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Poll: Majority of Va. residents support same-sex marriage

55 percent of Virginians back gay nuptials in new survey

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Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign, gay news, Washington Blade

Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign, gay news, Washington Blade

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday unveiled a new survey that indicates a majority of Virginians support same-sex marriage.

55 percent of respondents who took part in the poll that Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting conducted between June 26-30 said they back nuptials for gays and lesbians. 71 percent of Virginians under the age of 30, and 58 percent of African Americans who live in the commonwealth also indicated they back same-sex marriage.

The survey found 68 percent of Northern Virginia residents back marriage rights for same-sex couples, compared to 53 percent of those who live in Central Virginia and 51 percent who live in Eastern Virginia.

A third of Republican respondents also back nuptials for gays and lesbians.

The survey also found 74 percent of adults — 71 percent of African Americans and 62 percent of Republicans — in Virginia support a bill that would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in the commonwealth.

“The future of equality is bright in Virginia,” HRC President Chad Griffin said during a press conference in Richmond. “As we’ve seen nationally, a decisive majority of people think it’s just common sense to ensure that no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.”

HRC unveiled the poll results two days after the American Civil Liberties Union announced it plans to challenge Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) referenced scripture as he noted in a statement that HRC unveiled the poll 15 days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

“We will not stop fighting until ALL Virginians are treated equally under the law,” he said.

HRC endorses McAuliffe, Northam and Herring

Griffin on Thursday also announced his organization’s endorsements of former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe and state Sens. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. The three men will square off against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson and state Sen. Mark Obenshein (R-Harrisonburg) respectively in November.

“Virginians have a choice to make in November. One option — Ken Cuccinelli and Bishop E.W. Jackson — represents harmful beliefs that are not indicative of the mainstream values of either party, Republican or Democrat,” Griffin said. “But Virginians can reject that radical fringe, and instead elect candidates who support fairness, freedom, and dignity for all.”

“Virginia businesses need access to the best and the brightest workforce, teachers, professors, innovators, job creators, and that includes the LGBT community,” Northam added. “That is why we need to turn the ‘open for business’ light on across the commonwealth by making Virginia a welcoming and inclusive place for all our families.”

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Maryland

Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14

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(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Maryland

Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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