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Queery: Heather Mizeur

20 gay questions with the Maryland state delegate



Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Heather Mizeur appears poised for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 20th District (Montgomery County) after Tuesday’s primary.

Mizeur, who ran on a platform of broader health care availability, renewable energy production and equal rights for gays, says being openly lesbian has been a political advantage.

“The district overall is overwhelmingly progressive, one of the most progressive in the state,” she says. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of conservatives, but by and large, it’s really been an asset more than anything else. When I was running in 2006 there were seven of us running for three seats. Two were incumbents, five were challengers. When I was knocking on doors, I heard some people say, ‘You’re all the same on so many of the issues, I’m having a hard time distinguishing.’ Being able to say, ‘Well, I’m a lesbian,’ helped me stand out.”

Mizeur, a 37-year-old Takoma Park resident, grew up in Blue Mound, Ill., and came to Washington in 1994 where she worked in the offices of several Democratic members of Congress. She was Sen. John Kerry’s director of domestic policy from 2003 to 2006. A former Takoma Park City Council member, Mizeur has been in the General Assembly since 2007.

She gained national exposure when she was named a pivotal superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, an episode she remembers with mixed feelings.

“I actually could have done without a lot of the elements of that process,” she says. “I felt there was too much emphasis on the candidates trying to court and recruit from the delegate count rather than running the primary system. … I didn’t think it was my place to pick a side or step in until all the voters had their say.” (She eventually endorsed Obama.)

Mizeur enjoys golf, wine, food, travel and quality time with family and friends in her down time. She and her spouse, Deborah Mizeur, were married in 2005 on the Chesapeake Bay and had a legal ceremony in Napa Valley, Calif., in 2008. They share their home with their dog, Chester.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out in college, in 1993. I was most scared to tell my parents because I feared it would be the first time in my life I was going to disappoint them. We are a very close family and I was always the over-achiever, rule-following child that wanted my parents to be proud of me. I was terrified that this was going to be a wedge in our family. Thankfully, our family bond was stronger than that and after an initial bumpy few weeks, we returned to our regular interactions and my parents could not be more supportive.

Who’s your gay hero?

I don’t often think of people with labels attached, but if pressed, I would have to say Rachel Maddow. She’s done so much to promote issues of importance to our community with a savvy intelligence that resonates with audiences writ large.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Ha. Well, the question presumes that I have an active nightlife. My preference is to drink really good wine with friends in the comfort of our home. When I choose to go out, though, I like MOVA quite a bit.

Describe your dream gay wedding.

We had our dream gay wedding in 2005, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Because Maryland hadn’t (and still hasn’t) stepped up to the plate on marriage equality, we borrowed from a Quaker tradition and had everyone in attendance sign an artist’s rendering of our wedding vows. This beautiful marriage license is framed and hanging in our living room. Some day soon we’ll make Maryland respect that and start granting licenses here in the Free State.

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?

I’ve spent my entire professional career fighting to make sure that everyone in this country has access to affordable, high-quality health care. I’m most proud of laws I sponsored to cover an additional 170,000 Marylanders with health coverage. I’m eager to help Maryland implement federal health reform options in the most meaningful, innovative way possible.

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

As a kid, it would have to be Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video release and craziness over his album. As an adult, I would say Melissa Etheridge playing the Grammys post-chemo and nailing her parts of the Janis Joplin song with Joss Stone. What an inspiration on how to find your strength to overcome adversity. It still gives me goose bumps.

On what do you insist?

That the toilet paper roll from the top of the roll.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Musings about missing a mentor who died of breast cancer in 1998. Penny was a state legislator in Illinois. Her niece recently contacted me to tell me she has been following my work in Maryland and that her aunt would have been proud. Caught me off guard. Made me cry. Felt like sharing the story with my friends – especially the ones from Illinois that also knew and admired her.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Just a Small Town Girl”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Wake up, check my email, walk the dog, read the newspaper, eat breakfast, work, have lunch, go to a meeting, work, walk the dog, eat dinner, work, watch Rachel Maddow, kiss my wife goodnight, sleep. Repeat.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

By and large, traditional Catholic teachings. But in James’ Epistle, he says, “Faith without works is dead.” I believe we have to work in the here and now to create our heaven, our peace, our community and our relationship with our Creator.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Our community is as diverse as America and it will take all of us to win. So everyone take a deep breath, remember what we’re fighting for and work together.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My wife.

What gay stereotype annoys you most?

How can you choose? They’re all so reductive.

What’s your favorite gay movie?

“Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Registering for wedding gifts when you’re both already two adults that own everything.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Being selected a national Truman Scholar in 1994.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I was aware at an early age that the world is much bigger than any of us, and that learning never stops. But if I had the chance to tell my 18-year-old self anything, it would be a message similar to what many gay teens need to hear – that we’re all going to be OK. Specifically, it would have been nice to know that I will, indeed, marry an amazing woman and my parents will support me and so will my community; and that – gasp – I can even still have a viable chance at serving in elected public office as an openly lesbian candidate.

Why Washington?

It’s where political addicts live. It’s where you meet other people that want to make our country and world a better place.



Canino Dog Boutique offers healthful food, accessories

Cati Sesana opens new store on Belmont Street in Northwest



Cati Sesana owns Canino Dog Boutique at 1409 Belmont St., N.W. (Photo courtesy Sesana)

Cati Sesana was sitting at home trying to help her mom find a local shop in D.C. that would have a cute sweater for her dog but couldn’t find much outside of the big-box stores. Last month, she opened Canino Dog Boutique to solve the problem.

“I was like ‘Let me do some research,’ there are shops like this in New York but I don’t know of one in D.C.,” she said.  

However, Sesana had a long journey from researching the pet boutique business to her opening day. Sesana played water polo at George Washington University and majored in music, so she didn’t know much about starting a business. 

One of her first tasks was figuring out what she was going to sell. 

“Initially I was just going to do accessories or apparel and not treats or food,” she said. “But I got really deep into pet nutrition and what’s going to make your dog live the longest.”

She recalled the initial trouble she had with finding food for her dog, Aiko and wanted to eliminate that worry for her customers. 

“I only carry two dog food brands, so I kind of get rid of that overwhelming decision-making that’s like, ‘What do I do? What’s right for my dog?’ so I only carry brands I know and trust,” she said. 

As for her apparel and accessories, she only sells products from small and local shops that don’t have distribution in major retailers. One of the local shops Sesana purchases from told her that she was their first retailer and that since then, business has improved. 

“By shopping here, you’re helping other small businesses and it all kind of domino effects,” Sesana said. 

As a first-time business owner herself, Sesana knows all about the obstacles of trying to get a small business off the ground. 

 “The biggest challenge was finding a landlord that would give me an opportunity,” she said. 

Sesana visited spaces in a lot of high foot-traffic shopping areas, like Georgetown and met plenty of landlords who loved her concept but didn’t want a first-time business owner. 

“I think the pandemic scared landlords from giving smaller businesses a chance, because so many closed,” she said. “But then the personality of a neighborhood kind of disintegrates a lot. … Why would I come to 14th Street when I can shop from Lululemon online?”

Finally, Sesana was given a chance for a space just off of 14th Street on Belmont Street. Conveniently located next to Streets Market and across the street from Doozydog! Club.

On Nov. 6 she opened her doors and has worked every day since then. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4-7 p.m. and on weekend 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sesana is currently the only employee. 

“I am the company graphic designer, customer service, and dog walker!” she said, motioning to her dog lying in his doggie bed. 

After Sesana closes the store, she is out into the night playing the drums in a band. 

She says that being a musician has given her the right mentality to get through the long days at her boutique. 

“Slow days are tough, but I can zoom out and see the bigger picture,” she said.

Canino Dog Boutique is located at 1409 Belmont St NW, Washington, DC 20009

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Real Estate

Top tax benefits of homeownership

Mortgage interest, property tax deductions, and more



Thinking of buying a house? Here are some of the many tax advantages that come with homeownership.

As we are closing out 2023 and getting ready to start 2024, now is a good time to review what tax benefits most homeowners are getting. There are several categories that you can look at to see if you will benefit from being a homeowner. According to, here are some of them:

  • Mortgage interest.  Most newer homeowners are paying more on the interest in their monthly mortgage payment than on the principal, so this could be a big tax benefit.
  • Home equity loan interest – HELOC (home equity line of credit) loans are like a 2nd mortgage on your home. Many homeowners can use it to make upgrades to their house and interest on these loans is deductible if you used it for that purpose.
  • Discount points – for those of you that purchased in the last year or so these may apply, as these are the price paid to lower an interest rate on a loan.
  • Property taxes – depending on where you live, your state and local property taxes may be a big source of tax deductions for you.
  • Necessary home improvements – even if you did not use a HELOC to improve your home, some of your expenses in this category may be deductible.
  • Home office expenses – as more and more people are working from home, this should not go unexamined in your search to find tax deductions.
  • Capital Gains – a capital gain is the difference between the value of a home when you sold it versus when you borrowed it. So, if you sold your home for a significant profit and did not roll over those gains into a new property within a short period of selling the old property, then ask your tax professional up to which amount of these profits are not taxable.

We asked Tina Del Casale ([email protected]), a DMV-area lender with Sandy Spring Bank, what she thought about the tax benefits of homeownership, and here is her answer:

“Most homeowners wish they knew sooner that most every major home improvement can reduce your future capital gains when you are ready to sell your home. While the deduction for a single person is $250,000, and for married couples is $500,000, the DMV has seen property appreciation that outpaces those numbers. So keep ALL your receipts for replacement items like your HVAC, windows, doors, roof, major landscaping and updating bathrooms and kitchens. You will thank me later! Of course most importantly consult a tax adviser for up-to-date information!”

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us if you have more questions and happy holidays! Let’s get you home for the holidays.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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The Importance of Offering Inclusive Family Planning Benefits

How one company helped two dads create their family.



JPMorgan Chase employee Don Jackson (far right) with his husband, Chris, and their two daughters.

Don Jackson has worked for JPMorgan Chase for more than 30 years. He attributes this longevity in large part to the company’s long-standing support of the LGBTQ+ community. 

When Jackson and his husband were looking to adopt in 2008, and then again in 2009, the firm helped them navigate the complex process and legal requirements. Given the cost of family planning, finances were also a big concern. 

“We had tons of support from family and friends, and thankfully from JPMorgan Chase,” said Jackson, a senior leader in Chase’s Home Lending business. “But outside of that, we were on own.

“Knowing JPMorgan Chase was willing to subsidize many of our expenses toward adoption took a lot of the stress out of our situation. We had enough stress in other aspects, but it meant everything to us to place some of the financial stress to the side.”

A supportive environment

JPMorgan Chase has been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion for decades. This year marks the 21st year in a row that JPMorgan Chase has scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index. The firm is one of only a few companies to receive a perfect score every year since the CEI’s inception. 

As one of the first Wall Street firms to offer same-sex partner benefits in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase continues to provide a wide range of LGBTQ+ inclusive benefits for employees in the U.S. This includes comprehensive health care, insurance and wellness support, family planning, and transgender healthcare coverage. 

Beyond inclusive benefits, JPMorgan Chase has established networks of support for employees to connect with one another and access opportunities to grow and advance in their careers. 

The company’s PRIDE Business Resource Group has more than 37,000 employee members across 39 countries. PRIDE hosts events and delivers personal development opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies. Other support networks for LGBTQ+ employees and their families include a Bi+ Council, Gender Expansive Council, Allies Council and LGBTQ+ Families Community. 

For Jackson and his family, the LGBTQ+ Families Community has been pivotal. The group provides support and resources for parents, caregivers, and family members of LGBTQ+ children, as well as LGBTQ+ employees who are parents or are looking to build their families. 

“What I’ve always been most proud of throughout my 30 years [working here], is the support and guidance I’ve received across all levels and teams,” Jackson said. “I have never once hidden a single detail of my family, and I’m constantly amazed at how everyone accepts us.”

Culture comes first

In 2022, JPMorgan Chase enhanced benefits for employees enrolled in the U.S. medical plan to include more robust gender affirming healthcare. The firm also increased family-building benefits and created a dedicated LGBTQ+ health concierge service, powered by Included Health. 

Brad Baumoel, JPMorgan Chase’s global head of LGBTQ+ Affairs, says this commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusive benefits goes beyond just checking boxes. 

“These resources actually create a workplace culture where all employees feel valued, respected, and are able to bring their authentic selves to work,” Baumoel said. “This in turn fosters a sense of belonging, which has a profound impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and overall well-being.”

For the LGBTQ+ workforce, knowing your employer has your back can alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with potential discrimination or bias, Baumoel said. “It allows you to focus on your work and thrive in your career.” 

Visit JPMorgan Chase’s website to learn more about the firm’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

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