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Stein Club won’t endorse for ‘non-Democratic’ at-large Council seat

GOProud endorses gay libertarian over Norton for D.C. congressional seat

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Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud, gay news, Washington Blade

GOProud, the national LGBT conservative group, whose Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia is pictured here, endorsed gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, who is running against Eleanor Holmes Norton for the city’s congressional delegate seat. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, was unable to make an endorsement Tuesday night in the hotly contested race for an at-large D.C. Council seat that must go to a non-Democratic candidate.

Incumbent Councilmember Michael Brown (I-At-Large) came in first place with 48.6 percent of the vote and challenger David Grosso, also an independent, came in second with 40.5 percent in a second ballot vote as announced by Stein Club President Lateefah Williams. A vote for the option of “no endorsement” came to 10.8 percent.

Brown fell short of a required 60 percent vote needed for an endorsement under the Stein Club’s rules.

“It is an honor to have received the [most] votes from the members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and to be recognized for my one-hundred percent record on LGBTQ issues,” Brown said in a statement released Wednesday.

Grosso, who, like Brown, is campaigning aggressively for votes from the LGBT community, said he was pleased with the support he received as a candidate with less name recognition than Brown.

“Given my first shot at this, I’m really pleased with the outcome,” he said following the vote. “I had a lot of great supporters in the crowd tonight and it was an honor to be here and do this.”

In a first ballot vote, Brown received 43.6 percent of the vote compared to 38.5 percent received by Grosso. Independent candidate A.J. Cooper received 5.1 percent of the first ballot vote and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox received 2.6 percent in the first ballot competition, according to Williams.The option of “no endorsement” received 7.7 percent of the vote in the first ballot round.

Cooper and Wilcox were eliminated in the second ballot runoff, which is limited to the two highest vote-getters under club rules.

Williams said 39 club members voted in first round of voting and 37 members voted in the second ballot round.

The vote took place following a Stein Club sponsored forum in which the four candidates appeared at the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Center meeting hall, where the event was held.

Independent candidate Leon Swain Jr. and Republican candidate Mary Brooks Beatty didn’t attend the forum and the two received no votes from club members.

On the Nov. 6 election ballot, city voters have the option of voting for any two of the seven candidates competing for two at-large seats in play, including incumbent Democrat Vincent Orange, who won the Stein Club endorsement earlier this month and didn’t participate in the club’s forum on Tuesday. Although a Democrat, or majority party candidate, is only eligible for one of the two seats, under the city’s election law a non-Democrat can hold both seats if he or she comes in first and second place and the Democrat finishes third or lower.

However, a Democrat has won one of the two at-large seats in every election since the city’s modern home rule government was put in place in 1974.

The four candidates that participated in Tuesday night’s Stein Club forum answered a wide range of questions on LGBT and non-LGBT issues from longtime D.C. Democratic activist and city voting rights advocate Eugene Kinlow, who served as moderator. The candidates also responded to written questions submitted by members of the audience.

All four expressed strong support for LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage rights. But it became clear from audience members that Brown and Grosso had the most support. According to club members, Brown has voted for, introduced, or signed on as a co-sponsor to virtually all LGBT supportive bills or amendments that have come before the Council since he first won election to the seat in 2008

Grosso noted during the forum that he has worked on LGBT related issues as a staff member to former D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), who now serves as his campaign chairperson; and for Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). Norton and Ambrose are considered among the city’s strongest LGBT community supporters who have held elective office.

Gay libertarian challenges Norton

In other local election news, gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, who is running against Norton for the city’s congressional delegate seat, won the endorsement this week of GOProud, the national LGBT conservative group that has also endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

“I am running to give people someone to vote for, and to build the local Libertarian Party, and to get the minimum number of votes for them to get ballot status so they can run multiple candidates without the oppressive expense of collecting 5000 signatures for each one each time,” Majors told the Blade.

Majors is one of 24 U.S. House candidates endorsed by GOProud and the one only who isn’t a Republican.

Stein Club set to honor activists at leadership awards event

The Stein Club was scheduled to honor six LGBT activists and one organization Thursday night at its 36th Anniversary Leadership Awards reception for their distinguished serve to the LGBT community. The honorees include:

  • Paul Kuntzler, Stein Club co-founder, Dr. Frank Kameny Pioneer Award
  • Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Richard Rausch Equality Award
  • Danielle Moodie-Mills, advisor for LGBT Policy and Racial Justice, Center for American Progress, Michael Bustamonte and James Zais Political Development Award
  • David Perez, president, Latino GLBT History Project, Justice Award
  • Jeri Hughes, Transgender Advocate, Transgender Health Empowerment, Heil-Balin Community Service Award
  • Greg Cendana, Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Desi Deschaine Young Democrat of the Year Award
  • Jerame Davis, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats, Wanda Alston Democratic Service Award
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Lino Stracuzzi

    October 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    That funny how gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, won the endorsement this week of GOProud, the national LGBT, Natale Lino Stracuzzi, with the Statehood Green Party candidate for U.S. Delegate was not Contacted about this endorsement. Was Delegate Norton, contacted about this endorsement? if so where is her reply. Or is this just a form of discrimination by GOProud, the national LGBT.

  2. Bruce Majors

    October 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I asked for it. The small l libertarian Republican Liberty Caucus also endorsed me. It is a shame that The Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, which I used to be a member of, and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which I used to be a member of, did not even ask either you or me to fill out a questionnaire. Their rankings and endorsements ave always been a little fishy. They actually give (used to anyway) extra points to people just for being incumbents, which most readers do not know when looking at the rankings.

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Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality

Va. gubernatorial candidate says issue ‘legally acceptable’ in state

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(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state.

“I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018.

Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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D.C. school board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards

Sweeping resolution proposing content in curricula approved unanimously

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Gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards for the city’s public schools that “reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The two-page resolution, which was introduced by gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang, who represents Ward 2, cites national research showing that students who have access to LGBTQ+ curricula in their schools “are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school.”

The resolution states that research also shows that multicultural education, including the teaching of LGBTQ topics, “helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities.”

LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered the local D.C. government through its mayor and City Council to be highly supportive of the LGBTQ community. But Chang and other supporters of the resolution approved by the board Wednesday night say their research shows that D.C. public schools, while supportive of LGBTQ students, are far behind the school systems in several other states in the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in school curricula.

As an example, supporters of the resolution point out that curriculum standards for social studies classes in the D.C. school system include only one mention of LGBTQ people in a teaching section related to victims of the Holocaust.   

Unlike most other cities and states, under current D.C. law, the school system is controlled by the mayor through the D.C. Department of Education, which is headed by a Deputy Mayor for Education and who, in turn and in consultation with the mayor, appoints a State Superintendent of Education who oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Under a change in the education statute approved by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, the school board, which was renamed the State Board of Education, became a mostly advisory body on education matters with some statutory authority to approve education standards on which school curricula are based.

Thus, the resolution approved by the board on Wednesday “advises” and “recommends” that the State Superintendent of Education develop school curricula, guidance for teachers, and school-based leaders and staff “in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the State Superintendent of Education conduct a survey of students within two years after the Oct. 20 adoption of the resolution “to establish baseline data and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.”

Chang and other members of the State Board of Education noted at the Oct. 20 meeting, which was virtual, that Will Beckerman, who graduated this year from D.C.’s School Without Walls High School, played an important role in conducting the research used to prepare the LGBTQ standards resolution and helped in the drafting of the resolution.

Chang noted that much of the background information used to draft the resolution came from Beckerman’s senior year school research paper and advocacy project that focuses on the topic of LGBTQ-inclusive education.

In comments supporting the resolution, Chang also spoke about how the very limited LGBTQ content he encountered during his high school days helped him accept himself as a gay youth.

“As a student myself, I don’t remember a single mention of any LGBTQ people in any of my classwork until I read Thomas Mann in my senior year in high school,” Chang said. “And in Death in Venice, this Nobel Prize winner touches upon his struggles with homosexuality but never actually names it explicitly,” Chang told fellow board members.

“And I remember holding on to this novella despite the self-hatred that’s woven throughout this story because it was the first time that I saw this aspect of my identity reflected in my class work,” he said. “My hope – and I think this hope comes true with this resolution tonight – is that future generations of LGBTQ students have more opportunities to see themselves reflected in their class work and to feel less isolated by their class work than I did growing up.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will endorse the school system changes proposed by the resolution approved by the State Board of Education.

The full text of the resolution follows:

State Board of Education Resolution

On LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards

SR21-7

WHEREAS, the 2019 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students make up 15.9 percent of high school students in the District and transgender students make up1.9 percent of District high school students;

WHEREAS, in the District, these students, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, experience double the rate of bullying on school property, report higher rates of being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, and are more than twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation;

WHEREAS, national data shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are significantly more likely to receive grades of D or F than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to be truant;

WHEREAS, consistent research suggests that students with LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in their schools are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school—and this safety leads students to report higher attendance, higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging in the school community, and higher educational aspirations;

WHEREAS, research shows that multicultural education helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities ; 

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recognizes the need to have revised social studies standards that create “windows and mirrors” so students see themselves and people like them reflected in the content of standards and curriculum, as well as having the opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, places, and experiences unlike themselves—explicitly noting that the current standards emphasize the lives of presidents and other figures who held/hold power and under-represent or lack representation of people and groups like those identifying as LGBTQ+, and their respective histories;

WHEREAS, in the State Board of Education’s review and revision of the social studies standards, the State Board called upon the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to “seek standards writers who reflect the demographics and experiences of District students and of the communities they are writing about” sharing a list of examples that included writers identifying as LGBTQ+;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education is committed to ensuring students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens in a diverse democratic society; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has a commitment to promote equity, introduce policies to reduce disparities between students, and create safe school environments for all students.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, upon the next revision of any District of Columbia state education standards, the State Board of Education should adapt standards, when appropriate, that reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to provide guidance to teachers and school-based leaders and staff on creating inclusive lessons in science and English language arts (ELA) classes that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA standards, respectively;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) implement professional development for teachers and school-based leaders and staff to aid them in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms, such that that the professional development includes: workshops for local education agencies (LEAs) and teachers to draft curriculum related to LGBTQ+ topics in their subject areas, lessons on use of inclusive language in the classroom, lessons on ensuring LGBTQ+ students’ safety and confidentiality while maintaining respect for their name and pronouns, and mandatory diversity training related to the LGBTQ+ community; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) survey students within two (2) years of adoption of this resolution to establish baseline date and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.

https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/2019%20DC%20YRBS%20Report.pdf

Brikett, Michelle et al. “Sexual-orientation disparities in school: the meditational role of indicators of victimization in achievement and truancy because of feeling unsafe.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 104, 6 (2014): 1124-8. doi: 10.2105/AJHP.2013.301785

Kosciw, Joseph G., et al. “The 2019 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” GLSEN, GLSEN, 2020, glsen.org.

Camicia, Steven P. Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints. Routledge Focus, 2016.

Camicia, Steven P. “Prejudice Reduction through Multicultural Education: Connecting Multiple Literatures.” Social Studies Research and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp. 219–227.

socstrpr.org/files/Vol%25202/Issue%25202%2520-%2520Summer%25202007/Action%2520Research/2.2.6.pdf

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Nellie’s agrees to $5,000 fine, 7-day license suspension over brawl

Penalty prompted by security guard dragging Black woman down stairs

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Nellie’s must pay a fine and face a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 brawl in which a Black woman was dragged down the stairs. (Blade file photo by Tom Hausman)

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Wednesday, Oct 20, approved a compromise agreement it reached with Nellie’s Sports Bar that calls for the U Street, N.W. gay bar to pay a $5,000 fine and serve a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 incident in which a Black woman was dragged down a flight of stars by a Nellie’s security guard during a brawl between Nellie’s customers.

The agreement calls for a license suspension of 24 days with 17 days to be suspended and seven days to be served “so long as the Respondent does not commit any violations within (1) year from the date of this Order,” the ABC Board declared in a three-page order confirming the agreement.  

The order states that the license suspension will be served from Dec. 20-26 of this year. It also states that Nellie’s must pay the fine within 120 days from the date of the order. If the fine is not paid during that time “its license shall be immediately suspended until all amounts owed are paid.”

As a final stipulation of the agreement, the ABC Board states that Nellie’s must file a “legally compliant security plan” within 10 calendar days of the Oct. 20 order.

The security plan requirement stems from an earlier finding by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration related to the June 13 incident that Nellie’s was in violation of several provisions of the city’s liquor law, including a provision that a security plan that meets the standards of the city’s liquor regulations is in place.

An ABRA investigation of the June 13 incident found, among other things, that “multiple assaults occurred inside the establishment while the licensee was engaged in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct.”

The action by the Nellie’s security guard, which took place during the city’s LGBTQ Pride weekend, was captured on video taken by one of the customers on their phone. The video went viral on social media, prompting a series of protests against the bar by LGBTQ activists and Black Lives Matter advocates.

Nellie’s issued an apology for the incident the following day and announced it had fired the private security company whose employee, who is Black, dragged Keisha Young, 22, down the stairs. Nellie’s also announced it would temporarily close for business to assess what had happened and develop plans for reopening as a safe space for all members of the community. It reopened 35 days later, with protesters continuing to assemble outside the bar for several more weeks.

 When the five-member ABC Board on Oct. 20 held a roll call vote to approve what is officially called an Offer-In-Compromise or OIC agreement with Nellie’s that includes the fine, license suspension, and other provisions, gay ABC Board member Edward Grandis voted against the agreement, becoming the only member to do so.

A video recording of the virtual ABC Board meeting available through YouTube shows that Grandis expressed general support for the decision by both the board and Nellie’s to reach a compromise agreement. But he said he objects to the license suspension requirement.

“In this particular regard, when the facts and the testimony indicate that the licensee on its own initiative without any knowledge, at least in the testimony, of prompting from the government or MPD or any party, to itself close for 35 days during – generally – the pandemic when so many companies lost their companies and their employees lost their jobs and the neighborhoods lost their establishments, I really believe that this particular situation shows that the licensee took this event seriously and accordingly in a manner that hopefully will prevent it from happening again or have better security measures to avoid this type of situation in the future,” Grandis told his fellow board members.

“And I just wanted the record to show I’m supportive of the OIC generally, but I don’t believe it was constructed in a way that indicates what this licensee has done since that incident,” Grandis said.

Nellie’s owner, Douglas Schantz, and Nellie’s attorney, Andrew Klein, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Klein, who spoke at the ABC Board hearing on Wednesday, said in response to a question by Grandis that Nellie’s reluctantly agreed to the fine and license suspension, which he called “excessive,” among other things, because Schantz wants to put the matter behind him and to “heal” and “move on” with the community.

The ABC Board’s action came one day after the Washington City Paper announced that Nellie’s Sports Bar finished in second place among its readers in its annual Best of D.C. contest for the category of “Best Gay Bar/Club/Lounge.”

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