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McDonnell workplace order lacks gay protections



Virginia LGBT rights supporters are hoping pending legislation will address a hole in the recent workplace protections order issued by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell — although they aren’t optimistic about the bill’s prospects.

On Feb. 5, McDonnell issued an executive order barring bias against state workers on the basis of “race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.” The order also protects veterans.

But one glaring omission from the order is sexual orientation. Former Democratic Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine included protections for gays as part of similar executive orders they issued during their tenures in the governor’s mansion.

McDonnell’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why protections for gay workers were omitted from the order.

The lack of protections based on sexual orientation in McDonnell’s order didn’t come as a surprise to many gay Virginians. During his campaign, McDonnell said he wouldn’t renew the protections because he believed they were unconstitutional. He cited the Virginia General Assembly’s failure to pass legislation that would have made the protections permanent as part of his rationale for the omission.

McDonnell said during his campaign that he doesn’t believe the government should discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but he never specified how he would protect gay state workers from such bias.

David Lampo, vice president of the Virginia Log Cabin Republicans, said “we can only assume” that McDonnell didn’t include gays in his order because “it’s a sincere belief” that such protections are unconstitutional.

But Lampo said if McDonnell is committed to non-discrimination against gays, as he stated during his campaign, the governor should push for legislation that would provide protections in lieu of administrative action.

“[Senate Bill] 66 was passed by the Senate and has come over to the House, and will be voted on in the House at some point of the next week or two,” he said. “So what we want him to do is either to endorse that bill or say that he’ll sign it if comes before him.”

Terry Mansberger, president of the Virginia Partisans, a LGBT Democratic group, also said McDonnell’s failure to include the protections as part of his order means the governor should push for passage of legislation.

“If you won’t put it in there because you believe it should be in the code, well then, step up and make it part of Virginia law like most of the other states have done and bring Virginia into modern times,” Mansberger said.

The legislation passed earlier this month by the Virginia Senate and sponsored by Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) is pending in the House. A similar version of the legislation introduced by Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the only openly gay lawmaker in the Virginia General Assembly, was killed earlier this month in subcommittee.

Although the bill passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate, Ebbin said he’s not optimistic about the bill’s chances in the Republican-controlled House.

“It’s a great challenge since my version has failed, but never say never,” he said. “I’m not optimistic that it’ll pass, but the fact it’s passed the full Senate is notable.”

Ebbin said he envisions passage of the legislation as a multi-year effort and that advocates need to press ahead toward the goal despite setbacks to succeed.



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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