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Gansler dodges impeachment attempt & more

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Gansler dodges impeachment attempt

Saber-rattling from Maryland Republicans against Attorney General Douglas Gansler’s same-sex marriage ruling, including calls for impeachment and state funding cuts for agencies that recognize out-of-state marriage licenses, have so far amounted to nothing.

Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) demanded a House floor vote on his resolution to impeach Gansler, but was denied by Speaker Michael Busch, who acted on advice from the parliamentarian that any resolution should be referred to the House Judiciary Committee first.

Only delegates were permitted to speak at a hastily arranged hearing at 3 p.m. March 31, but Dwyer declined to speak to the substance of the impeachment charges, saying to do so would legitimize what he labeled a “kangaroo court.”

Dwyer, a Judiciary Committee member, instead used his allotted time to declare that he would bring charges against Busch.

Gansler did not attend the hearing, but Democratic delegates on the committee defended him and his marriage opinion during their allotted times.

The committee voted 17-5 that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with impeachment. A second vote was held to dismiss the resolution.

Later that day, Equality Maryland operated a phone bank to persuade delegates to oppose Dwyer’s announced state budget amendment to cut funding for recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses. Ultimately, no such amendment was presented before either legislative chamber.

“We’re pretty confident this is over for now,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Equality Maryland’s executive director.

A committee hearing on House Bill 462, which would add LGBT non-discrimination protections for teachers in public schools, was scheduled for Wednesday, after DC Agenda deadline. To become law, the bill must pass the Senate before April 12.

HARLEY DENNETT

Hearing set for suspect in gay man’s murder

More information surrounding the murder of a gay man inside his car in Southeast D.C. is expected to surface during a court hearing this month for the 20-year-old man arrested in the case.

Police on March 12 charged Antwan Holcomb of D.C. with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the shooting death of Anthony Perkins, 29, on the 2900 block of Fourth Street, S.E.

Police said Perkins was pronounced dead on the scene around 5:15 a.m. Dec. 27 after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. Officers found Perkins unconscious inside his car, which had steam billowing from its engine.

A friend of Perkins said the man might have been the target of a thug who had been “terrorizing” the Congress Heights neighborhood. Rev. Anthony Motley, a D.C. minister running for an at-large seat on the D.C. City Council and a longtime friend of Perkins, said a mutual friend told him that the killing might be linked to a man believed to be responsible for a string of robberies that Perkins learned about.

“It is said that the individual Anthony knew who was robbing people had become paranoid that Anthony would talk [to police],” Motley told DC Agenda in January. “It’s assumed that is why he was shot.”

Police said Holcomb was being held at the D.C. Jail on an unrelated matter when he was charged with Perkins’ murder. Police have not said whether Holcomb is the person Perkins’ friend believes was robbing people in the neighborhood where Perkins was killed.

Holcomb, who is being held without bond, is scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court on April 21. Prosecutors could at that time outline the evidence that police obtained linking him to the murder.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Md. group steps up gay marriage support

The Maryland Black Family Alliance is taking a more public profile in the fight for same-sex marriage.

“We wanted to make sure that people know who we are what we stand for,” said Lea Gilmore, one of the group’s founders. “We want it known that there is significant and organized support in Maryland’s black communities for marriage equality and LGBT civil justice.”

Gilmore said to counter the perception that there are no visible straight black allies in the LGBT civil rights movement, MBFA recently conducted a photo shoot outside Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.

“The images will be included in ads that will appear in our very respected African-American local and regional media,” Gilmore said. “We will do a broader campaign in the near future.”

The ads, funded by the Human Rights Campaign, are intended to illustrate black support for same-sex marriage and LGBT civil rights issues.

“As African Americans, we more than most know the pain that injustice causes,” Gilmore said, “so we hope with these ads to galvanize even more organized support for equality.”

STEVE CHARING/BALTIMORE OUTLoud

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Chaos erupts at Loudoun County school board meeting over trans students rights proposal

Two people arrested, two others injured

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(Screen capture from Loudoun County Public Schools public domain)

The Loudoun County School Board abruptly ended its meeting Tuesday as chaos erupted after parents who were against the school district’s implementation of Policy 8040 failed to observe rules regarding disruptions and decorum.

Loudoun Now reports Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser made the motion to curtail public comment about an hour after that portion of the meeting began. A brawl then broke out between members of the public, and Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department deputies were called to clear the room. 

Two people were arrested, and two people also suffered minor injuries. The names of those who were taken into custody and injured have not been made public.

The school board resumed its meeting at 6:30 p.m. after it ended the public comment session and deputies cleared the room. The school board entered into closed session to meet with legal counsel and discuss negotiations involving a bid award.

In light of the events that transpired at the school board meeting, a group of LGBTQ groups in neighboring Fairfax County in a statement called upon prominent community members to condemn the anti-transgender hate in Loudoun County.

“A coalition of organizations based in Northern Virginia is calling on local officials … to condemn the rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ hate, in particular animosity towards transgender and gender-expansive students, on display in Loudoun County,” reads the statement 

“In addition, the coalition is asking for the denouncement of support for this hate from other local groups, including the Fairfax County Republican Committee, the Family Foundation of Virginia and the Family Research Council,” it adds. “Finally, the members of these organizations are requesting visible displays of support for LGBTQIA+ students, particularly trans and gender-expansive students, in both words and deeds.”

More than 300 people attended the school board meeting, with many of them opposing Policy 8040 which would allow transgender students to use their preferred name and pronouns regardless of the name and gender in their permanent education record. The proposed policy would also not require them to provide any substantiating evidence.

Parents also expressed their support for Policy 8040 during the public comment session.

They spoke in favor of inclusivity and equality in the Loudoun County School District.

Parents who were against the policy cited the need to respect biology and privacy as their arguments. In addition, some speakers, including former state Sen. Dick Black expressed anger at the previous school year’s events such as the suspension of physical education teacher Tanner Cross after he refused to refer to trans students using their preferred pronouns.  

“The crowd repeatedly cheered public speakers who lashed out at school board members and denounced the plan that would provide bathroom and locker room access based on a student’s gender identity,” WTOP News reports.

Only 51 of the 249 speakers who had signed up for public comment ended up speaking before Reaser’s motion was passed.

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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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