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AU graduate credited with securing passage of Del. transgender rights bill

Sarah McBride testified for Senate Bill 97 three times

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Equality Delaware, Senate Bill 97, transgender rights, gay news, Washington Blade
Sarah McBride, Victory Fund, gay news, Washington Blade

Sarah McBride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The transgender woman who advocates credit with securing passage of Delaware’s transgender rights bill told the Washington Blade on Monday she simply did the right thing.

“My mother and I went down (to Dover) and talked about what it means to be transgender, why for us this bill is necessary, why for the community this bill is necessary,” Sarah McBride said.

McBride, a Wilmington, Del., resident who was the student body president at American University from 2011-2012, came out as trans last May in an op-ed she wrote for the D.C. school’s student newspaper. She had been involved with Equality Delaware for several years, and joined the LGBT advocacy group’s Board of Directors after she came out.

McBride and her mother six months ago began meeting with Dover lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 97 that added gender identity and expression to Delaware’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

She told the Blade they “certainly fielded our fair share of questions about bathrooms and locker rooms and ‘unintended consequences’ of this bill.” McBride said the questions she and her mother received from legislators did not come as a surprise in spite of their personal nature.

“The vast majority of legislators and the vast majority of questions were completely respectful and were either friendly questions or were hard questions that just needed to be answered,” she said. “At minimum constituents would be asking those questions and they needed answers.”

McBride testified in support of SB 97 three times in the Delaware Senate and House. She also appeared in an Equality Delaware video in support of the bill.

She said she “briefly” met Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis, who repeatedly spoke against the bill.

McBride noted a woman who opposed SB 97 threatened “to hurt me if she saw me in the bathroom” after she testified in support of the measure in the House.

“I feel bad for them that they feel the need to put other people down,” she said. “I don’t take it personally. I think the vast majority of comments that people make that aren’t positive comments are out of ignorance and not out of hatred.”

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell last Wednesday signed SB 97 into law after the Senate approved a slightly amended version of the bill that passed in the House by a 24-17 vote margin.

The governor described McBride, who worked on his 2008 election campaign and was his personal aide when she interned for him after he took office, as an “intelligent and talented Delawarean” before he signed SB 97 into law.

“She courageously stood before the General Assembly to describe her personal struggles with gender identity and communicate her desire to return home after her college graduation without fear,” Markell said. “Her tireless advocacy for passage of this legislation has made a real difference for all transgender people in Delaware.”

Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe also applauded McBride, who also interned for his organization.

“Congratulations to the many advocates and lawmakers who fought for this important victory,” he said after Markell signed SB 97 into law. ”Among them was our former intern, Sarah McBride, whose family stood with her as she bravely came out as trans and asked her state for full equality under law. I’m so proud of Sarah and her parents.”

McBride, who graduated from American University last month, described the governor’s comments as “an incredible honor.”

She acknowledged trans advocates were angry over the anti-discrimination bill that Markell signed into law in 2009 that included sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression. McBride added, however, SB 97 proves “our government is an ally” for trans Delawareans.

“It says that our state and our community is finally a safe and secure place for us to live, to visit, to raise a family,” she said. “It gives hope to — I hope — a lot of people, both transgender people who are out and also people who are struggling with their gender identity, that they know that Delaware is a welcoming place for them and for all people.”

Equality Delaware, Senate Bill 97, transgender rights, gay news, Washington Blade

Sarah McBride and other Equality Delaware members celebrate the final passage of Senate Bill 97 on June 19 (Photo courtesy of Equality Delaware)

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Maryland

Lesbian candidate trails by just 17 votes in Hyattsville Council race

Election board mum on whether all ballots are counted

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Lisbeth Melendez Rivera (Photo courtesy of the Melendez Rivera Campaign)

Lesbian activist and diversity consultant Lisbeth Melendez Rivera was behind her closet rival by just 17 votes on Tuesday night in a three-candidate special election to fill a vacant seat on the Hyattsville, Md., City Council.

In what it said were the unofficial results of the special election, the Hyattsville Board of Supervisors of Elections posted on its website that candidate Emily Strab had 280 votes, Melendez Rivera had 263 votes, and candidate Kelly Burello had 152 votes. Three votes were cast for write-in candidates, the election night posting said.

“Results are unofficial until certified by the Board of Supervisors of Election,” the posting said. The certification was scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

The online posting of the results did not say whether there were any outstanding votes from absentee or mail-in ballots. A spokesperson for the election board couldn’t immediately be reached Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The Ward 2 seat on the 10-member Hyattsville Council in the Prince George’s County suburban city became vacant when the incumbent Council member, Robert Croslin, won election as mayor.

Melendez Rivera currently operates BQN Consulting, a firm she created to provide support services related to organizing, training and capacity building, according to the firm’s website. The website says that from 2014 to 2017 she served as Director of Latinx & Catholic Initiatives for the Human Rights Campaign, the D.C.-based national LGBTQ advocacy organization.

“I congratulated Emily,” Melendez Rivera told the Washington Blade Wednesday morning.

 “Have I said this is the end? No, because I want to wait until tomorrow at 1 to see the outcome,” she said.

“What I know is everything that was available to them was counted as of 9:30 last night,” she said, referring to the election board. “There is a process today. They will do a last check of the mail to see if anything was postmarked before 8 p.m. last night,” Melendez Rivera said in referring to possible additional mail-in ballots.

Melendez Rivera said she portrayed herself as the most progressive of the three candidates running for the nonpartisan City Council seat in a city that many consider to be one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the Washington metro area. Residents starting at age 16 and non-citizen immigrants are allowed to vote in local elections.

Like Melendez Rivera, Strab, a former teacher and school administrator, and Burello, who has worked as a workplace diversity trainer, each expressed support for Hyattsville’s diverse population, including racial minorities and immigrants.

The 698 total votes cast in the special election as of Tuesday night is considered a low turnout in the Ward 2 election district, which has a little over 2,000 registered voters.

This story will be updated when new information becomes available.

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District of Columbia

Gay ANC commissioner nominated for director of D.C. Office of ANCs

Confirmation hearing set for Oct. 12

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Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese (Photo courtesy of Boese)

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) on Sept. 19 introduced a resolution nominating gay law librarian and Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese to become executive director of the D.C. Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

The ANC Office director, who is nominated and confirmed by the Council, oversees the operations of the city’s 40 ANCs, which consist of nearly 300 commissioners representing single member ANC districts located in neighborhoods throughout each of the city’s eight wards.

Boese currently represents ANC Single Member District 1A08 in Ward 1.

Shawn Hilgendorf, staff director of the D.C. Council Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, which has jurisdiction over the Office of ANCs, said Mendelson nominated Boese for the Executive Director’s position after the committee earlier this year accepted applications for the position and “interviewed a number of candidates.”

The Council’s Committee of the Whole, which is chaired by Mendelson, is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Boese on Oct. 12, Hilgendorf said. The committee consists of all 13 members of the Council. If it approves Boese’s nomination, as expected, the full Council is expected to then take a final vote on the resolution calling for Boese’s appointment.

Boese is a former president of the D.C. Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, which has since changed its name to the Capital Stonewall Democrats. In 2018, Boese ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat in the Democratic primary.

A resumé for Boese submitted to the Council at the time of his nomination says he has worked since August 2008 as a law librarian, manager of technical services, and manager of library services for the D.C. law firm Wiley Rein.

“I’m honored & humbled by the confidence & support I’ve received from Chairman Mendelson during the selection process for a new Director of OANC,” Boese wrote in a Twitter posting. “I’m excited to leverage my ANC experience & relationships to build stronger supports & new services for ANCs across DC.”

Created under the city’s Home Rule Charter in the 1970s, ANCs serve as non-partisan, unpaid bodies that advise city government agencies on a variety of issues impacting neighborhoods, including zoning, trash collection, liquor license approval, and public safety. Although D.C. government agencies make the final decisions on these issues, they are required to give “great weight” to the recommendations of the ANCs.   

ANC commissioners are elected to two-year terms by the approximately 2,000 people who live in their Single Member Districts.

The director of the ANC Office oversees the administrative affairs, including the budgets, for all of the ANCs. The position became vacant last year when its longtime director Gottlieb Simon resigned. The Council appointed Schannette Grant as interim executive director while it conducted its search for a permanent director.

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Maryland

Poll indicates Moore well ahead of Cox in Md. gubernatorial race

Democrat has 32-point lead over anti-LGBTQ Republican opponent

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From left, state Del.Dan Cox (R-Frederick County) and Democrat Wes Moore. (Screen capture of Cox via WUSA9; screen capture of Moore via WBAL TV 11 Baltimore)

A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll shows Democrat Wes Moore is ahead of Republican Dan Cox by 32 points in the state’s gubernatorial race.

The poll, which was released on Saturday, shows 60 percent of respondents supported Moore, compared to only 28 percent who backed Cox. The Post and the University of Maryland surveyed 810 registered Maryland voters by telephone from Sept. 22-27.

The results mirror those of the 2020 election, when now President Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump in Maryland by 33 percentage points. The former president has endorsed Cox, who opposes LGBTQ rights.

While the poll reflects the candidate for whom Marylanders are more likely to vote, it also shows the one who is generally more liked. Fifty-one percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of Moore, compared to only 28 percent of respondents who said they feel favorably about Cox.

A Democrat from Baltimore County told the Post that she feels like Moore understand the issues of marginalized communities, 

“He is coming from an African American family and knows how hard life can be,” she said.

An Independent from St. Mary’s County told the Post they agrees with Cox’s opposition to teaching students about gender identity and structural racism in the classroom. The voter also said they feel Republicans can help the economy more than Democrats can.

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