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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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District of Columbia

Trans woman files bias complaint against D.C. homeless shelter

Says staff forced her to stay in male sleeping section

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A transgender woman has filed a discrimination complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights charging that officials with the Community for Creative Non-Violence homeless shelter refused to allow her to stay in the women’s section of the shelter, forcing her to stay in the men’s sleeping section.

The shelter, located at 425 2nd St., N.W., is one of the city’s largest privately operated homeless services facilities organized by the Community for Creative Non-Violence, which is known as CCNV. It was founded by nationally acclaimed homeless services advocate Mitch Snyder, who passed away in 1990.

The complaint, filed last week by Stephon “Lashawn” Jordan, states that Jordan and a cisgender female friend arrived at the CCNV shelter around 2:30 a.m. on March 22 after they obtained a ride to the shelter through the city’s Emergency Shelter Hotline.

“Upon arrival we were informed that we would have to complete an intake once upstairs at the female housing unit,” Jordan states in the complaint. “Once we arrived a staff member came out. The staff member stated to me that we don’t house transgender individuals in this unit and that I would have to go down to the male shelter unit,” the complaint says.

It says Jordan’s female friend told the staff member she was not going to leave her friend, who identifies as female, by herself in another location at the shelter. “The staff member did not want to hear it and said that both of you can go downstairs too,” the complaint says. “Once we got downstairs to the male shelter unit we asked to speak with a supervisor,” it says.

“Someone came, but the decision was that myself and my friend could go and sleep in the male housing unit,” the complaint states. “During our stay it was very humiliating especially using the restroom,” it concludes.

A spokesperson for the CCNV shelter did not immediately respond to a phone and email message left by the Washington Blade asking for a response to the complaint.

Transgender rights advocates, including D.C. trans activist Earline Budd, who assisted Jordan in filing the complaint, have said the denial of placement of a transgender woman in the female section of a place of public accommodation such as a homeless shelter is a violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act’s ban on gender identity discrimination.

The Office of Human Rights website explains that under its policy for responding to discrimination complaints, the complainant and the accused party are required to enter mediation to determine if the complaint can be resolved. If the mediation fails, the OHR website statement says, a full investigation is conducted that can take up to six months to complete. It says upon completion of the investigation, the office makes a determination of whether probable cause exists that discrimination occurred.

If probable cause is found, the case is sent to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which holds a public evidentiary hearing with witnesses before making a final decision on whether discrimination occurred.

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Virginia

Freddie’s to hold ‘Love Fest’ Drag Story Hour after bomb threat

Arlington gay bar receives outpouring of support from community

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From left, Tara Hoot and Freddie Lutz at Freddie's Beach Bar in Arlington, Va. (Photo courtesy of Lutz)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, the Arlington, Va. LGBTQ establishment, has announced it is hosting a “Love Fest” celebration on Saturday, May 4 that will include a Drag Queen Story Hour brunch in response to a bomb threat that interrupted the first Drag Story Hour event it hosted four weeks earlier.

“Help us stop the hate,” a flier announcing the May 4 Love Fest event says. “Join us for our next story time brunch, dressed in your favorite Rainbow/Hippie outfit,” the flier says. “Carry your homemade signs of support.”

Freddie Lutz, Freddie’s Beach Bar owner, said a portion of the proceeds of the event will be donated to local LGBTQ charities.

Lutz has reported that separate email messages with a bomb threat were sent to the Freddie’s in the Crystal City section of Arlington, the Freddie’s Beach Bar in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and to him personally with a threat targeting his and his husband’s house located near the Freddie’s in Crystal City.

He said the first threat arrived about an hour before the April 6 Drag Story Hour was scheduled to begin, with drag queen Tara Hoot scheduled to read children’s stories to what Lutz said was a large turnout of kids with their parents and family members. After asking all patrons to exit the bar into its rear outdoor seating area and parking lot, Arlington police conducted a thorough search of the premises with a bomb sniffing dog and found no trace of a bomb.

All customers, including parents and their children, were invited back inside and the show took place as planned, with drag performer Hoot describing the event as a display of “fun and love and joy.”

Lutz has said the May 4 Love Fest event, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., is intended to show the community and those responsible for bomb threats at many of the past Drag Story Hour events, that these events enjoy strong community support.

“They’re trying to scare us and intimidate us, and I just don’t think as a community we can allow that to happen,” he told WUSA 9 TV News. “It emboldens me to just carry on,” he said.

He told the Washington Blade he and his staff are honored that they have received an outpouring of support from community organizations, other nearby businesses, and government officials.

The Arlington County Board, which is the governing body of the county, voted unanimously on April 9 to approve a statement supporting Freddie’s Beach Bar and the LGBTQ community in response to the bomb threat incident.

“Arlington County and the County board unequivocally support the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement says. “Arlington County Police Department’s swift response ensured the safety of patrons and staff, and the fortitude of Freddie and drag queen Tara Hoot allowed the show to go on,” the statement continues.

“With protests, threats, and violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community – and drag shows in particular – on the rise across the country, expressions of hatred and bigotry have absolutely no place in our community, and the Arlington County Board condemns these threats of violence and attempted intimidation of our community,” it says.

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Virginia

Norfolk transgender resource center vandalized

Anti-trans graffiti spraypainted onto Southeastern Transgender Resource Center’s windows

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Southeastern Transgender Resource Center (Image courtesy of the Southeastern Transgender Resource Center)

The Norfolk Police Department is investigating the vandalism of a transgender resource center’s building.

Tarena Williams, founder of the Southeastern Transgender Resource Center, told WAVY that someone spraypainted anti-trans graffiti on the windows of her organization’s offices on Sunday or Monday morning. Williams told the Hampton Roads television station that seeing the messages was like “walking into hell.”

“I opened up STRC, even the Lamina House,” she told WAVY. “I opened up that to get away from those types of words. This is a place you can come to get away from that, but to see that sprayed over the window. It’s kind of like you are walking into hell. … To be honest, I was like in shock.”

Authorities are investigating the vandalism.

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