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Delaware House approves transgender rights bill

Gov. Jack Markell is expected to sign measure into law

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Dover, Delaware, Legislative House, Gay News, Washington Blade

Gay News, Washington Blade, Delaware

Rep. Bryon Short (D-Claymont) speaks in support of Senate Bill 97 in Dover, Del. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas.)

DOVER, Del.—The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

The 24-17 vote came less than a week after Senate Bill 97 passed out of the House Administration Committee.

State Reps. Michael Barbieri (D-Newark,) Paul Baumbach (D-Newark,) Andria Bennett (D-Dover,) Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington,) Gerald Brady (D-Wilmington,) Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Earl Jaques, Jr., (D-Glasgow,) James Johnson (D-Holloway Terrace,) Quinton Johnson (D-Middletown,) Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington,) John Kowalko, Jr., (D-Newark,) Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood,) Edward Osienski (D-Beecher’s Lot,) Charles Potter, Jr. (D-Wilmington,) Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley,) Darryl Scott (D-Dover,) Bryan Short (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) John Viola (D-Newark,) Rebecca Walker (D-Townsend,) Dennis Williams (D-Talleyville,) Kimberly Williams (D-Klair Estates) and House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) voted for the bill. State Reps. John Atkins (D-Millsboro,) Donald Blakey (R-Dover,) Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown,) William Carson (D-Smyrna,) Timothy Dukes (R-Laurel,) Ronald Gray (R-Selbyville,) Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne,) Harvey Kenton (R-Millsboro,) Joseph Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley,) John Mitchell, Jr., (D-Wilmington,) William Outten (R-Harrington,) W. Charles Paradee (D-Dover,) Harold Peterman (R-Milford,) Stephen Smyk (R-Milton,) Jeffrey Spiegelman (R-Dover,) David Wilson (R-Bridgeville) and House Minority Leader Daniel Short (R-Milford) opposed SB 97.

The Delaware Senate earlier this month approved the measure.

“This bill to me is about fairness and equality,” Bolden said.

Daniel Short called Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis to speak against SB 97 during the debate that lasted more than two hours.

“The bottom line is a concern about my rights,” Theis said. “I don’t want to go into a locker room with my small children and not have any rights.”

Briggs King suggested the passage of SB 97 could prompt lawmakers to seek protections for those who are struggling with obesity. She further said her Sussex County constituents have described the measure as one that reflects “a special interest and special concerns.”

“This bill is not about those things that we know they are born with,” Briggs King said. “It’s more about subjective and discerning preferences, feelings and choices.”

Gay News, Washington Blade, Delaware, transgender

Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Ramone challenged Theis over her reference to man going into a women’s locker room during her testimony against SB 97.

“Transgenders, naturally, just want to be accepted,” Ramone said. “They just want to fit in. They just don’t want to be discriminated against. I believe in this bill because of that.”

Sixteen states and D.C. have trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. Thirteen of those states and the nation’s capital have also added gender identity and expression to their hate crimes statutes.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Padilla García last month signed a bill into law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the U.S. commonwealth. The New York Assembly last month once again approved a measure – the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act – that would add trans-specific protections to the state’s non-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

Bryon Short, who sponsored SB 97 in the House, introduced an amendment approved before the vote that clarifies the definition of gender identity. It also seeks to ensure a person cannot claim a gender identity that is not their own to access a locker room or other sex-segregated facility.

“We heard from opponents of this bill that they did not oppose providing transgender people the same protections that are afforded to other Delawareans based on race, age, sex, religion or ethnicity. Their concerns involved the ‘public accommodations’ part of the bill,” Bryon Short said. “We listened to the concerns raised by constituents, took their comments seriously and crafted an amendment to address them.”

He added he feels the amendment actually “strengthened the protections” contained within SB 97.

“This amendment addresses the major concern that was raised last week and provides transgender people with the long overdue protections they deserve so they don’t have to live in fear of discrimination.”

The Delaware Senate will need to approve the amended bill before Gov. Jack Markell signs it into law.

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Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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Baltimore

Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Baltimore

Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep

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Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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