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A home for Norman

D.C. couple finalizes family in ‘Adoption Day’ program



Chad Copeland, gay families, gay adoption, Norman Moore, Kevin Scooter Ward, Noel Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade
Chad Copeland, gay families, gay adoption, Norman Moore, Kevin Scooter Ward, Noel Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade

Chad Copeland, Scooter Ward and their son, Norman Moore with Judge Noel Johnson at an adoption day proceeding last weekend in D.C. Superior Court. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Norman Moore loves “Dora the Explorer,” playing Legos and macaroni and cheese.

“Give him those, and he’d be just fine,” his dad, Chad Copeland, says.

His other dad, Scooter Ward, calls Norman, 5, “quite an actor” and “a big ham.”

He also, “likes to be a teacher,” Ward says. “Loves to show you how to do something.”

The three of them, together since Norman was placed with them as a foster son in January 2011, became a permanent family unit last weekend when Judge Lee Satterfield of D.C. Superior Court signed their adoption decree. Of the 34 children adopted last weekend in D.C., five were to gay male couples.

“It’s ceremonial but also a legal proceeding,” Copeland, 36, a D.C. assistant attorney general, says. “Each family and child is called up and you go up with any close friends or family you have with you and a small speech is made.”

Ward says it was an emotional end to a very long process.

“I was kind of thinking beforehand, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal, he’s been with us almost two years, blah blah blah, but then about an hour into it, I started to get pretty emotional,” he says. “I started to really think about how long the journey has been and even though it’s been relatively smooth in a lot of ways, it’s also been very hard in some ways as well. There were many points along the way where things came up that could have changed the outcome, so knowing we’ve overcome all that was really amazing.”

For his part, Norman, who calls Copeland “Dad” and Ward “Pops,” says he was “happy when the lady called my name.” He also says he “got lots of goodies.”

Copeland and Ward have a D.C. domestic partnership. They met at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in Dallas, where they formerly lived (though neither are from Texas). They’ve been together almost seven years and have lived together about five years. After starting their relationship in Texas, Ward moved to Washington for a job in 2006. Copeland followed in 2007. Copeland is adopted himself, so they talked fairly early in their relationship about the possibility of adopting.

Working with D.C.’s Child and Family Services Agency, the couple took a licensing course and within about four months, Norman came to live with them. He had been born in D.C. but the couple declines to go into details about his biological family or situation.

“He was just a pretty normal kid who was in a situation where he could not be cared for the way he needed to be,” Copeland says.

Although there were some long nights and an inevitable adjustment period for everyone, the couple says for the most part, it “just clicked.”

“We were extremely tired,” Ward says. “We’d both been kind of extreme night owls before and we’d suddenly have family and friends calling us at, like, 10 at night and we’d be ready for bed … but in many ways it was a very organic change.”

Ward, 35, took a few weeks off from his job as a project manager for a D.C.-based software company, but Norman had already been in preschool, so neither parent had to give up his career.

Both say their being gay was never an issue in the adoption.

Copeland says he knew from his legal work — he’d worked on cases involving anti-gay Maryland minister Rev. Harry Jackson who’d sued the District — that D.C.’s Human Rights Act of 1977 is solid.

“I fully understood the breadth of protection that exists within the law,” he says. “I didn’t anticipate a problem and we never once had a single problem.”

Ward says he was bracing himself just in case.

“As a bi-racial gay couple, I kind of expected there to be a different layer there or something, some level of strife, but we never had any problems at all. It was almost a bit of a let down — I wanted to be advocate for something, but that says a lot of great things about where we live that it wasn’t.”

There was a chance early on, that Norman may have returned to his biological family.

“That’s usually the initial goal in a foster care situation,” Copeland says. “It would have been very hard because he really is just the sweetest little boy and it was very easy to just get so attached to him. There were certainly moments where we may never have made it to adoption, but our social workers were always there to help us understand the next steps.”

The couple praises the D.C. staff they worked with throughout — social workers LaTasha McKinley and Sarah McDonald and also Mallory Martin of the Children’s Law Center who acted on Norman’s behalf.

It all sounds so perfect — surely there were some struggles for the new family, right?

The couple says the hardest part was the element of so much being unknown at the outset.

“We were just foster parents for a long time,” Ward says. “We had no idea what the next court hearing could bring. There was a lot of pandering and stress and emotion and I don’t want to discount that. There’s a lot of emotion tied to it.”

But it did all work out. The family is in Dallas this week for Thanksgiving with Ward’s family. Copeland is in his native Louisiana and both say their respective parents were quick to welcome Norman as a grandchild.

“He does everything here he’s not allowed to do at home, which is just how it should be at your grandparents’ house,” Ward says with a chuckle.

On Tuesday this week, Norman spent the day hanging out with “Nana,” Ward’s mother. This wasn’t his first plane ride, Copeland has to remind him. His favorite time in Texas so far has been playing with his cousin, Erica. They’ll have Thanksgiving dinner Thursday at Uncle Tim’s.

Since same-sex marriage is legal in Washington, the couple may eventually wed. They have no immediate plans to, though, and say that wasn’t an issue in the process nor would it have been had they been a straight couple.

Norman is in kindergarten and attends a charter school in D.C.

The couple says he’s doing great overall and they’re often amused by, as Ward puts it, his “amazing level of innocence.”

“He’s very happy to have a home,” Copeland says. “He loves us and is a very sweet and happy boy. Happy is the right word in some ways, but it’s also an insufficient word because there are so many more emotions attached to it. You realize you’ve contributed to something bigger. This little boy had so many obstacles in his path. It’s all just sort of humbling and overwhelming at the same time.”



Flight attendants union endorses Sarah McBride

Del. lawmaker would be first transgender member of Congress



Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride speaks at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 10, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Delaware congressional candidate Sarah McBride has earned the support of the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s most prominent flight attendant union.

It’s the second big labor endorsement for McBride after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27’s endorsement. The Association of Flight Attendants praised her for spearheading efforts to bring paid family and medical leave to Delaware, which will take effect in 2026. 

“Sarah’s record in the Delaware Senate shows that she understands how to work collaboratively, build power and make big things happen,” the union’s president, Sara Nelson, wrote in a press release shared exclusively with the Washington Blade. “That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy.”

McBride also announced her support for creating a list of abusive passengers and banning them from flying. Each airline has a list of passengers banned from flying, but airlines don’t share the lists with each other, though Delta Air Lines has asked them, because of “legal and operational challenges,” as a representative for the airline industry trade group Airlines of America told a House committee in September 2021.

“Right now, someone can be violent towards a flight attendant or another passenger and walk directly off of that flight and onto one with a different airline to endanger more people,” an Association of Flight Attendants spokesperson wrote in a statement. 

The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would put the Transportation Security Administration in charge of building the database of passengers fined or convicted of abuse and has bipartisan support but has sat idly in committee since March. It failed to pass last year, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have charged that the list would disproportionately target people of color and strip and a better step to reducing hostility would be making flights more comfortable. Reports of defiant and unruly passengers have more than doubled between 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2022.

“I thank the Association of Flight Attendants for endorsing our campaign,” McBride wrote in the press release. “It’s important that we recognize and celebrate the symbiotic relationship between strong, unionized workforces and the continued growth of employers here in our state.”

The union representing 50,000 flight attendants across 19 airlines is putting pressure on airlines to grant union demands in contract negotiations. At American Airlines, unionized flight attendants voted to authorize a strike — putting pressure on the airline to accede to its demands. Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines say they are ready to strike but have not voted to authorize one yet. United Airlines flight attendants picketed at 19 airports around the country in August, ratcheting up the pressure. 

The union’s endorsement adds to a growing list of McBride endorsements, including 21 Delaware legislators, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and Delaware Stonewall PAC. McBride, who would be the first openly transgender politician in Congress, has powerful connections in Washington — including with the White House — and is favored to win Delaware’s lone House seat. 

A poll commissioned by HRC shows her leading the pack of three candidates vying for the seat — 44 percent of “likely Democratic voters” told pollster company Change Research, which works with liberal organizations. The poll of 531 likely Delaware Democratic primary voters, though, was conducted only online — meaning those with less familiarity or access to the internet may not have been counted — and Change Research’s methodology for screening likely voters is unclear. The company also did not provide a breakdown of respondents by age, gender, and race, but says it uses an algorithm to make the results representative.  

Nelson said McBride’s time in Delaware’s state Senate shows her prowess in building power and working collaboratively.  

“That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy,” she wrote.

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Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July



(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’



‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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