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O’Malley on marriage, presidential aspirations

Md. guv applauds Question 6 campaign, downplays 2016 race

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Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade, Marylanders for Marriage Equality
Martin O'Malley, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Question 6, Maryland, election 2012, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Martin O’Malley with Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens outside Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore on Nov. 6. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday said he felt confident going into Election Day that the referendum on the state’s same-sex marriage law would pass.

“I had a pretty good sense in the course of those last 10 days that it was on a good positive trajectory,” he told the Washington Blade, recalling how delayed election results from Montgomery County prompted Marylanders for Marriage Equality not to declare Question 6 had officially passed until more than four hours after the polls had closed. “Once we figured that out then I started breathing a little more deeply. And then when the Montgomery County numbers came in and we were up to 51 [percent,] the night seemed to be coming into perspective.”

Question 6 passed by a 52-48 percent margin with Montgomery County voters supporting it by nearly two to one. Baltimore voters backed it by a 57-43 percent margin, while Question 6 lost in Prince George’s County by less than 4,000 votes.

O’Malley told the Blade he feels one of the campaign’s turning points came when Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton and Rev. Donté Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore publicly supported the law he signed in March.

“There are lots of differences of opinion among clergy about this issue — and some are in favor of civil marriage equality, some are opposed,” said the governor. “For those guys to not only come to the conclusion personally and as citizens that civil marriage equality is the right change of law, but also to be willing to step up and speak to that in a public way allowed us to have a much more positive dialogue than the usual fear-based frames that have doomed these referenda in other states in the past.”

O’Malley also cited President Obama’s public support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during a “vulnerable election year” as another turning point for the pro-Question 6 campaign in Maryland. The governor also applauded him for statements in support of both nuptials for gays and lesbians and the Dream Act that will allow public colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants during the Democratic National Convention.

The governor played an increasingly important role in Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraising efforts in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

He headlined a star-studded New York City fundraiser gay former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman co-hosted on Sept. 13 that raised more than $100,000 for the pro-Question 6 group. The governor also attended an Oct. 2 fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) lesbian state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and others attended at gay Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf’s Washington home.

O’Malley spoke at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton in Foggy Bottom on Oct. 25 that raised funds for the group’s pro-Question 6 efforts.

“We had a very good campaign by the end,” he said. “We continued to grow and evolve and become stronger every day. And it was a very well-run campaign. Josh Levin[ campaign director for Marylanders for Marriage Equality,] did a good job.”

When asked whether gays and lesbians were visible enough during the campaign, O’Malley said the pro-Question 6 television and radio ads that ran in the Baltimore and D.C. media markets were “very effective.”

“The ads, through a variety of different voices, got across the message that this is a timeless American truth that we should protect rights of all individuals equally while protecting religious freedom,” he said. “The thrust behind the ads was to make this a question that can and should be supported by all people — gay and straight, black and white, believers, non-believers, people of all faiths. With limited dollars that’s what we attempted to do. If we had more money perhaps we would have been able to run a greater variety of ads, but we were smart and strategic.”

O’Malley further stressed he feels gays and lesbians were “well-represented” in the campaign and among its leadership that included state lawmakers. He was reluctant to comment on whether the Washington Blade should have published the names of those who signed the petition in support of the referendum on the state’s same-sex marriage law.

“I don’t know that I’m qualified to comment on journalistic ethics,” said O’Malley. The Blade published the list to its website in July; the Baltimore Sun followed and published the list in October.

The governor also sought to downplay growing speculation about the possibility he will run for president in 2016.

“I’m running mostly to get some more sleep and some more time with my family lately,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to these next two years because with the president’s re-election we’re going to be able to solidify some important strides forward on health care and public safety and moving our state to the other side of this recession. So those are all the things I’m thinking about. I haven’t really given any thought to 2016.”

O’Malley further joked he “never had to be quite the multitasker as” he was during this election cycle. Question 6 and the three other referenda he supported passed. O’Malley also chairs the Democratic Governors’ Association.

“We won five of our six contested races and even won back Puerto Rico, which no one thought would happen. We came close in Indiana,” he said. “I’m still in the gratitude mode. I’m focused on the making the next two years the most effective they can possibly be for this administration that I lead.”

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District of Columbia

Wanda Alston Foundation chosen as Casa Ruby receiver

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

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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.”

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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

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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.

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Comings & Goings

Brian Reach joins Arlington Food Assistance Center

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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.

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