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O’Malley on marriage, presidential aspirations

Md. guv applauds Question 6 campaign, downplays 2016 race



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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Va. Senate subcommittee tables anti-transgender student athlete bill

Virginia Beach Republican introduced SB 766



transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Thursday tabled a bill that would have banned 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 earlier this month, would have required “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.’”

“SB 766 (trans sports ban) was passed by indefinitely (it died!) after a long line of speakers testified against it, affirming trans students’ rights to participate in sports just like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after the vote. “Trans students belong in sports. Period.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Democrats still control the Senate by a 21-19 margin.

A bill that would have eliminated the requirement that school districts implement the Virginia Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines died in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The Senate General Laws and Technology on Thursday also tabled a religious freedom measure that would have undermined Virginia’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

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Hyattsville mayor dies by suicide

Kevin Ward and husband adopted son in D.C. in 2012



Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward (Photo courtesy of the city of Hyattsville)

The city of Hyattsville released a statement on Wednesday afternoon announcing that their city’s openly gay Mayor Kevin Ward had died one day earlier by an apparent suicide.

“The city of Hyattsville reports with great sadness that our beloved Mayor Kevin Ward passed away yesterday, Jan. 25, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the statement says.

“Mayor Ward was a valued and trusted leader and a fierce advocate for all the people of Hyattsville,” the statement continues. “We are heartbroken at this loss and extend our deepest sympathy to the mayor’s family,” it says.

“No further information is available at this time,” the statement adds. “Details about services and remembrances will be shared when they are available.”

The Washington Post reported that U.S. Park Police disclosed that Ward was found deceased in Fort Marcy Park in McLean, Va., with a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Ward, 44, became acting mayor of Hyattsville on Jan. 1, 2021, following the resignation of former Mayor Candace Hollingsworth. He was next in line to become mayor under the city’s political system in his then-position as president of the Hyattsville City Council.

He won election to complete the remainder of Hollingsworth’s term through 2023 in a May 11, 2021, special election, receiving 57.8 percent of the vote in a three candidate race, according to the Hyattsville election board. His closest opponent, Joseph Solomon, received 31.7 percent of the vote.

Nearby fellow gay mayors — Patrick Wojahn of College Park and Jeffrey Slavin of Somerset — said they got to know Ward through Maryland political circles and thought very highly of him.

“He was insightful, smart and dedicated,” Wojahn said. “He always seemed very confident and together as a person. And he had a great sense of humor.”

Slavin said he shared that remembrance of Ward, adding that he found Ward to be a “very nice person” dedicated to the people he served both as mayor and during his two terms on the Hyattsville City Council.

“There was noting in his public life that would have predicted this,” said Slavin in referring to Ward’s sudden passing.

The Washington Blade first reported on Ward in 2012 in a feature story on Ward and his then-domestic partner Chad Copeland when the two attended a ceremony at the D.C. Superior Court to complete the process of adopting their then-5-year-old son Norman. Ward and Copeland were among several gay couples who had their adoption papers signed by a judge at the ceremony.

On the website for his mayoral election campaign last year Ward said he and his family made Hyattsville their home in 2014 after he and his husband adopted their two sons.

“I am a pretty straightforward person,” he said in message to voters on his campaign website. “I believe in listening more than talking. But when I talk, I am not one to mince words or tell people what they want to hear,” he said. “I believe in doing the work. I believe that if I can help someone, then I can change her or his life,” he continued.

“This is why I dedicated my career to providing the best technology to education and to human services, to help as many people as I can,” he said.  

Ward was referring to his career in the field of educational and human services technology.

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District of Columbia

ANC supports license for Capitol Hill LGBTQ bar

Lesbian owners back ‘settlement agreement’ with restrictions on hours



AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel are the bar industry veterans behind As You Are Bar. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)

The Capitol Hill Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B voted unanimously on Tuesday night to support a liquor license for the LGBTQ-owned As You Are Bar, which plans to open in a two-story building at 500 8th St., S.E. in a commercial section of Capitol Hill known as Barracks Row.

The ANC’s decision to support the license took place at a virtual meeting attended by nearby residents and supporters of the bar after its owners, lesbian activists Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike, agreed to the terms of an ANC settlement agreement that calls for restrictions in the hours the bar can offer dancing, entertainment, and music from a DJ.

The agreement means the ANC will not file a protest against the license before the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, a development that would have delayed a decision on the license by the ABC Board by as much as seven months. A protest by the ANC could have cost the bar thousands of dollars in legal fees to contest the protest by providing legal arguments seeking the approval of the license.

The ABC Board makes the final decision on whether to approve all liquor licenses in the city.

McDaniel and Pike have said they plan to operate an upstairs dance bar during evening hours and a café on the first floor during the day as well as in the evenings that will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture.”

The two, who are business and life partners, say As You Are Bar will welcome people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities as well as drinkers and non-drinkers as customers.

They have also told the ANC and nearby residents they have taken steps to soundproof the building, which they are renting, to ensure their plans to operate a dance bar with music from a DJ on the second floor will not disturb nearby residents.

Under terms of the settlement agreement, which was posted on the ANC’s website prior to the start of the meeting, the bar’s operating hours will be from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Under D.C. law, bars are allowed to remain open for the sale of alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m. during weekdays and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Settlement Agreement further calls for As You Are Bar to restrict the hours of consumption of alcohol from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. It calls for allowing live entertainment and dancing (indoors only) from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 12 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

However, the agreement says DJ and amplified music will not be permitted after 8 p.m. on weekdays.

 McDaniel told the Blade that at the request of As You Are Bar’s attorney Richard Bianco, the ANC agreed to modify that restriction at the Tuesday night meeting to allow the bar to play “conversational” background music after 8 p.m. until closing time on weekdays.

 Among other things, the agreement requires the bar comply with a noise mitigation provision to “ensure that sound, noise, and vibrations are not audible or felt beyond the curb or any other premises at any time.” It also calls on the bar to provide an “appropriate number of staff” to monitor patrons as they leave the bar through the 8th Street entrance to “prevent loud voices and littering.”

Under rules established by the ABC Board and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration or ABRA, if a settlement agreement is reached between an applicant for a liquor license and the ANC, a protest against the license by groups of five or more citizens is not allowed. Protests could still be filed by community-based civic groups and residents of an “abutting” house or residential facility.

In the case of As You Are Bar, no citizens group has emerged to oppose the license. There is just one abutting townhouse on E Street whose owner has expressed general support for the settlement agreement, according to McDaniel. But the resident has indicated she will not rule out a possible protest until Feb. 7, which is the deadline for filing a protest under ABRA’s rules.

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