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Police chief meets with LGBT activists for third time in month

Captain reinstated as head of liaison units

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D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier disclosed in an Aug. 31 meeting with LGBT activists that she has reinstated a popular police captain as head of the department’s Special Liaison Division, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU).

Lanier’s action comes four months after she drew criticism from activists and rank and file officers for replacing Capt. Edward Delgado as head of the liaison division with a civilian police official who had little experience in crime-fighting activity.

The chief’s appointment in May of Enrique Rivera, who specialized in internal administrative and policy matters, as Delgado’s replacement was viewed by some department insiders as a signal that she was diminishing the influence of the liaison units, including the GLLU. Lanier denied those claims, saying Rivera would provide strong leadership to the division.

Her announcement this week that Rivera was retiring from the department and Delgado would return to head the SLD was warmly received at her meeting Wednesday with representatives of several local LGBT organizations, according to gay activist Peter Rosenstein, who attended the meeting.

The meeting marked the third time Lanier has met with representatives of the LGBT community since Aug. 4, when she met with officials of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). That meeting followed a widely publicized incident in which D.C. police officers refused to take a report of an assault against five lesbians in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood by two men who shouted anti-gay names at the women.

Lanier said the conduct of the officers was under investigation and told GLOV officials the officers could be fired depending on the findings of the investigation.

The meeting on Wednesday came less than a week after an off-duty D.C. police officer was arrested for firing a handgun at three transgender women and two male friends who were sitting in a car at First and Pierce streets, N.W. One month earlier, a transgender woman was shot to death in Northeast D.C., with activists expressing concern that police took too long to alert the LGBT community about the incident.

“I genuinely believe Chief Lanier and all of her senior leadership team are sensitive to and concerned about problems with the LGBT community,” said Aisha Moody-Mills, a D.C. lesbian activist who attended Wednesday’s meeting.

“But I’m still extremely concerned that their values are not trickling down to the patrol officers on the street,” Moody-Mills said. “There’s a disconnect there, and I’m not sure how the chief will address this.”

Rosenstein said he was optimistic that Lanier was taking steps to address a number police related issues that have troubled the LGBT community over the past few years.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said her office was preparing a comment on Wednesday’s meeting and Lanier’s assessment of how it went.

Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office of GLBT Affairs, who organized Wednesday’s meeting with Lanier at Gray’s request, said he, too, was optimistic over Lanier’s efforts to address the LGBT-police related issues troubling the community.

“This was an opportunity to bring other people into the discussion with the chief,” said Richardson.

Rosenstein said Lanier, among other things, told those attending the meeting she would ensure that officers list on police crime reporting forms that a crime is a hate crime whenever the victim indicates he or she was a target of hate violence. The appropriate police investigator would then make a final determination of whether the incident is a hate crime, Rosenstein reported Lanier as saying.

He said she also promised to try to boost the number of full-time officers assigned to the GLLU but could not commit to that due to a department wide reduction of police personnel related to budget reductions. According to Rosenstein, the chief also promised to look into the possibility of putting in place an internal department mediation process to facilitatate complaints by citizens that officers mistreated members of the LGBT community. Under an existing labor agreement with the police union, such a change couldn’t be made without the union’s approval, Lanier said.

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District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 68

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

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Bernie Delia speaks at the Pride Honors event on May 31, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 68.

“It is with great sadness that the Capital Pride Alliance mourns the passing of Bernie Delia,” the statement says. “We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The statement says that in addition to serving six years as the Capital Pride Alliance board president, Delia served for several years as president of Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, where he helped create “an environment for spiritual enrichment during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

“He also had a distinguished legal career, serving as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice and later as an appellate attorney,” the statement reads.

Delia’s LinkedIn page shows that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 26 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2019. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as associate deputy attorney general and from 1994 to 1997 served as senior counsel to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides executive and administrative support for 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the country.

His LinkedIn page shows he served from January-June 1993 as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President Bill Clinton, in which he was part of the White House staff. And it shows he began his career as legal editor of the Bureau of National Affairs, which published news reports on legal issues, from 1983-1993.

The Capital Pride Alliance statement describes Delia as an avid runner who served as the coordinator of the D.C. Front Runners and Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ sports groups.

“He understood the value, purpose, and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community to work together and support one another,” the statement says. “He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride, which was a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride.”

The statement adds, “Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic. We love you, Bernie!”

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District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

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The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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