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Gay Catholics protest ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ Mass in D.C.

Dozens of gay Catholics and others protested end of ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ campaign in D.C.

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Catholics

Gay Catholics and others protest outside “Fortnight for Freedom” Mass in D.C. on Wednesday (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dozens of gay Catholics and their allies gathered outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast D.C. on Wednesday to protest the church’s campaign that challenges the Obama administration’s policies on same-sex marriage, health care and other issues.

“We’re here as a non-partisan group of Catholics to say we don’t want our church involved in these kind of politics,” Joseph Palacios, director of the Catholics for Equality Foundation, told the Blade as he and other protesters stood in front of the basilica on Michigan Avenue, N.E. “We want our church leaders to be pastoral leaders particularly concerned with the poor and the vulnerable, the gay and lesbian community, women and the equal rights of all people rather than the partisan politics they seem to be playing.”

Members of Catholics United, Dignity USA, Nuns on the Bus, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance and other organizations took part in the protest that coincided with a Mass that marked the end of the “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launched last month in Baltimore. Protesters sang hymns and held a banner that read “Bishops: We need pastors, not politicians. Your antics are hurting the church” on the sidewalk in front of the basilica as the faithful arrived.

“I’m here because I’m sick and tired of the arrogance and the ignorance these bishops have displayed to their bishops,” said Mike, a protestor who said he was a basilica altar boy. He added he also attended the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University. “I’m sad, but I’m happy to be here.”

The Independence Day protest took place less than two weeks after Palacios and a handful of others gathered outside a “Fortnight for Freedom” rally at George Washington University.

More than a dozen protestors posed for pictures with their banner on the basilica steps in spite of security personnel who had threatened them with arrest if they entered church property.

“I’m here today because I think our bishops are on the wrong track,” said Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry and the National Coalition of American Nuns.  “They’re using religious liberty as a political tool to be against the president, when in reality the people whose religious liberty is being denied are the people who work at church-related institutions. Freedom of conscience is for the individual.”

A Public Religion Research Institute poll in May 2011 found that 56 percent of white Catholics and 53 percent of Latino Catholics support nuptials for gays and lesbians. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is among the Catholic governors who have signed same-sex marriage laws in their states.

“They [the bishops] want equality only for heterosexual people and so they’re using the argument of religious freedom,” stressed Gramick. “It’s the freedom of the individual that’s being denied. No church or religious institution is going to be forced to perform gay weddings and this is what our bishops are leading Catholics to believe, which is false.”

The Archdiocese of Washington did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment.

Palacios and others who gathered outside the basilica stressed that they feel their efforts to speak out against the “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign were successful.

“It allowed us as progressive Catholics to have a voice to counter the U.S. bishops and for Catholics in general to know that there are other people like them,” he said. “They may not be going to a demonstration, but they know that there’s are other Catholics like them who don’t want their bishops preaching politics at Mass on Sundays.”

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Rehoboth Beach

Vandals target 2 Rehoboth Beach LGBTQ-owned businesses

Staff discovers graffiti on walls, doors

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Vandals targeted the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach on Monday. (Photo courtesy Purple Parrot)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and the Purple Parrot — two LGBTQ+ bars and restaurants in Rehoboth Beach — discovered that their establishments had been vandalized on Monday, according to a series of posts to the Purple Parrot’s Facebook page made by Hugh Fuller, the restaurant’s owner.

The vandal, whose identity remains unknown, painted on the walls and carved graffiti into the mirrors of the Purple Parrot’s bathroom, and painted graffiti on the front door of Freddie’s Beach Bar, the posts recounted. The establishments have since filed police reports with the Rehoboth Police Department.

Tony Rivenbark, a manager at Freddie’s, said that a staff member first noticed the vandalism around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, and that it was dry to the touch, leading restaurant management to believe it was painted early in the day. Upon discovering the graffiti, restaurant staff reported it to local police and were told that other nearby locations had similarly been vandalized, he said.

Between its Rehoboth and Arlington, Va. locations, Rivenbark has worked at the establishment for almost two decades, and added that this was the first instance of vandalism at the Rehoboth venue, which has been open for less than one year. He noted that Freddie’s management is currently reviewing security footage for further information, and is likely to soon install additional security cameras.

At the establishment’s Arlington, Va., location, “we’ve had some minor spray painting done, we’ve had some rocks thrown at windows,” he recounted. “Mostly I have attributed it to drunken antics, not so much hate. Hopefully that’s the case here as well.”

Rivenbark added that Freddie’s staff remains positive despite the circumstances. “It doesn’t seem like a huge issue. It’s something we’ll probably just paint over tomorrow,” Rivenbark said. “I’d much rather it be some kid that’s got a new little airbrush … than it being somebody that’s targeting LGBT businesses.”

The Rehoboth Beach Police Department declined to comment or to confirm details of the reports filed.

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District of Columbia

Pride Run returns after two-year hiatus

1,500 participants to join 10th annual event on June 10

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The Pride Run 5K is back after COVID hiatus. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After a two-year pandemic hiatus that saw the Pride Run go mostly virtual, the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K is elated to once again welcome nearly 1,500 runners, walkers, volunteers, and spectators back to the Historic Congressional Cemetery for their Tenth Anniversary Race on Friday, June 10.

As an official Capital Pride Partner Event, the Pride Run 5K kicks off Capital Pride weekend with a bang. Well perhaps more of a “On your mark, get set, GO!” 

Join us as we run, walk, skip, shantay, and sashay on a course that starts near the cemetery’s “Gay Corner” where many LGBTQ rights activists, such as Leonard Matlovich, are interred. The race then winds along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to finish where you started.  

Gates open at 5 p.m. for packet pickup with the race beginning at 7 p.m. The post-race party includes beer and hard seltzer provided by DC Brau along with a DJ playing music until 9 p.m. Be sure to check out the return of the DCFR dance troupe performing to a hyped-up crowd. 

Race proceeds benefit the following local LGBTQ and youth-supporting organizations via the Pride Run Foundation: Ainsley’s Angels (National Capital Region), Casa Ruby, Team DC Student-Athlete Scholarship, SMYAL, The Wanda Alston Foundation, The Blade Foundation, and Teens Run DC. You can help support these amazing charities by registering for the race or donate directly at DCPrideRun.com.

A special thanks to the presenting sponsors, Capital One Café, Choice Hotels, KNEAD Hospitality + Design, Shake Shack, and Wegmans Food Market to the premier sponsors DC Brau, Pacers Running, and Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, and our elite sponsors, AHF Healthcare Centers, Avalon Bay Communities, Casey Trees, Endorphin Fitness, and Starbucks, and of course our special partner the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Last, but not least, a big thank you to all individual donors who contribute via the race website directly to our incredible charity partners. Together, we proudly celebrate who we are in a festive, safe, and inclusive event.

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District of Columbia

Mattachine Society of D.C. donates documents to William & Mary

New LGBTQ archive established at Swem Library

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Charles Francis, anti-gay purge, Mattachine Society, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Our motto ‘Archive Activism’ brings us to this decision to donate all of our collection to William and Mary,’ said Charles Francis. (Photo courtesy Francis)

The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the group that collects historic documents related to the federal government’s discrimination against and persecution of LGBTQ people in past years, announced this week that it is donating all its documents to a newly created Archive of American LGBTQ Political and Legal History at the College of William & Mary.

The Williamsburg, Va., based college announced last week that its new LGBTQ archive is being established at its Swem Library in memory of the renowned gay historian John Boswell, who was a 1969 Bachelor of Arts graduate in history at the College of William & Mary.

“There are many fabulous collections of LGBTQ historical materials in libraries across the country, but this archive will have a unique focus on the political and legal architecture of the movement,” said Carrie Cooper, dean of University Libraries at William and Mary.

“Our motto ‘Archive Activism’ brings us to this decision to donate all of our collection to William and Mary, for the benefit of historians, researchers, and students nationwide,” said Charles Francis, co-founder of the reestablished Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The group was originally founded by D.C. LGBTQ rights pioneer Frank Kameny in the early 1960s as D.C.’s first politically active LGBTQ organization.

“This exciting new archive will collect materials that illuminate the history of LGBTQ Americans’ struggle to secure their rights through the political process and legal systems of the nation,” according to LGBTQ rights advocate and former William & Mary Rector Jeff Trammell. 

Trammell is donating to the new archive material collected from his tenure as the first openly gay board chair of a major public university, a statement released by William & Mary says. It says Trammell’s donation is the second donation after the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which made the first of what is expected to be many more LGBTQ-related documents to be donated to the new archive.

The Mattachine donation includes “original, declassified documents obtained by meticulous research into sources such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, numerous presidential library archives, and public and university libraries, to name just a few, according to attorney Pate Felts, the other Mattachine co-founder.

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