Connect with us

Local

Can the LGBT vote rescue Mendelson?

In shocker, pro-gay incumbent trails after ‘political identity theft’

Published

on

A Washington Post poll showing that the largely unknown D.C. shadow senator, Michael D. Brown, is leading incumbent Council member Phil Mendelson by 17 points in the at-large City Council race has shocked the city’s political establishment and raised the question of whether LGBT voters could save Mendelson from defeat.

Virtually all political observers agree that Brown’s lead over Mendelson, by a margin of 38 to 21 percent among registered Democrats, is due to voter confusion over Brown’s name, which is the same as that of incumbent D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At-Large).

The Post poll found that 29 percent of respondents said they were undecided in the at-large Council race among candidates running in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary.

The better-known Michael A. Brown, who enjoys widespread support across the city, is not running for re-election this year and has endorsed Mendelson. At a news conference Tuesday, he accused Michael D. Brown of engaging in “political identity theft” to capitalize on the name confusion. Michael D. Brown is listed on the ballot only as “Michael Brown.”

Michael D. Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment. At a candidates’ forum earlier this year, he expressed support for LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage. Brown, a Democratic Party activist and political consultant, isn’t actively campaigning and has raised only a token amount of funds for his candidacy.

The poll, released by the Post on Tuesday, shows that gay former city parks and recreation director Clark Ray, who is also running for the at-large seat, garnered only 7 percent support from voters eligible to cast their ballots in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

With Council member Brown and mayoral candidate Vincent Gray, chairman of the City Council, endorsing Mendelson and participating in an aggressive campaign to overcome the name confusion, some political observers think Mendelson may have a shot at overtaking shadow senator Brown to win the race by a narrow margin.

That means LGBT voters as well as other voters supporting Ray could provide Mendelson with a razor-thin margin needed to win re-election if they switch sides in the race, according to LGBT activists following the contest.

“I think that would be the best situation,” said gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell, in urging Ray backers to vote for Mendelson. “I cannot see Clark picking up the votes needed to win. Phil Mendelson has been not just a friend and advocate for our community, he’s been a true champion,” said Pannell.

Many LGBT activists have said they would have backed Ray if he had run against someone other than Mendelson, who is widely recognized as a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and a lead supporter of the city’s same-sex marriage law.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, endorsed Mendelson over Ray. And the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a non-partisan group, gave Mendelson a rating score on LGBT related issues of +10, the group’s highest score. Ray received a GLAA rating of +5.5.

Ray, meanwhile, said he will continue to campaign for votes and push for the LGBT and non-LGBT issues he’s been running on since he entered the race more than a year ago.

“I got into this with a clear conscience that it was going to be a tough race and I am certainly not going to step out of it with 14 to 15 days to go,” he told the Blade Tuesday.

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, one of Ray’s campaign advisers, said the name confusion over shadow senator Michael Brown also has hurt Ray. According to Rosenstein, many voters mistakenly supporting the “wrong Brown” would have voted for Ray and may still do so if the name confusion issue is resolved.

In what some political observers say is yet another ironic twist in the at-large Council race, a Mendelson defeat on Sept. 14 could make it more difficult for Ray to win another at-large seat on the Council in an expected special election in 2011.

Council member Kwame Brown (D-At-Large) is expected to win his race for the Council Chair seat being vacated by Vincent Gray, who is leading Mayor Adrian Fenty in the city’s mayoral contest. A win by Kwame Brown would create a vacancy in his at-large seat, which would be filled in a special election next year.

Many LGBT activists said they would strongly back Ray for that seat, and Ray has hinted that he would consider running for the seat if he lost his race against Mendelson. But if Mendelson loses to shadow Sen. Brown in the Sept. 14 primary, many political observers expect him to enter the race for Kwame Brown’s seat in the special election next year, making it far more difficult for Ray to win the seat.

Gay GOP candidates
dispute low GLAA ratings

Two gay Republicans who are running for D.C. City Council seats this year complained that the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance exhibited partisan bias against the two Republicans by assigning them rating scores lower than what they believe they deserve.

The local gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans and the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Party, Robert Kabel, backed up the two candidates’ allegation.

“It’s outrageous that GLAA thinks they can rate two gay men so low for ‘gay-supportiveness’ and get away with it without anyone asking questions,” said D.C. Log Cabin President Robert Turner in a press release.

Marc Morgan, who is running for the Ward 1 Council seat, received a GLAA rating of +3. Tim Day, who is running for Council in Ward 5, received a GLAA rating of +1.5.

The GLAA rating system includes scores ranging from -10 to +10 based on the group’s evaluation of candidates’ responses to a GLAA questionnaire and their record on LGBT and other issues the group deems important.

GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall disputed complaints that Morgan and Day were singled out for partisan bias in a statement on the group’s online forum. He said their questionnaire responses did not show a full understanding of some of the complex issues raised in the questionnaire, even though the two expressed support for LGBT causes and concerns.

GLAA noted that Day lost points when he appeared to state on the questionnaire that he supports a proposal by D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander calling for adding a “conscience” clause to the city’s same-sex marriage law. The clause, which was defeated in committee, would have allowed businesses providing wedding-related services that are not linked to religious institutions to refuse on religious or moral grounds to provide those services for same-sex weddings.

Morgan told the Blade that GLAA apparently wasn’t aware of his longstanding record of support on LGBT issues in other states, such as Arizona, where he worked on efforts to oppose ballot measures seeking to ban same-sex marriage. Morgan said he and Day plan to submit a revised questionnaire to GLAA for the November general election, which he said would better elaborate on their positions and records.

GLAA allows candidates running in the general election to revise their questionnaires, and the group sometimes makes changes in its rating scores based on changed questionnaire responses.

Morgan and Day are running unopposed in the Sept. 14 Republican primary. Morgan would be up against gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) in the November general election if Graham wins his primary race on Sept. 14. Graham received a +10 GLAA rating. Day would be the challenger to Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) if Thomas wins the Democratic nomination in the primary. Thomas received a GLAA rating of +6.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

District of Columbia

Accused drug dealer charged with fentanyl distribution leading to deaths of two D.C. gay men

June 13 indictment links previously arrested suspect to deaths

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. has announced that federal prosecutors on June 13 obtained an indictment against one of two D.C. brothers previously charged with multiple counts of illegal drug distribution that now charges him with “distributing cocaine and fentanyl” on Dec. 26, 2023, that resulted in the deaths of D.C. gay men Brandon Roman and Robert “Robbie” Barletta.

In a June 13 press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jevaughn ‘Ledo’ Mark, 32, is charged in a new “secondary superseding indictment” linked to the Roman and Barletta deaths. It says he and his brother, Angelo Mark, 30, “previously were charged on April 9 in a 17-count superseding indictment for participating in a conspiracy that distributed large amounts of fentanyl and cocaine in the metropolitan area.”

The press release says Jevaughn Mark is currently being held without bond on charges that include eight counts of unlawful distribution of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin and distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl between Jan. 10, 2024, and March 13, 2024. According to the press release, the charges were based on six illegal drug purchases from Jevaughn Mark by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and undercover D.C. police officers.

Court records show that Angelo Mark was charged in a criminal complaint on March 22 with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and is also being held without bond.

D.C. police and Fire and Emergency Medical Services reports show that Roman, 38, a prominent D.C. attorney and LGBTQ rights advocate, and Barletta, 28, a historic preservation expert and home renovation business owner, were found unconscious when police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call and arrived at Barletta’s home on Dec. 27. The reports show that Roman was declared deceased at the scene and Barletta was taken to Washington Hospital Center where he died on Dec. 29.

A police spokesperson told the Washington  Blade in February that police were investigating the Roman and Barletta deaths, but investigators had to wait for the D.C. Medical Examiner’s official determination of the cause and manner of death before the investigation could fully proceed.

Both men were patrons at D.C. gay bars and their passing prompted many in the LGBTQ community to call for stepped up prevention services related to drug overdose cases, even though the cause and manner of death for the two men was not officially determined until early April.

In April, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner disclosed that the cause of death for both men was an accidental consumption of several drugs that created a fatal “toxic” effect. The Medical Examiner’s office said Barletta’s death was linked to the consumption of at least four different drugs and Roman’s death was caused by the “combined toxic effect” of six drugs. The Medical Examiner’s office disclosed that cocaine and fentanyl were among the drugs found in the bodies of both men. And for both men, the manner of death was listed as “Accident/Intoxication.”

When the cause and manner of death were disclosed by the Medical Examiner, D.C. police spokesperson Tom Lynch said the police investigation into the deaths remained open but said, “There are no updates on the investigation that we are ready to release to the public.”

But the Medical Examiner’s findings prompted Johnny Bailey, the community outreach coordinator for HIPS D.C., an LGBTQ supportive organization that provides services and support for those who use recreational drugs, to say he strongly believed that Barletta and Roman did not intentionally consume some of the drugs found in their system.

“I’m going to say I do believe this was a poisoning,” Bailey told the Blade. “I think it is unfair to call some things an overdose because an overdose is when you do too much of a drug and you die from that drug,” he said. “This is like if you have a few glasses of wine every night and someone puts arsenic in your wine, no one would be like, ‘oh, they drank themselves to death.’ They were poisoned. And that’s what I think is happening here,” he said in referring to Barletta and Roman.

In announcing the new charges against Jevaughn Mark that link him to Barletta and Roman’s deaths, the U.S. Attorney’s press release discloses that he supplied fentanyl in the drugs he sold unknowingly to the undercover DEA and D.C. police officers when one of the officers, posing as a drug buyer, did not ask for fentanyl.

“In each instance, the DEA/MPD agents requested to buy ‘Special K’ or Ketamine from Jevaughn Mark,” the press release says. “In every instance, Jevaughn Mark supplied a mixture of fentanyl and other substances, including heroin, but not ketamine,” it says.

The release says that after the earlier indictment against Jevaughn Mark was issued, law enforcement agents conducted a search of his Southeast D.C. home and “recovered two firearms, cocaine, fentanyl, about $38,000 in cash, body armor vests, and drug trafficking paraphernalia.” It says on that same day authorities executed another search for a second residence linked to Jevaughn Mark, where they located a bedroom used by his brother Angelo Mark.

“From Angelo Mark’s bedroom, law enforcement recovered seven firearms, 900 rounds of ammunition, dozens of pills, cocaine, fentanyl, drug trafficking paraphernalia, and about $50,000 in cash,” the press release says, adding, “Based on the evidence, both brothers were indicted in the first superseding indictment.” 

Continue Reading

Delaware

Delmarva Pride to feature drag, dancing, and more this weekend

Easton and Cambridge to host events

Published

on

A scene from Delmarva Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Delmarva Peninsula will hold its annual Pride celebration this weekend, including drag shows, a festival, and much more. 

The Delmarva Pride Center will put on the annual Pride celebration starting on Friday, June 14, and it will go until Sunday to celebrate queer love and acceptance in Delmarva.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a free legal clinic in partnership with FreeState Justice at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, Md. Free legal services including name and gender marker changes, criminal record expungements, and peace and protection orders are just some of the services being offered. For more information visit freestate-justice.org.

Then on Friday night, the third annual Pride Drag Show will be at the Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., in Easton. Bring your cash as four drag queens and host Miranda Bryant put on the fundraising show, where 100% of ticket sales go to the Delmarva Pride Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performance begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit avalonfoundation.org.

On Saturday there will be the Pride festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at  S. Harrison and E. Dover Street, in Easton. This free community festival will include vendors, live performances, and more. 

Saturday night the party gets going as Delmarva Pride will host its 2024 Pride Dance. There will be a DJ and drinks available for purchase. This event is for 18 and up and will include a cash bar for anyone 21 and up. No tickets are required. 

To round out your Pride weekend, on Sunday the Delmarva Pride Brunch will be held at ArtBar 2.0, 420b Race St. in Cambridge, Md. Tickets include food, access to the mimosa bar, and a drag performance. Tickets are available here

Continue Reading

Baltimore

People of Pride: Five Marylanders making a difference in the LGBTQ+ community

Baltimore Pride is this weekend

Published

on

Jabari Lyles poses for a portrait in East Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore on June 10, 2024. (Photo by Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | One hosts movie nights, karaoke and other events that provide a safe space for LGBTQ people. Another has become a sounding board for customers at his gay bar dealing with pressures of the outside world. And a third beats the pavement to promote political awareness about LGBTQ issues.

These are just some of the things five Baltimoreans the Baltimore Banner is profiling in honor of Baltimore Pride Month are doing in the fight for visibility, support and acceptance of their peers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular