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Former NFL commissioner donates $100,000 to Md. marriage campaign

Paul and Chan Tagliabue attended D.C. fundraiser on Tuesday

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Paul Tagliabue, National Football League, NFL, Washington Blade, gay news, Marylanders for Marriage Equality

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Tuesday announced that he and his wife have donated $100,000 to the campaign to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

“We had the privilege of raising our family in Maryland. We have the privilege of now living in the District of Columbia. We’ve lived in New York where they passed marriage equality. We spend time in the summer in Maine, where they are fighting it again. I think this is the time to view this not as an expense, but as a capital investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” he said during a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser that he and his wife Chan attended at gay Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf’s Logan Circle home. The couple, whose son is gay, donated $8,500 to the campaign during a star-studded New York City fundraiser that former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman and others hosted last month. “You pass it in the legislature, the will of the people has been expressed and you get litigation. In New York, they didn’t have to deal with it at the ballot, but now they’re attacking the Republican senators who supported it and one of them has now been defeated. At some point the tide has got to turn. You got to stop the litigation. You got to demonstrate that the litigation is not — the second guessing at the ballot box is not going to overcome the will of the legislature. At some point you’ve got to demonstrate that people who support this are going to be re-elected, and not get punished for supporting marriage equality. And I think right now is the time.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray were among those who attended the fundraiser.

Gay activist Peter Rosenstein presented O’Malley with a $10,000 check to Marylanders for Marriage Equality from the Campaign for All D.C. Families. The governor, who signed Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill into law in March, conceded that the campaign to defend it needs to raise $1 million before Election Day. He told a group of LGBT bloggers and reporters during a Sept. 24 conference call that Marylanders for Marriage Equality needed an additional $2 million ahead of the Nov. 6 referendum.

“This is by no means done,” said O’Malley. “And in your presence here tonight, I hope that when you leave here, you leave here committed to help us turn on the after-burners for the next 36 days.”

The fundraiser took place two days after the Baltimore Sun released a poll that shows 49 percent of likely Maryland voters support the state’s same-sex marriage law, compared to 39 percent who oppose it. A Gonzalez Research poll last week notes that 51 percent of Marylanders would back Question 6, compared to 43 percent who would vote against it. The same survey shows that 44 percent of black Marylanders support nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to 52 percent who oppose them.

“We need to raise more money, that’s obvious, but I’m extremely optimistic that on Nov. 6 Maryland is going to be the next state in the fold of those who are supporting marriage equality in our nation,” said Gray, who referenced D.C.’s same-sex marriage law during his remarks.  “I can tell you know almost three years later in the District of Columbia, the world has not come to an end. Families have not dissolved. Children have not been harmed. There is not one untoward thing that has happened in the District of Columbia, but what has happened is that there are a lot of people who are happier today than they were over three years ago when they could not consummate their relationship in the way they had chosen.”

Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) whose daughter came out to the Washington Blade in an exclusive interview in June, shared Gray’s optimism. He also applauded both O’Malley and President Obama for supporting same-sex marriage.

“I was very, very pleased to join with the governor and the president to say look; this is the civil rights issue of our day,” said Hoyer. “It’s not government’s job to tell people who to love. It’s not the government’s job. And we ought to accord the respect to them that we accord to others as well. If the pursuit of happiness is available to everybody, that means everybody. So I’m very pleased to be here with all of you. We’re going to win this issue. We’re going to win this issue mainly through the leadership of Martin O’Malley.”

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Mike Bernard

    October 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    My concern about the 49% support/39% oppose number in the latest poll in the Baltimore Sun is that they asked if respondents felt if marriage should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples, not if they are going to vote for Question 6.

    I understand that recent polls showed that 54% stated they would vote for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, when asked that question.

  2. Eric Crossley

    October 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Excellent, thanks Former Commissioner!

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Biden endorses Roem for re-election

Former journalist is first out trans person in any state legislature

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Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks to supporters following her re-election on Nov. 5, 2019. President Biden has endorsed her for re-election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Biden on Tuesday endorsed Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) for re-election.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) is among the other Democratic members of the Virginia House of Delegates who Biden backed. Biden in his tweet also stressed his support of Terry McAuliffe, who is running against Republican Glenn Youngkin to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Building back better starts in the states,” tweeted Biden. “Since flipping the legislature in 2019, Virginia Democrats have been a model of progress—including helping us vaccinate folks to beat the pandemic. To keep our progress, we must elect Terry McAuliffe and Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Roem, a former journalist, in 2018 became the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S.

Biden called Roem on the night she defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall and congratulated her. A Washington Post picture that showed Roem crying moments later went viral.

The Manassas Democrat who represents the 13th District in 2019 easily won re-election. Christopher Stone, the Republican who is running against Roem in this cycle, opposes marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

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Conservatives blame pro-trans policy after assaults in Loudoun schools

‘Gender fluid’ 15-year-old accused of attacking female students

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The Loudoun County, Va., public school system’s recently adopted policy of allowing students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity has come under fire over the past two weeks by outraged parents and conservative political activists following reports that a 15-year-old “gender fluid” boy allegedly sexually assaulted two girls in different high schools.

The parents of one of the girls released a statement through the Virginia-based Stanley Law Group blaming school officials for failing to put in place safeguards to prevent the boy, who they say was dressed in a skirt, from entering the girl’s bathroom to assault their daughter at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., on May 28.

The statement accuses Loudoun County Schools officials and the Loudoun County Board of Education of failing to take steps to prevent the same 15-year-old boy from allegedly sexually assaulting another female student at Broad Run High School, also located in Ashburn, on Oct. 6 in a vacant classroom.

School officials acknowledge that the boy was transferred to the second school after law enforcement authorities released him from a juvenile detention facility following his arrest for the first case, in which the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said he was charged with two counts of forceable sodomy against his female victim. 

“The sexual assault on our daughter and the subsequent sexual assault by the same individual were both predictable and preventable,” the parents’ statement says. “Subsequent to the sexual assault on our daughter, Loudoun County Public Schools formalized the policy regarding restroom use that was easily exploitable by a potential sexual assailant,” the statement continues. 

“Because of poor planning and misguided policies, Loudoun Schools failed to institute even minimal safeguards to protect students from sexual assaults,” says the statement.

Loudoun County Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler apologized at an Oct. 15 news conference for what he acknowledged was the school systems’ mishandling of the two sexual assault cases. He noted that school officials should have publicly disclosed the two cases or at least alerted parents at the time they occurred. But he said a federal civil rights law known as Title IX that mandates how schools must respond to cases of sexual harassment appeared to prevent Loudoun school officials from initially disclosing the two cases of sexual assault until they were investigated by law enforcement authorities.

Ziegler said the school system was revamping its disciplinary procedures and its interaction with the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office to ensure that parents and students are alerted to potential danger similar to the cases where the 15-year-old boy allegedly assaulted the two female students.

Meanwhile, school officials and the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Loudoun have pointed out that law enforcement officials have yet to confirm whether the 15-year-old boy charged in the two cases was actually dressed in women’s clothes during the first incident or whether he is trans or gender fluid.

Equality Loudoun’s president, Cris Candice Tuck, released a statement to the Washington Blade on Oct. 18 that she said was the first official known statement responding to the Loudoun school controversy from an LGBTQ organization.

“In light of the reporting of recent sexual assault allegations, the Board of Directors of Equality Loudoun wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of these heinous attacks and their families,” the statement says. “Equality Loudoun advocates for due process and justice for the victims regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator was a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement continues. “Such actions have no place in our community, and Equality Loudoun does not condone any form of sexual violence, assault, or harassment,” it says.

“However, the accusations that the alleged perpetrator of these assaults is transgender or genderfluid have so far been unverified,” the Equality Loudoun statement asserts. “Attempts to shift blame of this incident to any individual, group, or policy – other than the alleged perpetrator – does a grave disservice to the victims of these crimes and already marginalized youth in our community.”

The statement adds, “We remind those advocating for change to the laws and policies that the initial assault predated any enactment of Policy 8040 by almost 4 months.”

The Equality Loudoun statement was referring to the fact that the Loudoun County School Board did not vote to approve the school system’s trans nondiscrimination policy until August of this year, more than three months after the first of the two sexual assault incidents occurred. 

The policy, among other things, allows transgender and genderfluid students to use the school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The policy also requires that teachers, school administrators and fellow students address a trans or genderfluid student by their chosen name and pronouns.

“Inadvertent slips in the use of names and pronouns may occur,” the policy states. “However, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy,” it states.

The statement says that rumors of a bathroom “pilot” program that predated the official approval of Policy 8040 that would have allowed female trans or genderfluid students to use the girls’ bathrooms “are simply untrue” and were never put in place.

In a separate statement to the Blade, Equality Loudoun’s Cris Candice Tuck challenged claims by some parents and conservative political activists, some of whom are supporting Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAulliffe, that the trans nondiscrimination policy is placing students at risk for sexual assault.

“The adoption of nondiscrimination policies are in no way endangering students,” Candice Tuck said. “Across the country, sexual assaults have occurred in schools for decades before any transgender inclusive policies were passed,” she said. “And in those counties and states where such protections have passed in recent years, there has been no verified incidence of anyone abusing such policies to commit such attacks in schools.”

Candice Tuck added, “The focus should be on improving systems of reporting, coordination, and investigation, protecting the victims of these attacks, and creating safer school environments by creating modernized areas and bathrooms that increase protection for all students, including LGBTQ+ students who are statistically more likely to be the victim of such a crime.”  

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D.C. rejects request by gyms to lift mask mandate

LGBTQ-owned venues sign letter calling requirement ‘devastating’ for business

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Owners of two LGBTQ-owned D.C. fitness studios and one gym signed on to a joint letter with the owners of six other similar businesses urging D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt to lift a city mandate requiring patrons of gyms and fitness studios to wear masks. 

The Oct. 4 letter, written by gay businessman Bryan Myers, the CEO and president of a chain of local fitness studios using the trademark name of [solidcore], states that the mask mandate, which applies to people who are fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, is based largely on outdated data pertaining to gyms and fitness studios collected prior to the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine.

“More relevant data to inform decision-making would be to study the data from two, large Northeastern cities that have opted to allow fitness classes to continue with the requirement of vaccination in lieu of a mask requirement,” the letter states. “In both New York City and Philadelphia, which have opted for this approach, we have not seen an increase in the trajectory of the Delta variant,” Myers says in the letter.

In the last week of July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation that cities and local jurisdictions with 50 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents per week, which at that time included D.C., should ask residents to voluntarily resume wearing masks indoors. That same week, Bowser announced she would go one step further by mandating the indoor use of masks in most public places, including gyms and fitness spas or studios. 

Bowser and Nesbitt said their intention was to take immediate steps to curtail the spread of the coronavirus so that the city would not be forced to return to the full shutdown mode, including the closing of businesses, that the mayor lifted earlier this year.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced they would ask residents of their states to consider using masks in crowded indoor spaces as recommended by the CDC, but said they would not require mask use. 

In their letter to Bowser and Nesbitt, the gym and fitness studio owners called on the mayor to provide the same exemption to their businesses as the city has provided for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, which requires masks except when patrons are eating and drinking. 

“While it is true that bars, restaurants, and clubs technically have to follow the same guidelines, we know that in practice, these venues have been granted exceptions by D.C. Health,” the letter says. “On any given night, you can find hundreds of individuals crowded into a U Street bar, at a Capitol Hill restaurant, or thousands at a performance or party at The Anthem enjoying themselves – singing, dancing and physically exerting themselves, shouting – maskless – so long as they have a drink somewhere nearby,” says the letter.

“And to be unequivocally clear, we are not advocating that there is anything wrong with what is happening in other industries or that there be a change to the management of those industries/venues,” the letter continues. “We are simply advocating that we be treated the same as they are.”

The letter adds, “Finally, but perhaps most importantly, the mask mandate for fitness studios and gyms has resulted in devastating financial impact to these businesses – many of which are small locally owned.”

It says patronage has dropped 50 percent for some of the fitness centers and gyms since the mayor’s mask mandate took effect July 29. It points out that the drop in customers comes at a time when many of these businesses have spent thousands of dollars and in some cases hundreds of thousands to upgrade their ventilation and filtration systems and other structural steps to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Myers told the Washington Blade in a statement that neither the Department of Health nor the mayor’s office replied directly to the gym and fitness studios’ letter.

Channel 7 News reported that in response to its request for the city’s reaction to the gym and fitness studios’ concerns, the Department of Health released a statement saying, “D.C. Health’s stance is that persons should wear masks in gyms and during this time [we] do not have plans to change our stance on this guidance.”

In his statement to the Blade, Myers said the D.C. gym and fitness studios were frustrated and disappointed that the city at this time is not open to reconsidering the mask mandate for gyms and fitness studios, many of which he said are barely surviving.

“This mandate is directly affecting the livelihoods of residents of the District, many of whom are women, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ in a policy that is simply not equitable, and is steering residents away from services that can help improve the overall health of our community,” Myers said.

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