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O’Malley: Md. marriage campaign ‘is in good shape’

Maryland governor said pro-Question 6 campaign needs to raise an additional $400,000 before Election Day

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Governor Martin O'Malley, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade
Martin O'Malley, gay news, gay politics dc

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley stressed the campaign defending his state’s same-sex marriage law is “in good shape.” (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told journalists during an Oct. 31 conference call that the campaign defending his state’s same-sex marriage law needs to raise roughly $400,000 to ensure Question 6 passes on Election Day.

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“We’re now about $400,000 away from having on hand what we need to have, so this last push is critically important,” he said. “We continue to raise dollars, and the interest in this question continues — more and more people are becoming interested in this, so I appreciate your coverage on it. And hopefully with your coverage of what you’re doing and what the campaign we’ll be able to get the word out and rally people to this cause.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s Oct. 12 campaign finance report noted it had raised slightly under $3.3 million. O’Malley said the pro-Question 6 group has raised another $1.5 million since he spoke with LGBT bloggers and journalists during a Sept. 24 conference call. This figure includes the $1,205,392.87 that Marylanders for Marriage Equality raised between Oct. 8-21, according to its latest campaign finance report it filed with state election officials on Oct. 26.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposes Question 6, raised only $846,865.23 during the same period.

“We have one week to go,” said O’Malley. “The campaign is in good shape.”

The governor noted both the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun have endorsed Question 6. He further referenced Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings who told the Washington Blade last week he plans to vote for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

O’Malley also pointed out Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, gay former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama as among Question 6’s most prominent local and national supporters.

“All of that said, we still have a lot of work to do,” said the governor.

A Goucher College poll released on Oct. 29 found 55 percent of Marylanders support marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state, compared to 39 percent who oppose them. A Baltimore Sun survey conducted between Oct. 20-23 found only 46 percent of respondents would vote for the law. A Washington Post poll published on Oct. 18 noted 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.

“We always expected this race to tighten up,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, during the call. “What we’ve always said is that we expect this to be a very close race, which is why we’re asking so much of our volunteers and our supporters both in terms of the fundraising and the volunteering on the ground.”

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Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Maryland Marriage Alliance continue to air television and radio ads for and against Question 6 in the Baltimore and D.C. media markets. Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s latest campaign finance report indicates the group spent $2,044,748 on media between Oct. 8-21, compared to slightly more than $1 million of air time the Maryland Marriage Alliance bought during the same period.

O’Malley predicted the National Organization for Marriage will come into Maryland with what he described as a “last minute infusion” of money in the campaign’s final days. The governor said the bulk of these funds will go towards anti-Question 6 television ads.

“They’re the same ads you’ve seen in other states [with same-sex marriage campaigns;] ads even some of those that ran the ads admitted were false,” said O’Malley.

O’Malley also responded to the Blade’s question about Rev. Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown who suggested during an Oct. 19 town hall meeting at a Baltimore church that those who don’t vote against Question 6 “are approving these things that are worthy of death.” Reverend Phillip Goudeaux of Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif., described gay men as “predators” who seek to indoctrinate children during an anti-Question 6 gathering at another Baltimore church on Oct. 21 that Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy and roughly 100 others attended.

“That sort of rhetoric is going to be rejected by the people of our state,” said O’Malley. “We are a very diverse state, ethnically and also religiously. And we’re a people who understand that we’re all in this together. And that sort of rhetoric of fear and division and vilifying people that are not like us for whatever reason is not the sort of thing that builds consensus in Maryland.”

Levin reaffirmed his belief the campaign has had what he described as “a pretty good week or two here” despite Superstorm Sandy that forced Marylanders for Marriage Equality to cancel volunteer activities on Oct. 29.

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Campaign supporters spoke with friends and family about Question 6 during the storm after they made sure they were safe. Levin also noted the campaign saw “a lot of support” for Question 6 over the weekend at early vote locations across the state before Sandy forced officials to postpone early voting for two days.

“At this point it is sort of all hands on deck raising those last few dollars as you said and getting as many volunteers together as we can for Election Day to help us have a presence at the polls, to help us get out our voters and help us spread the word about Question 6 coming down to the very end,” he said. “The good news is that we continue to see what I think is momentum.”

O’Malley agreed.

“The bottom line is this; we’re doing well,” he said. “We need to continue to work hard. We have a real shot at prevailing here. Our message is getting through thanks to the good work and help of a lot of people. This is about fairness. This is about equality. This is about respecting the human dignity of every individual and making sure that our laws protect religious freedom while also protecting every individual equally under the law-in other words that no family’s home should receive lesser protections under the law than another family’s home.”

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2024 Pride honorees

Nine LGBTQ leaders, Destination DC to be honored

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Iya Dammons is among this year’s Pride honorees. (Washington Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, has announced its selection of nine individuals and one D.C. organization as recipients of its annual honors awards recognizing outstanding service for the LGBTQ community and the cause of LGBTQ equality.

“Each year, the Capital Pride Alliance honors outstanding individuals, leaders, and activists in the National Capital Region who have furthered causes important to the LGBTQ+ community,” the group said in a statement. The statement says the honorees chosen this year “tirelessly contribute to our collective advocacy, outreach, education, and programming in support of our intersectional community.”

The awards were scheduled to be presented to the recipients at a Capital Pride Honors ceremony on Friday, May 31 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. A statement released by Capital Pride says the event will be hosted by WUSA9 TV news reporter Lorenzo Hall, with entertainment by special guests, including singer-songwriter Crystal Waters, DJ Honey, and the Black Leaves Dance Company.

The award recipients as released by Capital Pride Alliance include the following:

Hero Award recognizing  “individuals who have furthered the causes important to LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region” and “have brought about positive changes to our lives and our community.”

• Hope Gisselle, nationally recognized author, artist, and activist who advocates for LGBTQ rights through organizations she has been a part of, including her founding of a human resources organization called AllowMe and her current role as CEO and Executive Director of the National Trans Visibility March.

• Jamison Henninger, has served as leader of the D.C. Area Transmasculine Society, known as DCATS, a community-based organization that aids transmasculine individuals in the D.C. metro area, serves on the board of Trans Pride DC, and serves as a consultant for Gender Illumination, a nonprofit group.

• Kenya Hutton, a social justice, equity, HIV prevention, and sexual health advocate who has worked to address issues impacting communities affected by HIV and other health disparities for over 20 years. He currently serves as deputy director of the D.C.-based national LGBTQ organization Center for Black Equity and is set to become its acting CEO and executive director in August.

• Carol Jameson has worked for more than 35 years in Northern Virginia developing and administering programs that address health care disparities and provide access to health care services, including HIV/AIDS related services. She has served as executive director for NOVAM, a nonprofit group providing HIV prevention and HIV care for adolescents and young adults in Northern Virginia.

• Tula, an esthetician and hair stylist by day, has been a widely recognized drag performer for more than 30 years and host to D.C. cabaret shows. A former title holder and member of the Academy of Washington, D.C. drag organization, “she brings a plethora of stage experience to any show,” according to a Capital Pride writeup.

• Jose Alberto Ucles has been involved with a wide range of LGBTQ supportive events and projects both culturally and politically while working in his day job for the past 23 years as the Hispanic Outreach Spokesperson and Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of his many involvements include past work with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, Capital Pride organizing in the 1990s, and currently a member of the Arts & Culture Committee for World Pride 2025 DC.

Breaking Barriers Community Impact Award recognizes individuals or organizations who have demonstrated significant impact on the LGBTQ+ community and helped eliminate barriers for social, personal or professional growth of the LGBTQ+ community.

• Iya Dammons, a widely recognized transgender and LGBTQ rights advocate is the founding Executive Director of DC Safe Haven and Maryland Safe Haven, the nonprofit organizations credited with providing support and services for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, substance use problems at risk of an overdose, and discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service acknowledges exemplary contributions to the Capital Pride Alliance and its programs, initiatives or other Pride sponsored activities.

• Bryan Davis is an accomplished Sign Language interpreter trained at D.C.’s Gallaudet University who currently serves as Volunteer Chair with Capital Pride Alliance and previously has served as Executive Producer and Chair for Accessibility and Interpreter Coordinator for Capital Pride.

• William Hawkins has since 2017 been a committed volunteer for Capital Pride as part of its production team and as Executive Producer of Health and Safety and later as Health and Safety Chair. He is credited with helping to form alliances with G.W. Hospital, the D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, and the D.C. Licensing Division.

Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions to Pride recognizes outstanding efforts related to programs and initiatives of the annual Capital Pride Alliance or Pride movement.

• Destination DC, a private, nonprofit corporation, serves as the lead organization to successfully manage and market Washington, D.C. as a premier global convention, tourism, and special events destination, with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historical communities. It is credited with generating economic development for the city through visitor spending.

Further details about the Capital Pride honorees and the May 31 event, including availability of admission tickets, can be accessed at their website.

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District of Columbia

D.C. mayor to hold 2nd annual LGBTQ flag raising ceremony

Event set for June 3 outside District Building

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Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at last year's flag ceremony outside of the John A. Wilson Building. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs announced this week the mayor will lead the city’s second annual LGBTQIA+ Flag Raising Ceremony at 4 p.m. on June 3 outside the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., which serves as the D.C. government’s city hall.

“We are delighted to invite you to the LGBTQIA+ Flag Raising Ceremony, a significant event celebrating the visibility and diversity of our LGBTQIA+ community,” said Japer Bowles, director of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office, in a May 21 statement.

“Join us as we raise the LGBTQIA+ flag alongside Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council members, and community leaders,” Bowles said in the statement. “This event is free and open to the public, and we encourage everyone to attend,” the statement says.

“Washington, D.C. is proud to be a leader in LGBTQIA+ rights and advocacy,” the statement adds. “This ceremony symbolizes our ongoing commitment to equality and the vibrant diversity of our community.”

The event was expected to take place on the sidewalk in front of the Wilson building at the site of its flagpole.

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District of Columbia

Capital Stonewall Democrats clarifies ‘no endorsement’ of Pinto

Says it postponed action on Ward 2 D.C. race until November

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D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The president of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest local LGBTQ political group, expressed regret that he did not clarify in an announcement earlier this week that the organization chose to postpone deciding whether to endorse D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) in the city’s June 4 primary election because she is running unopposed in the primary.

“I misspoke, and I take responsibility for that,” Michael Haresign, the group’s president, told the Washington Blade on Thursday. Haresign said that he regrets that he did not inform the Blade in a May 21 interview at a post endorsement party the group held that Pinto’s name was not on the endorsement ballot the group sent to its members earlier this month to vote on the endorsements.

Based on a press release issued by the group on May 21, the Blade reported that Capital Stonewall Democrats announced it had endorsed just four candidates appearing on D.C.’s June 4 primary ballot – President Joe Biden, D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Janeese Lewis Geroge (D-Ward 4), and D.C.’s U.S. Shadow Representative Oye Owolewa (D).

Among the candidates not endorsed that surprised some in the LGBTQ community were Pinto and D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D),  who, like Pinto, is a strong LGBTQ community supporter. In the group’s May 21 press release it did not disclose that Pinto’s name was not on the group’s endorsement ballot.

Elizabeth Mitchell, Capital Stonewall’s Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs, and Austin Naughton, a member of the group’s endorsement committee from Ward 2, contacted the Blade by email on May 23 to point out that the group decided at the committee’s recommendation to postpone a decision on whether to endorse Pinto, and the membership did not vote on a Pinto endorsement.

 “We made a careful and considerate decision as an election committee to not impose upon CM Pinto’s busy schedule at this time as there was no challenger for the primary,” Mitchell told the Blade in an email. “We assured CM Pinto and her campaign that we would revisit the subject of endorsement after the primary as it’s possible a challenger may emerge at that time,” said Mitchell, who added that the group was unaware of anyone emerging to challenge Pinto in the November election.

“As such, we did not include her on our endorsement ballot,” Mitchell said. Mitchell was also referring to the decision not to invite Pinto to one of the group’s candidate forums related to the June 4 primary, even though Pinto made it clear she would be happy to participate in a forum.  

No candidates have emerged in the June 4 primary to challenge Pinto either as Democrats or as members of the city’s two other registered political parties – the Republican and Statehood Green parties. An independent candidate could emerge to challenge Pinto in the November general election, and voters are eligible to vote for a write-in candidate in both the primary and general election.

Mitchell said Norton’s office did not respond to an invitation to participate in the Capital Stonewall Democrats first of two candidate forums and told the group a conflict in her schedule prevented Norton from attending the group’s second candidates forum.

“Her office sent us a very professional letter explaining that she had a prior engagement the evening of our forum and would be unable to attend,” Mitchell said. “We explained that to our members,” according to Mitchell, who added, “She was on our ballot and failed to receive enough votes to win an endorsement.”

 Under the group’s endorsement policy, candidates must receive at least 60 percent of the vote from the members to receive an endorsement. Under that policy, Haresign said the group also did not make an endorsement for the Ward 7 and Ward 8 D.C. Council races or in the race for the D.C. U.S. Shadow Senator seat because no candidate received a 60 percent vote threshold.

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