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Anniversary for marriage

One year after the first same-sex couples wed in D.C., all eyes are on Maryland



Candy Holmes (left) and Darlene Garner on their wedding day last March. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

As the battle over marriage equality in Maryland reaches its endgame, the sparks it throws are reflected in the lives of real people, including a married couple wed just next door in Washington on the first day the D.C. same-sex marriage law went into effect in March of 2010.

Residents of Bowie, Md., one of the three couples wed with fanfare at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters on March 9, 2010  — Candy Holmes and Darlene Garner — looked back this week at the struggles to win equality in D.C. and the continuing efforts in Maryland.

“In retrospect, it’s been a mixed year,” Holmes says. “Because it was a great year to be married in D.C. in my hometown and Darlene’s adopted city, really it was a year of a piece of heaven, once we got through the murky waters that it might be taken away by the courts. It was the realization of something long desired by us, to be married, and legally acknowledged so, to the love of my life.”

“But when we come back to where we live, in Maryland, where our marriage is not recognized, the struggle goes on because we were free to be married in D.C., but we are not free to be married in Maryland — yet.”

Holmes and Garner — who dated on and off for 14 years before getting married — are both ordained ministers in the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a liberal, mostly gay Christian denomination — and now they are determined to see the blessings afforded to them by marriage become theirs by right also where they live.

“We have so much enjoyed the last 12 months as a married couple,” Garner says. “We have been completely embraced by our extended and blended families — children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, cousins — and I will be eternally grateful to the D.C. government elected officials, and also remain hopeful that the elected officials in my home state will follow the example set in our national capital.”

When Garner and Holmes boast of their blended, extended family, they are not talking idly. Garner is the mother of four, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of three, the eldest of whom is now 3 years old.

Holmes considers Garner’s offspring hers too.

The giddiness and hoopla from a year ago now long since subsided, how do they assess what marriage equality means to them today? Once they were married, “there’s been a big difference at work,” says Holmes, who has worked as a manager in the federal government’s GAO (now called the Government Accountability office) for 34 years. “It shows up in how people greet me and treat me, the respect and regard from others.”

Statistics from D.C. Superior Court’s Marriage Bureau show a surge of weddings in the District, more than double the number from the prior year, March 2009-March 2010.

Those numbers — 6,604 marriages in D.C. from March 3, 2010, when the same-gender right to marry, enacted in December 2009, went into effect, through March 2, 2011 — vaulted over the number from the prior year, when only 3,101 couples applied for marriage licenses in D.C.

The city doesn’t track how many straight couples there were versus same-sex couples, but the court attributes the spike to the change in the marriage law.

Speaking last week at an event held to celebrate enactment of the new law, Mayor Vincent Gray said he “was thrilled to hear this,” adding that the new law “has been so smoothly implemented,” even though he acknowledged that he has lost some friends due to his own outspoken support for the measure when he served on City Council until being elected mayor in November. But he said that was a price he willingly has paid for doing what he called “the right thing.”

As for the possibility that the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives might still seek to roll back the new law, the mayor said he was aware it could happen, but “I haven’t heard anything yet” about it.

And so the dust in D.C. has settled. And in the wake of the new law have come party planners and experts in wedding officiating like Deborah Cummings-Thomas and Sheila Alexander-Reid, both licensed and ordained to perform weddings, lesbians and partners since May of last year in Marry Me in D.C., which helps connect people wanting to marry in D.C. with what Cummings-Thomas calls “our network of gay and gay-friendly service providers who celebrate, not just tolerate them on their wedding day.”

On March 19, Marry Me in D.C. hosts a “Marriage Equality Wedding Expo,” from noon to 4 p.m. at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue NW, on Capitol Hill. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance registration is encouraged at

Robin McGehee (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Marriage not a happy ending for all

With the legalization of same-sex marriage comes, inevitably, gay divorce.

Robin McGehee has felt its sting. The 37-year-old California resident and lesbian who decided to wed in June 2008, says she decided to un-wed a year and a month later, in July 2009. She and her partner took their vows under California’s same-sex marriage law prior to its being overturned by the state’s voters in November 2008 ballot when Proposition 8 passed. Their marriage remained valid however under a grandfather clause.

But it fell victim nevertheless, in an ironic way, says McGehee, since it was the fight against its passage that brought her into the fray to oppose Prop 8.

After getting iced out of volunteer work at her son’s Catholic school, she became a gay activist and helped organize the National Equality March, held in Washington in October 2009. As a newly mobilized activist, she says, she was “on the road almost every weekend for months at a time.”

And that activism led her away, she acknowledges, from placing a focus needed at home, to repair the fraying ties that bound her with her spouse, a woman 19 years her senior, with whom she had joined in 2001 in a domestic partnership contract under California law. They had been a couple for 11 years at the time of their wedding.

She says she “met someone on the road, someone I connected with emotionally.” Basically, she admits, “I fell for someone else.” They have now been together for a year and a half, and they face, McGehee says, “the same challenges,” because now she is also working a second job, as executive director of GetEqual, a group that focuses on using non-violent civil disobedience to advance LGBT rights.

As for her former spouse, they remain in constructive discussions over dual issues, caught up still in legal proceedings over the terms of ending both their marriage and their earlier domestic partnership. Closure should come, she expects, “any time now.”


District of Columbia

Point Foundation offers growing range of scholarships, support

‘Resources to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through’



Celina Gerbic, a member of the Point Foundation’s board of directors, speaks at last year’s event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Many in D.C. know the Point Foundation for its longstanding scholarship program and its popular Taste of Point fundraiser each spring. But the nonprofit is offering a growing range of services to its young scholars, including mental health resources and social media support.

This year’s Taste of Point brought mixologists, restaurateurs, and donors together on May 3 at Room and Board for the annual celebration. With a number of local businesses and organizations donating to the silent auction, the event both raised money for Point Foundation’s scholarships while recognizing scholarship recipients and program alumni.

Among the lineup of featured speakers was one of the foundation’s flagship scholarship recipients, Rio Dennis, a dual master’s and law candidate at Georgetown University.

“I applied for the Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship because I believed in its mission of helping LGBTQ+ students achieve their academic goals while also providing training and resources so we can become better leaders within the LGBTQ community during school and long term,” Dennis said in her speech. 

The Taste of Point celebration began in 2013, born from another event called the Cornerstone Reception. Originally planned as a normal fundraiser with hor d’oeuvres, the foundation transformed it into the current Taste of Point celebration that facilitates partnerships with new, local restaurants.

Some restaurants, like Compass Rose and Hank’s Oyster Bar, partnered with Point Foundation for their first celebration. They have been catering at the fundraiser ever since.

“It really gives you the sense of the amount of love and the amount of community that we have around the Point Foundation and mission,” said Celina Gerbic, a member on the foundation’s board of directors. “They really see, with hearing from the scholars, what the effects can be if we’re raising money for those scholarships and mentoring opportunities.”

The event also allows the foundation to showcase new offerings, such as the Community College Scholarship that was rolled out just before the pandemic in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The community college program gives scholars a financial scholarship each year of their community college experience as well as coaching and admissions counseling for students planning to transfer to a university. 

Meanwhile, the foundation is also expanding its new BIPOC scholarship, which announced its next round of recipients on May 22. The scholarship is currently supporting between 500 and 555 scholars across the country.

Omari Foote, one of the current BIPOC scholarship recipients, appreciates how the scholarship recognizes her as a Black queer student. She is even encouraging other queer students and friends to apply to receive similar assistance.

However, Point is even more than that, Dennis notes. 

Before the school year started, the Point Foundation sent Dennis and all of the new flagship scholars to Los Angeles for a leadership development conference. Scholars discussed how to become active leaders on campus, how to ask for certain resources, what is offered by their campuses, and what tutoring programs are available.

This year, Point also did a joint partnership with an online therapy program to offer discounted prices for all scholars. 

“I have anxiety and depression and I struggled a lot in undergrad with trying to balance that with my having to support myself financially,” Dennis said. “So I was definitely grateful that Georgetown did have a program that is specifically for people of color to get free therapy and Point definitely helped with… asking those questions because it is one of those programs that isn’t as well publicized.”

Point even provided Dennis with a mentor who was also a Point Scholar in law school. Meeting monthly on Zoom and texting all throughout the month, Dennis’s mentor provides academic support that helps her use the right resources and make decisions about her career.

Foote finds the scholarship unique in other ways as well. As a recipient of a handful of other scholarships outside of Point, Foote’s interactions with her scholarship programs mostly stop after they send instructions for writing donor thank you notes. But Point keeps reaching out to maintain a relationship with scholars long after that.

“They’ve reached out to me to spotlight me on Instagram,” Foote said. “They reached out to me even for this dinner, paying for my transportation to and from the dinner … It’s like they’re not just there to give you the money. They’re there to really help you navigate the college world and to be that caring supportive system that a lot of us just don’t have anymore now that we are living by ourselves.”

Last November, the foundation also held an Out in Higher Ed Week, wherein they teach scholars how to be LGBTQ+ advocates on campus. These resources help students navigate the ins and outs of discussing LGBTQ+ issues in university settings.

After graduation, Dennis has even thought about returning to the Point Foundation as a mentor to help future Black queer students, especially first generation law students, balance their mental health and financial situations.

“Point has connected me with fellow scholars who have become my friends. Point has provided me with resources and support to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through,” Dennis said. “I definitely plan on continuing to be involved with Point.”

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District of Columbia

D.C.’s Pride celebrations include parade, festival, fireworks, and more

More than 100 events for all ages planned for June



The Blade’s Pride on the Pier returns June 10 with the region’s only Pride fireworks display at 9 p.m.

More than 100 different events for all ages and interests will take place in D.C. for Pride month.

The Capital Pride Alliance will officially kick off Pride month on Thursday with a show from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Sasha Velour, the 17th Official D.C. Latinx Pride Party and more at Bunker (2001 14th St., N.W.)

Capital Pride on Friday will hold Capital Pride Honors at Penn Social (801 E St., N.W.). Capital Pride every Pride month honors individuals and organizations that have made a lasting impact on D.C.’s LGBTQ community. Among the honorees this year is the National LGBTQ Task Force, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Washington Nationals will host the 17th annual Pride Night Out on June 6. With the purchase of a Pride ticket, attendees will receive a Pride T-shirt and $5 from their ticket will go to support Team DC, which helps to support the LGBTQ community in sports.

D.C.’s largest Pride event, the Capital Pride Parade, will take place on June 10. The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route, which will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

During the parade, the Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden. The party will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The Wharf will be home to the fourth annual Pride on the Pier during the parade, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf. The event, held from 2-9 p.m., will feature a fireworks show at 9 p.m., a DJ, drag performances, and more. VIP tickets are available in two shifts, offering catered food, open bar, and more. The fireworks display is sponsored by the Leonard-Litz LGBTQ Foundation. For more information and to buy VIP tickets, visit General admission to the festivities on the pier is free.

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

From June 5-Aug. 11, ARTECHOUSE will be exhibiting its newest exhibit “PIXELBLOOM: Timeless Butterflies.” Visitors can use the promo code “PRIDE20” to get 20 percent off their ticket during Pride month.

Throughout the summer, Capital Pride will also host a variety of online events. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Capital Pride will host Youth in Action: Wearing Our PRIDE, which will feature young indigenous activists working toward social justice. Capital Pride will also host Zoom affinity support groups and social hours.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Arts & Entertainment

Must-attend D.C. Pride events for 2023

Don’t miss out on these fun events during D.C. Pride



Pride Month has arrived, bringing along a vibrant array of events to explore throughout the month of June. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in our favorite events over the upcoming weeks!


The Washington Blade, in partnership with LURe DC and The Wharf, is excited to announce the 4th annual Pride on the Pier and Fireworks show during DC Pride weekend on Saturday, June 10, 2023, from 2-9 p.m.

The event will include the annual Pride on the Pier Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation at 9 p.m.

3PM: Drag Show

4PM: Capital Pride Parade Viewing on the Big Screen

9PM: Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation


Once again we’re celebrating Pride in DC with the release of Pride Pils!

The 2023 design has been created and donated by the talented Chord Bezerra of District CO/OP.

Attendance is “FREE” but please RSVP via this Eventbrite or donating at the event to further support our non-profit partners SMYAL and The Blade Foundation. 100% will be donated. As always, DC Brau and Red Bear Brewing Co. will be donating all profit from the sale of this year’s Pride Pils to our non-profit partners.


Dupont Underground, in partnership with the Washington Blade presents The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers. DC’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community stands as a testament to the unwavering spirit of countless individuals throughout the years. In recognition of their indomitable courage and resilience, an inspiring exhibition titled “The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers” will showcase the remarkable journeys of both past and present changemakers who have left an indelible mark on the tapestry of Washington, DC. The exhibit underscores the enduring legacy of these remarkable individuals, serving as an inspiration for present and future generations. By shining a light on their remarkable contributions, this exhibition aims to empower and encourage the continuous evolution of the DC LGBTQ+ community and its influence that transcends boundaries.


Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Destiny B Childs, Elecktra Gee, Jane Saw, and Shi-Queeta Lee


metrobar prides itself on serving locally-produced beer, wine and spirits. As part of this mission, we are hosting a curated tasting event featuring Civic Vodka & Assembly Gin from local, woman-owned and operated distillery, Republic Restoratives. We will also have a selection of beers from DC Brau, including their annual Pride Pils for tasting.


Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Cake Pop, GiGI Paris Couture, Kabuki Bukkake, Delila B. Lee

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