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HISTORIC: Obama endorses marriage equality

President ends 19-month ‘evolution’

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Barack Obama, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news, gay politics dc, Washington Blade

President Obama announced his support for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples Wednesday afternoon in an interview with ABC News. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama ended his 19-month long evolution on the issue of extending marriage rights to gay couples on Wednesday when he voiced support for marriage equality.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, Obama endorsed marriage equality after he said he’s “stood on the side of broader equality for the LGBT community,” but “hesitated” on same-sex marriage because he thought “civil unions would be sufficient.”

“I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word marriage evokes very powerful traditions,” Obama said.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vqfnwxMNE4

But after conversations with his own staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and discussions with his wife and daughters, Obama said he “just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

The president maintained his views are a personal position, and he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue of same-sex marriage on their own.

LGBT groups praised Obama for becoming the first sitting president to support same-sex marriage as he heads toward the general election.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Obama “made history” by “boldly stating” gay Americans are entitled to equal rights and that those equal rights can only come through marriage.

“His presidency has shown that our nation can move beyond its shameful history of discrimination and injustice,” Solmonese said. “In him, millions of young Americans have seen that their futures will not be limited by what makes them different. In supporting marriage equality, President Obama extends that message of hope to a generation of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, helping them understand that they too can be who they are and flourish as part of the American community.”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said Obama joins other figures, such as former President Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden in endorsing same-sex marriage.

“Through thought and conversation about these families and their dreams and challenges, President Obama has reflected on his own values of fairness and respect for others, and completed his journey to support for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson said. “He now becomes the first sitting president to join the majority of Americans whose hearts have opened and minds have changed in favor of the freedom to marry.”

In a sense, Obama’s support for same-sex marriage returns him to a position he stated on the issue in 1996 when running to become an Illinois state senator. In a questionnaire response to what is now the Windy City Times, Obama expressed support for same-sex marriage years before any state in the country legalized it.

“I favor legalizing same-sex marriage, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” Obama wrote in a typed letter with his signature at the bottom.

But that support for same-sex marriage vanished when Obama pursued higher office. In the 2008 election, Obama ran for president saying he supported civil unions as the way to extend legal protections to gay couples.

Then-candidate Obama articulated his views on marriage in August 2008 during a forum with pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, who has been criticized by the LGBT community for his support of California’s Proposition 8.

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama said. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

The situation changed in October 2010. Obama said during an interview with progressive bloggers in response to a question from AMERICAblog’s Joe Sudbay that “attitudes evolve, including mine,” suggesting his views could change to support marriage equality.

But for 19 months the evolution continued. The Washington Blade repeatedly asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if Obama had completed his evolution, why he continues to withhold support for marriage equality and when the evolution would come to an end. Virtually every time, Carney responded that he didn’t have any updates to the Blade inquiries.

In June 2010, Obama’s views on marriage made headlines again when New York was set to legalize same-sex marriage and Obama was going to appear at a high-profile LGBT fundraiser. Asked about his views on marriage when New York last year legalized same-sex marriage during a news conference, the president said he wasn’t going to make news. That was the same line he gave most recently when asked about the subject in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

“I’m not going to make news in this publication,” Obama said. “I’ve made clear that the issue of fairness and justice and equality for the LGBT community is very important to me. And I haven’t just talked about it, I’ve acted on it.”

Even though the president had withheld support for marriage equality, Obama has spoken out through a campaign spokesperson against anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives pending before voters in Minnesota and North Carolina, which was approved by voters Tuesday. Obama’s announced support for marriage equality comes after the vote in that state.

The president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage comes as the media have given greater scrutiny to his views and the seeming contradiction of not supporting same-sex marriage, but supporting equal rights for LGBT people.

On Sunday during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Vice President Joe Biden said he’s “absolutely comfortable” with married gay couples having the “exact same rights” as straight couples.

Media outlets and bloggers reported that Biden’s comments were an endorsement of same-sex marriage and that the vice president had become the highest-ranking official to support marriage rights for gay couples.

But the vice president’s office issued a clarification immediately afterward saying Biden, like Obama, is still “evolving” on same-sex marriage.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod attempted to mitigate the flurry of media attention that was unleashed following Biden’s remarks, first in a message via Twitter, then telling reporters in a conference call Monday that Biden and Obama were in line.

“I think that they were entirely consistent with the president’s position, which is that couples who are married — whether gay or heterosexual couples — are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties,” Axelrod said.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced a barrage of questions on Biden’s remarks and Obama’s views on same-sex marriage. Why does the president oppose same-sex marriage? If everyone thinks the president supports same-sex marriage, why doesn’t he endorse it?

Carney replied with answers he’s given previously: the president’s record on LGBT issues is noteworthy and substantial; he has no updates on Obama’s personal views; Biden’s belief that the rights of citizens should be protected is consistent with the president’s view.

“I think the president is the right person to describe his own personal views,” Carney said, “He, as you know, said that his views on this were evolving, and I don’t have an update for you on that.”

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Dan

    May 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    And the Log Cabin Republicans responded by calling the president’s decision “callous and offensive.” Considering the platform the Blade insists on giving those self-loathing tax cut fetishists, I certainly hope you will make sure to focus on that sweet little reaction.

  2. zadoc

    May 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Well, Obama has made history a number of times, now as the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage. But what will the political impact be?

    POLL: Will his endorsement of same-sex marriage help or hurt Obama in November?
    Vote: [URL REMOVED]

  3. Steve

    May 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Nobody who has been paying attention has doubted that this has been Obama’s position for quite some time. Whether stating it openly will help or hinder his reelection chances remains to be seen.

    Personally, I believe this will motivate many more right wing bigots (who wouldn’t otherwise schlep out to vote for Romney) to vote for Romney than it will motivate Democrats and Independents (who wouldn’t otherwise schlep out to vote for Obama) to vote for Obama.

    Net loss for the good guys.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    Dear Flying Jesus in the Sky, I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Greg

    May 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Great job on keeping the heat on this whole time, Chris! We can all be sure that without this heat, Obama would have waited until after the election – becoming, probably, the last Democratic presidential nominee to oppose same-sex marriage.

  5. I'm Just Sayin'

    May 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    You make a good point Dan. I thought the same thing when I read LCR’s comments. The word “bitter” kept jumping from the page.

    What LCR deemed “cold comfort” to the citizens of North Carolina just reinforced why they lack any relevance as a so-called gay advocacy organization. The only hope for NC and the 31 other states where the GOP engineered gay marriage bans, is the US Supreme Court. Other than LCR’s ED and it’s BOD, any one else think a President Romney would populate the court with justices who question state’s rights and challenge the status quo? So, it should be of not cold comfort but great comfort to every gay American who puts equality over economics, that the President endorsed gay marriage today.

    If reading the hundreds of rebukes that have already been posted in multiple media outlets regarding LCR’s comments doesn’t cause them to take pause, then perhaps they should read the statement from GOProud. I mean when you’re on the same page with those guys almost verbatim, you should be ashamed. LCR needs to do a little evolving of its own.

  6. brian

    May 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Wasn’t Jimi Hendricks who put it best?

    “Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.”

    Thank you, Mr. President!

  7. Jeff4Justice

    May 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Now all the single-issue voter LGBTs will be more prone to ignoring Obama’s attack on civil liberties, the war, the drug war, the immigrant war, his attack on the environment, his expansion of government secrecy, his attack on protestor rights, his signing the NDAA (indefinite detention of US Citizens without trial), the killing of US citizens without trail, and on and on.

    If we can go from a country where woman and racial minorities could not vote then we can elect an alternative party candidate that is pro-equality, pro-civil liberties, and pro-peace. If we went from thinking we’d never elect openly-gay politicians and a black President then we can elect an alternative party candidate.

    Occupy, woman’s groups, immigrant groups, and labor groups are out marching yet all of their grievances are collectively caused by the 2party system (remember the Democrats sell out on health care?).

    Just as MLK stood up to LBJ on Vietnam, we still need to stand up to Obama for all the wrongs he’s done.

    If a single issue is more important than the rights of those killed by Obama’s needless wars, Obama’s attack on LGBTs with HIV who need medical marijuana, the attack on LGBT and other protestor’s rights, the attack on woman though poverty and war, and the attack on ALL Americans with NDAA (oh and the pending attack on the internet) then go ahead and vote for Obama and justify his evils.

    Otherwise un-occupy the 2party system of poverty and war.

    Gary Johnson Defends Gay Marriage
    [URL REMOVED]
    Presidential Candidate Roseanne Barr Roseanne On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]
    Presidential Candidate Rocky Anderson On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]
    Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]
    Presidential Candidate Stephen Durham On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]

    Romney Obama the Same?
    [URL REMOVED]

    Bush Obama, Same Old Drama
    [URL REMOVED]

    21 liberals should vote for alternative party candidates instead of Obama in 2012
    [URL REMOVED]

  8. Jeff4Justice

    May 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I refuse the false dilemma of picking either of the corporately controlled 2party tyrants.

    I empathize with Romney fears. Yeah, he’s evil. I know. Obama is evil too and he’s just more discrete and savvy about it.

    Obama & his needless wars = literal war on woman though drone attacks

    Obama & the Democrat war on medical marijuana = war on breast caner fighters and HIV+ people

    Obama & the Democrat war on protestors rights = war on LGBTs

    Obama & the Democrat war on immigrants = war on people of all walks of life

    Obama & the anti-choice Democrat war on women = half-assed health care bill

    Obama & 2party system war on the environment = appointing people from Monsanto to the FDA, pipeline, and rearranging nuclear standards after the Japanese nuclear crisis (enjoy your radiation America).

    Obama & 2party system war on Americans = NDAA and killing of citizens without trial

    Not voting for an alternative party because of the greater of evils fears is equivalent to the nonsense of the fearful people who bitched when Gavin Newsome took on marriage in 2004. Just like the fearful people who bitched when Ted Olson & David Boise took on Prop 8. Just like the liberals who ignored 100% pro-equality Democrats Al Sharpton in 2004 and then Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel in 2008.

    Dr. Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Rocky Anderson, Roseanne Barr, or Stephen Durham are better than Obama.

    Being afraid to vote for alternative party is as worthless of fearful gays afraid of brave gays insisting on marriage equality, or woman and racial minorities afraid to fight for ht right to vote. There are always oppressed people ok with the back of the bus for their futile fear-based reasons.

    Idealism and the rejection of fear gave us the civil rights movement, the right for woman to vote, the LGBT rights movement, and Occupy.

    Idealism and the rejection of fear was MLK standing up to LGBT on the Vietnam war.

    Idealism can also emancipate us from the abuser/victim cycle between voters and the corporately-controlled 2party tyranny of war and poverty.

    2012 Presidential Debate Of Alternative Parties
    [URL REMOVED]

    Presidential Candidate Roseanne Barr On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]

    Presidential Candidate Rocky Anderson On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]

    Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]

    Presidential Candidate Stephen Durham On LGBT Issues
    [URL REMOVED]

    Gary Johnson Defends Gay Marriage
    [URL REMOVED]

    Marriage Equality USA Chart On Presidential Candidates & Equality
    (page 15)
    [URL REMOVED]

  9. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    May 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    WELL, REPUBLICANS, THIS IS OUR BEST SHOT. WE NEED TO TAKE IT. IF HE SURVIVES THIS, WE’RE DOOMED!
    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  10. Adrian Salsgiver

    May 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Obama is evolving. He is evolving into lower form of life, an out-of-control animal who will not give up his power to Romney or anybody else. He will say or do anything. He will declare martial law if he has to. Ron Paul says get the government out of marriage.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      May 10, 2012 at 4:59 am

      “Adrian Salsgiver,”
      RON PAUL IS RIGHT. IF OUR BIRACIAL PRESIDENT SURVIVES THIS FOOLISHNESS, HOPEFULLY, CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS WILL NOT. FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO SAY IT IS A “GOD-LOVING” COUNTRY, THEN, ALLOW TWO MALES TO GET MARRIED NATIONWIDE, WOULD PROVE THAT STATEMENT TO BE A MONUMENTAL LIE.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  11. Bill Perdue

    May 10, 2012 at 8:33 am

    This changes very little.

    When Obama came out partially in favor of the right to marriage, leaving it up to bigots in states and localities to decide, this is what changes – we’ll no longer say that “Obama is a long time bigot, a racist warmonger, a Bill of Rights busting lap dog of the rich and an empire building union buster.” Instead we’ll say that “Obama is a long time, partially contrite bigot, a racist warmonger, a Bill of Rights busting lap dog of the rich and an empire building union buster.”
    Obama is a right wing candidate. He’s to the right of Nixon across the board on civil liberties, unions and union rights, Social Security and Medicare, the drug wars, environmental questions and wars of aggression.

    The way forward for working people, the only group capable of creating real change, lies in independence from our enemies in the Democrat and Republican parties and in supporting unions, the growing union left, the Occupiers and the struggle movements of people of color, women and the GLBT communities. That won’t change no matter which right wing candidate wins.

    On November 6th sit it out or vote socialist as a protest and otherwise spend your time building the movement, not one of the two parties of bigots.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      May 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      “Bill Perdue,”
      MAN, I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT STAYING HOME THIS ELECTION. NO ONE IN MEMPHIS SEEMS TO BE EXCITED. MEMPHIANS EITHER DO NOT LIKE HIM, OR, THINK HE IS A “SHOE-IN.” PEOPLE NEED TO BE STIMULATED IN ORDER TO VOTE; IN THIS ELECTION CYCLE, NO ONE PROVIDES THIS STIMULATION. SO, THE NEGRO COMMUNITY CAN CHEER. HISTORY BOOKS WILL PROBABLY SAY, “America’s First African-American President Won Re-Election by a Landslide.” AND, THE “SLOW-ROLL” DOWNHILL CONTINUES.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      • Bill Perdue

        May 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm

        Or write in Brad Manning,

  12. chris

    May 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    WOW..Some of you queens are just pathetic and Insane!

    • Steve

      May 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Now ain’t that the truth.

      Next month will be 43 years since Stonewall, and one of the reasons we haven’t achieved full equality yet is because there are self-hating, self-destructive lunatics among us, in our own community. Morons who don’t have three pragmatic atoms in all their brains combined.

      Read the comments in the popular gay blogs and weep.

      I fear for us, as a community.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      May 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      “chris,”
      I AM A MASCULINE HOMOSEXUAL. I DO NOT THINK “QUEENS” – TRADITIONAL ONES, AT LEAST – WOULD BE READERS OF, Washington Blade.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  13. rickindc

    May 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Nothing like distracting away from the real issue for 2012, THE ECONOMY!

  14. Francois Arouete

    May 12, 2012 at 3:56 am

    When President Obama sent me an email asking for yet more money immediately after announcing his ‘evolution’ on ‘marriage equally’ (the money grubbers couldn’t wait a New York minute) all I wanted to know was, Why should I give him money for saying no more than Dick Cheney said eight years ago?

    Yes, eight years ago the war-monger one-percenter Vice President Dick Cheney came out and said exactly what Obama said two days ago but no one made much of a brouhaha about his ‘evolution’. And “whisk, whisk, goodbye to all that. History is bunk.” Hurray! Hurray!

    [URL REMOVED]

    • I'm Just Sayin'

      May 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Francois, if it makes you feel better, send Dick Cheney a thank you note. However, if you are financially able to support the President’s re-election efforts and you aren’t simply because you thought the timing of the solicitation was gauche, then let me give you the perspective you seek.

      Answer this single question: What happens to the fight for equality if Mitt Romney is the person shaping the ideology of a federal judiciary from which every major step forward in equality in the past 50+ years emanated?

      The real distractions in this election are the economy and jobs. Who nominates the next 2 -3 justices is the big prize on which party insiders are focused.

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Minnesota

Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students

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Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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National

Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday

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Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

(VIDEO COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL VIA YOUTUBE)
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‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age

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Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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