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Bracing for possible Hill attack on D.C. marriage

Riders on abortion, vouchers renew fears over GOP intervention

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An agreement by President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders to Republican demands for imposing two D.C.-related riders on a federal budget bill has renewed fears among LGBT activists that the city’s same-sex marriage law could be the next target of Republicans in Congress.

The president and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said they reluctantly agreed to demands from conservative members of the House to budget amendments barring the city from funding abortions for low-income women and imposing a school voucher program that city officials oppose as a condition for averting a federal government shutdown.

“The president continues to oppose riders in this bill that undermine the District’s ability for home rule,” said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye in a statement released last week. “However, as he has said repeatedly, the ability to reach an agreement to keep the government open meant that all parties had to make some compromises,” Inouye said.

In response to questions from the media, Obama has stated in the past that he believes marriage-related issues should be addressed by the states. But he has not weighed in on same-sex marriage proposals that have surfaced in specific states or in D.C.

Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club last week that she fears the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party in the House has become emboldened and will likely push more social riders on the 2012 D.C. appropriations bill.

Some congressional insiders are speculating that same-sex marriage opponents on the Hill may attempt to attach a rider calling for repeal of the D.C. marriage law to legislation next month needed to raise the federal debt ceiling. Such legislation is deemed crucial by most lawmakers and the White House.

Traditionally, federal debt ceiling bills have not been used as a vehicle for social riders, but some Hill observers have speculated that conservative GOP lawmakers may make an exception to that practice this year.

Congress must approve D.C.’s budget bill each year, even though nearly all of the money for the city’s budget is generated by the city through local tax dollars. Over the past 20 years, Republicans and some conservative Democrats have pushed through numerous riders on the D.C. budget bill, including one that barred the city from implementing its domestic partners law for nearly nine years before that rider was lifted in 2001.

“I have not heard specific news on the anti-marriage front beyond what has been reported, but prudence requires us to assume that the anti-gay fanatics will come after us,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a non-partisan political group.

Rosendall said GLAA plans to work with its LGBT and straight allies to lobby against efforts by Congress to interfere in D.C. affairs on a wide variety of issues, including marriage.

Peter Rosenstein, president of the Campaign for All D.C. Families, another non-partisan group that coordinated efforts to secure passage of the city’s same-sex marriage law, said the group is preparing for possible attempts by members of Congress to either overturn the law or force the city to hold a voter initiative on the issue.

Rosenstein said officials with the group have met with congressional staffers, including the staff of Reid and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). He said Campaign for All D.C. Families has retained the pro bono services of the LGBT supportive lobbying firm Raben Group to help lobby against congressional efforts to kill the marriage law.

He said the campaign also continues to use the pro bono services of the prominent D.C. law firm Covington and Burling to help it contend with a possible voter initiative on the marriage question.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said his group has already begun urging moderate and conservative Republicans in Congress to oppose any effort to repeal D.C.’s same-sex marriage law.

Cooper said he has learned from conversations with congressional GOP staffers as well as members that most Republicans don’t favor a messy fight over D.C.’s gay marriage law.

“To some conservatives, this would be anti-states’ rights, and they would not support it,” Cooper said. “This whole thing is limited so far to a handful of House members,” Cooper said, in discussing supporters of overturning D.C.’s marriage law.

Among them is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who announced in January that he and other conservative GOP House members “definitely” planned to introduce legislation to overturn the D.C. marriage law.

“The Republican leadership has made it clear that social issues are not a high priority,” said Cooper.

But he acknowledges that GOP leaders, including Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) are coming under great pressure from the social conservative faction of the party to take up social issues, including the marriage issue.

Fred Sainz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said HRC could not obtain “solid intelligence” to confirm any attempt to link repeal of D.C.’s marriage law to the debt ceiling bill. But he said the group is “definitely concerned” that Republicans will attempt to add marriage-related riders to D.C.’s FY 2012 appropriations bill.

“HRC opposes any attempt to use LGBT citizens of the District as pawns to make a political statement,” Sainz said. “As we have done in the past, we would work with House and Senate allies, including Delegate Norton, to develop the best strategy to successfully block such riders,” he said.

“The Tea Party fanatics in Congress smell blood and will be pushing a lot of social riders on D.C.’s 2012 appropriations bill if we do not fight back,” said GLAA’s Rosendall.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. El Dorado

    April 23, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Tea Party Fanatics or christian conservative fanatics like the Family Research Council and Concered Women for America? All they exist for is opposing anything that benefits gay Americans so expect an all out attack on marriage equality whenever possible. The GOP using to whine about a Presidential line-item veto power….time to give Obama the same. But just remember this, if the GOP creates the practice of adding social agenda riders to this then we can follow suit someday down the road. What comes around goes around bitch!

  2. Skeeter Sanders

    April 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    If the Retardicans in Congress force a rider that repeals D.C. marriage equality law as the price for preventing a federal government shutdown or raising the national debt ceiling, the D.C. government will have, in my opinion, an obligation to challenge the constitutionality of the repeal in federal court.

    Denying gay and lesbian couples in the nation’s capital the freedom to marry — a freedom they effectively earned in 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, fully decriminalized same-gender sexual relationships — would clearly violate the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    The Tea Party-dominated GOP freshmen in the House of Representatives have on numerous occasions demonstrated an appalling ignorance of (even contempt for) the very Constitution they are bound by their oath of office to uphold, support, defend — and obey.

    They already have unconstitutionally rammed through a “bill of attainder” aimed at punishing NPR by defunding the network, in retaliation for an NPR executive’s secretely taped remarks that were highly critical of Republicans in gerneral and Tea Party-backed conservative Republicans in particular. Bills of attainder are strictly prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. Fortunately, the measure has no chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    Now the Republicans have hired a law firm to defend the constitutionally indefensible “Defense of Marriage Act.” It’s time to call out the Republicans in Congress as the homophobes they really are. As one who lived through the strugles of the African-american civil rights movement in the 1960s, these homophobes in Congress are no better than their racist predecessors who fought against the civil rights movement.

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Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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Autos

One lean, mean green machine

New Ford Mustang Mach-E is electrifying

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(Photo courtesy of Ford)

Here’s a shocker: Electric vehicles have been around for over 180 years. By the time of the first Hershey bar in 1900, EVs had hit their own sweet spot—surging to almost 30 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. But when Henry Ford began to produce cars on his moving assembly line in 1913, the popularity of the gas-powered Model T soon short-circuited EV sales. Cue to a century later, when the debut of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2010 sent a jolt through the auto industry. Yet it would take another decade to get drivers charged up about anything other than gas-powered rides. Today, it’s hard to keep track of all the EVs out there, along with other green machines like hybrids. While the current microchip shortage has slowed or stopped production on many cars for now, I was lucky enough to drive the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. The experience was, well, truly electrifying.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
$47,000
Range: up to 305 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.2 seconds

When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first announced, many auto aficionados were left scratching their heads. After all, a Mustang is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever created, and the Mach-E designation sounds suspiciously like the “Mach-1” branding used on flashy high-performance Stangs. Yet this new Mustang is a crossover SUV—and an electric one to boot. While the initial designs were captivating, plenty of skeptics remained. Luckily, they needn’t have worried. I was mesmerized the moment the Mach-E arrived, eager to run my hand along its sinewy side panels and strapping rear end. To keep the design as aerodynamic as possible, there are no traditional door handles. Instead, you use the key fob, your smartphone or a push button on the window frame to pop open the door. 

On the inside, there’s a small latch in the armrest versus the typical door handle. Such design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also save space and reduce weight. Other novelties: This is the first Ford vehicle to use recycled animal-free fabrics, as well as a vegan steering wheel that’s as durable as leather. On the space-age dashboard, the premium Bang & Olufsen speakers are concealed beneath fabric covers that mimic the look of pricey home-theater speakers. And the unique design of the quiet cabin allows for a subwoofer that is 50 percent lighter than usual, yet still retains a deep rich clarity. As for the gigantic 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen in the center of the dash, it resembles a sort of funky oversized iPad from “The Orville.” Along with large climate controls for easier viewing, the touchscreen has interactive maps to locate the nearest charging stations. Those maps came in handy during two weekend trips, as did the heavily bolstered seats that helped prevent driver fatigue but also were easy on the tush. In total, there are five Mach-E trim levels, each with differing configurations for power and range (the distance you can travel on a full charge). 

While even the base-model Mach-E is fast and lively, it’s the high-test GT version that strikes like a thunder bolt. Rocketing from 0 to 60 seconds in just 3.8 seconds, the Mach-E GT is quicker than a Toyota Supra super coupe. And thanks to lower-than-expected ground clearance and a superb suspension, the Mach-E is just as agile. Those grippy regenerative brakes help, of course, allowing you to speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. 

It’s worth noting there are other EVs in the Ford stable, including the electric F-150 Lightning full-size pickup, the E-Transit commercial van and various green machines on the way. By 2030, Ford is aiming for 40 percent of its global sales to be EVs. That’s a great goal for a company that once helped pull the plug on the “electric horseless carriage” but today is leading the charge with its own cutting-edge EVs.

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