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Two gay Republicans join D.C. Council race



Two gay Republicans have announced they’re running for seats on the D.C. City Council this fall, with one challenging veteran gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1).

Marc Morgan, who’s challenging Graham, and Timothy Day, who’s challenging Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5), describe themselves as moderates with progressive views on social issues and moderate-to-conservative stands on economic matters.

Both men say they’re strong supporters of LGBT rights and would have voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law had they been on the Council when it passed, 11-2. The two also oppose holding a voter referendum or initiative on the gay marriage issue, saying the matter has been decided and the city should move on to other issues.

“I support it 100 percent,” said Day said when asked about the city’s same-sex marriage law. He added that he and his partner have been together for 10 years and he considers marriage equality a basic right.

Morgan noted his own role in working on campaigns in Arizona against two ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage. Arizona voters defeated the first one held in 2006, marking the first time any gay marriage referendum or initiative in the U.S. was defeated. But voters reversed themselves in 2008 and passed a measure banning gay marriage in the state.

“We were hit by a tidal wave from Prop 8 in California and couldn’t compete with the fundraising from our opposition,” he said, referring to the California ballot measure that overturned the state’s same-sex marriage law in 2008.

Morgan and Day said they wouldn’t challenge Graham and Thomas on LGBT issues, and would instead focus on economic development and education, among other issues.

Graham, one of the Council’s most outspoken supporters of LGBT rights, has been highly popular in the ward and among LGBT voters. In 2006, he won the Democratic primary with 86 percent of the vote and the general election with 97 percent. Graham and Thomas also enjoy the support of many local LGBT activists.

Morgan worked for 15 years as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations addressing issues related to HIV/AIDS, animal welfare and the environment, according to his campaign biography. He currently works as deputy director of development for the Carbon War Room, a non-profit group that fights climate change. He said his top campaign issue is improved economic development in Ward 1, especially for small businesses.

Day, a native Ward 5 resident, is a small business owner whose company “focuses on aiding the non-profit community,” according to his campaign biography. He’s running to boost economic development in the ward and improve the city’s fight against HIV/AIDS. He has been elected twice as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in his ward.

Many local political observers said that the two men — like all GOP candidates — face an uphill battle in challenging Democratic incumbents in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a nine-to-one margin.

Graham must win his party’s nomination in the September Democratic primary to compete against Morgan in the November general election. Most political observers expect Graham to win the primary, where he faces a challenge from former D.C. school board member Jeff Smith.

Smith is considered supportive of LGBT issues, but received a zero rating from the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance in his 2004 school board race because he failed to return a questionnaire and, at the time, his position on LGBT issues were unknown. The group automatically assigns such a rating to candidates that fail to return its questionnaire and whose record on LGBT issues cannot be determined. Its ratings are based both on record and questionnaire responses.

Thomas, who also has a strong record in support of LGBT issues, is facing at least three Democratic opponents in the September primary. His support and vote for the same-sex marriage bill was controversial in Ward 5, where some voters denounced Thomas for voting for the bill.

But similar to Ward 1, Ward 5 voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, making it difficult for a Republican to win there.

Although Republicans have won at-large seats on the Council, no Republican has won a ward Council seat since the city’s home rule government held its first Council election in 1974.



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

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].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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