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Anti-gay groups denounce LGBT Pride, HRC

‘Pro-family’ leaders hold news conference outside HRC building in D.C.

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Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, gay news, Washington Blade
Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, gay news, Washington Blade

Peter LaBarbera of the anti-gay group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, organized the Pride Week news conference. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Representatives of five organizations that oppose LGBT rights held a news conference on Tuesday outside the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in D.C. to express opposition to HRC’s advocacy for LGBT equality and the celebration of LGBT Pride.

CHECK OUT ALL OF OUR PRIDE COVERAGE HERE!

“Our bottom line is that homosexuality is nothing to be proud of,” said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, which organized the news conference.

“In fact, practicing homosexual behavior, a destructive sin, is something to be ashamed of,” LaBarbera said. “Out-and-proud homosexualism – far from being a human right – is actually a human wrong.”

LaBarbera, whose organization is based in Chicago, said he and the other LGBT rights opponents chose to hold their news conference at the HRC building during LGBT Pride Month in June to voice their opposition to what they called a harmful “lifestyle.”

In anticipation of the news conference HRC displayed a large banner from a first-floor window stating, “Welcome Peter.”

Two members of the groups participating in the news conference displayed their own banner behind a podium where the representatives spoke stating, “Homosexuality is nothing to be proud of – but overcoming it is.”

Linda Harvey, Mission: America, gay news, Washington Blade

Linda Harvey (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Others speaking at the news conference included Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, a legal group that opposes same-sex marriage and LGBT rights; Linda Harvey, founder of Mission America, a conservative Christian group; Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania; and Eric Holmberg, identified as a member of the Apologetics Group and producer of a documentary, “Is Gay the New Black? Homosexuality and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president for communications, was among several HRC employees who came out to observe the news conference.

“[T]hese are individuals who are out of the mainstream even within anti-equality activists circles,” Sainz said in a statement to the Blade. “Fringe is too polite a term for them.”

He added, “The unfortunate reality is that there are still Americans – a diminishing number every day – who will believe what these folks have to say and will pass on their beliefs in the form of discrimination and maybe even violence.”

Barber, an attorney, accused HRC of being part of a possible conspiracy with IRS officials whom Barber said appear to have illegally leaked a confidential tax filing from the anti-gay National Organization of Marriage (NOM) in March 2012.

The leaked 990 IRS report, among other things, included the names of 50 contributors to NOM’s 2008 campaign in support of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Among the contributors on the list was a political action committee formed by 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

At the time of the leak, NOM President Brian Brown noted that then HRC President Joe Solmonese was among the ceremonial co-chairs of President Obama’s re-election committee and the IRS leak suggested that high-level Obama administration officials could be behind the leak.

At a hearing last month before the House Ways and Means Committee, Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller testified that the IRS investigated the leaked NOM 990 report and determined a low-level IRS employee inadvertently released the document. Miller said disciplinary action was taken against the employee for not following proper procedures.

Harvey of the Mission America group said at the news conference gay rights leaders were jeopardizing young people with same-sex attractions by pushing for laws that ban therapists and others from performing so called gay conversion therapy on people below the age of 18. Harvey said consenting youth should be allowed to undergo conversation therapy at any age to eliminate same-sex attractions.

“Is homosexuality a human right? No it’s not,” Harvey said. “But the organization in the building behind me thinks it is…The Human Rights Campaign is spreading sweeping lies across America.”

“If the charges being made weren’t so laughable, they’d be sad,” HRC’s Sainz said in his statement.

At various times during the news conference the voices of Harvey and other speakers were drowned out by loud engine noise from large dump trucks lined up in front of the HRC building waiting to haul away debris from a construction site next to the HRC building.

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Comings & Goings

Lane named senior counsel at Brady United

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Thomas Patrick Lane

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Congratulations to Thomas Patrick Lane the new Senior Litigation Counsel and Director of Affirmative Litigation with Brady United. According to its website, Brady’s mission is, “To unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.”

Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of legal at Brady said, “The whole Brady team is thrilled to welcome Tom’s skills as a trial lawyer and his leadership as a champion for justice and a voice for inclusivity and equal rights. Tom is one of the top litigators in the country, and has been a fighter his whole life who has proven himself undaunted by any challenge, including taking on the gun industry for its role in causing gun violence in America. Tom’s expertise and insights into complex litigation involving emerging technologies, such as 3-D printed guns, “smart” technology, and online commerce, will bolster our fight for industry-wide change by holding companies accountable and forcing reforms that will make all Americans safer.”

Upon accepting the position Lane said, “From my time as a prosecutor to private practice, I have seen the effects of gun violence and the importance of defending victims and survivors and upholding common-sense laws that keep our families and communities safe. I am excited to bring that background to Brady and to continue this important work nationwide.”

Prior to joining Brady, Lane was a partner in the New York office of Winston & Strawn, LLP. Before that he was a partner in Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP. He is recognized as one of the country’s top intellectual property and new media lawyers. He tried the first Internet music case and the first Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor case before juries. He has also served as a senior trial attorney in the office of the New York Kings County District Attorney.

Lane represented the City of New York in litigation against major gun manufacturers in the early 2000s. LawDragon named him as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Lane earned his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.; and his J.D. from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans. He has created an endowed scholarship there for LGBTQ students to help law firms realize the importance of hiring diverse rosters of attorneys, and to honor the courage of his uncles Bernard Lane (an Army Ranger decorated with two Bronze Stars) and Richard Morrison (a recovered alcoholic who devoted his life to counseling others).

Both men were known for their toughness tendered by humor and both lived openly in loving relationships with same-sex partners in the 1970s. Lane is a former board member of the National LGBT Bar Association. He directs all external legal matters for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose mission is to end bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities.

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100th anniversary celebration of Dupont Circle fountain set for May 17

GWU student creates tribute video

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The iconic Dupont Circle fountain turns 100 this month. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ residents and longtime visitors to D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood are expected to be among the participants in the 100th anniversary celebration of the installation of the Dupont Circle fountain scheduled to be held at the circle on Monday, May 17.

Aaron DeNu, president of Dupont Festival, a nonprofit arts and cultural programming group that’s organizing the celebration, says it will take place from noon to at least sunset inside Dupont Circle.

The celebration will take place one week after the May 10 release of a YouTube video, “How Dupont Circle Evolved as a Hub for LGBTQ+ Life in the District,” produced by George Washington University student Dante Schulz. Schulz is the video editor for the G.W. student newspaper The Hatchet.

Among those appearing in the documentary video are veteran LGBTQ rights activists Deacon Maccubbin and his husband Jim Bennett, who owned and operated the Dupont Circle LGBTQ bookstore Lambda Rising beginning in the 1970s, which is credited with contributing to Dupont Circle’s reputation as the epicenter of D.C.’s LGBTQ community for many years.

Also appearing in the video is longtime D.C. gay activist and Dupont Circle area resident Craig Howell, a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“At this point in time due to COVID restrictions we’re not going to be doing any particular formal gathering of folks,” DeNu told the Washington Blade in describing the May 17 celebration. “But we’ll have a soundtrack that’s playing throughout the day from that original ceremony – the same songs they used in the original dedication a hundred years ago,” he said.

DeNu said the event will also feature “historic imagery” related to Dupont Circle and the people who have gathered there over the years.

“So, we’re really just inviting people to come and have lunch, stop by the park after work, and just stop and reflect on 100 years of Dupont Circle fountain, take a look at the imagery and see some old friends and hopefully stop by and see the Dupont businesses that are around the area,” DeNu said.

The LGBTQ video produced by Dante Schultz can be accessed here.

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Va. GOP governor nominee opposes transgender-inclusive youth sports

Glenn Youngkin made comment to Arlington voters in March

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Glenn Youngkin (Photo via Twitter)

 

The Republican gubernatorial candidate to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

“Biological males should not be allowed to play sports in girls sports,” Glenn Youngkin said during a meeting with a group of voters in Arlington on March 25, according to the Washington Examiner. “It’s just not fair.”

The Washington Blade has reached out to Youngkin’s campaign for comment.

Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, on Saturday defeated Pete Snyder, former House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield County), Peter Doran, Sergio de la Peña and Octavia Johnson in the Republican Party of Virginia’s nominating convention. Virginia Republicans nominated Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares as their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general respectively.

The Democratic Party of Virginia will hold its primary on June 8. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to win the vote, and run against Youngkin in the general election.

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