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Hundreds march against anti-LGBT violence

D.C. police chief, four Council members join demonstration

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Silent March, hate crimes, Columbia Heights, gay news, Washington Blade
gay news, gay politics dc, Muriel Bowser, Jim Graham, Jeffrey Richardson

Mayor's Office LGBT liaison Jeffrey Richardson, and council members Muriel Bowser and Jim Graham join D.C. residents in calling for an end to anti-LGBT violence. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As many as 700 people turned out for a march through the streets of Washington, D.C., Tuesday night to take a stand against anti-LGBT violence following separate attacks against two gay men and a transgender woman during a two-day period earlier this month.

Friends of one of the two gay male victims, who organized the march, said they were astonished over the outpouring of support that emerged from the LGBT community and city officials, including D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and four members of the City Council.

“It was a Facebook event and I expected maybe 15 to 50 people to show up,” said Patrick Pressman, one of the lead organizers. “And then from there it just exploded,” he said. “It got to where it was today, when it was estimated that about 700 people were going to attend.”

Pressman said he is a friend of a 29-year-old gay man who was robbed and badly beaten on March 12 by assailants who called him anti-gay names at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W.

The march started outside the International House of Pancakes restaurant at 14th and Irving streets, N.W., in Columbia Heights, where a 31-year-old gay man was shot about 6 a.m. Sunday, March 11, in what police say was an altercation with two men who called him anti-gay names.

Lanier, who spoke to the marchers as they gathered outside the IHOP restaurant, said she expects an arrest in the case soon, saying she is “very pleased” with the progress of the investigation.

“We have everybody working on this and I think everybody’s committed,” she said. “We kind of take it personally when people in our community are targeted.”

SEE DOZENS OF PICTURES FROM THE MARCH IN THE WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

Police said the victim of the IHOP shooting was fortunate to have received a non-life threatening gunshot wound. His cousin, who was with him at the time of the shooting, said the victim was expected to be released from the hospital this week after being treated for a punctured liver.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who participated in the march, said he was especially concerned that two of the incidents took place in his ward. He said the large showing of support for the march demonstrates that the community is outraged over anti-LGBT violence.

From the IHOP, the march traveled east on Irving Street to Georgia Avenue, the site where the 29-year-old gay man was attacked and beaten about 9:30 p.m. on March 12.

Police said the transgender woman was attacked and knocked unconscious about 11:45 that same night at the intersection of West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Road, N.E. People who know the victim said she reported later that she was not robbed and thought the attack was motivated by anti-transgender bias.

But police say, unlike the other two incidents, they have not listed the case as a hate crime because they don’t have sufficient evidence for such a classification. Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told a meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Monday night that investigators were looking for witnesses who might have heard whether the attackers hurled anti-trans names at the victim.

Silent march, gay news, gay politics dc

Hundreds of marchers joined the hastily assembled march organized after a recent spate of anti-gay violence in the nation's capital. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Newsham said investigators believe the three incidents were unrelated, with the attacks carried out by different groups of perpetrators.

The march paused when it reached the site where the 29-year-old gay man was attacked at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.

“I want to say that this walk should never have to happen again in our city,” said D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown (D-At-Large). “We have to do more. We must do more,” he said. “And for those who know about this horrific situation that took place, I’m begging you to come forth. Give us information … to bring these folks to justice.”

Brown was referring to reports by police that many people were on the street in the vicinity of the attack at the time it occurred.

Council members Michael Brown (D-At-large) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) also participated in the march, saying they were in solidarity with the LGBT community in seeking ways to curtail hate violence against all city residents.

Also participating in the march was Jeffrey Richardson, director of Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and Gustavo Velasquez, director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights. Richardson spoke at the gathering outside the IHOP restaurant.

Among those speaking at the Georgia Avenue and Irving Street site was A.J. Singletary, president of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV). Singletary said he learned from the 29-year-old gay victim’s partner that the victim had been released from the hospital Tuesday, the day of the march.

“His jaw was shattered in two places,” said Singletary. “After two surgeries he now has permanent titanium plates holding his lower jaw together. In addition, his jaw is wired shut for the next four to six weeks.”

A.J. Singletary, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, Michael Brown, gay news, gay politics dc

A.J. Singletary, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, and Michael Brown at the rally. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The march continued south on Georgia Avenue to U Street, where it turned right and traveled to 14th Street. From there, with spectators looking on from the sidewalks, it traveled south on 14th to R Street, where it turned right and continued to its termination at 17th Street next to the gay bar Cobalt. Many of the marchers entered Cobalt, which hosted a fundraiser for the victim attacked at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.

Gay Democratic activist Cartwright Moore, a member of the staff of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, said many of the march participants were young LGBT people who don’t ordinarily attend meetings of local LGBT organizations.

“It’s been great that the community has come together on an issue like this,” said D.C. resident Chris Shank, who said he learned about the march through a Facebook invitation.

“I marched the entire way,” he said. “I’m really glad it was organized. I think the response has been enormous.”

Silent March, gay news, gay politics dc

The event was largely organized through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the overwhelming number of young people in the crowd reflected these new media organizing tactics. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. resident Phillip Pratt said he, too, learned of the event through Facebook. He said he became motivated to get involved after seeing that just a few days after organizers posted the event more than 500 people had committed to joining the march.

“I think it was very important to come out and march for this, to march with them and show our support,” he said.

Vic Suter said she wanted to take a stand against violence targeting her own community.

“Whether there be a thousand people marching down the street or five, it says that people are not going to tolerate such behavior and that we need to bring about tolerance and we need to teach the community that people are people regardless of who they love,” she said.

Asked if he thought the event would have an impact on the community, Singletary said he was hopeful that it would.

“We have a group of many hundreds walking down the middle of the street down major thoroughfares in D.C. where a lot of hate crimes have occurred,” he said while marching. “You’re talking about U Street, you’re talking about 14th Street. The street we’re on now is R. There have been a lot of attacks on this street itself. So the response by the community has been big and rightfully so.”

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Virginia

Equality Loudoun hosts its first Pride celebration

‘Our plans for next year are going to be bigger, bolder’

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A scene from Loudoun Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A year after a controversial brawl between parents and administration officials regarding the implementation of trans-friendly policies in public schools in Loudoun County, Va., a local LGBTQ organization hosted its inaugural Pride festival in solidarity with the area’s LGBTQ community.

“Pride means a chance to show this county that the loud voices who have been standing against LGBTQ equality do not represent the voices of [everyone] in the [county],” said Cris Candiace Tuck, president of Equality Loudoun. “[A lot of us] here believe in equality.”

Equality Loudoun hosted its Pride celebration on June 26 at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va. 

When planning for Pride month festivities, the organization designed the events to reflect the diverse interests and identities of Loudoun County’s queer population. There was a wide collection of vendors selling Pride merchandise, advocacy non-profit organizations and musical acts featured on the main stage. 

There was also a “Loudoun Pride Drag Stage” event where the “hottest of Loudoun Royalty” showcased their musical talents. 

“We want everyone to … recharge emotional batteries that have been drained,” said Tuck.

Planning Equality Loudoun’s Pride festival did not come without its fair share of surprises. Initially, the organization had planned for a smaller event. However, when more individuals began showing interest, the organization was forced to switch to a bigger venue to allow more vendors to attend.

“We had many vendors call in and we had to turn a [number] away,” said Tuck.

The organization planned its festivities in 90 days, two weeks during which it raised $45,000 — three times as much as it had originally expected.

Equality Loudoun has its sights set on getting LGBTQ community members and allies connected to the resources the organization offers through education and health advocacy.

“Pride [will always be] a celebration of our heritage,” said Tuck. “It’s a moment to recognize what we have gained and lost.”

Tuck said that ideas for next year are already underway.

“Our plans for next year are going to be bigger, bolder and brighter,” he said.

Click HERE to see more photos from the event.

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Comings & Goings

Cummings joins White House Office of National Cyber Director

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John Cummings

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 John Cummings on joining the Office of the National Cyber Director at the White House as Director of Supply Chain and Technology Security. Upon getting the position, he said, “I am beyond thrilled to join the growing team at the National Cyber Director’s Office and bring my experience to our mission of mitigating the cyber threats facing our nation and ensuring every American can enjoy the full benefits of the digital ecosystem. It is truly a privilege to work with this incredibly brilliant and collegial group of cyber experts.” 

Prior to joining the White House, Cummings served as Associate General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Before that role, he served as interim Chief Counsel for ODNI’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center and as Associate General Counsel for the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.

He has provided legal advice and counsel on matters of government-wide and interagency policy and national security in the areas of executive authority, cyber, constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, legislative affairs, and international cooperation. He has worked on recruiting LGBTQ, women, and minority applicants for government roles in national security and is experienced in public relations, stakeholder relationships, and international partnerships. 

Cummings began his career clerking for the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and also clerked for the House Committee on Homeland Security and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

He attended Villanova University where he received a bachelor’s degree in English. He earned his J.D. from Loyola Law, New Orleans, and his LL.M. in National Security Law from Georgetown Law.

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Maryland

Abortion rights in post-Roe Maryland, Delaware

Practice generally legal, with some restrictions

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (Public domain photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 found that the decision to receive an abortion was generally protected by the Constitution of the United States. With the broadest federal protection of abortion access now rescinded, the legality of abortion will by and large be determined on the state level.

In Delaware, abortion is legal through the Medical Practice Act — but with some restrictions.

After fetal viability, or the point where a fetus can survive outside the uterus, abortion in the First State becomes illegal unless necessary for the patient’s “life or health,” or if the fetus has a condition “for which there is not a reasonable likelihood” that it will survive outside the uterus, according to Subchapter IX of the act

Additionally, under the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, physicians cannot perform a surgical abortion on minors under the age of 16 unless the patient’s parent or guardian has received at least 24 hours notice from a medical professional. Notice is not required for nonsurgical abortions.

On the federal level, the funding of abortion is illegal through the 1977 Hyde Amendement “except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights advocacy organization. States are only federally required to fund abortions that meet these conditions through federal-state Medicaid programs. 

While some states also fund abortions deemed medically necessary regardless of whether they endanger a patient’s life, Delaware state law does not extend beyond federal guidelines: The state only funds abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Abortion legislation in Delaware mirrors neighboring Maryland, whose laws include similar restrictions on abortion after fetal viability and abortion for minors under the age of 16. But abortion laws in these states are generally more restrictive than other mid-Atlantic counterparts, such as New Jersey and New York.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) weighed in on the state’s abortion law on Friday.

“In 1992, Maryland voters approved a constitutional referendum legalizing and protecting access to abortion as a matter of state law – that measure remains in effect today following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor.”

The impact of Roe v. Wade’s fall in Delaware remains uncertain. While the abortion rate in Delaware steadily declined between 2014 and 2017, recent findings show that instances of abortion are increasing once again in the state, reflecting a rise on the national level.

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