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Ravens player feuds with Del. Burns

Team brass are backing the linebacker, other players have vocally come to his defense; players union rebukes Md. Del.

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Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore Ravens, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has publicly supported marriage equality since 2009. (Photo courtesy of Ayanbadejo)

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been one of the few NFL players to be outspoken in support of same-sex marriage. He wrote an article about it in the Huffington Post in 2009 and has lent his name and face to videos promoting marriage equality in Maryland. “Same-sex marriage isn’t a ‘gay’ issue, it’s an ‘equality’ issue,” he said.

Recently, Ayanbadejo, 36, donated a pair of Ravens tickets as part of a fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. This did not sit well with Del. Emmett C. Burns, Jr., a Democrat from Baltimore County, who has been a forceful opponent of LGBT rights in general and same-sex marriage in particular.

In a letter dated Aug. 29 sent to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti that was shared with the media, Burns wrote, “Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.” Burns advised Bisciotti that Ayanbadejo concentrate on football and not divide the fan base.

Ayanbadejo was taken aback when hearing of the letter. “I was surprised. Just what our country was founded on, for someone to try to take that away from me, I was pretty surprised that something like that would come up, especially from a politician,” he told the Baltimore Sun.

He indicated that members of the Ravens organization, including team president Dick Cass, offered words of support at the Under Armour Performance Center, the Ravens practice facility in Owings Mills, and a few gave him high-fives, according to the Sun. Regarding Cass, Ayanbadejo stated, “[He said] we’re in support of you and it’s good that you’re able to voice your opinion and say how you feel. Dick personally told me, ‘We’re not an organization that discriminates.’”

This dust-up with Burns brought Ayanbadejo support from other players in the National Football League.  NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth characterized Burns’ letter as “asinine.”

“I don’t think football players are different from any other human beings, with the exception of having a larger platform,” said Foxworth, who played for the Ravens from 2009 to 2011. “I think that’s all the reason to speak out. Whether people agree with what you’re saying or not, it’s your right to say it. I don’t think any social issues have been solved by silencing one group.”

In addition, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe were among those who backed Ayanbadejo. Kluwe, in particular, was vocal about his support. Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” on Sept. 7 and interviewed by other media, Kluwe, who has been a strong opponent of Minnesota’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage that will appear on November’s ballot, spoke out for marriage equality and Ayanbadejo’s right to support it.

He also penned a scathing, profanity-laced letter to Burns that was made public. Among the milder passages Kluwe wrote, “By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should ‘inhibit such expressions from your employees,’ more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid?”

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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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Baltimore

Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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