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Campaign seeks to gain more support for Va. anti-discrimination bill is designed to increase support for measure to protect LGBT state employees from discrimination



Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin is a Senate Bill 710 co-sponsor (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

Equality Virginia and ProgressVA have launched an online campaign designed to increase support for a measure that would ban discrimination against LGBT state employees. allows Virginians to sign petitions in support of Senate Bill 701 that state Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) have co-sponsored. Equality Virginia and ProgressVA will then forward them to their respective legislators in Richmond.

“Employment and advancement should be solely dependent on job performance. No one should be subject to discrimination on the job, including sexual orientation or gender identity. Now is the time to move forward and protect our state workers,” McEachin said in a press release that announced the campaign. “All Virginians deserve equal opportunity, fairness and justice.”

James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday his organization has already begun working to build additional support for the measure among Virginians and local businesses. Eighty percent of the state’s 25 largest private employers have added sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policies, while 60 percent of them also include gender identity and expression.

Eighteen of the 29 Virginia-based companies listed on the 2013 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Index include LGBT-specific protections in their non-discrimination policies.

“One of our priorities is working to create a Virginia that reflects our values, and that includes an open and affirming environment where every Virginian is supported and protected regardless of who they love,” Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA, which supports a number of progressive causes, told the Blade. “That’s definitely a priority for us, and this was a great opportunity to partner with Equality Virginia who does fantastic work to help further build our working relationship but also to achieve some really tangible victories for members of our communities.”

The state Senate has passed bills similar to SB 701 twice, but they have stalled in the House of Delegates.

Parrish conceded the measure’s chances of passing in the House of Delegates once the 2013 legislative session begins in January are “very slim.” He said a vote on SB701 will allow Virginians to know where their legislators stand on the issue.

James Parrish, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

James Parrish (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“While we expect it to pass the Senate as it [has twice before,] the House will be challenging,” said Parrish. “It will also give voters a chance going into 2013 to hold delegates mean-spirited accountable who are out of touch with equality.”

Scholl had a similar outlook.

“It can often be difficult to tell what some of the ultra-conservative elements of the GOP are going to do down in Richmond,” she said. “There is wide support for this legislation across the commonwealth and it’s really a common sense bill to create the same protections for state employees that dozens of large employers across the commonwealth offer their own workers. And if we’re serious about making Virginia a place for workers, a place for employers and a job-friendly environment than we do everything we can to make sure that we are a lace that welcomes all potential employees and encourages them to devote their time and energy to make where we live a better place.”

Equality Virginia and ProgressVA unveiled the campaign four days before the release of statistics on the Transgender Day of Remembrance that indicate the majority of trans Virginians have suffered discrimination.

Eighty percent of Virginia respondents who took part in the 2011 report on trans-specific discrimination the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released said they experienced harassment or mistreatment in the workplace: 22 percent said they lost their jobs, while 26 percent said their employers denied them a promotion.

Forty-four percent of respondents said prospective employers simply did not hire them.

Equality Virginia, the Coalition for Transgender Rights in Virginia, Richmond Transformers, Black Transmen, Inc., the Gender Expression Movement and Ladies of the Blue Ridge-Transgender Alliance participated in the survey.


District of Columbia

Inaugural Uptown Pride to take place June 10

Festival to feature drag storytime, makers’ market, DJs



Logo created by Anthony Dihle (Courtesy of Justin Noble)

A new Pride festival is coming to D.C. 

The inaugural Uptown Pride will be hosted in Sixteenth Street Heights on June 10 with Pride celebrations for Washingtonians of all ages.

The festival, hosted at the intersection of 14th Street, Colorado Avenue and Kennedy Street, NW, will feature a drag storytime, a makers’ market, DJs and more. There will also be a raffle for various prizes, with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services for LGBTQ teens.

The festival will be from 2-7 p.m. and is partnering with local businesses like Moreland’s Tavern, Captain Cookie and Lighthouse Yoga Center for activities and refreshments.

Justin Noble, one of the organizers of the festival, said that the inspiration for the event came out of wanting a Pride experience tailored to the residents of the Sixteenth Street Heights, Petworth and Brightwood neighborhoods.

“It can be a hassle to get to downtown,” Noble said. “There needs to be something in our community that supports LGBTQ+ people and the culture and all of that because we’re everywhere, right? We are everywhere.”

Organizer Max Davis said that the inclusion of children’s events like a drag storytime was purposeful, and helps make the event more accessible to LGBTQ families and youth. 

“Kids I feel are the most important in as far as just showing them, just visibly showing them that you can live out and you can be queer,” Davis said. “There is no more dangerous time than now to be queer, questioning youth … So who better to welcome into the fold than kids who might be questioning their sexuality.”

Davis said that a big part of wanting to bring Pride celebrations uptown was to have a physical representation of support for the LGBTQ community.

“I felt like because there wasn’t anything going on in Sixteenth Street Heights — the clientele that we were serving up at Moreland’s absolutely is supportive, and I never felt that it wasn’t a supportive environment — but if you don’t have something to actively support that I feel that your support is just words,” Davis said. “If our community had someplace to attend even for one day to just be like, ‘Hey, I stand with you,’ … that is something that every community should have available to them to actively support the LGBTQ community.”

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2023 honorees, grand marshals

Assistant Secretary of Health Levine among picks



Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine and acclaimed longtime D.C. LGBTQ and transgender rights advocate Earline Budd are among nine prominent LGBTQ community leaders named on Wednesday by the Capital Pride Alliance as its 2023 Capital Pride honorees.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade, festival, and related events, announced in a May 24 statement that it will present the honoree awards to each of the recipients at a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the Penn Social event and catering hall at 801 E St., N.W.

“The recipients are nominated each year by members of the community,” the Capital Pride statement says. “They represent individuals who and organizations that have advanced the causes of LGBTQ+ rights,” it says.

The statement says Levine was selected for the Capital Pride Paving the Way Award, which “acknowledges an individual or organization that has provided exemplary contributions, support, and/or advocacy that has positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community, and whose leadership has inspired continued progress.”

Levine, who was appointed by President Biden in 2021 as Assistant Secretary of Health, is a longtime pediatrician who also serves as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She became the first openly transgender person to hold the admiralty position.

Capital Pride named Earline Budd as recipient of the Capital Pride Super Hero Award, which “recognizes additional significant and important contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region.”

The statement announcing the honorees says Levine and Budd will also serve as grand marshals for the June 10 Capital Pride Parade. It says each of the other honorees will serve as parade marshals.

The announcement says the following four people have been named as recipients of the Capital Pride Hero Award:

• Shi-Queeta Lee, the D.C.-based nationally acclaimed drag performer
• Benjamin Rosenbaum, longtime congressional staffer, LGBTQ rights advocate, and LGBTQ Jewish community advocate
• Nancy Canas, president of D.C. Latinx History Project and advocate for the LGBTQ Latinx community
• Abdur-Rahim Briggs, longtime leader of the D.C.-based Project Briggs, which provides philanthropic support for LGBTQ causes.

The following two organizations were named as recipients of the Capital Pride Breaking Barriers Community Impact Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have “demonstrated a significant impact to the LGBTQ+ community at either the local or national level and who helped eliminate barriers for social, personal, or professional growth of the LGBTQ+ community:

• Drag Story Hour DMV
• National LGBTQ Task Force

The Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Services, which acknowledges “exemplary contributions to the Capital Pride Alliance, its programs, initiatives, or other Pride sponsored activities,” is being given to Brandon Bayton, Jr., a longtime Capital Pride volunteer, consultant, and organ transplant advocate, and LGBTQ rights advocate.

“We are fortunate to have such a vibrant honoree selection process, with so many outstanding individuals who were nominated,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors. “We are very pleased to celebrate these individuals at the 2023 Capital Pride Honors,” Smith said in the CPA statement.

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District of Columbia

Blade names recipients of two summer fellowships

Kravis, Lev-Tov join LGBTQ news team



Isabelle Kravis and Joel Lev-Tov are the Blade Foundation’s 2023 summer fellows.

The Blade Foundation this week announced the recipients of its 2023 summer fellowship program. 

Isabelle Kravis (she/they) is a senior at American University studying journalism and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She will focus on covering LGBTQ issues in the local D.C. area for 12 weeks starting this week. The fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K event.

“I’ve been reading the Blade since I first moved to D.C. for my freshman year and I’m so excited to be able to contribute to such a historic paper,” Kravis said. “I love covering the LGBTQ community because of the diversity of experiences that each queer person has and the joy that queer people bring to everything they do. I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to be able to cover both the city and community that I love.”

Joel Lev-Tov (they/them) is a senior at the University of Maryland College Park studying journalism. Lev-Tov also serves as president of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists at College Park. Lev-Tov is the sixth recipient of the Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, which honors the co-founder of CAMP Rehoboth. The fellow covers issues of interest to the LGBTQ community in Delaware, also for 12 weeks. The fellowship is funded by donations from the Rehoboth Beach community.

“I’m extremely excited to start reporting about my community for my community,” Lev-Tov said. “The Blade is offering me a special opportunity that I’m very grateful for. I can’t wait to start reporting!”

Kevin Naff, editor of the Blade, welcomed Kravis and Lev-Tov to work this week.

“We’re all excited to work with Isabelle and Joel this summer,” Naff said. “There’s never been more news to cover and they will add an important, fresh perspective to our work. Thank you to our donors and to the Front Runners for making this program possible.”

For more information on the fellowship program or to donate, visit

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