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Va. activists remain wary of Cuccinelli administration

Attorney general will likely face former DNC Chair McAuliffe in 2013

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Virginia advocates remain concerned Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will thwart efforts to advance LGBT-specific issues in the commonwealth if he becomes the state’s next governor in 2013.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish noted in a Nov. 28 statement after Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling said he would not run to succeed Gov. Bob McDonnell that Cuccinelli in 2010 recommended Virginia colleges and universities remove LGBT-specific provisions from their non-discrimination policies. The Virginian-Pilot reported in Oct. 2009 that he described same-sex sexual acts as “wrong.” The newspaper reported Cuccinelli stressed homosexuality “represents — to put it politely, I need my thesaurus to be polite — behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.”

Cuccinelli was among those who spoke at an anti-gay marriage gathering at a Manassas church in October to which the Washington Blade was denied access.

“We are shocked to see Attorney General Cuccinelli enter this race as a choice for governor with his past statements and actions of bigotry toward the LGBT community,” said Parrish, who further criticized Cuccinelli for what he described as “bullying” the State Boards of Social Services and Juvenile Justice. “We hope to educate Virginians in the coming year so they can make an informed decision in this election.”

Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Cuccinelli is expected to face former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe once he officially receives his party’s nomination.

Neither men returned the Blade’s request for comment, but Cuccinelli spoke during a Virginia Republican Party “advance” that took place at the Homestead Resort last weekend.

“Virginia once again has an opportunity,” he said. “This is an opportunity to show the country that conservatism isn’t dead; that it’s not old or worn out and that it’s still alive and thriving.”

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Blade he feels Virginians should expect a Cuccinelli administration to be as “ideologically focused as he is.” He also said he expects more of what he described as “Cuccinelli’s symbolic lawsuits and politically motivated investigations” against those who oppose him and his agenda.

“I find it very scary,” added Hampton Roads Pride Board member Michael Hamar, who cited a Dec. 3 ThinkProgress blog post that categorized Cuccinelli as Virginia’s equivalent to Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, who sparked outrage in August when he suggested to a St. Louis television reporter during his unsuccessful campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that women who suffer a “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant. Hamar also criticized him for his positions on abortion and immigration

“He’s a religious fanatic,” he said. “To have someone who is that anti-gay running for [the] position of governor is frightening.”

State Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) echoed Ebbin and others who said Democrats and progressives should not underestimate Cuccinelli going into the 2013 gubernatorial campaign. He told the Blade on Tuesday he feels the current attorney general would try to thwart a bill he and Ebbin have co-sponsored that would bar discrimination against LGBT state employees if he becomes governor.

“I have no doubts he would attempt an appeal,” said McEachin. “Just as importantly, if we’re not able to pass it this year and we were able to pass it next year, if he were governor he would veto it. He is not receptive to bills of that nature that try to treat all Virginians fairly.”

Hamar further described Cuccinelli as the “Virginia version” of anti-gay former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as he cited his opposition to non-discrimination statutes.

He noted the city of Norfolk last year banned anti-gay discrimination against its municipal employees. Hampton Mayor Molly Ward in October joined the handful of other Virginia mayors who signed onto Freedom to Marry’s “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” campaign.

“Someone like Cuccinelli as governor will do all he can to thwart that kind of thing, certainly if he’s consistent with what he’s done with the universities,” said Hamar. “All of us are very concerned with him being the likely nominee.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Patricia Scott

    December 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I think Virginia activists should be more than "wary" of Cuccinelli! Speaking as a woman and a scientist, I have watched in horror as Cuccinelli has made it more and more difficult to obtain an abortion in this state; he has also legally harassed the University of Virginia and Prof. Michael Mann, one of the leading geophysicists of our time, under the guise of investigating "taxpayer fraud" because he disagrees with the conclusions of climate science. You should working as hard as you can to elect the democratic candidate for governor (Terry MaCauliffe), a democratic candidate for lieutenant governor (Aneesh Chopra or Ralph Northam) and the democratic candidate for attorney general (Mark Herring).

  2. brian

    December 7, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Keep friends (like Bill and Hill Clinton) close– and enemies closer.

    Cuccinelli is no Todd Akin-like rube. He’s tough and smart, politically. Hamar is far more accurate in comparing ‘Cooch’ to Santorum– who ran a strong second to Romney last spring, after all. No one should underestimate Cuccinelli’s political abilities.

    If McAuliffe can get Bill and Hill, Warner, Kaine and Webb to assist/ appear with him in Virginia’s central and south conservative strongholds, he’s got a real shot against Cuccinelli, tho.

    Getting the McAuliffe ego to accept and learn from other Dem success stories is half the battle. Tethering Cuccinelli to fellow ideologue Guv. ‘Ultrasound’ McDonnell– who alarmed many GOP women– will be important, too.

    True conservative Virginians are not as ideologically/ religiously bigoted as Cuccinelli. Even those with some remaining bigoted, ‘native’ values are coming to understand that bigotry, divisiveness and prejudice is fundamentally costly and bad for business. That George Allen was rejected again last month is reflective of that.

    Virginians, both north and south, have a strong work and business-oriented ethic. If McAuliffe understands that, he’ll understand how Dems Warner, Kaine and Webb easily earned the trust of many Republican voters in their various winning statewide races.

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Local

Long-time LGBTQ activist running for Md. House of Delegates

Patrick Paschall is former FreeState Justice executive director

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Patrick Paschall (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

Former FreeState Justice Executive Director Patrick Paschall last week announced via social media that he is running for the Maryland House of Delegates.

“As a proud parent of two kids in Prince George’s County public schools, former Hyattsville City Council member, and lifelong civil rights advocate and policy analyst, I’ve spent my life and career working for equity, community and sustainability for my family,” Paschall said in a statement posted to Facebook on Nov. 23. 

Paschall, who currently is the American Rescue Plan Program Manager for the city of Hyattsville, previously served as executive director for FreeState Justice from 2015 to 2017. 

His LGBTQ advocacy work also includes serving as senior policy counsel for the National LGBTQ Task Force, as an organizer for Pride at Work and as a policy fellow for the National Center for Transgender Equality.  

He also worked for Family Equality Council, an organization advocating for the rights of same-sex couples and their children. 

“One of the things I’m running on is being a parent,” Paschall told the Washington Blade. “We can provide more opportunities for families to succeed in our communities.”

Paschall is running to represent District 22, which includes Hyattsville, where he has lived for over 10 years with his two children, who currently attend Hyattsville Elementary School, and his wife, who identifies as pansexual. 

He told the Blade he views his family as a “rainbow family,” but pointed out since he and his wife did not have to endure the same difficulties as his friends who are married same-sex couples when they wanted to adopt children.

“When I became a parent, no one stopped by my house to make sure it was an adequate living situation for my child, no one checked to make sure I had a room dedicated to the child and for no other purpose,” he said. “But my friends Jamie and Sean went through all of that when they tried to adopt a kid.”

Paschall explained that even though he and his wife didn’t go through these experiences, there was still room for Maryland to improve in the areas of adoptions and civil rights. 

“It strikes me how much privilege I have because the state doesn’t design to make it hard for me like it does for so many same-sex couples,” he explained. 

Patrick Paschall with his family. (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

Much like with the recent elections in neighboring Virginia, Paschall said helping parents is an important issue for him — one he wants to carry to Annapolis — if elected “because my district deserves better schools for our kids, more child care options and family support like paid family leave.”

“I think that District 22 needs a voice in Annapolis to represent progressive parents and to exercise policy expertise in achieving the values of our community,” he added. “And I have the experience to get it done.”

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D.C. area LGBTQ bars, eateries receive $100K COVID-19 relief grant

Pitchers, League of Her Own received NGLCC, Grubhub funds

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indoor dining, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. LGBTQ sports bar Pitchers and League of Her Own, its adjoining lesbian bar, are among the nation’s first LGBTQ bars that serve food as well as alcoholic beverages to receive a $100,000 COVID-19 relief grant under a $2 million Community Impact Grant Program.

The program, aimed at supporting LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-allied small businesses struggling from the pandemic, was launched in September as a joint project of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which goes by the initials NGLCC, and the global online food delivery company Grubhub.

In a Tuesday announcement, NGLCC and Grubhub said Pitchers and League of Her Own, which operate as one business in adjoining buildings in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, are among the first three recipients of $100,000 grants under the Community Impact Grant Program. The other two recipients are FOODE + Mercantile of Fredericksburg, Va., and Café Gabriela of Oakland, Calif.

“Following this initial round of recipients, more grants will be issued in late 2021 and early 2022,” the announcement by the two groups says. In an earlier announcement, the groups said the application period for the grants program took place from September through Oct. 12, and the grants would range in amounts from $5,000 to $100,000.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been debilitating for countless restaurant and bar owners, including the many LGBTQ+-owned restaurants across the country who have persisted through lockdowns, operational changes and labor supply shortages,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “We’re grateful to have partnered with Grubhub to offer real lifelines to support businesses throughout the nation,” Nelson said.

“Building community in a fun and safe place has been our mission since the very beginning,” said David Perruzza, the owner of Pitchers and League of Her Own. “We’re relieved and thankful for these funds, and are looking forward to more stable days ahead,” Perruzza said.

“As a trans masculine and queer immigrant person of color, I’ve worked hard and put all my love and energy into building a beautiful and welcoming space in Café Gabriela,” said owner Penny Baldado. “I’ve remained resilient through COVID, and this grant is the injection of funds that we need to continue along our journey to full recovery,” Baldado said.

The statement announcing the first three grant recipient says funds for the $2 million grant program were generated by Grubhub’s “Donate the Change” program of which NGLCC became a partner in June. Grubhub says the program asks customers receiving food delivered by Grubhub “to round out their order and donate the difference” to the charitable fund.

“COVID has turned the restaurant industry on its head the last 18 months, and at Grubhub, we’ve been working hard every day to support our restaurant partners across the country,” said Amy Healy, Grubhub’s vice president of government relations. “As the world starts to return to a new normal, we’re proud to partner with the NGLCC and provide these grants to LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+ ally-owned restaurants across the country that are pillars of their communities.”

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Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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