Assembly, which gave community activists a tangible goal to focus on at Equality Virginia’s lobby day earlier this month.

Dels. Tom Rust (R-Hendon) and Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington) introduced House Bill 352 to allow employers to extend life insurance benefits to workers’ domestic partners. Ebbin also introduced a House version of the inclusive public employment non-discrimination policy.

House Bill 1142 from Del. Jim Scott (D-Merrifield) would add sexual orientation to the state’s hate crimes law. It also would add the right for hate crime victims to bring civil action for damages and allow Internet providers to restrict access to anti-gay hate material.

But several bills introduced this session would cut same-sex partners out of typical next-of-kin roles, such as House Bill 650 introduced by Del. Ward Armstrong (D-Martinsville), which excludes domestic partners in disputes over funeral arrangements. And Del. Chris Peace (R-Mechanicsville) introduced House Bill 719, which allows spouses and dependents to petition for power of attorney, but not domestic partners.

Despite this year’s robust legislative agenda, state LGBT activists and supporters are tackling an additional task: working toward a vote to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A proposal to repeal the 2005 constitutional amendment has been introduced into the state’s House by Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria). It does not replace the amendment text with language enacting same-sex marriage; it simply removes the current restrictions that preclude the legislature from recognizing same-sex relationships.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Equality Virginia’s chief counsel and legislative lobbyist, said laying the groundwork for repealing the amendment through hearts-and-minds campaigning is already underway and will continue until a majority of lawmakers back the measure.

If enough legislators vote for the measure before the next election, the earliest the proposed change could go before voters would be 2012, as it has to pass two consecutive sessions. However, Guthrie Gastañaga said she’d be surprised to see the issue on the ballot again before 2016.

Nonetheless, Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson said Virginia’s pro-LGBT forces could work toward victory by following the path activists are blazing in Oregon.

“Once that constitutional amendment passed in 2004, Basic Rights Oregon, the Equality Virginia counterpart, moved to begin laying the foundation to undo that discrimination,” Wolfson said. “At first, they secured a statewide non-discrimination law as well as a partnership law, so even with the passage of the anti-gay amendment, Oregon moved on to win more protections than we had there before the amendment.

“It’s now embarking on the vigorous public education and outreach effort, asking people in Oregon to have conversations with their neighbors and to get involved in raising their voices and creating the climate to overturning the amendment, possibly in 2012.”

Wolfson said there’s no substitute in this process for local engagement, with conversations beginning among neighbors and leading toward a reshaped national dialogue.

“None of us can rely on the courts,” he said. “We have to get out there. Even though it may not immediately topple the amendment, and though it may not immediately lead to marriage in Virginia, it helps create the climate nationwide.”

But Isaac Wood, assistant communications director at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said it could be too soon for LGBT Virginians to expect change.

“With a heavily Republican and very conservative House of Delegates and a conservative governor, it is unlikely that the LGBT lobby will make much headway in Richmond this year or in the near future,” he said.

“Politics is cyclical and Virginia is a battleground state, so it is possible the ideological makeup of the legislature could change significantly over the next five years. While it is unlikely that Democrats could retake the House of Delegates in 2011, they can bolster their razor-thin majority in the state Senate and get within striking distance to retake the House in the 2013 elections. In politics, as in sports, there is always next year.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tim

    February 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I’m sorry to say that Virginia is going to remain an insane christian fundamentalist dictatorship for many years to come, that refuses to end discrimination against gay & lesbian people. Gov. McDonnell is a horse’s ass (or elephants ass anyway) and the malicious Republican majority in the House of Delegates is preparing to redraw Virginia’s Congressional, House of Delegates and Senate Districts after the census to keep themselves in power against the will of the true majority of Virginians.
    I was pleased to see the Democrat controlled State Senate pass SB.66, (with only one Republican vote) but it will surely die in the gay-bashing Republican House of Delegates, probably in the same rotten sub-commitee that has already killed Delegate Adam Ebbin’s house equivalent bill, HB.1116. Make no mistake, reform in Virginia will only come through relief at the Federal level, with federal legislation such as the passage of ENDA. Virginia’s religious-right Republican bigots still refuse to pass hate crimes legislation here, despite the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Law at the federal level. All of this underscores the need for Democratic action at the federal level, and that means getting non-committed fence riding Dems like Virginia’s two senators Webb & Warner to stop sitting around, or God forbid opposing, legislation such as ENDA and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act. They could also get behind the efforts to repeal DADT and DOMA, but I’m not betting on that happening any time soon either.

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Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality

Va. gubernatorial candidate says issue ‘legally acceptable’ in state



(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state.

“I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018.

Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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D.C. school board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards

Sweeping resolution proposing content in curricula approved unanimously



Gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards for the city’s public schools that “reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The two-page resolution, which was introduced by gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang, who represents Ward 2, cites national research showing that students who have access to LGBTQ+ curricula in their schools “are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school.”

The resolution states that research also shows that multicultural education, including the teaching of LGBTQ topics, “helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities.”

LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered the local D.C. government through its mayor and City Council to be highly supportive of the LGBTQ community. But Chang and other supporters of the resolution approved by the board Wednesday night say their research shows that D.C. public schools, while supportive of LGBTQ students, are far behind the school systems in several other states in the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in school curricula.

As an example, supporters of the resolution point out that curriculum standards for social studies classes in the D.C. school system include only one mention of LGBTQ people in a teaching section related to victims of the Holocaust.   

Unlike most other cities and states, under current D.C. law, the school system is controlled by the mayor through the D.C. Department of Education, which is headed by a Deputy Mayor for Education and who, in turn and in consultation with the mayor, appoints a State Superintendent of Education who oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Under a change in the education statute approved by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, the school board, which was renamed the State Board of Education, became a mostly advisory body on education matters with some statutory authority to approve education standards on which school curricula are based.

Thus, the resolution approved by the board on Wednesday “advises” and “recommends” that the State Superintendent of Education develop school curricula, guidance for teachers, and school-based leaders and staff “in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the State Superintendent of Education conduct a survey of students within two years after the Oct. 20 adoption of the resolution “to establish baseline data and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.”

Chang and other members of the State Board of Education noted at the Oct. 20 meeting, which was virtual, that Will Beckerman, who graduated this year from D.C.’s School Without Walls High School, played an important role in conducting the research used to prepare the LGBTQ standards resolution and helped in the drafting of the resolution.

Chang noted that much of the background information used to draft the resolution came from Beckerman’s senior year school research paper and advocacy project that focuses on the topic of LGBTQ-inclusive education.

In comments supporting the resolution, Chang also spoke about how the very limited LGBTQ content he encountered during his high school days helped him accept himself as a gay youth.

“As a student myself, I don’t remember a single mention of any LGBTQ people in any of my classwork until I read Thomas Mann in my senior year in high school,” Chang said. “And in Death in Venice, this Nobel Prize winner touches upon his struggles with homosexuality but never actually names it explicitly,” Chang told fellow board members.

“And I remember holding on to this novella despite the self-hatred that’s woven throughout this story because it was the first time that I saw this aspect of my identity reflected in my class work,” he said. “My hope – and I think this hope comes true with this resolution tonight – is that future generations of LGBTQ students have more opportunities to see themselves reflected in their class work and to feel less isolated by their class work than I did growing up.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will endorse the school system changes proposed by the resolution approved by the State Board of Education.

The full text of the resolution follows:

State Board of Education Resolution

On LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards


WHEREAS, the 2019 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students make up 15.9 percent of high school students in the District and transgender students make up1.9 percent of District high school students;

WHEREAS, in the District, these students, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, experience double the rate of bullying on school property, report higher rates of being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, and are more than twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation;

WHEREAS, national data shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are significantly more likely to receive grades of D or F than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to be truant;

WHEREAS, consistent research suggests that students with LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in their schools are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school—and this safety leads students to report higher attendance, higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging in the school community, and higher educational aspirations;

WHEREAS, research shows that multicultural education helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities ; 

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recognizes the need to have revised social studies standards that create “windows and mirrors” so students see themselves and people like them reflected in the content of standards and curriculum, as well as having the opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, places, and experiences unlike themselves—explicitly noting that the current standards emphasize the lives of presidents and other figures who held/hold power and under-represent or lack representation of people and groups like those identifying as LGBTQ+, and their respective histories;

WHEREAS, in the State Board of Education’s review and revision of the social studies standards, the State Board called upon the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to “seek standards writers who reflect the demographics and experiences of District students and of the communities they are writing about” sharing a list of examples that included writers identifying as LGBTQ+;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education is committed to ensuring students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens in a diverse democratic society; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has a commitment to promote equity, introduce policies to reduce disparities between students, and create safe school environments for all students.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, upon the next revision of any District of Columbia state education standards, the State Board of Education should adapt standards, when appropriate, that reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to provide guidance to teachers and school-based leaders and staff on creating inclusive lessons in science and English language arts (ELA) classes that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA standards, respectively;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) implement professional development for teachers and school-based leaders and staff to aid them in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms, such that that the professional development includes: workshops for local education agencies (LEAs) and teachers to draft curriculum related to LGBTQ+ topics in their subject areas, lessons on use of inclusive language in the classroom, lessons on ensuring LGBTQ+ students’ safety and confidentiality while maintaining respect for their name and pronouns, and mandatory diversity training related to the LGBTQ+ community; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) survey students within two (2) years of adoption of this resolution to establish baseline date and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.

Brikett, Michelle et al. “Sexual-orientation disparities in school: the meditational role of indicators of victimization in achievement and truancy because of feeling unsafe.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 104, 6 (2014): 1124-8. doi: 10.2105/AJHP.2013.301785

Kosciw, Joseph G., et al. “The 2019 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” GLSEN, GLSEN, 2020,

Camicia, Steven P. Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints. Routledge Focus, 2016.

Camicia, Steven P. “Prejudice Reduction through Multicultural Education: Connecting Multiple Literatures.” Social Studies Research and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp. 219–227.

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Nellie’s agrees to $5,000 fine, 7-day license suspension over brawl

Penalty prompted by security guard dragging Black woman down stairs



Nellie’s must pay a fine and face a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 brawl in which a Black woman was dragged down the stairs. (Blade file photo by Tom Hausman)

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Wednesday, Oct 20, approved a compromise agreement it reached with Nellie’s Sports Bar that calls for the U Street, N.W. gay bar to pay a $5,000 fine and serve a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 incident in which a Black woman was dragged down a flight of stars by a Nellie’s security guard during a brawl between Nellie’s customers.

The agreement calls for a license suspension of 24 days with 17 days to be suspended and seven days to be served “so long as the Respondent does not commit any violations within (1) year from the date of this Order,” the ABC Board declared in a three-page order confirming the agreement.  

The order states that the license suspension will be served from Dec. 20-26 of this year. It also states that Nellie’s must pay the fine within 120 days from the date of the order. If the fine is not paid during that time “its license shall be immediately suspended until all amounts owed are paid.”

As a final stipulation of the agreement, the ABC Board states that Nellie’s must file a “legally compliant security plan” within 10 calendar days of the Oct. 20 order.

The security plan requirement stems from an earlier finding by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration related to the June 13 incident that Nellie’s was in violation of several provisions of the city’s liquor law, including a provision that a security plan that meets the standards of the city’s liquor regulations is in place.

An ABRA investigation of the June 13 incident found, among other things, that “multiple assaults occurred inside the establishment while the licensee was engaged in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct.”

The action by the Nellie’s security guard, which took place during the city’s LGBTQ Pride weekend, was captured on video taken by one of the customers on their phone. The video went viral on social media, prompting a series of protests against the bar by LGBTQ activists and Black Lives Matter advocates.

Nellie’s issued an apology for the incident the following day and announced it had fired the private security company whose employee, who is Black, dragged Keisha Young, 22, down the stairs. Nellie’s also announced it would temporarily close for business to assess what had happened and develop plans for reopening as a safe space for all members of the community. It reopened 35 days later, with protesters continuing to assemble outside the bar for several more weeks.

 When the five-member ABC Board on Oct. 20 held a roll call vote to approve what is officially called an Offer-In-Compromise or OIC agreement with Nellie’s that includes the fine, license suspension, and other provisions, gay ABC Board member Edward Grandis voted against the agreement, becoming the only member to do so.

A video recording of the virtual ABC Board meeting available through YouTube shows that Grandis expressed general support for the decision by both the board and Nellie’s to reach a compromise agreement. But he said he objects to the license suspension requirement.

“In this particular regard, when the facts and the testimony indicate that the licensee on its own initiative without any knowledge, at least in the testimony, of prompting from the government or MPD or any party, to itself close for 35 days during – generally – the pandemic when so many companies lost their companies and their employees lost their jobs and the neighborhoods lost their establishments, I really believe that this particular situation shows that the licensee took this event seriously and accordingly in a manner that hopefully will prevent it from happening again or have better security measures to avoid this type of situation in the future,” Grandis told his fellow board members.

“And I just wanted the record to show I’m supportive of the OIC generally, but I don’t believe it was constructed in a way that indicates what this licensee has done since that incident,” Grandis said.

Nellie’s owner, Douglas Schantz, and Nellie’s attorney, Andrew Klein, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Klein, who spoke at the ABC Board hearing on Wednesday, said in response to a question by Grandis that Nellie’s reluctantly agreed to the fine and license suspension, which he called “excessive,” among other things, because Schantz wants to put the matter behind him and to “heal” and “move on” with the community.

The ABC Board’s action came one day after the Washington City Paper announced that Nellie’s Sports Bar finished in second place among its readers in its annual Best of D.C. contest for the category of “Best Gay Bar/Club/Lounge.”

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