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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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District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 64

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

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Capital Pride, No Justice, No Pride, gay news, Washington Blade
Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 64.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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District of Columbia

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

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Virginia

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

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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