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Warner comes out in support of marriage equality

Virginia senator calls marriage equality ‘the fair and right thing to do’

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) came out for marriage equality via a Facebook posting (photo public domain)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) came out for marriage equality via a Facebook posting (photo public domain)

The senior senator from Virginia on Monday joined a chorus of prominent public figures who’ve come out in favor of marriage equality.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced his support for marriage rights for gay couples in a Facebook message.

“I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do,” Warner said. “Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.”

Warner’s announcement is the latest in a string of announcements from public figures — including Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — indicating new support for marriage equality. The senator makes the announcement just before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Much like McCaskill, who came out for marriage equality on Sunday via a posting on Tumblr, Warner announced his new position with little fanfare via a Facebook posting. It’s also noteworthy because Virginia is a state that has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage known as the Marshall-Newman Amendment, which Virginia voters approved in 2006.

The last public statement from Warner’s office on marriage equality was in an article in The National Journal posted on March 1. In that article, Kevin Hall, a Warner spokesperson, said his boss was considering the issue, reportedly saying, “It’s fair to say his thinking on that is evolving.”

But Warner has previously weighed in on the need for married same-sex couples to receive the federal benefits of marriage. The Virginia senator was among the 212 congressional Democrats — including 40 senators — who signed a friend-of-the-court brief calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his Facebook posting, Warner touts the work that he’s done on behalf of LGBT people — both as governor and a U.S. senator. Although in 2008 he campaigned in support of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” his position changed after his election and he voted for repeal.

“I was proud to be the first Virginia governor to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT state workers,” Warner writes. “In 2010, I supported an end to the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and earlier this month I signed an amicus brief urging the repeal of DOMA. I believe we should continue working to expand equal rights and opportunities for all Americans.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s latest congressional scorecard gives Warner 76 points out of a possible 100 points. Warner lost points for not co-sponsoring legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA, and the Uniting American Families Act.

Elected as a U.S. senator in 2008 at the same time President Obama was elected to his first term to the White House, Warner’s six-year term will end to an end in 2014.

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, said he doubts Warner’s new support for marriage equality will have an impact on his 2014 re-election prospects.

“At present Warner has no opposition for reelection and most doubt he will have a truly serious opponent,” Sabato said. “So I doubt his position on gay marriage will have much impact. The ground has shifted dramatically anyway. This isn’t the intense hot button issue it once was.”

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District of Columbia

Rooftop Pool Party postponed

Capital Pride Alliance moves official event to June 22

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A scene from last year's Capital Pride Rooftop Pool Party. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Rooftop Pool Party, originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. tonight, has been postponed until Thursday, June 22, according to a statement released by the Capital Pride Alliance on Instagram. This action comes amid an international climate event created by the Canadian wildfire that has resulted locally in poor air quality and a haze around the region.

The Capital Pride Alliance Instagram account posted, “As with all concerns regarding health and safety issues, the Capital Pride Alliance will closely monitor the air quality situation resulting from Canadian wildfire smoke and take necessary precautions in consultation with our partners in the DC government.”

“What does this mean for the pool party?” a question one private Instagram account user posed in the comment section.

“Important Update:” A representative of the Capital Pride Alliance responded through the group’s official Instagram account. “Tonight’s Capital Pride RoofTop Pool Party at VIDA The Yards is being postponed until Thursday, June 22 at 8:00 pm, due to the current air-quality situation resulting from the Canadian wildfires smoke. Please note that this postponement only applies to today’s event.”

The Capital Pride Alliance has yet to cancel or postpone any further events.

The White House earlier today rescheduled a large outdoor Pride reception planned for this evening to Saturday.

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District of Columbia

White House postpones Pride event due to wildfire smoke

Thousands expected for celebration bumped to Saturday

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The White House on June 8, 2023. A White House Pride reception was postponed due to the Canadian wildfire smoke. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House announced Thursday that a Pride event scheduled for this evening has been postponed to Saturday due to the lingering Canadian wildfire smoke.

The smoke has enveloped D.C. in a dangerous haze that triggered a “purple alert” on Thursday, considered worse than a “red alert.”

The event, expected to draw thousands of invited LGBTQ advocates and supporters to D.C., has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday on the South Lawn of the White House, the same day as D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade, which kicks off at 3 p.m., and Pride on the Pier celebration, which starts at 2 p.m.

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Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth election canceled after just 3 candidates file for 3 races

Mayor Stan Mills unopposed in bid for second term

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Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills gets a second term after no one filed to run against him. (Photo courtesy of Mills)

Rehoboth Beach voters won’t be heading to the polls this August because municipal elections were canceled after just three candidates filed to run for three open seats.

Stan Mills will be Rehoboth’s mayor for a second term, while Patrick Gossett, who’s gay, will remain on the Board of Commissioners and Donald Preston will join the board, replacing Jay Lagree.

Lagree filed to run in the Aug. 12 election but withdrew from the running shortly thereafter. He did not respond to a voicemail asking why he withdrew, but released a statement citing his age and hearing loss as reasons for bowing out of the race.

“After much consideration, I am withdrawing my candidacy for city commission,” he said in a statement released on June 6. “I have been honored to serve on the commission and to serve the citizens of Rehoboth Beach, and I had intended to continue my service. However, I am getting older every day. My hearing has become a problem; although, with correction, I can do pretty well most of the time.”

Mills was the target of criticism when he ran for mayor three years ago, unseating incumbent Paul Kuhns. Critics were concerned about his stance on development, which surfaced when Mills voted against Clear Space Theatre’s plans to build a new complex on Rehoboth Avenue, killing the already approved deal that was widely supported by the local business community.

More than a decade ago, as city commissioner, Mills used an ordinance to target bars hosting late-night eating and drinking on outside patios. Six of the eight bars targeted were owned and operated by gay businesspeople, former Aqua Grill owner Bill Shields told the Delaware State Public Integrity Commission. Police arrested and fingerprinted Shields before releasing him later as it became clear that Aqua Grill was grandfathered in and did not have to follow the ordinance. In a sharply worded decision, Delaware’s Public Integrity Commission said Mills used his public office for personal gain when targeting the bars, since he owned a bed and breakfast next door, and should have recused himself from the decision.

Asked about it in 2020, Mills told the Blade that it was “old news.”

“I’m sorry that happened, I’m sorry the way that was perceived,” he said. “It’s lessons learned and not forgotten, but we have to move on.”

On Monday, Mills raised the Pride flag outside of city hall and presented CAMP Rehoboth, the local LGBTQ community center, with a proclamation honoring LGBTQ+ Pride month along with two commissioners.

CAMP Rehoboth declined to comment on the election, citing its 501(c)(3) status, which does not allow it to endorse candidates.

When Mills ran for election in 2020, real estate agent Joe Maggio called attention to the issue, writing in an editorial for the Blade that Mills “uses his official role to enhance his personal interests and impose his personal prejudices.”

Mills did not respond to an email and voicemail seeking comment.

Gossett, who did not immediately respond to a voicemail, has served on the Board of Commissioners for 10 years. He was one of four commissioners that voted to overturn Clear Space Theatre Company’s approval to build two buildings in downtown Rehoboth in 2021. Clear Space appealed to Delaware’s Superior Court but later dropped the lawsuit, citing the cost of litigation and other factors. It has since abandoned plans to build the expansion in downtown Rehoboth, but executive director Wesley Paulson told the Delaware Business Times they will look for a new location “outside of the city.”

Preston is a political newcomer but comes endorsed by Lagree.

“He’s young, smart, has the same goals and objectives for Rehoboth Beach as I have,” he told WGMD.

Preston did immediately respond to a voicemail. The three politicians will be certified on June 16.

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