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Mayor says LGBT groups could qualify for $100k city grants

Gray fields questions from Blade, audience at 3rd Annual Town Hall Pride interview

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Vincent Gray, Vince Gray, LGBT Town Hall, gay news, Washington Blade
Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Vincent Gray, Vince Gray, LGBT Town Hall, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington Blade senior reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr. and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told a Pride Week town hall gathering on Friday that non-profit LGBT organizations providing services to the community could be eligible for grants for as much as $100,000 under a new city program.

CHECK OUT ALL OF OUR PRIDE COVERAGE HERE!

Gray discussed the grant program and a wide range of other topics related to the LGBT community during the Third Annual Washington Blade Town Hall Pride Interview with the Mayor, held at the John A. Wilson City Hall building on May 31.

“We requested $15 million in support of the One City Fund,” Gray said in discussing the grant program, which he said is also known as the Innovation Fund.

“That would make available grants to non-profit organizations in the city,” he said. “And the criteria are broad and certainly would include the kinds of issues we are talking about here tonight.”

Gray added, “The entire $15 million was approved in this budget. And we will be ready on Oct. 1 to open the door to applications from organizations that want to get a grant.”

Gray raised the issue of the grants program in response to a question by transgender activist Ruby Corado, the founder and director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center in Columbia Heights that reaches out to the Latino and transgender communities.

Corado and David Mariner, director of the D.C. LGBT Community Center, which will soon move into its new home in the city’s Reeves Center building at 14th and U Streets, N.W., have each appealed to the city for funding for their respective community centers. Mariner has said D.C. is one of the nation’s only large cities that so far doesn’t provide city funding for an LGBT community center.

“We have organizations that do worthy work and don’t necessarily fit all the categories or any of the categories in the government [for existing grants],” Gray said. “So this is an opportunity for such organizations to be able to submit grant applications and get funding.”

In response to a question from another audience member about the problem of homelessness among LGBT youth in the city, Gray noted that the D.C. Council approved a proposal supported by his administration that will provide $500,000 this year and $1 million next year for emergency housing for homeless LGBT youth.

“We’re going to try to work with the relevant organizations to make sure that we understand what the scope of the need is [on LGBT youth homelessness] so we can effectively address it,” Gray said.

When asked by the Blade if he would like to make headlines at the town hall gathering by announcing whether he plans to run for re-election next year, Gray laughed and said he wasn’t ready to make such an announcement.

“I’m not going to answer that tonight. And I don’t have a specific date,” he said. “But I will say this. I believe we have done the things that we have set out to do.”

He listed a litany of accomplishments he said his administration has had in the two and a half years since he took office as mayor, including the city’s fiscal stability and booming economic growth, a significant reduction in unemployment, continuing “aggressive education reform,” and a sharp drop in the city’s murder rate.

“I love working with people,” he said. “I love, frankly, what we’ve been able to do to work with the LGBT community, to be able to move efforts along in this city. I want us to be the most friendly place, if you will, in the nation” for the LGBT community.

Gray said that similar to past years, he and members of his administration will participate in the Capital Pride Parade on June 8.

“I love to participate in the Pride Parade. I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “And anybody who would like to march with us, we’d love to have you.”

Among the audience members who spoke at the event was Alvin Bethea, the father of slain transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones, 23, who was stabbed to death while sitting at a city bus stop in Northeast D.C. in February 2012.

A 55-year-old D.C. man has been charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ murder.

Bethea thanked Gray for his support for the transgender community and thanked the LGBT community for its support for his family at the time of Jones’ death.

Corado and transgender activist Daniel King thanked Gray for a job training program he established for transgender residents at the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which is believed to be the first such program in the country.

But King, Corado and another transgender woman who spoke at the town hall meeting said transgender people continue to face discrimination in the city.

Gray pointed to a city media campaign organized by the Office of Human Rights that seeks to educate the public about the transgender community and promote respect and discourage discrimination.

“I wish I could say money will solve this,” Gray said. “It’s hard to buy new attitudes. In fact, it’s impossible to buy new attitudes…There’s still a lot of discrimination and bias in this city towards people who are lesbians or bisexual, transgender, and gay,” he said.

“Even though we’ve made a lot of progress, we’ve got a long ways to go. But I do think we’re making progress and we’re putting in more dollars into efforts to make that happen.”

In response to questions from the Blade and audience members, Gray made these additional comments:

-He opposes a proposed liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U Street, N.W., corridor where many LGBT people live, that would prevent the opening of news restaurants and bars.

-The D.C. Department of Health is taking steps to arrange for services by other providers for clients of Transgender Health Empowerment, a local transgender advocacy and services group that has mostly ceased operating due to financial problems.

-The city has not had any discussions with a developer to sell the Reeves Center building, which might result in the displacement of the D.C. LGBT Community Center.

The Center is expected to move into the Reeves building in rented space later this month. The Washington Business Journal reported unnamed sources as saying the city was “discussing” the possibility selling or trading the Reeves building as part of a land deal to facilitate the building of a new soccer stadium.

“You know, if there were such discussions – and there haven’t been,” Gray said, “but if there were such discussions we certainly would want to work with the D.C. Center to make sure that whatever would happen they would have a permanent home. But that’s really so premature now. There just haven’t been any such discussions.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. brian

    June 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

    RELEASE DAILY ARREST, CASE STATUS INFO FOR VIOLENT CRIME VICTIMS

    It would be great if Mayor Gray could get his police chiefs to publish simple (privacy protected, i.e.) crime case closure and arrest stats– keyed to CCN numbers (MPD case numbers) so that violent crime or hate crimes victims and others nearby know whether the perpetrators are still free to attack them or others again.

    MPD already publishes *Daily Crime Reports*. But that is only HALF the story MPD could easily report. Violent crime victims already know a crime has been committed against them. Crime victims, their friends and others nearby would like to have MPD’s arrest and case status (open or closed) to be able to act prudently for their own safety.

    By withholding crime closure and minimal arrest information tied to a CCN number, MPD denies all DC citizens, not just hate crimes victims, the right to take precautions for their own public safety.

    A simple, publicly accessible online database keyed to CCN# (case numbers) could/should show the following victim-relevant case data…
    CCN NO., DATE OF CRIME, TIME OF CRIME, OPEN-or-CLOSED, NUMBER OF ARRESTS, CONTACT OFC for TIPS/MOREINFO.

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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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McAuliffe: Youngkin ‘most homophobic’ candidate in Va. history

Former governor spoke with Blade on Oct. 21

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Terry McAuliffe (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

Terry McAuliffe described Republican Glenn Youngkin as the “most homophobic” and most “anti-choice candidate” in Virginia history during an Oct. 21 telephone interview with the Washington Blade.

“I’m running against the most homophobic, anti-choice candidate in Virginia history,” said McAuliffe. “I ran against Ken Cuccinelli. That’s saying something.”

McAuliffe, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, in 2013 defeated Cuccinelli, Virginia’s then-attorney general who vehemently opposed LGBTQ rights, in that year’s gubernatorial race. Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, is running against McAuliffe in the race to succeed current Gov. Ralph Northam.

State Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William County) is running for lieutenant governor, while Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election. They are running against Republicans Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares respectively.

The entire Virginia House of Delegates is also on the ballot on Nov. 2. The outcome of those races will determine whether Democrats maintain control of the chamber.

Youngkin remains opposed to marriage equality

The Associated Press a day after McAuliffe spoke with the Blade published an interview with Youngkin in which he reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, but stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin. The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Virginia’s political action committee are among the groups that have backed McAuliffe.

Youngkin earlier this year said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Youngkin has also expressed support for Tanner Cross, a gym teacher at a Leesburg elementary school who was suspended in June after he spoke against the Virginia Department of Education guidelines that are designed to protect trans and non-binary students.

HRC in 2019 named the Carlyle Group as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. McAuliffe scoffed at this recognition.

“They should have checked with their co-CEO who’s against marriage equality,” he told the Blade. “That would have been the first place I would have gone to ask.”

‘I’ve always been out front fighting to protect everybody’

McAuliffe’s first executive order as governor after he took office in 2014 banned discrimination against LGBTQ state employees. He also vetoed several anti-LGBTQ religious freedom bills, created Virginia’s LGBTQ tourism board and became the state’s first governor to declare June Pride month.

McAuliffe noted to the Blade that he is also the first governor of a southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple whom he married has recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

“I spent four years vetoing every single legislation Republicans brought forth and came across my desk that would have discriminated against the LGBTQ community,” said McAuliffe. “I’ve always been out front fighting to protect everybody.”

McAuliffe noted that CoStar, a D.C.-based commercial real estate company, moved more than 1,000 jobs to Richmond from Charlotte after then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, which banned trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibited municipalities from enacting LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination measures. McAuliffe described HB 2 to the Blade as the “anti-gay bill.”

“There’s real consequences … to discriminatory actions and I will not tolerate any of it,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama campaigns with Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 23, 2021. Obama is among the prominent Democrats who have traveled to Virginia in recent weeks to campaign on behalf of McAuliffe. (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

McAuliffe last month said during his first debate against Youngkin that local school boards “should be making their own decisions” with regards to the implementation of the Virginia Department of Education guidelines for trans and non-binary students. McAuliffe during his second debate against Youngkin stressed “locals” should provide input on the policy, but added “the state will always issue guidance.”

McAuliffe told the Blade he has “been so offended about how many folks have tried to really demonize our children here in this state.” McAuliffe referenced children with “self-identity issues” during the interview, but he did not specifically cite those who identify as trans or non-binary.

“We’ve got to help our children … we got to help our children who are desperately in need today,” he said. “And we got to show them that we’ll be there for them, as I say, no matter how they identify or who they love.”

Youngkin on Saturday during a campaign event in Henrico County said he would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia schools. McAuliffe criticized his opponent on this issue when he spoke with the Blade.

“Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia, nor has it ever been taught,” said McAuliffe. “These are dog whistles that are used, and especially in the CRT, it’s a racist dog whistle and it just fits into this whole pattern of using our children as political pawns and I hate it.”

Youngkin ‘would drive businesses out of’ Va.

McAuliffe has continued to portray Youngkin as an extremist on other issues that range from abortion and vaccine mandates as polls suggest the race between the two has grown tight. McAuliffe also continues to highlight former President Trump’s support of Youngkin.

McAuliffe told the Blade that Youngkin is “100 percent against abortion” and said his opponent would “bring those Texas-style type abortion” laws to Virginia.

The law, which bans almost all abortions in Texas and allows private citizens to sue doctors and anyone else who helps a woman obtain one, took effect last month. The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 1 will hear oral arguments in a case that challenges the law.

“We always knew that the Supreme Court would be a backstop on women’s rights issues: Roe v. Wade. That is gone. It’s over,” said McAuliffe. “Donald Trump’s Supreme Court is going to overrule the basic tenants of Roe v. Wade.”

McAuliffe added the Supreme Court “is going to allow these states to roll back women’s reproductive rights, so that’s no longer a talking point.”

“This is reality,” said McAuliffe. “Every woman in Virginia needs to understand it.”

Terry McAuliffe has said Glenn Youngkin poses a threat to abortion rights in Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

Youngkin, for his part, has said he would not have signed the Texas law.

Trump on Oct. 13 described Youngkin as a “great gentleman” when he called into the “Take Back Virginia Rally” in Henrico County that John Fredericks, host of “Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks” who co-chaired the former president’s 2016 campaign in Virginia, organized.

Participants recited the Pledge of Allegiance to an American flag that was present at the U.S. Capitol insurrection. Youngkin in a statement his campaign released said he “had no role” in the event and said it was “weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6.”

“As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong,” he said.

McAuliffe told the Blade that Youngkin would make Virginia “a dangerous place to live and work.”

“His governorship, if he were to be elected, would roll back individual liberties,” said McAuliffe. “He doesn’t support gay marriage, he is for eliminating abortion here in the commonwealth of Virginia and he will drive businesses out of our state and finally it is dangerous for people.”

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