Connect with us

Local

Mendelson elected interim Council Chair

Pro-gay Councilman will run in November special election

Published

on

Phil Mendelson

Phil Mendelson (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Members of the D.C. City Council on Wednesday elected fellow Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) as interim chair of the Council until a special election to fill the chairperson’s seat on a permanent basis is held in November.

Mendelson, who played a lead role in the Council’s 2009 approval of the city’s same-sex marriage law, has said he will run in the special election to become the Council’s permanent chair.

The Council’s selection of Mendelson for the interim post came after Council member Kwame Brown (D-At-Large) resigned as the chairman last week, one day after pleading guilty to felony bank fraud.

At its special meeting Wednesday, the Council also voted to elect Council member Michael Brown (I-At-Large) as interim Council President Pro Tempore, a mostly ceremonial position that places Brown third in line to become mayor in the event that Mayor Vincent Gray should resign.

As interim Council Chair, Mendelson is second in line to become mayor.

Michael Brown, like Mendelson, has been a longtime strong supporter of LGBT rights.

The Council picked Michael Brown over Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), who entered the race for the President Prop Tempore post, by a vote of 8 to 4. Orange initially said he would challenge Mendelson for the interim Council chair position, but on Wednesday he chose to compete for the President Prop Tempore position instead.

Mendelson, meanwhile, will remain as chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and which has monitored the police response to anti-LGBT hate crimes. He will also assume the chairmanship of the Council’s Committee of the Whole, which traditionally is headed by the Council chair.

LGBT political activists have joined others in the community in watching with great interest whether an ongoing federal investigation into alleged illegal campaign practices in Gray’s 2010 mayor election campaign will implicate Gray, who has denied any wrong-doing. Two high-level officials in the Gray campaign have pleaded guilty in recent weeks to campaign related violations.

City Hall observers expect other Council member and non-Council members to run in the special election for the Council chair post, most of whom are likely to be supporters of the LGBT community.

Similar to past elections, LGBT advocates may be forced to choose among friends in determining who to endorse in the special election. The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, and Log Cabin Republicans of D.C., a gay GOP group, are expected to become engaged in the special election.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Virginia

Elected officials turn out for annual Equality NoVa Ice Cream Social

Northern Virginia LGBTQ group stresses ‘political awareness, education’

Published

on

Freddie Lutz, on right, and his husband Johnny Cervantes host the annual ice cream social. (Photo courtesy of Lutz)

Four LGBTQ supportive members of the Virginia General Assembly and two candidates running for seats on the Arlington County Board were among more than 100 people who turned out on Sunday, Sept. 24, for the LGBTQ organization Equality NoVa’s annual Ice Cream Social.

The event was held at the Arlington, Va. home of Freddie Lutz, owner of the Arlington gay bar and restaurant Freddie’s Beach Bar, and Lutz’s husband, Johnny Cervantes.

Daniel Hays, president of Equality NoVa, told those attending the event in introductory remarks that Equality NoVa, which recently changed its name from the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), was founded in 1981 and is the oldest continuously operating LGBTQ organization in Virginia.

In an announcement in April the group said the name change came after it had taken on for some time the activities and representation of the now-defunct LGBTQ groups in Alexandria and Fairfax counties and had expanded its operations to cover most if not all the regions known as Northern Virginia.

Hays noted that the group is a nonpartisan organization that doesn’t endorse candidates for public office but organizes educational and political awareness events and awareness campaigns on issues impacting LGBTQ people related to statewide and local government agencies and officials.

The elected officials attending the event were Virginia House of Delegates members Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria & Fairfax), Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-Alexandria & Arlington), and Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax).

Also attending was Virginia State Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties.

Joining the state lawmakers attending the Equality NoVa social were Arlington County Board candidates Maureen Coffey and Susan Cunningham and Arlington County School Board candidate Miranda Turner.

Many of those attending the event said they were rooting for the re-election of Herring, Bennett-Parker, Watts, and Favola in the upcoming Virginia elections in November. All members and candidates for the General Assembly will be on the ballot in an election that political observers say could decide which party controls both houses of the state legislature.

Currently, Democrats control the 40-member Virginia Senate by a margin of 22-18 seats. Republicans currently control the House of Delegates by a margin of 51 to 46 seats, with three vacancies in the 100-member House.

With Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) putting in place through executive action public school policies that LGBTQ activists consider hostile and discriminatory for transgender students, LGBTQ activists are hopeful that a Democratic takeover of the House of Delegates would result in a reversal of Youngkin’s school policy.

Some of the activists attending the Equality NoVa event said they were fearful that a Republican takeover of the state Senate and if Republicans retain control of the House of Delegates could result in the General Assembly approving the type of anti-LGBTQ legislation passed in Florida and other states.

Continue Reading

Virginia

Anti-transgender heckler interrupts Danica Roem during debate

Trans lawmaker is running for the Va. state Senate

Published

on

Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An anti-transgender heckler interrupted Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Sept. 28 during a debate with her Republican opponent for the state Senate.

The woman heckled Roem during the Prince William Committee of 100-organized debate between her and Bill Woolf that took place at Metz Middle School in Manassas. 

“Thank you for reminding me why I won three elections in this district in Prince William County, which is the most diverse county in all of Virginia and the 10th most nationally where we welcome everyone because of who they are, not despite it, no matter what you look like, where you come from how you worship, if you do, or who you love because you should be able to thrive here because of who you are, never despite it,” said Roem.

Audience members applauded Roem after she responded to the heckler who was eventually removed from the auditorium.

Roem in 2017 defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall, a vocal LGBTQ rights opponent who co-wrote Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that voters approved 11 years earlier. Roem subsequently became the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature in the U.S.

Roem in 2019 became the first out trans state legislator to win re-election. Roem in May 2022 announced she is running to represent the newly redistricted Senate District 30, which includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

Woolf during the Sept. 28 debate did not say whether he would support the repeal of the marriage amendment. Woolf also reiterated his support of a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

Continue Reading

Virginia

Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents

Published

on

Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular