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Gay Republican accuses Dem of gay-baiting in Va.

‘Why would you want to vote for someone who’s a homosexual?’



A gay Republican running for state Senate in Virginia is accusing his Democratic incumbent opponent of engaging in gay-baiting tactics, an assertion supported by an audio recording obtained by the Washington Blade of inflammatory remarks made by a Democratic volunteer.

On the recording, the intoxicated Democratic volunteer can be heard saying, “Why would you want to vote for someone who’s a homosexual and is going to push his agenda in your schools?”

Patrick Forrest, the gay Republican running for state Senate in Reston, Va., said he’s heard that Democratic volunteers for State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) have been reaching out to conservative voters in her district to inform them of his sexual orientation in an effort to dissuade them from supporting him.


Forrest said he heard this information from Republicans in Virginia’s 32nd district while knocking on doors and campaigning.

“I’ve been approached by several people … very, very conservative — and had basically said to me, ‘You know, we heard you’re a homosexual,'” Forrest said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m gay. I’ve always been openly gay.’ Well, we were actually told by … volunteers from the Democrats that you would be promoting the homosexual agenda in our schools.'”

Howell, a 19-year incumbent with a strong pro-gay record, said the claim that her campaign has been highlighting Forrest’s sexual orientation is “absolutely not true.”

“We’re not mentioning his orientation at all,” Howell told the Blade. “It’s simply not an issue. The only one who seems to be making it an issue is Mr. Forrest himself.”

Forrest’s assertion is supported by a recording of a conversation between Eric Newland, Forrest’s field director, and Kavita Imarti, a Democratic precinct captain in Reston. Newland said the recording took place on Oct. 5 outside of Imarti’s home during a party.

On the recording, Newland asks Imarti about rumors that the Howell campaign is approaching Republican voters and highlighting Forrest’s sexual orientation in order to dissuade them from supporting him. Imarti says that her side is employing this tactic. She attempts to justify the tactic throughout the recording by alleging that Republican voters are racist and homophobic and would want to know Forrest is gay.

Newland asks whether Imarti thinks the campaign should be telling people about Forrest’s sexual orientation. She replies, “Yes, because you guys are racist bastards.” Later, when asked what exactly the campaign is saying, Imarti says, “He’s gay! You guys say you’re anti-gay, but you have a gay candidate. What you gonna do now?”

Asked on the recording to clarify whether this tactic is coming from the Howell campaign, Imarti says, “Yes! You guys are openly prejudiced against someone due to orientation. I think that’s wrong. That’s wrong.”

Later, Imarti says, “What my campaign is saying is here’s your Republican candidate. He’s a homosexual. Why would you want to vote for someone who’s a homosexual and is going to push his agenda in your schools?”

Imarti isn’t a member of the Howell campaign. At one point in the conversation, she says, “I’m not working with Janet.” In the recording, she says she makes phone calls and participates in canvassing efforts. But in the recording another voice says, “You guys work together, which means you’re working for Janet.”

In a statement to the Blade, Newland said he recorded the conversation with Imarti because he heard she had been discussing this campaign strategy openly and he wanted to hear it for himself.

“Frankly, we had heard from several of our volunteers that ‘gay-baiting’ was being utilized against Patrick,” Newland said. “When hearing one of their own grassroots political organizers talking openly about this strategy to tell people that Patrick was gay, as a way to help re-elect Sen. Howell, I was deeply offended.”

Nick Kowalski, Howell’s campaign manager, said Imarti is a Democratic volunteer for a county-coordinated campaign and doesn’t speak for Howell or her campaign.

“We did not recruit her,” Kowalski said. “We have not solicited her efforts to volunteer for Janet Howell directly, and she has no direct association with this campaign. Clearly, in this recording, she’s highly intoxicated and speaking about something she knows nothing about.”

Kowalski said the campaign has sent a message to the coordinated campaign of Fairfax County that Imarti has “no further association — volunteer or otherwise — with our campaign.”

Additionally, Kowalski acknowledged he had two five-minute talks with Imarti prior to the recording. But he maintained that he did not discuss campaign specifics with her in those conversations.

Kowalski denied the assertion that the Howell campaign is telling potential Republican voters about Forrest’s sexual orientation.

“We 100 percent categorically deny we are sending any messages to Republican voters on Patrick’s sexuality or otherwise,” Kowalski said. “We are not reaching out to Republican voters at all in the campaign. This campaign is about getting a message out about the issues that concern voters, and Patrick’s sexuality is not an issue for us, and it’s not an issue for voters in the district.

Speaking with the Blade, Imarti disavowed any involvement with the Howell campaign and denied any knowledge about the campaign engaging Republican voters. She said the recording was made without her knowledge and has been “a real inconvenience” for her and her family.

“I was obviously intoxicated in the recording,” Imarti said. “I was not speaking clearly. I was speaking out of anger. I said some things I did not mean, and, in fact, were not true.”

Imarti said she can’t speak for the Howell campaign and she hasn’t “heard anything” about the Howell campaign reaching out to Republican voters and informing them that Forrest is gay.

“I do not have any knowledge of anything either campaign is doing, any strategy or anything like that,” Imarti said. “I was speaking for myself as a Democrat, as a person. I was being instigated and I was apparently very upset, and visibly intoxicated.”

But accusations about gay-baiting in the race go beyond this incident.

Forrest also said he spoke to two members of the Virginia Legislature — State Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del. Barbara Comstock — who asserted Howell informed them of his sexual orientation. Forrest said the lawmakers told him Howell said “this guy is a homosexual” and “you should not be supporting him.”

“She’s going about this two ways: one, by approaching … Republican legislators in Virginia [and saying] he’s gay and not a true conservative and then also by approaching conservative voters,” Forrest said.

Speaking with the Blade, Obenshain said Howell had asked him about Forrest during a brief 45-second conversation and said Republicans were “running a RINO” in the district based on several reasons, including the fact that Forrest has a same-sex partner. RINO, or Republican-In-Name-Only, is a pejorative word for a member of GOP who often doesn’t adhere to party dogma.

“She ticked off three of four things that would, I guess, indicate he was not conservative: something about taxes, maybe that he may have voted in a Democratic primary, that he has a partner — and just went tick, tick, tick,” Obenshain said. “I think my response was, ‘Gee, Janet, it sounds like you’re asking me for my endorsement,’ which was tongue-in-cheek.”

Obenshain said Howell didn’t explicitly say anything about him not wanting to support Forrest because he allegedly is a RINO or because of his sexual orientation, but added such a message may have been “a fair implication.”

“She listed off three or four things, including that he had a partner,” Obenshain said. “She didn’t place any more or less emphasis on that than the other things that she listed.”

Obenshain added he “absolutely” supports Forrest’s candidacy based on the candidate’s credentials.

“I attended and participated in fundraisers for him,” Obenshain said. “I think he’s a strong candidate who has a strong command of the issues and would do a very good job representing that district in the Senate.”

Comstock didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on Forrest’s allegation. They both have anti-gay voting records and have voted against legislation that would bar state government employers from discriminating against gays in the workplace.

Forrest said he’s “very sad” about reports that his sexual orientation has become an issue because he wants the campaign to be about other other things, such as the fact that Northern Virginia sends significant tax dollars down state.

“I was frankly shocked that a liberal member of the Virginia State Senate who is so powerful and on the Budget Committee would resort to these types of tactics, but she has, and that’s what she’s chosen to do,” Forrest said. “I have fought this kind of gay-baiting when it’s been on the political right, I will continue to fight it when it’s on the political left, and I’m going to go out there and just talk about transportation, jobs, economy, my vision of the type of independent voice we need for Northern Virginia.”

Forrest said he hopes Howell apologizes so that those involved “can put this behind us and we can move on and have a real campaign talking about real issues.”

Howell denied the accusation that she has spoken to Republican lawmakers about Forrest’s sexual orientation and accused the candidate of lying.

“I’m deeply offended that Patrick Forrest would lie like this,” Howell said. “I have never said and never would say that anyone would be unwelcome in Richmond because of their sexual orientation. … A person’s sexual orientation isn’t a issue for me, and I certainly hope it isn’t for anybody who’s voting in Virginia.”

Howell said she has the “strongest record on civil rights in the Senate.” She noted she’s been endorsed by Equality Virginia and said she thinks she obtained the endorsement “because of my years of work on issues of importance to the GLBT community.”

Howell was the chief patron of bills allowing companies to provide life and health insurance benefits to the partners of their gay employees. She also worked against passage of the Marshall-Newman Amendment, a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which was enacted in 2006. She voted against the measure in the General Assembly and said she led the effort to defeat the measure when it came before voters.

“I’m one of the ones who was the strongest opponents of that odious Marshall-Newman constitutional amendment,” Howell said. “I spoke and voted against it on the floor of the Senate, and I worked my district like crazy to have that defeated, and glad to say they did.”

Howell said she supports same-sex marriage and backs legislation that would bar employers from discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace.

“I’ve been married for 45 years, and I know how marriage can deepen a relationship, and I think everyone should have that same right,” Howell said.

Forrest, who’s been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, also said he supports marriage equality and legislation that would bar job discrimination against LGBT people.

Denis Dison, a Victory Fund spokesperson, said the alleged gay-baiting “has no place in politics” and came to the defense of his organization’s endorsed candidate.

“If this is true then it’s really unfortunate,” Dison said. “Patrick is eminently qualified to serve in the Virginia Senate and we applaud the fact that he’s been open and honest about being gay. We were proud to endorse him and we stand by our candidate in this race.”

Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who’s gay and also endorsed by the Victory Fund, said he couldn’t comment on the veracity of the allegations, but defended Howell based on her record. Ebbin is also seeking a Virginia Senate seat in another race.

“Without Janet Howell, we wouldn’t have extended life insurance or health insurance to same-sex partners in Virginia, and she’s been a true leader on issues of equality,” Ebbin said.

NOTE: This article has been updated.

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  1. laurelboy2

    October 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Of course the liberal loony left-wing media will never condemn such a statement by a Democrat. Gays in the Reston area should vote, en masse, for the GOP candidate as a show of support against such a bigoted and hurtful statement.

  2. Kevin Cordova

    October 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I myself am a gay republican and this is how I see it. I can’t tell you who is lying and who is telling the truth but I’ll say this. While I can’t speak on whether or not Howell herself was attempting to persuade Republican lawmakers against Forrest using ‘gay-baiting’, it is entirely possible that certain campaign volunteers and stand alone Howell supporters are using these tactics as an attempt to persuade conservative voters not to vote for him.

    On the other hand, it is also plausible that Forrest is intentionally using this negative publicity and outright controversy to draw attention to himself and his campaign. While I, personally, find this proposed method of vote grabbing both deplorable and a direct hit against gay rights I can’t tell Mr Patrick Forrest how to run his campaign.

    My proposed solution to this apparent controversial dilemma is for Howell to line up the ranks of her volunteers and not only investigate them to see where these rumors are stemming from but also issue an official mandate forbidding them to mention anyone’s sexual orientation while representing her or her party. On that same token, I think Forrest should drop the issue in it’s entirety and wait for incumbent Howell to sort her office out. If she really is as pro equality as she claims to be then she will have no problem taking the extra time to properly investigate this alleged injustice. In my personal experience drawing attention to one’s sexuality by say crying to the Washington Blade instead of calmly bringing these rumors to Howell’s attention is another example of why the gay community doesn’t have nationally recognized equality and why we wont be getting it any time soon.

  3. VAGAY

    October 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    The Republicans have a lot to gain by trying to win this seat. They are on the verge of taking back the VA Senate and losing her seat would only help that and would rid them of one of the most liberal Dems in the Senate.

    This idea Janet Howell is secretly bigoted towards homosexuals or using bigotry to her advantage is absurd. Those two Republicans who told Patrick that have plenty to gain by getting rid of Janet Howell.

    For gays who are getting wrapped up in this, know this – the VA Senate will flip if this seat is lost and while it would be great to add a gay voice to the VA Senate, Janet has clout. And she has always, always stood up against bigotry in the VA Senate. I mean she went so far as to compare the gay marriage ban to Nazism in Germany (and was rightfully criticized for it by the ADL). I find it very hard to believe this is true. She may very well have questioned them as to why they, of all people considering their long record of anti-gay rhetoric and voting, would support an openly gay candidate simply to point to their hypocrisy. And they are using this to their advantage.

    I’m happy Mr. Forrest is finally being publicly open about his sexuality, I’m sad this is how he’s chosen to make people aware of it.

    I’m not defending the volunteer at all. She’s clearly immature and ridiculous, but frankly she’s a volunteer. I’d probably have asked the same question of a republican. Why is it okay to legislate against gays, but then support one when it benefits you? That isn’t provoking bigotry, it’s challenging hypocrisy.

    • Ed Taylor

      November 7, 2011 at 9:13 am

      I disaagree. I believe it is time we start to bring change to the ranks of the GOP. If we want them to embrace our interests, then we need to influence this change from the inside.

      Only having one party to work through is not working. By doing so we are stuck having to acept whatever crumbs fall from the political table of expediency.

      Our president & congress might be more forthcoming with support for gay marriage if they knew they had to compete for our support & money, and could no longer take our vote for granted.

      Personally, no party owns my vote. It goes to whomever serves my personal interests. I gave up the straigh ticket voting once I reached an age critical thinking.

  4. Judy Barton

    October 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    The tape is very clear. This volunteer clearly was telling the facts straight out. Clearly they are using the gay issue to keep Republicans from supporting him. This would be like in 2008 going to white farmers and telling them that Bill Richardson was Latino. Using people’s prejudices for political gains is wrong. This will only increase tensions between groups and lead to more extremism. This is wrong no matter who does it, republican or democrats. If it’s true that Senator Howell told other legislators that Mr. Forrest was gay in order to keep them from supporting him, then as a community, we should condemn her actions. This is completely unacceptable.

    • John Bartlett

      October 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      In other words, we all know that Republicans are anti-gay and so gay candidates should stay in the closet until elected?

    • Jenisaisquoi

      November 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      there was nothing “clear” in this tape. That woman was so completely inebriated, she didn’t even follow the guy’s logic. He was completely leading her and she was off the reservation. She is obviously pro-gay rights, the woman being taped, and I never heard HER say she is baiting people; those words were in his mouth and she never really responded. Janet Howell has a LONG record of being pro-gay rights and pro-human rights, and to ruin such a long, distinguished career with the bellowing of one drunk person at a party is just unconscionable. The campaign separated itself from this woman and repudiated her comments. As for the others in the state senate talking about Howell, LOOK AT THEIR RECORDS ON LGBT RIGHTS! Look at the legislative records and achievements of the people talking, and decide for yourself, who is pro-LGBT and who is just playing nasty politics. The GOP is DYING to get their filthy little mitts on Janet Howell’s seat and are willing to sink to any low to get it. We lose this seat, and the VA senate goes to the GOP, then see how LGBT are treated in VA, with a GOP House of Delegates, Senate, Lt. Gov, Gov and AG. Just as nobody should discriminate against someone by not voting for them because they are gay or black or female, you also shouldn’t vote FOR someone or trust someone more, simply because they share your skin color, gender, or orientation; that is also prejudice. It makes me sick to my stomach that Patrick Forrest jackass is sinking to this level, but then, he is only a Republican afterall, never too low to stoop for those folks.

  5. Judy Barton

    October 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    So it’s cool and corageous to be pro-gay when you have a district that is very gay friendly, but the moment a gay candidate challenges you, you throw us under the bus by using his sexuality against him, and this is OK? That’s ridiculous. If she truly told legislators that Patrick was gay, then she truly deserves to lose in November.

    • VAGAY

      October 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Um, Patrick is openly gay remember? At least that is the tale we are to believe from the gay groups now rushing to endorse him. I have my doubts he was ever open about being gay, but maybe if he had been, this would have been a non-issue from the start.

      • Judy Barton

        October 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm

        I met Patrick three years ago at the Equality Virginia Gala in Richmond, so yes he is openly gay.

  6. Carlos

    October 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    The legislators and lobbyists Howell talked to about this must come forward and tell the media exactly what she said and in what context. Until they do, it’s her word against his. Both have reason to lie, obviously, but whichever one is proved to be lying will be deep political trouble, and should be.

    • VAGAY

      October 18, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Deep political trouble? This story has gained no traction anywhere but right here. The Fairfax Times hasn’t mentioned it once. The people voting in this election do not care about this. The fact no one inside the Beltway understands that is precisely why Janet Howell will win reelection.

      • Judy Barton

        October 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

        It’s sad that with an audio tape of the strategy and a confirmation from a State Senator that there isn’t outrage about this. I usually vote Democrat, but I will vote for Mr. Forrest. At least I will do my part to send a message that this strategy against gays is not acceptable.

  7. Judy Barton

    October 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    what about the audio tape? It’s very clear. Honestly, I don’t understand why people are not paying attention to the recording. If this was Mr. Forrest’s claim versus Senator Howell’s thats one thing, but the recording confirms one side of the story.

    • VAGAY

      October 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

      The audio tape was a Democrat volunteer who had no affiliation with Howell’s campaign beyond being a volunteer. She’s probably a kid who has no idea what she is doing or what she is talking about. All that audio tape proves is that this girl, who admitted on the tape she has nothing to do with the Howell campaign, thinks it is ridiculous conservatives in Fairfax would vote for an “openly” gay candidate. She had a point.

  8. thepoliticalcat

    October 18, 2011 at 2:33 am

    If you’re gay AND Republican, then, yes, it’s totally fair to bring up your sexual orientation. Because if you’re running AS a FUCKING REPUBLICAN, you ought to know that your constituents would be happy to kill you, in fact, they’d rather kill you than vote for you, just because you happen to love someone who has the same hardware.

    • Annette

      October 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      That is just BS. I’m a conservative Jewish Republican and I don’t want to kill homosexuals. That is just ludicrous.

    • Steven

      November 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      I’d say that is the most ignorant thing I’ve read…but if you’re gay and Republican you can be sure to have some lefties spew their own brand of hate.


    October 19, 2011 at 1:07 am

    To me this is democrats pointing out the facts. If Mr. Forrest had been in the closet then maybe this would be an issue. But he is openly gay. Pointing out that this “Republican” candidate is living a life that is diametrically opposes to the current phenomenally anti-gay ethos of the Republican party (the party which can claim the only two gay presidents in our history: Lincoln and Buchanan) is akin to someone saying to a Tea Party Herman Cain supporter, “You know he’s Black, right?”

  10. John Bartlett

    October 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I listened very carefully to the recording and basically it’s a Democrat asking why a Republican is supporting gay rights when the party is notoriously anti-Republican. The is just another Republican spin against the Democrats. The Log Cabin group is desperate like the rest of their party to discredit Democrats. Does ANYONE actually trust a Republican, straight or gay?

  11. AnnDe in Virginia

    October 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    @Judy Barton Oct. 17 at 11:47am: “What about the audio tape?”
    I DID listen to the recording—a couple of times. It confirms that the woman was upset and inebriated, that the man was asking leading questions, and that THE TAPE PROVES NOTHING — especially given the context.

    And of course I read the Blade article (btw, there is an angry Blade op-ed rant now, also.) The Imarti woman was inebriated at a party in her own home. The guy who secretly recorded seemed to be leading her, or **baiting her, with his questions**. (If I had better equipment, I could hear him better.)

    Imarti is NOT with the Howell campaign staff. She may have done her own gay-baiting somewhere, and apparently she IS a Democrat, but individuals are entitled to their opinions. If any of the Dem organizers happen to see this: PLEASE do not engage folks with their own extreme views.
    I generally agree with: VAGAY October 18, 2011 at 10:44 am and John Bartlett October 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm.

    It is not right and not responsible for the Log Cabin fellas and candidate Forrest to expand and exaggerate to the extent that they are.

    If people are truly concerned with the candidates’ positions on ISSUES, then skip the quibbling and back’n’forth about a poor recording and implausible accusation. Instead, research voter guides, read the candidate websites, review candidate qualifications, review voting records (Howell), and THINK which candidate would be the most effective working on issues you care about.

  12. Will Radle

    October 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Our community stands united for equality. A candidate’s sexual orientation is not an election issue. Sadly, there are bigots in both major political parties and we all know it. Together we will confront it when we see it. Shame.

    I stand today to give voice to our community’s highest values and to invest in our highest priorities. Vote on Tuesday, November 8.

    A. Will Radle, Jr.
    Independent Candidate for Chairman,
    Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
    [email protected]

  13. AnnDe in Virginia

    October 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    @ laurelboy2 October 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm: “Gays in the Reston area should vote, en masse, for the GOP candidate as a show of support against such a bigoted and hurtful statement.”

    WHOOA! I am equally incensed by the statements, BUT the person who made them was NOT Janet Howell or anyone on her campaign staff. The person who ran her mouth inappropriately was speaking for herself, for whatever reasons, in whatever inebriated state she was enjoying. THAT PERSON IS NOT RUNNING FOR SENATE.

    Janet Howell has been endorsed by Equality Virginia because of many years of work on issues of importance to the LGBTQ community. READ Howell’s Washington Post endorsement at: senate/2011/10/18/gIQAjZFIwL_story_1.html SEE District 32.
    READ Howell’s website: and review her voting record.

    Patrick Forrest? He sounds like an enthusiastic candidate for the Virginia Senate who would serve with spirit (and hopefully try to leave the “defensive chip” behind). We agree 100% that people need to learn to stay out of others’ bedrooms and that sexual preferences should be irrelevant to job performance.

    Forrest would undoubtedly be committed to LGBTQ issues as well as to unrealistic fiscal conservatism and he seems to be determined to champion other issues. ***But he would be unlikely to survive more than one term in Richmond.*** Even the Log Cabin folks couldn’t save him from his party colleagues when he doesn’t vote in Republican lock-step!

    We have known Janet Howell and have voted for her for years because she cares about all people equally and has championed many issues important to the LGBTQ community (as both the Blade and WaPo point out) and the WHOLE community. Her effectiveness is enhanced by her many influential committee assignments in the Senate. She’s fair and honest and wouldn’t waste time with dirty tricks/rumors against Forrest because of his orientation.

    EVERYONE IN DISTRICT 32 SHOULD VOTE FOR HOWELL because Virginia needs her to sustain balance and reason in Richmond and she has the power to get results.

    Ann H. Csonka & John M. De Noyer

  14. Jenisaisquoi

    November 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Firstly, I’d like to start by stating that I have canvassed for Janet Howell for many campaigns and have never ONCE been directed to use this kind of negative attacks on any of her opponents. I also worked against the Marshall-Newman amendment (anti-gay marriage amendment) in 2006. Senator Howell strongly applauded our efforts in canvassing against this very oppressive law, which she voted down. I also, in the past year, had the chance to work with her on autism insurance reform and met her personally on several occasions. The woman is a fighter and a vociferous advocate for LGBT, and many other marginalized people in the state of Virginia. She is a remarkable woman and has been a powerful and effective Democratic legislator. I do not believe for a moment that any of this gay-baiting came from her campaign, considering her record for human rights issues. She released this campaign worker and repudiate the comments, and given her record, that should be more than enough. Forrest is creating a conspiracy where there is none, and much like the idiots who took down Van Jones and ACORN, he is using one tape, to discredit 22 years of strong service. SHAME on him.

    Something also to consider. The Virginia state Senate is in grave danger of being taken over by the Republicans this time around, who will surely lurch WAY to the right, into the dark ages like other state legislatures in the south, controlled entirely by the GOP have. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Forrest is gay, he will take a crucial Democratic seat from a long term powerful Democratic Senator, and with him or not, that could turn the senate over to the GOP, who then will decide the agenda and what votes are put to the floor. Losing Senator Howell’s seat, which is usually a safe Dem seat, would be a devastating blow to the Democratic party in the state, and could be the final straw in giving the Senate back to the Republicans. The Republicans, especially in Virginia, have a long record of gay-hate and oppressive anti-gay policies, all of which Howell has opposed and voted against. Check her record, she has a flawless human rights record. Forrest may also oppose them, but you hand a strong Dem seat to a Republican, and if we lose a couple more vulnerable seats, it won’t matter that he supports gay rights, when a right wing fringe, tea-party controlled senate is against them. We’re already in enough scary territory in this state with gay-hating buffoons like Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bolling, and some real haters in both the House of Delegates and the state senate. At present, the House of Delegates is already GOP controlled, and look at the records of some of the tea partiers in the south of the state, SCARY. If we lose Howell’s seat, and a couple others, we will have Republican control of both houses of the Virginia legislature, our AG, our Lt. Gov.,and our governor, and think how well things will go for human rights, or gay rights then. If you have any doubts, check out what they other state legislatures controlled entirely by the Republicans have been up to of late, taking away abortion rights, oppressive anti-gay policies, right to work (anti-union) legislation, voter suppression laws, all the good stuff they love.

    Forrest doesn’t guarantee a voice for gay rights in the Virginia senate, but Howell, who has a proven record of standing up for LGBT, has already been there for 22 years, standing up. Just as he should not be judged for the sex of his partner, nor should Howell be judged for the sex of hers. What his election does threaten, is a total GOP sweep of our state. I would never not vote for someone because he or she is gay, but I would also never vote FOR someone, BECAUSE he or she is gay. My vote is with the candidate, who has a long, strong human rights track record, and with the party who stands up against the hate, perhaps a little tepidly at times, but some resistance is better than completely embracing and perpetuating the oppression. Straight, suburban housefrau and strong LGBT ally here, and that’s how I see it.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol



Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors



Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding



What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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