Connect with us

Local

Obama campaigns in Va. on LGBT-inclusive vision

President coins ‘Romnesia’ to describe GOP nominee’s shift in positions

Published

on

Barack Obama, Election 2012, gay news, Washington Blade
Barack Obama, Election 2012, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama rallies supporters in Virginia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

FAIRFAX, Va. — President Obama presented an LGBT-inclusive vision for the country Friday during a campaign rally in a battleground state that could help determine the outcome of the election.

In an event at George Mason University that focused mostly on his commitment to women’s issues, Obama ticked off a list of accomplishments over his first term that included repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“We repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to make sure that nobody who wants to serve our country gets kicked out because of who they love,” Obama said, generating applause from the audience.

Obama made additional references to the gay community in the speech. The president twice mentioned “gays” in the concluding portion of his speech warning his audience that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would reverse gains already made.

“In 18 days, you can let them turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants, and gays, and women, or we can stand up and say we are a country in which everybody has a place,” Obama said. “A country where no matter where you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, gay, straight, abled, disabled — we have a place for everybody.”

The inclusion of gays in Obama’s remarks at the rally stand in contrast to a campaign season that has been virtually devoid of discussion of same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues. The speech was more akin to the Democratic National Convention, where speakers emphasized LGBT-inclusiveness to pump up the crowd.

Among the estimated 9,000 people in attendance at the rally were members of the LGBT community who said they were delighted Obama made explicit references to them.

Broderick Greer, 22, a gay graduate student at the Virginia Theological Seminary, said Obama’s reference to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was exciting.

“Sometimes I forgot about the strides that we’ve made with LGBT rights in the last few years since he’s been president,” Greer said. “When I heard repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I screamed so loud that I hurt the lady’s ears in front of me. I think she was kind of upset.”

Greer said he’s already volunteered to work on behalf of the Obama campaign on the Saturday before Election Day knocking on doors in Alexandria, Va., to talk to potential supporters about the president.

Daniel Roberts, Democratic Party, Barack Obama, Washington Blade, gay news

Daniel Torin Roberts was among the estimated 9,000 attendees at the Obama rally (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Daniel Torin Roberts, 22, a gay recent graduate of George Mason University, also said he thought Obama’s inclusion of gays in his rally speech was important.

“You want to feel like you have a seat at the table, like he’s still thinking about you and everything he’s doing and it’s still a concern,” Roberts said. “He carries what we want with him, he knows what we want and he’s still fighting for us.”

But the most memorable part of the speech was Obama coining a new term to describe Romney’s pivot away from the conservative policies he articulated during the Republican primary: “Romnesia.”

“Now that we’re 18 days out from the election, Mr. ‘Severely Conservative’ wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year,” Obama said. “I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping we’ve got to name this condition that he’s going through. I think it’s called ‘Romnesia.'”

Among the policy shifts that Obama has identified is Romney saying he’s for equal pay for women, but reluctant to say whether he would have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, in addition to his shift during the first presidential debate when he said he doesn’t support tax cuts for the wealthy if they add to the deficit.

Obama concluded his riff about “Romnesia” by saying people shouldn’t worry if they find themselves coming down with similar symptoms because there’s good news: “Obamacare covers preexisting conditions.”

The 13 electoral votes in Virginia could be crucial in determining the outcome of the presidential election. As national polls continue to show a tight race, an American Research Group poll published on Oct. 16 found Romney and Obama virtually tied in the state, with Romney leading 48-47.

Prior to Obama’s speech, a number of prominent Obama supporters appeared on stage to hype Obama’s work on women’s issues and to criticize Romney for holding positions they believed were contrary to supporting women, such as his pledge to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion rights. Among the speakers were Terri Riley, an Obama campaign leader in Virginia; Nan Johnson, a local retired school counselor; and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Johnson had particularly harsh words for Romney’s widely lampooned comments during the debate earlier this week that he selected female appointees to serve in his administration after requesting “binders full of women” who had submitted resumes to women’s groups.

“He admitted that when he became governor of Massachusetts, he had no idea where to find a single qualified woman,” Johnson said. “He needed someone to give him resumes stuffed in some binders instead. If he was saying that as governor, I wonder what he did during his 25 years in the corporate world.”

Johnson continued to say that she was even more troubled by Romney’s remarks that if you want women in the workforce, some flexibility is necessary because those remarks sounded as if “a woman with a job is some kind of proposition that you debate in a board room.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) also appeared on stage and drew on the binder remarks, holding a binder before him and saying, “I’m from Massachusetts originally, and I found the binder full of women.” Then, shaking his head, Connolly said, “Not so much,” and said Romney had one of the worst records in modern history in appointing women to the courts.

“When people asked me why am I supporting President Obama, I have a pretty simple answer,” Connolly said. “Because I have a daughter.”

Gerry Connolly, Democratic Party, Virginia, Barack Obama, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Gerry Connolly speaks about President Obama’s support for women’s issues at the Obama rally (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

District of Columbia

Wanda Alston Foundation chosen as Casa Ruby receiver

Judge approves move at recommendation of D.C. Attorney General

Published

on

June Crenshaw is the Wanda Alston Foundation’s executive director. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Friday, Aug. 12, appointed the Wanda Alston Foundation as the city’s receiver for the LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby in a role in which the Alston Foundation will assume full control over Casa Ruby’s operations and finances.  

Judge Danya A. Dayson stated in an order she issued at 2:27 p.m. on Friday that she appointed the Alston Foundation for the receivership role at the recommendation of the Office of the D.C. Attorney General, which asked the judge to place Casa Ruby in receivership in a court motion filed on Aug. 3.

Founded in 2008, the Wanda Alston Foundation provides housing and support services for D.C. homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 and advocates for expanded city services for LGBTQ youth, according to a statement on its website.

During a virtual court hearing on Thursday, Aug. 11, Dayson approved the AG office’s request to place Casa Ruby under receivership. During the hearing, Adam Gitlin, chief of the AG office’s Public Integrity Section, announced that the AG office had two organizations under consideration for the Casa Ruby receiver – the Alston Foundation of D.C. and the Baltimore-based LGBTQ services organization Safe Haven, which has announced it planned to open a facility in D.C.

Gitlin asked the judge if the AG’s office could have one more day to make a final decision on which of the two groups should be named as the Casa Ruby receiver, and Dayson granted his request.

Among those who spoke at the Aug. 11 hearing was June Crenshaw, the Wanda Alston Foundation’s executive director. Crenshaw told the judge her organization has long supported the mission of Casa Ruby and it was prepared to do all it could to continue that mission in its role as receiver.

In a seven-page order issued on Aug. 12 approving the AG’s recommendation that the Alston Foundation be appointed as receiver, Dayson restated her earlier findings that the AG’s office provided sufficient evidence that a receivership was needed. Among other things, she pointed to the AG office’s allegations that Casa Ruby and its founder and former executive director Ruby Corado violated the District’s Nonprofit Corporations Act. 

“The District alleges in its petition that Defendant violated the Act by failing to maintain a lawfully constituted Board of Directors, failing to maintain control and oversight of the Corporation; permitting Ruby Corado, the executive director, to have exclusive access to bank and PayPal accounts held in the name of, or created to benefit, Casa Ruby; and permitting Corado to expend hundreds of thousands of dollars of nonprofit funds without Board oversight and for unknown reason,” Dayson stated in her order.

“Accordingly, it is on this 12th day of August 2022 hereby ORDERED that the District’s motion for appointment of a receiver is GRANTED, and it is FURTHER ORDERED that until further order of this court, the Wanda Alston Foundation, Inc., 1701 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W., 2nd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036 (the “Receiver”), is hereby appointed as Receiver,” Dayson declared.

Dayson stated in her Aug. 12 order that she has “hereby lifted” her Aug. 3 order granting the AG office’s request that Casa Ruby’s bank accounts and all financial assets be frozen. The Aug. 12 order states that the receiver will now have full control over the bank accounts and Casa Ruby assets.

But the judge adds in her latest order, “Notwithstanding the lifting of the August 3, 2022, freezing Order, Ruby Corado shall not regain access to the affected accounts.”

In addition, Dayson “further” states in her Aug. 12 order that Casa Ruby’s “trustees, directors, officers, managers, or other agents are hereby suspended and the power of any directors or managers are hereby suspended. Such persons and entities shall have no authority with respect to Casa Ruby’s operations or assets, except to the extent as may hereafter be granted by the Receiver.”

The order concludes by directing the receiver to prepare a written report to the court by Sept. 13, 2022, on these issues:

• Assessment of the state of Casa Ruby’s assets and liabilities

• Identification of potential D.C. grant funds that could still be accessed if Casa Ruby met the grant requirements and how Casa Ruby could meet those requirements

• Determine whether Casa Ruby can pay outstanding financial obligations, including but not limited to employees, landlords, and vendors

• A recommendation regarding whether Casa Ruby’s Board should be reconstituted, and it should resume providing services, or instead whether Casa Ruby should be dissolved in an orderly manner pursuant to D.C. Code.

Corado also spoke at the Aug. 11 virtual hearing through a telephone hookup. Among other things, she said she does not oppose the appointment of a receiver.

But Corado disputed the AG office’s allegations against her and Casa Ruby, claiming the group’s financial problems that resulted in its shutdown of most Casa Ruby programs were caused by the D.C. government’s decision to discontinue many but not all city grants providing funding for Casa Ruby.

In its court filings, the AG’s office has disputed Corado’s claims, saying the city grant funds for many of Casa Ruby’s programs were suspended or discontinued because Casa Ruby failed to comply with the grant requirements that all city grantees are obligated to comply with.

“The mission of the Wanda Alston Foundation is to eradicate homelessness and poverty for LGBTQ youth between ages 18 and 24, the group states on its website. The statement adds that the Alston Foundation seeks to accomplish that mission by advocating for LGBTQ youth by “providing programs including housing, life skills training, case management services, linkages to medical care and mental health care and other support services, support in staying and returning to school, and employment support.”

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

Another gay couple assaulted in D.C. in suspected hate crime

Two men holding hands when hit from behind by group of attackers

Published

on

Chuck Johnson (left) and J.P. Singh were assaulted in June. (Photo courtesy the couple)

A gay male couple informed the Washington Blade this week that they were assaulted by a group of young men on June 17, at least of one of whom shouted the word “faggots,” while the couple was holding hands walking home on the 1500 block of T Street, N.W. a few doors away from their house.

One of the two men suffered a broken jaw and fractured thumb when two or three of the attackers punched and kicked him in the head and face after knocking him to the ground, according to a D.C. police report that lists the incident as a suspected anti-gay hate crime.

The incident took place about six weeks before another gay male couple was attacked and punched in the head and face by a group of young males appearing in their late teens as at least one of them shouted “monkeypox faggots.” The incident occurred on Aug. 7 along the 1700 block of 7th Street, N.W. in the Shaw neighborhood as the men were walking to a nearby bus stop.

D.C. police, who have released photos of two suspects in the Aug. 7 incident and a photo of one suspect in the June 17 case, say no arrests have been made in either of the cases but both cases remain under active investigation.

The two victims in the June 17 case identified themselves as J.P. Singh, Professor of Global Commerce and Policy at George Mason University, and Charles D. “Chuck” Johnson Jr., CEO and President of the Aluminum Association industry trade organization. They initially identified themselves in a little-noticed article about the incident that they wrote and published on June 23 in the blog Medium in which they also posted a photo of themselves.   

“We, JP and Chuck, are a middle-age interracial gay couple,” the two wrote in the article. “We have been together for nearly 27 years, and live in a gay neighborhood in Washington, DC.  On Friday, June 17, while walking back from the gym at 10 p.m. and holding hands, a group of young African American men assaulted us on our street,” the two wrote.

Their article goes on to explore issues surrounding racial justice and crime, and the possible impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on police response to crime, including anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, among other related issues.

 “Assaults like ours open wounds in our society around race and LGBTQ issues,” they state in the article. “Through writing this article, we want to emphasize context and healing, and not encourage racialized ways of thinking that we associate with divisive tactics.”

Singh told the Blade the incident began on T Street, N.W., steps away from their house and in front of the house of gay D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kyle Mulhull. He said a group of the attackers approached him and Johnson from behind and the couple didn’t see the attackers until they were struck with punches.

“Before we knew it, I heard Chuck yell,” Singh said. “And when I turned to him, I felt a punch on my ear.”

According to Singh’s account, the attackers ran toward 15th Street and Johnson ran after them presumably to be able to inform police of their location, with the intent that the attackers could be apprehended.

But Singh said that another group of attackers emerged from an alley and appeared to have joined the first group and began assaulting Johnson again. The D.C. police report says officers responding to a 911 call from Johnson arrived on the scene when Victim 1, who was Johnson, was observed at the intersection of 15th and U Streets, N.W.

“The officers observed that Victim 1 was bleeding from his mouth as a result of the assault,” the report says. The report says the officers call the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department for assistance.

“Victim 1 stated that he and Victim 2 were walking eastbound in the 1500 block of T St., N.W. when 4 to 8 suspects approached from behind and assaulted them with punches,” the report continues. “Victim 1 stated that at least one of the suspects yelled homophobic slurs at him as the assault was perpetrated.

Singh said he accompanied Johnson to the emergency room where he was treated and underwent surgery two days later to treat his jaw, which was broken in two places. Singh said Johnson was also treated for a fractured thumb.

Continue Reading

Local

Comings & Goings

Brian Reach joins Arlington Food Assistance Center

Published

on

Brian Reach

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Brian Reach on his new position as Associate Director of Marketing and Communications of the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Reach has more than 18 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and deep roots in Northern Virginia.  

Charles Meng, CEO of AFAC said, “I’m very pleased to have Brian Reach on our staff as we enter a new and very challenging year. A year when even more families suffering from inflation in food and fuel are coming to our doors seeking help.” 

Jolie Smith, director of development at AFAC added, “Brian will be a wonderful addition to the AFAC development team as we start our new year with a strong focus on new opportunities outside of Arlington County. Given his experience, he’ll be a significant part of our new growth and development.”  

Reach previously worked at MCI USA (formerly The Coulter Companies) in a number of positions including director of Information Systems and Credentialing. Before that he was with the Interstitial Cystitis Association as its nonprofit coordinator/accounts receivable coordinator; and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Fairfax, Va., as Education coordinator.

Reach is an activist and leader in the LGBTQ community. He currently serves as president and executive director of NOVA Pride, a 501c3 he founded in 2011, as well as on other LGBTQ boards and task forces. A Northern Virginia local, whose grandparents met at Fairfax High School, he is extremely passionate about the area and is personally dedicated to making an impact on the lives of his neighbors in need. He has worked on political campaigns in Virginia for Jennifer Wexton, Justin Fairfax, Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Chap Peterson, and Al Gore.

Reach is currently attending George Mason University and was a business major at Northern Virginia Community College.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]