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12 LGBT candidates seek Obama delegate seats

D.C. will choose 14 from field of 92 on Saturday

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Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, is one of 12 LGBT candidates among the 92 competing for 14 delegate spots to the National Democratic Convention. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Twelve LGBT candidates are running to become delegates to the Democratic National Convention in D.C.’s Democratic presidential caucus, which is set to take place Saturday, March 3, at the University of the District of Columbia.

The 12 LGBT candidates are among a total of 92 candidates competing at the caucus for just 14 delegate positions and one alternate delegate post. They are pledged to support President Barack Obama, who is running unopposed for the 2012 Democratic Party nomination.

Among the LGBT candidates are Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; Jeffrey Richardson, former Stein Club president and director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; former Stein Club president and D.C. Council staffer David Meadows, and transgender activist and Stein Club treasurer Alexandra Beninda.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) initially submitted his name as a delegate candidate but this week withdrew from the race.

“Just like in past years, the people who win are the ones who can turn out the most supporters to vote for them,” said Bill O’Field, executive director of the D.C. Democratic Party, which is organizing the caucus.

D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has said he is arranging for buses to bring senior citizens and other Ward 8 voters to the caucus to support his candidacy for delegate.

O’Field said the caucus is scheduled to take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday. He said any D.C. resident who is a registered Democrat is eligible to vote in the caucus, which is to take place at the UDC Auditorium, Building 46 East, near Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street, N.W.

According to O’Field, participants can vote any time during the three-hour caucus and don’t have to stay for candidate speeches.

Gay Democratic activists throughout the country, led by the National Stonewall Democrats, are pushing to elect as many out LGBT people as possible as delegates to the Democratic Convention. The convention takes place the week of Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Among other things, LGBT Democrats want the convention’s platform committee to approve a plank in support of legal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Under D.C. Democratic Party rules, the city is divided into two voting districts for the purpose of selecting delegates to the convention: Voting District 1 includes Wards 1, 2, 6 and 8; and Voting District 2, which includes Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7.

The LGBT candidates running in Voting District 1 include Lateefah Williams, Adam Bink, Kevin Scott Carroll, Gregory Cendana, Jonathan Degner, David Meadows, Alexander Padro and Jeffrey Richardson.

The LGBT contenders running in Voting District 2 include Alexandra Beninda, Aadit Dubale, Philip Skillman and Sterling Washington.

O’Field said D.C. Democrats who cannot attend the caucus on Saturday may cast their vote for delegate candidates at the D.C. Democratic Party office on Thursday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The office is located at 1050 17th St., N.W., Suite 1000. O’Field said voters wishing to do this should call him first to make an appointment at 202-714-3368 or contact him by email at [email protected].

LGBT activists planning to attend a memorial interment ceremony for the late gay leader Frank Kameny, which is scheduled to take place on the same day as the caucus, expressed an interest in voting at the party office rather than risk arriving at the caucus too late to vote.

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Maryland

Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14

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(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Maryland

Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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