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Black clergy back Md. same-sex marriage law

Al Sharpton and others spoke at downtown D.C. press conference



Rev. Delman Coates, Rev. Al Sharpton, clergy united for marriage equality

Rev. Delman Coates (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A group of prominent black clergy today urged Maryland voters to support the state’s same-sex marriage law in the November referendum.

“As pastors and clergy leaders, we are here today to declare our unequivocal support for Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act and to dispel the myth that all African American pastors are fundamentally opposed to the idea of marriage equality,” said Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor of the 8,000 member Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., during a press conference at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. “For too long the issue of equal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian couples has been mired in a theological debate between those on the one hand who oppose same-sex marriage based upon their religious beliefs, and those on the other who affirm it based upon theirs. And while this is a legitimate discussion for people of faith to have, the appropriate arena that conversation is the house of worship, the seminary, the Bible study or some other religious setting.”

Rev. Howard-John Wesley, senior pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., echoed Coates. He noted during the press conference that many of his congregants live in Maryland — specifically Prince George’s County.

“I will impress upon my membership to vote yes on this issue on the Nov. 6 ballot referendum simply because this act is civil, not religious,” Wesley said. “In no way [does] it [infringe] upon our religious freedom as an institution to define marriage as we would, to perform the rite of marriage according to our doctrinal believes nor in the same way does it infringe upon the state to protect the civil liberties of all its residents.”

Rev. Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in D.C.; joined Rev. Brad Braxton of Open Church and Rev. S. Todd Yeary of Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore; Rev. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas; Rev. Otis Moss, III, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago; Rev. Amos Brown of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and others at the press conference.

Reverend Dr. Christine Wiley, Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ

Rev. Christine Wiley (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, applauded Coates and other black clergy for their support of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

“This is not an issue about gay or straight,” said Sharpton at the press conference. “This is an issue about civil rights and to take a position to limit the civil rights of anyone is to take a position to limit the civil rights of everyone. You cannot be a part-time civil rights activist. You cannot be for civil rights for African Americans, but not for gays and lesbians.”

This announcement comes less than two months before Marylanders will vote in the referendum on the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March.

A Hart Research Associates survey conducted in late July found that 44 percent of black Marylanders would support Question 6, compared to 45 percent who would oppose it. A Public Policy Polling survey in May found that 55 percent of the state’s black voters support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Benjamin Jealous, president of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is among the prominent black leaders who have backed Question 6. Same-sex marriage advocates and others have noted that both President Obama’s support of nuptials for gays and lesbians and the NAACP Board of Directors’ resolution in support of the issue have had what they describe as a positive impact on public opinion among black voters.

Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s Branch of the NAACP, appeared in a new web ad earlier this week in support of Question 6. The civil rights organization’s Maryland State Conference and Baltimore affiliates have also backed same-sex marriage, while other black supporters of nuptials for gays and lesbians appeared in a separate web ad that Marylanders for Marriage Equality released in July. Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville remains one of the most prominent Question 6 opponents.

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group defending the state’s same-sex marriage law, conceded in a fundraising pitch to supporters on Thursday that his group has only been able to purchase a week’s worth of television air time “in some places so far.” This admission comes on the heels of what he described as the “four weeks of commercial time on TV stations across Maryland” that Question 6 opponents have already bought.

“Our opponents are smart, well-funded and willing to play on the politics of race and fear in order to win,” wrote Levin in the e-mail that stresses Marylanders for Marriage Equality needs to raise $500,000 over the next two weeks to counter these ads. “And we know from past experience in other states that if we let them have the airwaves to themselves, we will lose.”

Sharpton noted to the Washington Blade during the press conference that he appeared in an ad ahead of the same-sex marriage bill’s passage in February.

“One thing I’ve never been accused of being is bashful,” he said when asked if Marylanders for Marriage Equality had asked him to appear in a pro-Question 6 spot. “I’ll do whatever because I see this as a civil rights issue.”

“This is a full court press,” Coates said. “In the remaining days and weeks leading up to Nov. 6, there are a variety of strategies that we can do and engage in across the state to educate further persons, to educate Marylanders about what this is about and what it is not. This is a full-court press and we’re creating strategies.”

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  1. agyemang prempeh foster

    September 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    is not good to practice that

  2. Crystal Marie

    September 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Regardless of whether you agree or not, there is something to be said for the courage represented here.

  3. Quincy

    September 22, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Way to go, guys!! Just because you don’t like it isn’t enough to stop others from having the right

  4. Carol

    September 24, 2012 at 7:16 am

    These people aren’t Christians as Christians follow the teachings of christ. They don’t represent clergy, just their personal opinion.

  5. Jayson

    September 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    This article should be titled “Some Black Clergy Back MD Same Sex Marriage” as I think the overwhelming majority of opponents are members of the “Black Clergy.” Just another attempt to portray some people in a positive light.

  6. Wayne C Cooper

    September 29, 2012 at 4:09 am

    These ministers are jokes! And a few of them have a reputation of being bi-sexual themselves, so it doesn't surprise me that they would reject the clear teachings of the Scripture on the perverted behavior of homosexuality. God has promised to judge all non-repentant sexually immoral and sexually perverted people. For the record, no true minister of God would embrace what God Himself has declared to be an abomination (The detestable thing), and in the book of Romans, God describes homosexuality in the following manner: "unnatural, against nature, an error, shameful, degrading, vile affection, and it has a penalty: the judgment of Almighty God. (Romans 1:26-28)

    No one, I mean absolutely no one takes Al Sharpton seriously as a Christian minister. He is nothing more than a politician hiding behind the cloak of spiritual piety. I will NEVER EVER support sexual perversion on any level.

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Arts & Entertainment

2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.



It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar



Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit

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McAuliffe participates in Virginia Pride roundtable

Gubernatorial candidate highlighted plans to keep Va. ‘open and welcoming’



Terry McAuliffe, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Monday met with Virginia Pride in Richmond to discuss his plans to keep the state “open and welcoming” for the LGBTQ community.

“Great opportunity to speak with @VA_Pride in Richmond this AM,” McAuliffe tweeted following the roundtable that took place at Diversity Richmond’s headquarters. “VA is the #1 state for business because we are open and welcoming — but that’s all at risk this November. Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda would harm LGBTQ+ Virginians and send our economy into a ditch.”

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running a close race for the governorship, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday that shows the former Virginia governor leading by a 50-47 percent margin among likely voters.

The Human Rights Campaign endorsed McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, for his record of supporting LGBTQ rights, including supporting marriage equality and signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees as his first action in office. 

“LGBTQ leaders in Richmond had a great meeting with Gov. McAuliffe where he was able to lay out his agenda for building on the tremendous progress Virginia has made towards equality,” said Virginia Pride Program Director James Millner in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor talked extensively about his record on LGBTQ issues and promised to work with us to ensure that every LGBTQ Virginian is able to live openly and authentically.”

McAuliffe’s legacy includes welcoming businesses turned off by North Carolina’s passage of its anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” 

When North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificates, took effect in 2016, McAullife recruited CoStar, a real estate information company that operates databases for, and similar companies, to move its headquarters to Richmond. This recruitment brought 730 jobs to the state.

David Dorsch, a senior vice president at Cushman and Wakefield, which represented CoStar nationally, told the Charlotte Business Journal that CoStar’s primary reason for choosing “Richmond over Charlotte was HB 2.”

Youngkin is a former business executive who previously ran the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm named by the HRC in 2019 as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC, however, has called out Youngkin for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his current campaign.

McAuliffe in April released an LGBTQ rights platform that includes a call to repeal the so-called “conscience clause,” which allows religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Governor Ralph Northam, who was McAuliffe’s former lieutenant governor and has signed historic LGBTQ-inclusive legislation during his time in office, also endorsed McAuliffe for governor.

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