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4 marriage ballot fights and 4 big wins

Advocates confident of sweep in Md., Maine, Minn., Wash. battles

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Question 6, Maryland, gay marriage, anti-gay, same sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade
Question 6, Maryland, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Question 6 supporters and opponents placed signs outside a polling place at Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore on Nov. 6. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Advocacy groups across the country on Tuesday celebrated the passage of two state same-sex marriage referenda and the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned nuptials for gays and lesbians in another.

Maryland voters supported Question 6 by a 52-48 percent margin, while Maine’s Question 1 that will allow gays and lesbians to legally marry in the state passed with 52 percent of the vote. Washington’s Referendum 74 that would uphold the state’s same-sex marriage law remains ahead by a 52-48 percent margin with what Washington United for Marriage estimates as 60 percent of the ballots counted as of deadline.

Minnesotans narrowly defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman by a 51-48 percent margin.

“Years from now we’ll remember this Election Day as the most important and the most historic in the history of the LGBT movement,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a video message. He noted HRC contributed $20 million over the last two years to the four statewide same-sex marriage campaigns. “We’ve won a landslide victory at the ballot box. We’ve secured the first ever electoral victory for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. And we’re optimistic about the results still to come in Washington state.”

Freedom to Marry gave $4.6 million to the four statewide same-sex marriage campaigns. It helped raise another $2.4 million to support public education campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, categorized the election results to the Washington Blade as “irrefutable momentum in favor of the freedom to marry” that will give “enormous confidence” to lawmakers and others to support nuptials for gays and lesbians. Casey Pick of Log Cabin Republicans further described the election results as a “turning point.”

“It is something the nation will take notice of,” she told the Blade from Maine where she had been working with Mainers United for Marriage in support of Question 1 for the last two weeks. “Never again will opponents of marriage equality be able to say that every time the people vote on the issue they favor marriage as one man and one woman because that’s no longer true.”

LGBT advocates in other states where voters did not consider same-sex marriage ballot measures also noted the historic results.

“For all of the families in Maine and Maryland, where voters upheld the rights of same-sex couples to wed, MassEquality is pleased that they will soon experience what we have celebrated for eight years now in Massachusetts: families that are stronger and communities that are healthier because LGBTQ individuals and their families are treated with dignity and fairness,” said Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, in a statement. She noted nearly 20,000 gay and lesbian couples have married in Massachusetts since the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage law took effect in May 2004. “Our rights should never be determined by a majority vote. But the wins in Maine and Maryland, as well as the defeat of a proposed anti-marriage Constitutional amendment in Minnesota, are definitive proof that there is a growing majority in America that supports our rights, and that equality wins, including at the ballot box.”

Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov also noted the historic election results after Maine’s Question 1 passed.

“The ballot box victory is the latest evidence that the tide has turned and that momentum is on the side of full LGBT equality,” he said. “We now have a president who ran on support for marriage equality, a Democratic Party that included a marriage plank in the party platform, seven states, including Maine, and also the District of Columbia where same-sex couples can marry.”

Minneapolis resident Kirsten Olson and her partner of 18 years, Karen Hogan, a librarian at Quatrefoil Library in nearby St. Paul, waited for the Amendment 1 results at home. She awoke both Hogan and their 11-year-old daughter around 1:45 a.m. when she finally heard the proposal had failed.

“Public radio went to the victory speech that I didn’t think I would hear uttered,” said Olson as she became emotional. “It was just completely surreal and then on Minnesota Public Radio they were also talking about how the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate have both gone Democratic and that our governor, Mark Dayton, had on his agenda to legalize same-sex marriage. So in the span of 12 hours we went from the very real possibility of a constitutional amendment to a very real possibility of legalization.”

An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted after President Obama endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples in May found 53 percent of Americans supported nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to only 36 percent in 2006. Even among social conservatives, the issue seems to have less resonance.

Only 19 percent of those who took part in a straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee conference in D.C. in February cited the promotion of “traditional values” as the most important issue going into the election. Only one percent who took part in the 2011 CPAC straw poll said stopping same-sex marriage was their top priority.

“Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins,” said National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown in a statement.

NOM contributed more than $5.5 million to oppose same-sex marriage referenda in Maine, Maryland and Washington and support Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban nuptials for gays and lesbians. Brown conceded supporters and opponents of these respective ballot measures outspent those who opposed marriage rights for same-sex couples by at least a four-to-one margin.

He also downplayed the idea the election results are what he described as a “changing point in how Americans view gay marriage.”

“Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it,” said Brown. “Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”

Wolfson dismissed the remarks.

“It’s been clear for some time that they lost the argument,” he told the Blade. “All they have is scare tactics, diversions and some raw power in being able to throw money and mobilize some people — a dwindling number. They’re going to keep at it. That’s where their livelihood is. They know they’re losing. They know they’re on the wrong side of history. The opposition will continue, but we are winning.”

Pick said she feels the election results send a message to GOP lawmakers who continue to oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Log Cabin Republicans have been saying for a long time that the tide is turning on this issue,” she said. “For our party it is incumbent upon us to recognize that inclusion is the way of the future. And to be victorious and to win future elections with voters who are taking their place as the majority of the populace today, marriage equality has to be a part of that formula.”

Back in Maryland, there was a palpable sense among those awaiting the Question 6 results at a Baltimore concert hall the Free State was about to make history as the first state to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot.

Lesbian state Del. Heather Mizeur told the Blade before Marylanders for Marriage Equality announced the referendum had passed she feels Obama’s support of same-sex marriage had a tremendous impact in Maryland.

“While we already felt very confident where we were headed in this campaign, he stood up and did something no president has ever done for our community and help make it okay for all of our allies to be comfortable with being public about what their position was about equality,” she said. “We started to see the numbers very strongly in our direction after he came out in favor of it. And that’s why we’re hoping for a double win tonight and celebrating our marriage equality and also sending this courageous president back for another four year term.”

Olson said most of her friends, family and neighbors understand Minnesota voters made history by striking down the proposed amendment.

“People totally understand that, totally feel that,” she said. “There are obviously 49 percent of the population — or 48 percent I guess is what it finally came out to be who think otherwise, but they’re not 50 percent plus one.

Shaun Knittel, executive director of the pro-Referendum 74 group Social Outreach Seattle, told the Blade he feels this sense of history prompted a lot of young first-time voters to go to the polls and support the law.

“Nov. 6, 2012, is going to be a historic day for the gay community, the LGBTQ community because this is the time we stopped the bigots,” he said. “It’s the first time it has happened in this way and it was such a big statement. It wasn’t just one state or one group that just seemingly got lucky. It was four states involved in this.”

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District of Columbia

Point Foundation offers growing range of scholarships, support

‘Resources to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through’

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Celina Gerbic, a member of the Point Foundation’s board of directors, speaks at last year’s event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Many in D.C. know the Point Foundation for its longstanding scholarship program and its popular Taste of Point fundraiser each spring. But the nonprofit is offering a growing range of services to its young scholars, including mental health resources and social media support.

This year’s Taste of Point brought mixologists, restaurateurs, and donors together on May 3 at Room and Board for the annual celebration. With a number of local businesses and organizations donating to the silent auction, the event both raised money for Point Foundation’s scholarships while recognizing scholarship recipients and program alumni.

Among the lineup of featured speakers was one of the foundation’s flagship scholarship recipients, Rio Dennis, a dual master’s and law candidate at Georgetown University.

“I applied for the Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship because I believed in its mission of helping LGBTQ+ students achieve their academic goals while also providing training and resources so we can become better leaders within the LGBTQ community during school and long term,” Dennis said in her speech. 

The Taste of Point celebration began in 2013, born from another event called the Cornerstone Reception. Originally planned as a normal fundraiser with hor d’oeuvres, the foundation transformed it into the current Taste of Point celebration that facilitates partnerships with new, local restaurants.

Some restaurants, like Compass Rose and Hank’s Oyster Bar, partnered with Point Foundation for their first celebration. They have been catering at the fundraiser ever since.

“It really gives you the sense of the amount of love and the amount of community that we have around the Point Foundation and mission,” said Celina Gerbic, a member on the foundation’s board of directors. “They really see, with hearing from the scholars, what the effects can be if we’re raising money for those scholarships and mentoring opportunities.”

The event also allows the foundation to showcase new offerings, such as the Community College Scholarship that was rolled out just before the pandemic in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The community college program gives scholars a financial scholarship each year of their community college experience as well as coaching and admissions counseling for students planning to transfer to a university. 

Meanwhile, the foundation is also expanding its new BIPOC scholarship, which announced its next round of recipients on May 22. The scholarship is currently supporting between 500 and 555 scholars across the country.

Omari Foote, one of the current BIPOC scholarship recipients, appreciates how the scholarship recognizes her as a Black queer student. She is even encouraging other queer students and friends to apply to receive similar assistance.

However, Point is even more than that, Dennis notes. 

Before the school year started, the Point Foundation sent Dennis and all of the new flagship scholars to Los Angeles for a leadership development conference. Scholars discussed how to become active leaders on campus, how to ask for certain resources, what is offered by their campuses, and what tutoring programs are available.

This year, Point also did a joint partnership with an online therapy program to offer discounted prices for all scholars. 

“I have anxiety and depression and I struggled a lot in undergrad with trying to balance that with my having to support myself financially,” Dennis said. “So I was definitely grateful that Georgetown did have a program that is specifically for people of color to get free therapy and Point definitely helped with… asking those questions because it is one of those programs that isn’t as well publicized.”

Point even provided Dennis with a mentor who was also a Point Scholar in law school. Meeting monthly on Zoom and texting all throughout the month, Dennis’s mentor provides academic support that helps her use the right resources and make decisions about her career.

Foote finds the scholarship unique in other ways as well. As a recipient of a handful of other scholarships outside of Point, Foote’s interactions with her scholarship programs mostly stop after they send instructions for writing donor thank you notes. But Point keeps reaching out to maintain a relationship with scholars long after that.

“They’ve reached out to me to spotlight me on Instagram,” Foote said. “They reached out to me even for this dinner, paying for my transportation to and from the dinner … It’s like they’re not just there to give you the money. They’re there to really help you navigate the college world and to be that caring supportive system that a lot of us just don’t have anymore now that we are living by ourselves.”

Last November, the foundation also held an Out in Higher Ed Week, wherein they teach scholars how to be LGBTQ+ advocates on campus. These resources help students navigate the ins and outs of discussing LGBTQ+ issues in university settings.

After graduation, Dennis has even thought about returning to the Point Foundation as a mentor to help future Black queer students, especially first generation law students, balance their mental health and financial situations.

“Point has connected me with fellow scholars who have become my friends. Point has provided me with resources and support to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through,” Dennis said. “I definitely plan on continuing to be involved with Point.”

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District of Columbia

D.C.’s Pride celebrations include parade, festival, fireworks, and more

More than 100 events for all ages planned for June

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The Blade’s Pride on the Pier returns June 10 with the region’s only Pride fireworks display at 9 p.m.

More than 100 different events for all ages and interests will take place in D.C. for Pride month.

The Capital Pride Alliance will officially kick off Pride month on Thursday with a show from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Sasha Velour, the 17th Official D.C. Latinx Pride Party and more at Bunker (2001 14th St., N.W.)

Capital Pride on Friday will hold Capital Pride Honors at Penn Social (801 E St., N.W.). Capital Pride every Pride month honors individuals and organizations that have made a lasting impact on D.C.’s LGBTQ community. Among the honorees this year is the National LGBTQ Task Force, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Washington Nationals will host the 17th annual Pride Night Out on June 6. With the purchase of a Pride ticket, attendees will receive a Pride T-shirt and $5 from their ticket will go to support Team DC, which helps to support the LGBTQ community in sports.

D.C.’s largest Pride event, the Capital Pride Parade, will take place on June 10. The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route, which will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

During the parade, the Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden. The party will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The Wharf will be home to the fourth annual Pride on the Pier during the parade, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf. The event, held from 2-9 p.m., will feature a fireworks show at 9 p.m., a DJ, drag performances, and more. VIP tickets are available in two shifts, offering catered food, open bar, and more. The fireworks display is sponsored by the Leonard-Litz LGBTQ Foundation. For more information and to buy VIP tickets, visit prideonthepierdc.com. General admission to the festivities on the pier is free.

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

From June 5-Aug. 11, ARTECHOUSE will be exhibiting its newest exhibit “PIXELBLOOM: Timeless Butterflies.” Visitors can use the promo code “PRIDE20” to get 20 percent off their ticket during Pride month.

Throughout the summer, Capital Pride will also host a variety of online events. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Capital Pride will host Youth in Action: Wearing Our PRIDE, which will feature young indigenous activists working toward social justice. Capital Pride will also host Zoom affinity support groups and social hours.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Arts & Entertainment

Must-attend D.C. Pride events for 2023

Don’t miss out on these fun events during D.C. Pride

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Pride Month has arrived, bringing along a vibrant array of events to explore throughout the month of June. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in our favorite events over the upcoming weeks!

PRIDE ON THE PIER & FIREWORKS | JUNE 10TH


The Washington Blade, in partnership with LURe DC and The Wharf, is excited to announce the 4th annual Pride on the Pier and Fireworks show during DC Pride weekend on Saturday, June 10, 2023, from 2-9 p.m.

The event will include the annual Pride on the Pier Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation at 9 p.m.

3PM: Drag Show

4PM: Capital Pride Parade Viewing on the Big Screen

9PM: Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation


PRIDE PILS LAUNCH PARTY | JUNE 1ST


Once again we’re celebrating Pride in DC with the release of Pride Pils!

The 2023 design has been created and donated by the talented Chord Bezerra of District CO/OP.

Attendance is “FREE” but please RSVP via this Eventbrite or donating at the event to further support our non-profit partners SMYAL and The Blade Foundation. 100% will be donated. As always, DC Brau and Red Bear Brewing Co. will be donating all profit from the sale of this year’s Pride Pils to our non-profit partners.


‘THE GROUND WE STAND ON’ OPENING RECEPTION | JUNE 2ND

Dupont Underground, in partnership with the Washington Blade presents The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers. DC’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community stands as a testament to the unwavering spirit of countless individuals throughout the years. In recognition of their indomitable courage and resilience, an inspiring exhibition titled “The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers” will showcase the remarkable journeys of both past and present changemakers who have left an indelible mark on the tapestry of Washington, DC. The exhibit underscores the enduring legacy of these remarkable individuals, serving as an inspiration for present and future generations. By shining a light on their remarkable contributions, this exhibition aims to empower and encourage the continuous evolution of the DC LGBTQ+ community and its influence that transcends boundaries.


DRAG UNDERGROUND | JUNE 2ND


Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Destiny B Childs, Elecktra Gee, Jane Saw, and Shi-Queeta Lee


SPIRTS & BEER SHOWCASE  | JUNE 3RD

metrobar prides itself on serving locally-produced beer, wine and spirits. As part of this mission, we are hosting a curated tasting event featuring Civic Vodka & Assembly Gin from local, woman-owned and operated distillery, Republic Restoratives. We will also have a selection of beers from DC Brau, including their annual Pride Pils for tasting.


DRAG UNDERGROUND  | JUNE 9TH

Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Cake Pop, GiGI Paris Couture, Kabuki Bukkake, Delila B. Lee

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