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Gay candidates poised for victory in local races

Catania, Graham favored in D.C.; Md. could see 7 out lawmakers

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D.C.’s two gay Council members — David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) — are considered strong favorites to win re-election, and the number of out gay or lesbian members of the Maryland Legislature is expected to increase from four to seven in Tuesday’s election.

In Virginia, most political observers expect Arlington’s lesbian school board member, Sally Baird, to win a second term on Tuesday in her role as the only out gay or lesbian candidate on the Virginia ballot this year.

“We feel really excited about increasing our numbers in the legislature, not only lesbian and gay members but other members who are supportive on our issues, including marriage equality,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, a statewide LGBT group.

Meneses-Sheets noted that the four lesbian or gay incumbent legislators and three challengers who won nomination in the Democratic primary on Sept. 14 are running in strong Democratic districts and are expected to win in the general election Tuesday.

One of the challengers, Mary Washington, is poised to become Maryland’s first out black lesbian to win election to the state legislature and just the second black lesbian to win a state legislature seat nationwide.

Lesbian Democrat Simone Bell became the first to capture that distinction last year when she won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives from Atlanta.

The incumbent gay or lesbian lawmakers expected to win re-election to the Maryland Legislature on Tuesday include Sen. Richard Madaleno (District 18 in Montgomery County); Del. Maggie McIntosh (District 43 in Baltimore); Del. Heather Mizeur (District 20 in parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park); and Del. Anne Kaiser (District 14 in parts of Silver Spring, Olney and Damascus). All four are Democrats.

The three Democratic challengers include Washington, who is running in the same House of Delegates District as McIntosh. Most districts in the Maryland Legislature include one senator and three delegate seats, with voters authorized to cast one vote for a senator and three votes for House of Delegates members.

The other challengers include gay Anne Arundel County Assistant State’s Attorney Luke Clippinger, who is running for a House of Delegates seat in District 46, which includes south and southeast Baltimore, including parts of Federal Hill, Fell’s Point and Patterson Park.

Lesbian teacher and National Education Association Foundation official Bonnie Cullison is running for a House of Delegates seat in District 19, which includes the Montgomery County jurisdictions of Gaithersburg, Aspen Hill, Wheaton and Olney.

Another gay challenger in Maryland, consultant Byron Macfarlane, is running for the state post of Register of Wills in Howard County. Macfarlane is a member of the Howard County Democratic Committee and is running against a Republican incumbent, Kay Hartleb. His prospects of winning are less certain, according to Howard County political observers.

In D.C., Catania and Graham have longstanding community ties to a broad constituency and are expected to beat their lesser-known incumbents. They also have strong records on LGBT rights, with Catania writing and Graham co-introducing the same-sex marriage law that the Council passed last December. The two have been endorsed by the Washington Post.

Both received +10 ratings from the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, the group’s top rating on a scale ranging from -10 to +10.

Graham is being challenged by gay Republican activist Marc Morgan, who has expressed strong support for LGBT issues, including the city’s same-sex marriage equality law. Morgan received a +6.5 rating from GLAA.

Catania is running in a four-candidate race where two at-large seats are lumped together in the same contest under the city’s election law. Also running for re-election to one of the two seats is Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who has a strong record in support of LGBT rights. Mendelson played a lead role in advancing the same-sex marriage law in his position as chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

The two are being challenged in the race by Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman, who received a +6 GLAA rating, and independent candidate Richard Urban, who received a -3.5 GLAA rating score. Urban is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage equality and is aligned with Bishop Harry Jackson and other gay rights opponents who favor a ballot measure calling for repeal of the same-sex marriage law.

City election rules allow voters to cast ballots for two candidates in the four-candidate race. The candidates with the highest two vote counts win the race.

The fourth out gay candidate running in D.C.’s general election this year is Republican Tim Day, an accountant who is challenging Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5).

Day created a stir two weeks ago when he released records from the IRS and D.C.’s office of corporations showing that a constituent services group for which Thomas has raised money as a non-profit organization did not have an IRS tax exemption. Day also produced city records showing the group has lost its status as a D.C. corporation, prompting Day to accuse Thomas of operating a “fake organization” and a political “slush fund.”

Thomas denied the allegations, saying Day was seeking to turn the matter into a publicity stunt to help his flagging election campaign, where Thomas is considered the odds-on favorite to win. According to Thomas, he never promoted his Team Thomas/SwingAway charitable group as having an IRS non-profit status.

But the Washington Post, which has disagreed with Thomas’ positions on other issues, cited questions about the group as being among its reasons for endorsing Day for the Council seat.

“Mr. Day, an accountant with a record of community service, impresses us with his devotion to the ward and his pragmatic ideas about how to solve some of its more persistent problems,” the Post wrote in its endorsement. The Post endorsement didn’t identify Day as a gay candidate.

GLAA gave Day a +1.5 rating, saying he did not clearly show evidence of involvement in LGBT-related issues. The group noted it docked points from him after he stated on a GLAA candidate questionnaire that he supported an amendment by Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) seeking to weaken the same-sex marriage law by allowing businesses and non-religious organizations to refuse to provide services related to same-sex weddings if the businesses or groups had objections to gay unions.

Day told the Blade this week that he misinterpreted GLAA’s question about Alexander’s amendment, which lost in a committee vote. He said he would never support an effort to deny services to same-sex couples and should have stated in the questionnaire that he strongly opposed such an amendment.

Thomas voted for the same-sex marriage law and stated on his GLAA questionnaire response that he also opposed the Alexander amendment.

In other D.C. races, all of the remaining Democratic nominees, including mayoral candidate Vincent Gray, City Council Chair candidate Kwame Brown, and D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Homes Norton are considered strong favorites to win their respective races. All are supporters of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage equality.

In addition, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has identified at least 27 gay or lesbian candidates running for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats. About half are running unopposed.

Those facing opponents include Ramon Estrada of ANC District 2B09 in Dupont Circle, who is being challenged by attorney and community activist Sunit Talapatra; and Bob Siegel of 6DO7 (Washington Nationals Stadium area), who faces a challenge by neighborhood newcomer and urban design specialist David Garber.

Go here to see the gay ANC candidates.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mykelb

    November 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Meneses-Sheets? Unfortunate name. Sounds like a female teenager woke up in a bloody bed.

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Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality

Va. gubernatorial candidate says issue ‘legally acceptable’ in state

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(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state.

“I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018.

Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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D.C. school board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards

Sweeping resolution proposing content in curricula approved unanimously

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Gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards for the city’s public schools that “reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The two-page resolution, which was introduced by gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang, who represents Ward 2, cites national research showing that students who have access to LGBTQ+ curricula in their schools “are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school.”

The resolution states that research also shows that multicultural education, including the teaching of LGBTQ topics, “helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities.”

LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered the local D.C. government through its mayor and City Council to be highly supportive of the LGBTQ community. But Chang and other supporters of the resolution approved by the board Wednesday night say their research shows that D.C. public schools, while supportive of LGBTQ students, are far behind the school systems in several other states in the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in school curricula.

As an example, supporters of the resolution point out that curriculum standards for social studies classes in the D.C. school system include only one mention of LGBTQ people in a teaching section related to victims of the Holocaust.   

Unlike most other cities and states, under current D.C. law, the school system is controlled by the mayor through the D.C. Department of Education, which is headed by a Deputy Mayor for Education and who, in turn and in consultation with the mayor, appoints a State Superintendent of Education who oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Under a change in the education statute approved by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, the school board, which was renamed the State Board of Education, became a mostly advisory body on education matters with some statutory authority to approve education standards on which school curricula are based.

Thus, the resolution approved by the board on Wednesday “advises” and “recommends” that the State Superintendent of Education develop school curricula, guidance for teachers, and school-based leaders and staff “in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the State Superintendent of Education conduct a survey of students within two years after the Oct. 20 adoption of the resolution “to establish baseline data and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.”

Chang and other members of the State Board of Education noted at the Oct. 20 meeting, which was virtual, that Will Beckerman, who graduated this year from D.C.’s School Without Walls High School, played an important role in conducting the research used to prepare the LGBTQ standards resolution and helped in the drafting of the resolution.

Chang noted that much of the background information used to draft the resolution came from Beckerman’s senior year school research paper and advocacy project that focuses on the topic of LGBTQ-inclusive education.

In comments supporting the resolution, Chang also spoke about how the very limited LGBTQ content he encountered during his high school days helped him accept himself as a gay youth.

“As a student myself, I don’t remember a single mention of any LGBTQ people in any of my classwork until I read Thomas Mann in my senior year in high school,” Chang said. “And in Death in Venice, this Nobel Prize winner touches upon his struggles with homosexuality but never actually names it explicitly,” Chang told fellow board members.

“And I remember holding on to this novella despite the self-hatred that’s woven throughout this story because it was the first time that I saw this aspect of my identity reflected in my class work,” he said. “My hope – and I think this hope comes true with this resolution tonight – is that future generations of LGBTQ students have more opportunities to see themselves reflected in their class work and to feel less isolated by their class work than I did growing up.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will endorse the school system changes proposed by the resolution approved by the State Board of Education.

The full text of the resolution follows:

State Board of Education Resolution

On LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards

SR21-7

WHEREAS, the 2019 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students make up 15.9 percent of high school students in the District and transgender students make up1.9 percent of District high school students;

WHEREAS, in the District, these students, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, experience double the rate of bullying on school property, report higher rates of being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, and are more than twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation;

WHEREAS, national data shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are significantly more likely to receive grades of D or F than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to be truant;

WHEREAS, consistent research suggests that students with LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in their schools are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school—and this safety leads students to report higher attendance, higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging in the school community, and higher educational aspirations;

WHEREAS, research shows that multicultural education helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities ; 

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recognizes the need to have revised social studies standards that create “windows and mirrors” so students see themselves and people like them reflected in the content of standards and curriculum, as well as having the opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, places, and experiences unlike themselves—explicitly noting that the current standards emphasize the lives of presidents and other figures who held/hold power and under-represent or lack representation of people and groups like those identifying as LGBTQ+, and their respective histories;

WHEREAS, in the State Board of Education’s review and revision of the social studies standards, the State Board called upon the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to “seek standards writers who reflect the demographics and experiences of District students and of the communities they are writing about” sharing a list of examples that included writers identifying as LGBTQ+;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education is committed to ensuring students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens in a diverse democratic society; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has a commitment to promote equity, introduce policies to reduce disparities between students, and create safe school environments for all students.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, upon the next revision of any District of Columbia state education standards, the State Board of Education should adapt standards, when appropriate, that reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to provide guidance to teachers and school-based leaders and staff on creating inclusive lessons in science and English language arts (ELA) classes that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA standards, respectively;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) implement professional development for teachers and school-based leaders and staff to aid them in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms, such that that the professional development includes: workshops for local education agencies (LEAs) and teachers to draft curriculum related to LGBTQ+ topics in their subject areas, lessons on use of inclusive language in the classroom, lessons on ensuring LGBTQ+ students’ safety and confidentiality while maintaining respect for their name and pronouns, and mandatory diversity training related to the LGBTQ+ community; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) survey students within two (2) years of adoption of this resolution to establish baseline date and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.

https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/2019%20DC%20YRBS%20Report.pdf

Brikett, Michelle et al. “Sexual-orientation disparities in school: the meditational role of indicators of victimization in achievement and truancy because of feeling unsafe.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 104, 6 (2014): 1124-8. doi: 10.2105/AJHP.2013.301785

Kosciw, Joseph G., et al. “The 2019 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” GLSEN, GLSEN, 2020, glsen.org.

Camicia, Steven P. Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints. Routledge Focus, 2016.

Camicia, Steven P. “Prejudice Reduction through Multicultural Education: Connecting Multiple Literatures.” Social Studies Research and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp. 219–227.

socstrpr.org/files/Vol%25202/Issue%25202%2520-%2520Summer%25202007/Action%2520Research/2.2.6.pdf

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Nellie’s agrees to $5,000 fine, 7-day license suspension over brawl

Penalty prompted by security guard dragging Black woman down stairs

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Nellie’s must pay a fine and face a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 brawl in which a Black woman was dragged down the stairs. (Blade file photo by Tom Hausman)

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Wednesday, Oct 20, approved a compromise agreement it reached with Nellie’s Sports Bar that calls for the U Street, N.W. gay bar to pay a $5,000 fine and serve a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 incident in which a Black woman was dragged down a flight of stars by a Nellie’s security guard during a brawl between Nellie’s customers.

The agreement calls for a license suspension of 24 days with 17 days to be suspended and seven days to be served “so long as the Respondent does not commit any violations within (1) year from the date of this Order,” the ABC Board declared in a three-page order confirming the agreement.  

The order states that the license suspension will be served from Dec. 20-26 of this year. It also states that Nellie’s must pay the fine within 120 days from the date of the order. If the fine is not paid during that time “its license shall be immediately suspended until all amounts owed are paid.”

As a final stipulation of the agreement, the ABC Board states that Nellie’s must file a “legally compliant security plan” within 10 calendar days of the Oct. 20 order.

The security plan requirement stems from an earlier finding by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration related to the June 13 incident that Nellie’s was in violation of several provisions of the city’s liquor law, including a provision that a security plan that meets the standards of the city’s liquor regulations is in place.

An ABRA investigation of the June 13 incident found, among other things, that “multiple assaults occurred inside the establishment while the licensee was engaged in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct.”

The action by the Nellie’s security guard, which took place during the city’s LGBTQ Pride weekend, was captured on video taken by one of the customers on their phone. The video went viral on social media, prompting a series of protests against the bar by LGBTQ activists and Black Lives Matter advocates.

Nellie’s issued an apology for the incident the following day and announced it had fired the private security company whose employee, who is Black, dragged Keisha Young, 22, down the stairs. Nellie’s also announced it would temporarily close for business to assess what had happened and develop plans for reopening as a safe space for all members of the community. It reopened 35 days later, with protesters continuing to assemble outside the bar for several more weeks.

 When the five-member ABC Board on Oct. 20 held a roll call vote to approve what is officially called an Offer-In-Compromise or OIC agreement with Nellie’s that includes the fine, license suspension, and other provisions, gay ABC Board member Edward Grandis voted against the agreement, becoming the only member to do so.

A video recording of the virtual ABC Board meeting available through YouTube shows that Grandis expressed general support for the decision by both the board and Nellie’s to reach a compromise agreement. But he said he objects to the license suspension requirement.

“In this particular regard, when the facts and the testimony indicate that the licensee on its own initiative without any knowledge, at least in the testimony, of prompting from the government or MPD or any party, to itself close for 35 days during – generally – the pandemic when so many companies lost their companies and their employees lost their jobs and the neighborhoods lost their establishments, I really believe that this particular situation shows that the licensee took this event seriously and accordingly in a manner that hopefully will prevent it from happening again or have better security measures to avoid this type of situation in the future,” Grandis told his fellow board members.

“And I just wanted the record to show I’m supportive of the OIC generally, but I don’t believe it was constructed in a way that indicates what this licensee has done since that incident,” Grandis said.

Nellie’s owner, Douglas Schantz, and Nellie’s attorney, Andrew Klein, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Klein, who spoke at the ABC Board hearing on Wednesday, said in response to a question by Grandis that Nellie’s reluctantly agreed to the fine and license suspension, which he called “excessive,” among other things, because Schantz wants to put the matter behind him and to “heal” and “move on” with the community.

The ABC Board’s action came one day after the Washington City Paper announced that Nellie’s Sports Bar finished in second place among its readers in its annual Best of D.C. contest for the category of “Best Gay Bar/Club/Lounge.”

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