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Anti-gay group targets National Cathedral over gay marriage

Ralph Reed organizes petition drive to stop Cathedral from receiving historic preservation grants

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Washington National Cathedral, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington National Cathedral, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington National Cathedral (Public domain photo by Carol M. Highsmith)

An organization started by religious right figure Ralph Reed is circulating an online petition demanding that the federal government halt all “current or future” funds for the Washington National Cathedral because of its recent decision to perform same-sex weddings.

In a statement released on Friday, the Faith and Freedom Coalition noted that in recent years the National Cathedral has received a $700,000 grant from the National Park Service’s “Save America’s Treasure’s” program, which funds efforts to preserve and maintain historic buildings.

“With this policy change, taxpayers are being asked to subsidize gay marriage ceremonies for a church that can readily access millions of their own,” the group said in its statement.

“We believe the definition of ‘marriage’ to be the union of one man to one woman,” the statement says. “If the National Cathedral wants to continue to receive taxpayer funding from Congress, they should respect Congressional action like the Defense of Marriage Act.”

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, prohibits the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages and providing federal benefits to married same-sex couples. But the law doesn’t prohibit the government from providing historic preservation funds for churches that support or perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The National Cathedral, an Episcopal church, announced on Jan. 8 that it would welcome same-sex weddings on its premises effective immediately.

The action is considered significant because the National Cathedral is the second largest church in the United States and often hosts religious ceremonies of national significance such as presidential inaugural prayer services and state funerals for U.S. presidents and members of Congress.

“Our response would be that we certainly are not going to be deterred by the petition,” said Richard Weinberg, a spokesperson for the National Cathedral, in commenting on the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s call for denying the Cathedral federal funds

He said the Cathedral views as “totally separate” the issue of receiving a one-time federal grant for historic preservation of the Cathedral’s building and its position on same-sex marriage.

“The issue of marriage equality at least within the Episcopal Church is more or less is a settled issue,” Weinberg said. “So we’re actually exercising our First Amendment rights to function from a pastoral-sacramental standpoint and to perform the same-sex ceremonies that we plan to perform.”

He said the $700,000 grant from the National Park Service was awarded in May 2011. The cathedral continues to raise private funds from members and supporters for building maintenance and preservation work, including ongoing efforts to repair damage caused by the August 2011 earthquake that hit the D.C. area, Weinberg said.

People for the American Way, a liberal political advocacy group that supports LGBT rights, issued a statement saying Faith and Freedom Coalition’s call for cutting off federal funds for a church appears to contradict its longstanding calls for the government to support religious institutions.

“[T]he same FFC which believes Obama is waging a ‘war on religion’ and trampling on ‘religious liberty’ wants the government to cut off its grants to a church due to its opposition to marriagae equality,” said People for the American Way spokesperson Brian Tashman.

“For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples,” said Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral’s dean, or director, in a statement last month.

“It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit,” he said. “We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God – and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.”

Reed served from 1984 to 1997 as executive director of the Christian Coalition, a conservative Christian political organization created by Virginia televangelist Rev. Pat Robertson. The Christian Coalition emerged as one of the nation’s most outspoken groups opposing LGBT rights. Reed left the organization under a cloud after the Federal Election Commission began an investigation of alleged campaign funding irregularities.

He founded Faith and Freedom Coalition in 2006 after working as a political consultant in Georgia.

In arguing for a ban on federal funds for the National Cathedral, FFC says the cathedral should be able to obtain all the money it needs from the Episcopal Church, which the group describes as “one of the richest denominations in the United States.”

“Why is a church with untold billions in assets asking American taxpayers to fund their church?” the group asks in its statement promoting its petition. “We demand an immediate suspension of any current or future federal funds to this institution until such time that it ceases the practice of homosexual ‘marriage’ certification.”

Weinberg said the National Cathedral operates as a privately owned, independent entity.

“The Episcopal Church does not own it,” he said. “So it was built entirely through the support of generous donors across the country, and that’s how it has been maintained for its 107 year history now.”

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District of Columbia

Large crowds expected at Capital Pride parade, festival

Bowser says there are no credible threats to events

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Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week at a press conference that there are no credible threats to D.C.’s Pride celebrations. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday.

The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route that will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street, N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

The Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets, N.W., during the parade. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden and it will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The fourth annual Pride on the Pier will take place at the Wharf during the parade. The event, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf, will have a fireworks show, a DJ and more. 

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last Thursday told the Washington Blade after she helped to raise the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building that there have been no credible threats to any upcoming Pride events in D.C. amid a rise in violence against the LGBTQ community. 

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” Bowser said. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a bomb threat made on Twitter for the annual District Pride concert scheduled for June 29 at the Lincoln Theatre.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-80s on Saturday and the low-90s on Sunday. Precipitation chances on both days are low.

With recent air quality issues, Alert DC is advising those with respiratory issues to wear masks, avoid strenuous activities and reduce time spent outdoors.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Maryland

Moore signs executive order to protect gender-affirming health care in Md.

Ceremony took place during Pride month reception at Government House

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on June 5, 2023, signs an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state. (Photo from Moore's office)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Monday signed an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state.

Moore signed the directive during a Pride month reception at Government House in Annapolis.

“In the state of Maryland, nobody should have to justify their own humanity,” said Moore. “This order is focused on ensuring Maryland is a safe place for gender affirming care, especially as other states take misguided and hateful steps to make gender affirming care cause for legal retribution. In Maryland, we are going to lead on this issue.”

“In signing this executive order, this administration is saying to all LGBTQIA+ Marylanders: You deserve to be your authentic selves — during Pride month and every month,” added Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller. “You deserve to live safely, openly and freely; and receive the gender-affirming care you need.”

Moore last month signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which requires Maryland’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming care. Moore on March 31 signed a proclamation that proclaimed the day as the International Transgender Day of Visibility in Maryland. 

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Delaware

22 ways to celebrate Pride month in Delaware

From Wilmington to Rehoboth, there’s something for everyone

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Delaware hosts an array of Pride-related events this month.

FRIDAY, JUNE 9

QUEER FILM: The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth kick off the three-day Pride Film Festival featuring 12 movies, ranging from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” which explores author Giovanni’s life and six decades of work. The schedule has not been announced yet as of publication of this guide. The films will be shown at Cinema Art Theatre at 17701 Dartmouth Rd. #2 in Lewes. $12 per film.

A HISTORY LESSON: Delaware LGBTQ history researcher Carolanne Deal explores the queer history of Sussex County and a new exhibition with parts of Delaware’s queer history in the Zwannendael Park by the museum with the same name. 5 p.m. at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes. Free.

SATURDAY, JUNE 10

PRIDE FESTIVAL: Delaware Pride is putting on its annual Pride festival, with more than 100 vendors and many entertainers making up the single largest LGBTA gathering in Delaware, the organization says. Seventeen entertainers are listed on Delaware Pride’s Facebook page, including “American Idol” contestant Alisabeth Von Presley – “Lady Gaga meets Pat Benatar with a dash of Michael Jackson,” Little Village Magazine writes; Aunt Mary Pat, the drag queen and singer; Jenna Tall, who’s won five Miss titles; The Manhattan Prairie Dogs, a dance group that’s legal to watch despite prairie dogs being illegal to keep as a pet in New York; and Ryan Cassata, a singer and public speaker on trans issues. That’s not even mentioning 83 vendors that are scheduled to attend. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 411 Legislative Ave. in Dover. Free.

PRIDE AFTER-PARTY: Double D’s Taphouse is hosting an after-party throughout Saturday night for adults 21 and over, hosted by Scarlett Masters (who’s also hosting the drag bingo above). 6-10 p.m. at 137 Jerome Drive in Dover. $15.

COUNTRY DANCING: Get yir boots on and saddle up, gays! Atlantic Sands Hotel & Conference Center is hosting a country dance party for gay men and women in Rehoboth. 7 p.m. at 1 Baltimore Ave. on the Boardwalk in Rehoboth. $10.

BRING YOUR GAY ASS OVER HERE: Flash your colors at Wilmington’s Crimson Moon bar. Brush up on your gay history to understand why: When it was illegal to be gay, LGBTQ people put a colored handkerchief in their back pocket to signal their queerness to other community members. Community leaders periodically changed that color so they would not reveal their sexuality to undercover cops. Over time, it evolved into what it is today – a way to show who you are and what you’re looking for. 9 p.m. at 1909 W. 6th St. in Wilmington. No cover.

SUNDAY, JUNE 11

RUN FOR FUN AT THE FUN RUN: Fun for run, no, run for fun in Rehoboth, organized by a Delaware shoe store, Charm City Run. 8-9 a.m. at 200 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth. Free.

MIDDLETOWN PRIDE: Middletown is hosting its second annual Pride Walk and Festival – with vendors this time. 12-5 p.m. in Middletown. Free.

BINGO FOR A CAUSE: AIDS Delaware is hosting a spring bingo with The Rainbow Chorale in the Mill Creek Fire Company’s Chambers, with all proceeds benefitting the two organizations. It’s hosted by drag queens Scarlet Masters and Aura Buboyz and organizers encourage guests to dress in Pride attire or your “best ally” attire. Doors open at 5 p.m., games begin at 6 p.m. at 3900 Kirkwood Hwy in Wilmington. $15 for admission and one game board.

SUPPORT AGING LGBTQ+ PEOPLE: Learn about the challenges facing older LGBTQ adults and resources for them in a roundtable discussion hosted by Sussex Pride at the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware’s building in Lewes. 6-7:45 p.m. at 30486 Lewes Georgetown Hwy. Free.  

THURSDAY, JUNE 15

A NIGHT OUT: Bring your friends and (queer) family to this LGBTQ social event at Constitution Yards Beer Garden. It had a record turnout of about 300 last year, and organizers are hoping to crack 400 this year. 6-9 p.m. at 308 Justison St. in Wilmington. Free. 

GAME NIGHT: If going out isn’t your thing and you’d prefer a more chill night, fear not: Sussex Pride is hosting a game night in the Epworth United Methodist Church. 6:30-8:15 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Rd. in Rehoboth. Free.

FRIDAY, JUNE 16

GET INTO THE HOMO SPIRIT: Listen to CAMP Rehoboth’s Chorus singing all-time favorites like Chad & Jeremy’s “A Summer Song,” Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park,” and, of course, a Beach Boys medley at Epworth United Methodist Church. Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., and Monday 3 p.m. at 19285 Holland Glade Road in Rehoboth. $25. 

GAYEST SONGS EVER: Celebrate the super gay pop hits of yesteryear (and this year) with performer Todd Alsup. 8:30-10:30 p.m. at The Pines, 56 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25-150.

SATURDAY, JUNE 17

DRAG BRUNCH: Miss Troy, who is also performing at the Pride Festival, is hosting a drag brunch at The Queen in its Crown Room. The Queen is normally a live music venue but has a history of hosting all kinds of events. 12 p.m. at 500 N. Market St. in Wilmington. $39-61.50

POOL PARTY: If you want to take a splash in the pool while being a little tipsy this is the place to do it. Bring your own booze if desired, and bring food if you wish. 3-9 p.m. at 128 Honey Brook Lane in Felton. Free.

PLAY DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Take a break from celebrating with a round of Dungeons & Dragons hosted by Sussex Pride at the Groome Church. 6:30-8 p.m. at 601 Savannah Rd. in Lewes. Free.

SUNDAY, JUNE 18

QUEER STORY TIME: Bring your little (or not so little) kids to the Woodlawn Library and read picture books with LGBTQ characters. You must register for the event beforehand here. Masks are strongly encouraged at the event. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at 2020 W. 9th St. in Wilmington. Free.

BRING YOUR DADDY TO BRUNCH: Goolee’s Grill encourages you to bring your dad (or daddy) to this family-friendly drag brunch because it’s Father’s Day. The event is hosted by the runner up for Rehoboth’s Best Drag Queen in the 2019 Blade awards, Regina Cox. 12-2 p.m. at 11 South 1st St. $15.

SATURDAY, JUNE 24

ZOO VISIT: The Brandywine Zoo is holding its annual Pride Day – only the third – with educational programming, a scavenger hunt, and story time. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at 1001 N. Park Dr. in Wilmington. $7 for seniors and youth, $9 for adults.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25

STONEWALL RELIVED: Listen to four actors recreate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising at CAMP Rehoboth with the words of those that were there – reporters, drag queens, trans youth, gay people, and homeless kids that confronted the police, letting out their anger. It wasn’t the first LGBTQ uprising of the era, but the most consequential. 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. at 37 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth. $25. 

FRIDAY, JUNE 30

GAY COMEDY: Standup comedian Jen Kober, an out lesbian from Louisiana, is touring the country and stopping in Rehoboth Beach at The Pines along with Jeff D. She won NPR’s Snap Judgment of Comedic Performance of the Year and went viral for her standup about Girl Scout cookies. 7 p.m. at The Pines in Rehoboth. 

Did we miss anything? Let the author know at [email protected] 

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