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O’Malley: We’re going to win in Md.

Governor spoke at HRC’s “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser in D.C. for the Maryland same-sex marriage campaign.

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage, Gay Maryland

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley speaks at “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Ann Little)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said on Wednesday he remains optimistic voters will support his state’s same-sex marriage law on Election Day.

“We’re going to win in Maryland,” he said during the Human Rights Campaign’s “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton in Foggy Bottom that raised money for pro-Question 6 efforts.

O’Malley, who signed the state’s same-sex marriage law in March, stressed the campaign is $500,000 short of “securing marriage equality in Maryland at the ballot” on Nov. 6. This figure comes nearly two weeks after Marylanders for Marriage Equality reported in its campaign finance report that it had raised nearly $3.3 million.

Josh Levin, the group’s campaign director, told the Washington Blade on Oct. 12 “this is a $5 million-plus campaign and [we] hope to meet that goal as we enter the final stretch.”

“Never before have the people of one state affirmed the dignity of every individual, the importance of protecting under the law equally every child’s home until this upcoming election,” said O’Malley to those who attended the fundraiser that Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” emceed. “Your presence here tonight can be the difference of whether we succeed or whether we fail. We have raised a lot of dollars and now we are running ahead, but we have seen this before.”

HRC President Chad Griffin urged those who attended the fundraiser not to become complacent in the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 referendum.

“I come here from California. I lived through Proposition 8 where we saw our numbers evaporate at the end,” he said. “Because of what the opposition does — they come in late and they come in with their millions and it’s where they use their funds: to pour advertising dollars on television and mail into your mail into your mailbox and calls onto your voice mail. They’re irritating as hell. They’re lies, and they’re scare tactics, but it’s too late for us to counter it. Well this time we’re ready for it, but we can’t slow down. We can’t let up. In these next 13 days, we have got to contribute and raise everything we can. We’ve got to make every phone call we can and we’ve got to knock on every single door we can and not rest until the last vote is counted in Maryland.”

The amount of money raised during the fundraiser that featured food, cocktails and desserts from dozens of local chefs and bartenders was not immediately available. HRC has given more than $1 million in cash and in-kind donations to the pro-Question 6 campaign, including two $150,000 contributions made to Marylanders for Marriage Equality and the NAACP Maryland Marriage PAC on Oct. 15.

A Washington Post poll published on Oct. 18 found 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.

Chevy Chase resident Susie Gelman and her husband hosted a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser at their home in July that raised $250,000. She said the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples became personal when her son could not marry his partner in Maryland last summer.

“I realized that I needed to do my part to make sure that no other son or daughter of Maryland could be denied a basic civil right,” said Gelman.

Gunn, who grew up in D.C. and attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, told the Blade during the fundraiser he feels same-sex couples should have the ability to marry in every state.

“I profoundly believe it should be a Supreme Court issue, but it’s not yet. And hopefully it would be,” he said. “For me there’s something of a metaphor about marriage equality in Maryland being on the ballot with these two polarities of presidential candidates. And we know what we need to do.”

Gunn added he remains somewhat hopeful Question 6 will pass.

“I almost get tearful about this: I’d like to be very optimistic. I just hope people come out and vote,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of — I wouldn’t even call it complacency. There’s a feeling of well so-and-so will do this. So-and-so will vote. You have to show up and shine and do your civic responsibility. It’s part of navigating this world and being a citizen of this nation. It’s so critically important.”

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage, Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” emcees HRC’s “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser (Washington Blade photo by Ann Little)

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District of Columbia

D.C.’s Capital Pride to resume ‘large-scale’ outdoor events

Organizers say one of the largest ever parades and festivals set for June

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Happy days are here again? Scenes like this from 2019 could be back in 2022. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, has announced on its website that it plans to resume the city’s Pride Parade and Festival in June 2022 that traditionally has attracted tens of thousands of participants after canceling the two events in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.

“The Capital Pride Alliance is excited to announce the highly anticipated return of our annual large-scale outdoor Pride Celebration in June 2022!” the group says on its website. “Registration for the Capital Pride Parade on June 11, 2022, and the Capital Pride Festival on June 12, 2022, will be open soon,” the website message says.

Ryan Bos, the Capital Pride Alliance executive director, told the Washington Blade the group met with D.C. government officials on Monday to coordinate plans for the upcoming outdoor events in June. He said an updated announcement with more details of the events would be released later this week or early next week.

The Capital Pride website message focuses on the parade and festival.

“Join the LGBTQ+ community for the return of the historic Capital Pride Parade,” the website message says. “In 2022, a modified route will honor our history and acknowledge the evolution of the LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in Washington, DC, while respecting the origins and importance of taking to the streets in our fight for equality,” it says.

“Be prepared to experience one of the largest Pride Parades to ever take place in the United States Capital,” the message adds.

The message says the Pride Festival will resume at its traditional location on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. near the U.S. Capitol that it refers to as America’s Mainstreet.

“Enjoy a full day of entertainment on three stages, food, drink and advocacy with over 300 exhibitors,” the website message says. “The Festival is the largest annual event in the national capital region,” the message continues, adding that the Capital Pride Concert will also return this year at its usual locations at the site of the festival.

“You will experience entertainment on three stages, from international headliners to our best local regional LGBTQ+ talent,” according to the Capital Pride website message. It says concert performances will take place from 12-10 p.m. And a “Capitol” Sunset Dance Party will take place at the festival site from 8-10 p.m.

“The concert may end but the dancing will continue,” the message says. “Enjoy the electronica sounds of an international DJ sensation while you dance in the middle of America’s Main Street on Pennsylvania Avenue, with the sun setting on the U.S. Capitol.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the city’s public health officials ended the city’s COVID-related restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend outdoor events as well as indoor entertainment events last May as the number of COVID infections began to decline.

But as the number of Omicron variant cases of the COVID virus increased dramatically in the fall of 2021, the mayor resumed the requirement of the use of face masks in all indoor public places.

Also put in place earlier this month by the city was a requirement that restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment establishments require customers to show proof of vaccination as a condition for admission to the establishments. Bowser, however, has said the city was not considering resuming restrictions on the number of people allowed in establishments such as restaurants and bars or outdoor stadiums.

Capital Pride Alliance has not said whether it will put in place a vaccination requirement for admission to the Pride festival and parade as well as some of its planned indoor events. With the number of Omicron related COVID cases beginning to drop in the past two weeks in D.C. and the surrounding suburbs, the prospect of a resumption in restrictions on the number of people allowed to assemble at outdoor events like the Pride Parade and Festival appears to be less likely.

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Virginia

Man who killed one in 2000 Roanoke gay bar shooting dies in prison

One of the worst bias attacks targeting LGBTQ community

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Ronald Edward Gay died while serving life sentences for attacking a Virginia gay bar. (Washington Blade clipping from Sept. 29, 2000)

A man sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison for the September 2000 shooting at a gay bar in Roanoke, Va., in which one man lost his life and six others were wounded, died of natural causes on Jan. 15, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections told WSLA 10 TV News that Ronald Edward Gay died while being treated at a hospital near the Deerfield Correctional Center, a state prison where he had been living as an inmate. He was 75. 

Witnesses and law enforcement officials reported at the time of the shooting that a middle-aged man later identified as Gay arrived alone at Roanoke’s Backstreet Café, a popular gay bar, on the night of Sept. 22, 2000.

According to an account by an eyewitness to the incident who spoke last week with the Roanoke Times newspaper, after ordering a beer and standing next to the bar for a short time, Gay reached into the long trench coat he was wearing, pulled out a 9mm pistol, and fired a round “straight into the chest of 43-year-old Danny Overstreet, before opening fire on the rest of the bar.”

Overstreet, a beloved regular patron at the Backstreet Café, died at the scene of the shooting. Six others, who were wounded by bullets fired by Gay, later recovered, but they and many others who were present and witnessed the shooting were left emotionally scarred, the Roanoke Times reported.

In the weeks following the shooting, news media outlets, including the Washington Blade and the Washington Post, reported findings of an investigation by local police that Gay told police he went to Backstreet specifically to target gay people because he became bitter after years of being taunted and teased for his last name of “Gay.”

The Roanoke Times reported that, among other things, Gay told police “God told him to do it” and that he once wrote that there was an evil inside of him telling him “to shoot or have no rest.”

Gay later pleaded guilty to multiple charges against him, including murder. On July 23, 2001, he was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences in prison for the shooting incident and the murder of Overstreet.

The Backstreet incident in Roanoke was considered by LGBTQ rights advocates and others to be one of the worst incidents in which LGBTQ people were targeted for a shooting until the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in which 49 people died and 53 more were wounded in a mass shooting by 29-year-old Omar Mateen.

Mateen, who was shot and killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff, told police in a phone call from inside the nightclub after the shooting began that he swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and his attack against the gay nightclub was motivated by the U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria. The FBI later classified the incident as a terrorist attack.

The Roanoke Times reported that the shooting incident at Backstreet Café prompted LGBTQ residents and allies to gather in the days and weeks after the incident for vigils and marches. About 1,000 people walked through the streets of downtown Roanoke to honor the life of Overstreet and to urge Congress to pass federal hate crimes legislation, the newspaper reported.

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Va. senator introduces anti-transgender student athlete bill

Democrats have vowed to thwart anti-LGBTQ measures in state Senate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on Friday, would require “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.'”

“Under the bill, male students are not permitted to participate on any school athletic team or squad designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; however, this provision does not apply to physical education classes at schools,” adds the bill. “The bill provides civil penalties for students and schools that suffer harm as a result of a violation of the bill. Such civil actions are required to be initiated within two years after the harm occurred.”

Kiggans introduced her bill less than a week after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office.

Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Elizabeth Schultz, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Fairfax County School Board, has been named the Virginia Department of Education’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the state House of Delegates. Democrats still control the state Senate, and they have pledged to thwart any anti-LGBTQ bills.

“Let’s be clear: This is part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to exclude trans people from enjoying the benefits of sports like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia on Friday after Kiggans introduced SB 766. “We won’t tolerate this.”

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