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3 hospitalized after spate of anti-LGBT violence

One gay man shot, another beaten; trans woman knocked unconscious

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The International House of Pancakes restaurant in Columbia Heights (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

One gay man was shot in a Columbia Heights restaurant on March 11 and another gay man and a transgender woman were badly beaten on the street the following day in separate incidents during a period of just over 24 hours.

The gay male victims remained hospitalized this week, with one being treated for a bullet wound to his liver and the other awaiting surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. The transgender woman was treated and released for a head injury after being knocked unconscious.

Police have listed the attacks against the two gay men as anti-gay hate crimes. The attack against the transgender woman was not listed as a hate crime but police are looking into the possibility that it may have been an anti-trans hate crime, according to a police report. Officers assigned to the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit were said to be involved in the investigation into each of the incidents.

“We appreciate [D.C.] Metropolitan Police Department’s prompt action regarding the recent attacks and we offer the victims our strongest support while recovering,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “We expect MPD to respond by increasing patrols in the affected areas and tenaciously investigating the crimes committed.”

A police report for the shooting incident says the incident began when a male suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victim, a 31-year-old gay man, about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 11. The report says the incident took place inside the International House of Pancakes restaurant on the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W. in Columbia Heights.

The report says a fist fight ensued between the suspect and the victim and that two other suspects, a male and a female, got involved. It says a witness reported hearing a gunshot during the physical altercation and saw the three suspects leave the restaurant and flee in an eastbound direction along Irving Street, N.W.

“Complainant 1 complained of pain to his chest area,” the report says. “Further investigation revealed that C-1 had been shot with an unknown caliber of firearm and was transported to [a hospital] by ambulance.”

Aaron Woodland, who identified himself as the victim’s cousin, said he and another cousin were with the victim at the restaurant when the incident occurred. According to Woodland, the three suspects were sitting at a table near where the victim and the two cousins were seated. He said the suspects referred to the victim and the two cousins repeatedly as “faggies” while the two parties sat at their separate tables.

Woodland said the altercation began when the victim got up to pay the restaurant bill and the three suspects blocked his path. He said a fight started after the victim pushed his way past the suspects.

“Once he did that they started calling him faggy again,” said Woodland.

Woodland said the victim was being treated for a gunshot wound to the liver and was expected to be released from the hospital in about a week.

Police have listed the incident as a hate-related assault with intent to kill.

A police source said the second incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W., when the victim, a 29-year-old gay man, got out of a cab about two blocks from his home. The source said accounts from witnesses indicate two or three male suspects attacked the victim while calling him anti-gay names as he began to walk home.

Rodney Shaffer, the victim’s partner, said the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, told him he remembers being dragged along the street by the attackers, who did not attempt to rob him. Shaffer said the victim called him for help on his cell phone after the attackers walked away. Seconds later, Shaffer said, another group of attackers took the victim’s cell phone, iPad and wallet, leaving the victim lying on the street in a semi-conscious state.

Shaffer said the victim was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. He said the attackers’ blows to his head and face that caused the jaw to break were so severe that the victim had to be sedated with a breathing tube inserted to prevent swelling of tissue caused by the injury from preventing him from breathing.

According to Shaffer, a detective said police were in the process of obtaining a video recording that they hoped has captured the attack through cameras installed in various locations near the site of the incident. Police planned to release posters seeking witnesses of the incident, Shaffer said.

Police reports show that the third incident occurred March 12 at about 11:50 p.m. when a transgender woman was attacked by two young male suspects on the street at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Street, N.E.

A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.

Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.

However, when the victim was being interviewed later at the hospital, she was asked if she thought she was targeted because of her status as a transgender woman, says the report, which was prepared by Officer S.D. Hall, an affiliate member of the police Special Liaison Unit.

Hall said in her report that the woman replied that she did believe she was attacked because of her status as a transgender woman.

The police report for the shooting incident at the IHOP restaurant provides these descriptions of the suspects: Suspect 1—black male between 20 and 23 years old, about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, brown eyes and black hair in a crew cut; light brown complexion and a slender build; Suspect 2: black male between 20 and 25 years old, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 220 pounds, brown eyes, black dreadlocks, medium brown complexion and medium or average build; Suspect 3: black female between 20 and 23 years old, 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 200 pounds, brown eyes, hair in braids, medium complexion and a “heavy/fat/stocky” build.

A description of the suspects in the other two incidents wasn’t immediately available.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. clyde casstevens

    March 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    how about passing law to a crime like this gets 99 yeas in prison and never be free under any circumstances til they are dead.you do it,if you are caught,there is no question about your cost that you will pay ,fixed it to where judge has no choice.if you don;t then them crooks wont follow the law..as they are more crooked then and one else..

  2. brian / ward 5 / 5D

    March 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

    ***
    A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.

    Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.

    However, when the victim was being interviewed later at the hospital, she was asked if she thought she was targeted because of her status as a transgender woman, says the report, which was prepared by Officer S.D. Hall, an affiliate member of the police Special Liaison Unit.

    Hall said in her report that the woman replied that she did believe she was attacked because of her status as a transgender woman.
    ***

    Seriously??? MPD asked a transgender woman who was “KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS” and “FROM BEHIND” whether SHE thought she was targeted because of her transgender status??? Given the stated facts, a highly speculative answer from a traumatized, recovering trans woman– in the negative– could have provided any less-than-honorable PD an excuse to sweep another inconvenient LGBT hate crimes case under the rug.

    In times past, I have personally seen 5D MPD officers– both rookies and veterans– do exactly that.
    I hope MPD’s detectives and GLLU will not use the victim’s inability to have heard an overt biased remark, or seen an overt biased action, as an excuse to NOT investigate this as a bias-related (hate) crime. Some circumstantial evidence is quite overwhelming. Juries and judges convict violent perps on circumstantial evidence every day on America’s criminal dockets.

    Unlike (in IMHO) most LGBs, trans people are often more identifiable by sight as transgender people by most reasonable observers. Given the numerous unsolved cases of assaults and homicides on trans women in DC– and lacking any other reported single motive to the contrary, MPD should give this anti-trans assault comparable priority to the two anti-gay assaults reported here.

    MPD dog and pony shows are no substitute for MPD and GLLU providing accurate information directly to interested LGBT activists. Given yet another spate of anti-LGBT violence, it was especially disturbing to hear Chief Lanier imply before CM Mendelson’s Judiciary Committee hearing on 29 Feb, that MPD was devoting too much police resources to anti-LGBT violent crimes. The Judiciary Committee should take note of Chief Lanier’s exaggerated protests against LGBT activists’ concerns. It is a smokescreen, and it was a wholly inappropriate, highly generalized assault on the city’s LGBT citizens.

    See Chief Lanier’s DC Council Judiciary Committee testimony (29 Feb 12)…
    http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1099
    (approx. at time: 2:27:00)

    More specifically, it is also troubling that MPD (by withholding the stats from GLLU) is not being transparent regarding their investigative progress in anti-trans violent crimes– and even the public statistical reporting of crimes against trans women– as reported by DCTC’s Jason Terry at the same said hearing I noted above.

  3. Brianna

    March 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    the 29-year old victim happens to be one of my 1st cousins and i could not believe this happened to him when i heard it. whoever did this is despicable and i hope the police deal with you because if it was me dealing it would not be pretty. i know my cousin is gay but he is also a pretty cool person and a nice guy. whoever did this you will pay for what you’ve done. we are all god’s children no matter if we are gay or straight.

  4. Dan

    March 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    There is absolutely NO PROOF this is an “anti-gay” hate crime. NONE at all. Most likely the facts will bear out it is a homosexual on homosexual crime and as usual, they blame it on people who they actually hate.

    • Alexander Stankoff

      March 16, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Hey, the only thing your words bear out, pal, is that you intensely hate yourself… or the gays… or both. Your choice.

    • Michael

      March 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I would like for you to share your references for homosexual hate crimes by other homosexuals since you speak so highly of this statistic.

    • scotty501

      March 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

      you think the restaurant suspects are gay????????????????????????? wow

    • NAP

      March 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      That has to be one of the stupidest comments I’ve ever read in my life.

  5. brian / Ward 5 (MPD's 5th District)

    March 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    “We appreciate [D.C.] Metropolitan Police Department’s prompt action regarding the recent attacks and we offer the victims our strongest support while recovering,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “We expect MPD to respond by increasing patrols in the affected areas and tenaciously investigating the crimes committed.”
    ***
    With great respect for A.J. Singletary and the dedicated work of GLOV, I will take some exception to his characterization of MPD’s response to these three anti-LGBT hate crimes– especially at this late date (nearly 4 to 5 full days after the crimes were committed).

    First, it is the DUTY of any police department to take “prompt action” ASAP after violent assaults upon anyone. Given DC’s tough hate crimes law, as well as Police Chief Lanier’s public pronouncements to give anti-LGBT violent hate crimes a high priority, Lanier– and the MPD she very closely manages, has failed to do so with respect to these three violent crimes this week.

    Everyone should understand, this is not a failure of GLLU, nor of the management of its parent unit, MPD’s Special Liaison Division (SLD). Captain Delgado and Sergeant Mejia are highly capable MPD pros with broad experience. The dedicated MPD officers of GLLU’s core and affiliate teams are top-notch, as well. We owe each and every one of them our gratitude for their service to MPD and the city, every day of the week.

    However, both SLD and GLLU are closely monitored and tightly controlled by Chief Cathy Lanier and her Asst. Chief for Patrol Services (and School Security), Diane Groomes. For those who also object to the chiefs’ policies and/or practices, but may occasionally be tempted to make personal attacks on either of them, or their professional integrity– let me assert that Chiefs Lanier and Groomes are two very good people. They are without question, extraordinarily talented managers– and extraordinarily dedicated, good cops. Despite my public criticism of their policies/ practices, I think they have nearly always been responsive to my private communications, usually prodding MPD about one issue or another.

    However, I continue to strongly disagree with Chief Lanier’s policies and practices which are adversely impacting effective law enforcement against violent, anti-LGBT hate crimes perpetrators (and would-be perps who are also watching MPD’s response) in the District of Columbia.

    Moreover, the anti-LGBT tone and comments made by Chief Lanier a few weeks ago, made before CM Mendelson’s Judiciary Committee hearing (of 29 Feb) are extremely troubling. They bespeak a chief of police who is seemingly frustrated at having to deal with the pesky concerns of DC’s LGBT activists concerned for the safety and very lives of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    DC Council Judiciary Committee testimony (29 Feb 12)…
    http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1099

    In addition DC Trans Coalition’s Jason Terry reported at the same Judiciary Committee hearing that SLD/GLLU could not provide him with MPD stats and basic information of transgender-related violent crimes. That is outrageous and unacceptable. The public at large, and especially interested LGBT activists are entitled to such basic information from MPD– both to inform and warn LGBT residents for their own public safety, as well as to monitor MPD’s case closure issues.

    *LIAISON* with the LGBT community is an integral part of SLD/GLLU’s mission. If SLD/GLLU will not provide that basic information to DCTC and the public, it is likely that Chief Lanier is refusing to let them do so. Mayor Gray and members of the Council should take note of this apparently OFFICIAL MPD obstructionism and secrecy.

    What else is MPD’s top brass trying to hide? From whom? And why?

    Mayor Gray– as is appropriate and fitting for the city’s top popularly elected executive, has issued a public statement regarding the week’s anti-LGBT violence. Police Chief Lanier has not.

    What kind of message does that send to the city’s violent hate crimes perpetrators? When police departments remain officially silent about anti-LGBT hate crimes, they risk being, de facto, tacit accomplices in encouraging more anti-LGBT violence.

    Another item… the violent assault on a transgender woman on March 12th, which occurred here in Ward 5 and MPD’s 5th District (WV Avenue, NE, Gallaudet U. area) was not even reported as part of the MPD-5D listserv Daily Report… not on the 13th, nor on the 14th. Is anyone at MPD-5D, besides GLLU officers, paying attention to assaults on trans women? One has to ask, was that intentional on MPD’s part? And if so, why?

    We have had no public statement on our local listservs from MPD-5D Commander Andy Solberg or SLD/GLLU as to what is being done about this assault. The trans woman was apparently stalked and knocked unconscious from behind. In which direction was she walking from? Is MPD-5D canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses and potential video/cam evidence? Is Commander Solberg stepping up patrols? Should Gallaudet U./Trinidad area LGBT residents and visitors be concerned for their own public safety?

    Today’s MPD presser by Asst. Chief Peter Newsham is insufficient and unacceptable. The truth is, if MPD does not adequately investigate the NE assault on a trans woman as a hate crime, such evidence will not be found. So MPD’s ongoing “line” on this trans woman’s assault is pretty tidy, huh?

    The obvious truism that should be self-evident to everyone, is that, unlike most LGBs, many transgender women are recognizable, by sight, as transgender, and that– especially absent any other motive– there can be a reasonable presumption in this case that the assault was motivated by the woman’s status as a transgender.

    With this high level obfuscation, it is no wonder that many in DC’s transgender and LGB communities believe MPD is trying to COVER UP the now-commonplace hate crimes violence against DC’s transgender women.

    NO INFO ON MPD’s LISTSERVS…
    Despite Newsham’s press conference, as of this comment, we have had no MPD public statement on MPD’s SLU listserv, nor MPD’s District listservs and other MPD e-media– whether directly from Chief Lanier or SLD’s/ GLLU’s commands regarding this extraordinary rash of anti-LGBT violence.

    But the fact of the matter is, the buck (ie, the responsibility) stops solely with our Chief of Police.

    If Chief Lanier truly joins Mayor Gray in asserting that anti-LGBT hate crimes will not be tolerated in DC, then SHE should also be unequivocally conveying that message from all of her MPD listservs, e-media and via messages from her 7 district commanders– especially at times when hate crimes are committed so boldly. Anything less, just further reduces MPD’s credibility and effectiveness.

    And, BTW, Chief Lanier, herself, should be present at any public press conferences related to anti-LGBT violence. That sends a message as to how important Chief Lanier views this rash of anti-LGBT crimes, too.

  6. Rickindc

    March 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Dan I am also one who agrees with you, it’s like the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ some people in our community see hate crimes everywhere after a while no one will listen. Get the stupid liberals judges in this town to give-out harder real time!

    • Sean

      March 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      “Rickindc”, did you even read the descriptions of the crimes? Two of them involve the suspects clearly and repeatedly using unambiguously anti-gay language. Do you REALLY want these facts ignored? And what the hell does a judge’s political leanings have to do with the facts of these assaults?? Clue to the clueless: “nothing”. Get a god-damn grip, bud.

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Local

FreeState Justice outlines 2022 legislative priorities

Bills introduced to repeal ‘unnatural or perverted sexual practice’ law

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conversion therapy, gay news, Washington Blade

FreeState Justice has outlined its legislative priorities for the Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session that began on Jan. 12.

State Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Harford Counties) has introduced Senate Bill 22, which would repeal a provision of Maryland law that bans “unnatural or perverted sexual practice.” State Dels. David Moon (D-Montgomery County), Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery County) and Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery County) have introduced an identical bill in the House of Delegates.

A bill that repealed Maryland’s sodomy law took effect in 2020 without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, but the “unnatural or perverted sexual practice” provision that criminalizes oral sex and bestiality remains in place.

FreeState Justice Policy Director C.P. Hoffman on Jan. 12 noted during a virtual briefing that prosecutors rarely bring charges under the law. Hoffman nevertheless pointed out four men who were arrested at a video store in Harford County in May 2021 were indicted under it.

“Its really just offensive that this is being used against queer people in 2021,” said Hoffman. “So we want to see it repealed.”

Hoffman and their FreeState Justice colleagues also noted the ability for transgender Marylanders to more easily obtain official documents that correspond with their gender identity is another legislative priority.

Maryland since 2019 has allowed trans and non-binary people to receive a driver’s license with an “X” gender marker.

Hoffman said FreeState Justice will support bills that would allow Marylanders to change their name on their marriage certificate without a court order or getting divorced and remarry. FreeState Justice will also back a measure that would allow trans parents to amend their child’s birth certificate to accurately reflect their gender identity.

“We’re trying to clean that up to make one consistent policy that allows for trans folks to do this,” said Hoffman.

FreeState Justice Executive Director Jeremy LaMaster during the briefing noted another legislative priority is the Inclusive Schools Act, which would require Maryland public schools to implement a uniform non-discrimination policy through the state’s Department of Education. FreeState Justice Policy Coordinator Jamie Grace Alexander highlighted the organization will also urge lawmakers to expand access to PrEP and PEP in Maryland and to support legislation that would, among other things, prohibit housing incarcerated trans women with men.

“The conditions for transgender people — especially transgender women — while they’re incarcerated are extremely grim and dark,” said Alexander.

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Virginia

Mother says teen boy charged with assault in girl’s bathroom at Va. school is straight

Earlier reports that Loudoun County student was gender fluid triggered backlash

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Two sexual assaults by the same teen in Loudoun County schools attracted widespread media attention. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a little-noticed interview last November with the British online newspaper, DailyMail.com, the mother of a 15-year-old boy charged with sexually assaulting a girl last May in the girl’s bathroom at a Loudoun County, Va., high school that the two students attended said her son identifies as heterosexual.

The May 28, 2021, sexual assault first surfaced in the news media in October at the same time law enforcement authorities disclosed that the boy allegedly sexually assaulted a girl on Oct. 6 in a vacant classroom at another high school to which he was transferred.

The disclosure of the two assaults triggered a furious backlash by some parents and conservative political activists against a Virginia school policy allowing transgender and gender fluid students to use the bathroom that conforms to their gender identity.

“First of all, he is not transgender,” the boy’s mother told DailyMail.com in a Nov. 2 interview. “And I think this is all doing an extreme disservice to those students who actually identify as transgender,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

The mother, who agreed to the interview on grounds that she was not identified to protect the identity of her son, said her son identifies as heterosexual and absolutely does not identify as female.

LGBTQ activists have said the backlash against both the Virginia state and Loudoun County transgender non-discrimination policies — which spread to school districts across the country that have similar policies — was fueled by what they have said all along was unsubstantiated claims that the boy was transgender or gender fluid.

Conservative activists who strongly oppose the school systems’ trans supportive bathroom policies have said it was those policies that enabled the 15-year-old boy, who police say was wearing a skirt at the time of the May 28 sexual assault incident, to enter the girl’s bathroom to target the girl.

Since that time, testimony in a Loudoun County Juvenile Court where the boy was being prosecuted revealed that the 14-year-old girl who brought the charges against him said she and the boy had two consenting sexual encounters in a girl’s bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., prior to the incident in which the boy allegedly assaulted her. 

According to the Washington Post, whose reporter attended one of the juvenile court hearings, the girl testified that she agreed to meet the boy in the girl’s bathroom after he requested a third sexual encounter there, but she told him she did not want to have sex at that time.

“The girl previously testified in court that the defendant threw her to the ground in the bathroom and forced her to perform two sexual acts on him after she told him that she was not interested in sex on that occasion,” the Post reported in a story last week about the final outcome of the case.

At a Jan. 12 sentencing hearing, Loudoun County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Pamela Brooks placed the boy on the Virginia sex offender registry for life, the Post reported. After ruling in an earlier hearing in November that the evidence confirmed that the boy was responsible for sexually assaulting the two girls, Brooks sentenced the boy to a residential treatment facility rather than a juvenile detention facility and required that he remain on probation until he turns 18, the Post reported.

“He’s a 15-year-old boy that wanted to have sex in the bathroom, with somebody that was willing,” the boy’s mother told DailyMaiI.com. “And they’re twisting this just enough to make it a political hot button issue,” she said.

In her interview with the newspaper, the mother said her son wasn’t gender fluid despite the reports, which she confirms, that he wore a skirt at the time of the first of the two sexual assaults.

“He would wear a skirt one day and then the next day, he would wear jeans and a T-shirt, a Polo or hoodie,” she told the newspaper. “He was trying to find himself and that involved all kinds of styles. I believe he was doing it because it gave him attention he desperately needed and sought,” she said.

The mother acknowledged in the interview that her son was deeply troubled, saying he had a long history of misbehavior, including sending nude photos of himself to a girl when he was in the fifth grade.

On Jan. 12, the same day as the boy’s sentencing hearing, Virginia House of Delegates member John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced a bill calling for restricting the ability of transgender students from using bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

A separate bill introduced last month by Virginia State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) calls for eliminating the requirement that Virginia school districts adopt the state Department of Education’s nondiscrimination policies for trans and non-binary students.

Although Virginia’s newly inaugurated Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the GOP-controlled House of Delegates could move to advance the two bills, LGBTQ activists note that the state Senate remains in Democratic control and would block the two bills from being approved by the General Assembly.

Cris Candice Tuck, president of the LGBTQ group Equality Loudoun, told the Blade she expects opponents of LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies in the Loudoun County Public Schools and other school systems in Virginia to continue to use the sexual assault case of the Loudoun boy as a pretext to repeal LGBTQ and trans supportive policies. 

“We firmly believe it should have absolutely no bearing as the perpetrator was not transgender, non-binary, or gender fluid, and so that doesn’t apply to this policy at all,” Tuck said. “A single conviction of an individual who is not even part of the group in question is no reason to invalidate the rights and expose to potential violence the hundreds of students who identify as transgender or non-binary,” Tuck said in an email message.

“Currently, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and hundreds of cisgender teachers, clergy, and coaches are embroiled in legal battles nationwide involving sexual molestation, rape, and abuse of children across the country that has been ongoing for decades,” Tuck said. “Yet no one is proposing restroom restrictions for any of those groups. A double standard cannot exist for the LGBTQ+ based on fear mongering, misinformation, and discrimination.”

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Anti-LGBTQ group claims Va. marriage amendment repeal will legalize polygamy

State Sen. Adam Ebbin rejected claim during committee hearing

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census, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

A representative of an anti-LGBTQ group on Tuesday said the repeal of Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would pave the way for the legalization of polygamy in the state.

“There are some, at least, very legitimate concerns about whether this would actually legalize polygamy, among other forms of marriage,” said Family Foundation of Virginia Legal Counsel Josh Hetzler.

Hetzler made the comment during a Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing on state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Ebbin, who is the only openly gay member of the Virginia Senate, in response to the claim noted polygamy is a crime under Virginia and federal law.

“I take offense to the Family Foundation’s characterization that this would allow polygamy,” said Ebbin. “This has nothing to do with polygamy, what this has to do with is equality.”

Carol Schall, who, along with her wife, Mary Townley, joined a federal lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Virginia, and outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck are among those who testified in support of the resolution. The committee approved it by a 10-5 vote margin.

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly last year approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Ebbin earlier this month told the Washington Blade he remains “hopeful” the resolution will pass in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Prospects that the resolution will pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates are far less certain.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin before his election reiterated his opposition to marriage equality. Youngkin, however, stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

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