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Seven Delaware senators to vote against marriage bill

Nine state senators have thus far publicly backed HB 75

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage, Delaware

Patricia Blevins, Equality Delaware, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, HB 75, marriage equality

Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins (Washington BLade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade has learned seven of the 12 Delaware state senators who had previously not stated their position on the state’s same-sex marriage bill plan to vote against it next week.

Aides for Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R-Milford,) Senate Minority Whip Gregory Lavelle (R-Sharpley) and state Sens. Colin Bonini (R-Dover,) Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View,) David Lawson (R-Marydel,) Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes) and Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) said on Thursday the lawmakers will vote against House Bill 75 when the state Senate considers the measure on May 7.

State Sen. Catherine Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke) remains undecided.

State Sens. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna,) Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown,) Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington) and Robert Venables (D-Laurel) did not return the Blade’s requests for comment. Hall-Long and Marshall voted for the civil unions bill that Gov. Jack Markell signed into law in 2011, while Ennis and Venables opposed it.

Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere) co-sponsored HB 75 alongside state Sens. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington,) Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington,) Nicole Poore (D-New Castle,) David Sokola (D-Newark,) Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) and Karen Peterson (D-Stanton.) Senate Majority Leader David McBride (D-Hawk’s Nest) and state Sen. Brian Bushweller (D-Dover) have also publicly backed the bill.

Eleven of Delaware’s 21 senators need to vote for HB 75 in order for it to pass.

“I consider same-sex marriage to be an important step towards equal justice under the law in Delaware and in the United States of America,” Sokola said on Wednesday before the Senate Executive Committee advanced it by a 4-2 vote margin.

Lieutenant Gov. Matt Denn, who supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, would cast the deciding vote in the Senate if the outcome is a tie.

Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman on Thursday reiterated to the Blade she remains optimistic HB 75 will pass.

“I am confident we will have the votes to pass marriage equality in Delaware,” she said.

Neighboring Maryland is among the nine states and D.C. that currently allow same-sex marriage.

The Delaware Senate vote on HB 75 is scheduled to take place five days after Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law.

Markell has said he will sign HB 75 into law if lawmakers approve it.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Javier

    May 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

    According to DE Liberal, there are ten votes in support, with one more vote needed. The latest whip count on HB75 in the Delaware State Senate has the marriage equality bill’s fate still very much in doubt, with 10 (Democratic) Senators labeled as YES votes and 9 Senators (7 Republicans and 2 Democrats) labeled as No votes on HB 75. Democrats Venables and Ennis are voting no. There are two undecided (or publicly unknown) Senators: Bethany Hall-Long (D-Newark) and Catherine Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke). You can contact them at:

    [email protected] or 302-744-4197 or 302-577-8517
    [email protected] or 302-744-4286

    • billywinartenson

      May 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      And the lt gov ca vote if it is a tie, he’s for it. Sounds like it will pass , just barely.

      BTW the4 Catholic diocese of Wilmington declared bankruptcy a couple years ago due to its unmarried priests trying to act married with the kiddies

      see [[URL REMOVED]] And note all the

      other bankruptcies of this morally bankrupt church.

      Stalin who went to a Russian orthodox seminary in his youth would be proud of the republicans

      Guess what he did to gays in the old soviet union.

  2. Anonymous

    May 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    ….so 7 Republicans are caught in the last century……what else is new?

    • Joe L Cascio

      May 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

      bigotry not- marriage is between a man and a woman- those who dissagree are the biggots

    • Ken Paul

      May 27, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Joe L Cascio Speak for yourself. .Everyone in America still don't believe your perverted ways.. Watch a male dog and see if he will mate with another male dog ,,No animals know more than people …They've got it right ..

    • Ken Paul

      May 27, 2013 at 1:56 am

      Joe L Cascio Go back where you came from Joe ! stop trying to be like dogs …even dogs know the difference between male and female ..but queers are to dumb to know the difference

  3. Kay Alessio-Pieters

    May 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Come on Delaware, don't miss this chance to vote for civil rights! Let's end bigotry !

  4. Anonymous

    May 5, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    ….must be part of the "new dawn" of appeal that the GOP claims it is putting forth for the next election! To the 7 GOP Senators, I say your right wing and evangelical outlook will put you in the dustbin of social history…….where you belong!

    • Ken Paul

      May 27, 2013 at 1:45 am

      At least they believe in something ,,, all queers need to realize that all people are not peverts !

  5. anonymous

    May 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

    the founders of the constitution got it right the first time. our constitution of america is what made this country great.. lets uphold.all those who fought & died & the principles that made this country prosper.the american way! otherwise with the decline of these things we will see the decline of america its prosperity, safety & freedom ! Delaware we may be talking about marriage but we have to look at the further affects of our decisions. History proves it & we are already feeling the affects of in our country,

    • billywinartenson

      May 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Example of the effects

      MA was the first state to legalize gays marrying .It has the lowest divorce rate in the country
      [[URL REMOVED]]

      “anon” needs to stop fantasizing

      Gays marring supports the institution of marriage which if anyone is wrecking it its the str8 people.

  6. Skeeter Sanders

    May 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    No surprise that the seven Delaware state senators who declared their opposition to the marriage equality bill are all Republicans. The GOP is digging its own political grave — and it's too wrapped up in its right-wing ideology to realize it.

  7. Bill-Juanita Murray

    May 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    God established a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. We believe we should keep it that way.

    • Michael Mariano

      May 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Talking about Marriage or Holy Matrimony?

    • Bob Kennedy

      May 8, 2013 at 4:28 am

      Every one does not belive what you belive, there are other religions and beielfs systems. Your religion will never stop people from loving who they fall in love with, so what your doing is hurting those who are not allowed to marry, this is about legal rights as it is about love.

  8. Bob Kennedy

    May 8, 2013 at 4:27 am

    Lets in bigotry……Gay folks are not hurting anyone by loving who they love and wish to marry. I promise you the sun will come out the next day, the birds will still sing, no one will turn into a toad and the rainbows will still happen after a good rain, so let people love who they wish too.

    • Ken

      May 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Gays do not enough common sense to make statement about real people.. Even dogs know the difference between male and female…If America becomes a gay nation then in a few years human life will be a thing of the past What can two men produce? You got it a big TIRD…..

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17th Street High Heel Race draws large crowd

D.C. Mayor, three Council members, police chief mingle with drag queens

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34th annual High Heel Race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Close to 1,000 spectators turned out Tuesday night to watch D.C.’s 34th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in which several dozen men dressed in drag and wearing colorful high heel shoes raced along a three-block stretch of 17th Street near Dupont Circle.

As she has in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office organizes the annual event, gave the official signal for the runners to start the race from a stage at the intersection of 17th and R streets, N.W. 

Joining the mayor on the stage was Japer Bowles, who Bowser recently named as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which plays the lead role in organizing the High Heel Race. 

Also appearing on stage after being introduced by Bowser were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).

Bowser, who along with the three Council members delivered brief remarks before the start of the race, said the event highlights the city’s diversity and resilience coming after over a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we want the world to know – that even in a pandemic, even when we had to trim the budget, we stayed focused on how we can make life better for our LGBTQ community,” Bowser told the crowd. “And we’re going to keep on doing it,” she said. “We’re investing in making sure everybody in our community is accepted and safe.”

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who walked along the three-block section of 17th Street before the race began, was greeted warmly by bystanders, some of whom called out his name to welcome him to what has become the city’s largest Halloween celebration.

“This is a great event,” Contee told the Washington Blade. “I enjoy coming out to be among D.C. residents and all who find our D.C. culture,” he said. “It’s just a great evening, so we’re happy to be out here supporting our community.”

Members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit were among the police contingent on duty at the event and overseeing the closing of the streets surrounding 17th Street.

Like past years, many of the race participants and dozens of others dressed in Halloween costumes paraded up and down 17th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m., more than two hours before the start of the race, which was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.  

However, the mayor this year gave the signal to start the race at about 8:35 p.m. Although a large number of drag runners participated in the race, some who planned to join the race didn’t make it to the starting line in time because they expected the race to begin at 9 p.m. as advertised, according to people in the crowd who knew those who missed the race.

To ensure that everyone had an opportunity to participate, Bowles and others from the mayor’s office agreed to hold a second race about a half hour after the first one. The number of participants in the second race appeared to be about the same as those who joined the first race, indicating many of the drag participants ran twice.

“This is a special treat,” said one bystander. “We got to see two races instead of one.” 

The High Heel Race was cancelled last year due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Many in the crowd watching the race on Tuesday night said they were delighted the city decided to go ahead with the event this year at a time when other large events continue to be canceled or postponed.

Also similar to past years when the High Heel Race took place, the restaurants and bars that line 17th Street were filled on Tuesday night, including the gay bars JR.’s and Windows as well as the longtime LGBTQ-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Prior to the mayor’s arrival, gay local radio and TV personality Jimmy Alexander of DCW 50 TV served as host to a drag show and costume contest on the stage. DCW 50 also set up and hosted a separate stage on the sidewalk next to JR.’s bar in which race participants and others dressed in costumes were invited to have their pictures taken and provided with copies of the photos of themselves.

“I think it’s amazing,” Bowser told the Blade after the completion of the first race. “It’s good to be back. It was tough missing a year of activities,” she said referring to the business shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. “We had a lot of great, beautiful racers. And so, I’m really excited about it.”

To see more photos from this event, click here.

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Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting

Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote

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Mitch Crane, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane. (Photo courtesy Crane)

Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.

The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website. 

The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022. 

The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.

Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.

Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.

“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.

Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.

The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.

 “The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee. 

In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.

He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

 “I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.

Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.

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MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6

Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker

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Gay journalist Jonathan Capehart will host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area. 

“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.

The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.

According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.

The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”

Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”

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