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D.C. gay business leader charged with unlawful entry

CAGLCC’s Guenther, prosecutors negotiating after arrest



Mark Guenther, CAGLCC, Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay news, Washington Blade
Mark Guenther, CAGLCC, Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Guenther, director of the Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, was arrested this month on charges of unlawful entry. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

The disposition of a misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry filed earlier this month against the head of the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is under negotiation between prosecutors and the defense attorney, according to D.C. Superior Court records.

The records show the two parties in the case agreed at a Nov. 20 status hearing to “a brief continuance to further negotiate” the outcome of the charge against Mark Guenther, 42, who has served as executive director of CAGLCC for more than two years.

News of Guenther’s arrest on Nov. 7 on the unlawful entry charge was first reported by LGBTQ Nation.

According to a D.C. police arrest affidavit, Guenther allegedly entered a male neighbor’s apartment at 3 a.m. on Oct. 26 without permission.

“The complainant awoke at 0300 hours to find the defendant standing over him at his bedside,” the affidavit says. “The complainant yelled at the defendant, asked him what he was doing, and told him to get out of his apartment,” it says.

The affidavit says Guenther fled the second floor apartment through the front door and the complainant heard him close the door to his own apartment, which is located across the hall in an apartment building on the 1400 block of Chapin Street, N.W.

It says the complainant told authorities Guenther sent him an email at 9:42 a.m. that same day admitting to entering the complainant’s apartment and apologizing for doing so.

Court records show Guenther pleaded not guilty to the unlawful entry charge at an arraignment on Nov. 7, two days after the complainant identified Guenther to police from a photo presented to him by a police investigator.

Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo released Guenther on his own recognizance and issued a stay-away order prohibiting him from engaging in “threatening, abusive, harassing, or stalking behavior toward” the complainant, court records state. The judge scheduled another status hearing for Dec. 13.

Under D.C. law, a conviction for a misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry could result in a maximum sentence of up to 180 days in jail or a fine up to $1,000. There is no required minimum sentence for the offense, allowing judges to hand down a sentence of probation with no jail time or fine.

None of the public court or police records say how Guenther gained entry into the complainant’s apartment or how he obtained his email address. The public records make no mention of a forced entry.

“The complainant reported he has seen the defendant on a weekly basis for over a year as they reside in the same apartment complex,” the affidavit says.

Court observers say negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal cases are usually over a plea bargain offer made by prosecutors. Such an offer usually, but not always, involves a promise to lower the charge or a promise to ask the judge for a more lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

Guenther, the complainant, and the United States Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, have declined to comment on the case.

Guenther’s attorney, Meaghan Hearn of Ackerman Brown, said Guenther would not be issuing any statements at this time. Ernesto Santalla, president of CAGLCC, declined to comment on specifics of the case.

“The Executive Director of CAGLCC serves at the pleasure of the Board of Directors,” he said. Santalla added that CAGLCC has no internal policy that calls for the executive director’s dismissal in the event of a misdemeanor conviction.

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce named CAGLCC as the winner of its 2012 Chamber of the Year Award and Guenther accepted the award at the group’s annual Washington dinner earlier this month.


District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs



The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress



Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency



A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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