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It’s official: Mizeur announces run for Md. governor

Democrat would become country’s first openly gay state executive

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Heather Mizeur, gay news, Washington Blade, Maryland House of Delegates, Baltimore Pride Parade
Heather Mizeur, gay news, Washington Blade, Maryland House of Delegates, Baltimore Pride Parade

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) has formally announced her 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together,” she told the Washington Blade in an interview before she officially declared her candidacy in an e-mail to supporters. Mizeur cited economic development, protecting the state’s environment and improving the quality of Maryland’s public schools and health care system as among her top campaign issues. “There are great challenges facing us and also incredible opportunities.”

Mizeur, 40, has represented the 20th House District that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring in the General Assembly since 2006.

The former Democratic National Committee member worked on now Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Mizeur in 2008 endorsed President Obama’s election campaign after her consideration of him or then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton received national attention.

Mizeur would make history as Maryland’s first female governor and the country’s first openly LGBT governor if voters elect her in 2014.

“Diversity is enormously important,” she told the Blade. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

Mizeur added her approach to governing the state and her vision for Maryland is “about bringing people together and making everyone a stakeholder and creating solutions to the issues” it faces.

Brown, Gansler have fundraising advantage

Mizeur will face off against Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, who last month unveiled Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to officially declare his candidacy to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2014 later this year, while Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is also considered a potential candidate.

Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County,) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Vaeth and Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young have also officially declared their candidacy on the Republican side.

Craig on Tuesday unveiled state Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Talbot County) as his running mate.

Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003-2007, said last month during an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd he is “looking at” entering the race. Former 2010 congressional candidate Charles Lollar is among the other Republicans who are rumored to be considering their own gubernatorial bids.

EMILY’s List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund are expected to back Mizeur’s campaign, but campaign finance reports indicate both Brown and Gansler have a significant fundraising advantage.

Mizeur reported in a campaign finance report she filed in January that she raised $244,089.40 between Jan. 12, 2012, and January 9 of this year. Brown said he raised $1,247,811.80 in cash and in-kind donations during the same period, while Gansler netted $1,236,284.96.

Mizeur declined to disclose to the Blade the amount of money she has raised since the last campaign finance report she filed in January.

She again stressed she feels she is the best person to succeed O’Malley in Annapolis in 2014.

“I’m not going to go into office playing it safe for four years so that I can assure myself of re-election,” Mizeur said. “The bold, aggressive, visionary ideas that I’m laying out in the course of the campaign is the action agenda for my term as governor.”

Mizeur defends role she played to advance marriage bill

Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County and other LGBT rights advocates have applauded Mizeur for the role she played in the passage of Maryland’s same-sex marriage referendum last November in spite of Marylanders for Marriage Equality Campaign Manager Josh Levin’s suggestion that she could have done more to support the effort.

Mizeur pointed out to the Blade during an exclusive interview last fall during which she announced she was considering a run for governor that she took part in fundraising events and testified in support of the bill. The Montgomery County Democrat, who married her wife, Deborah Mizeur, during a 2005 ceremony along the Chesapeake Bay and again in California before voters in 2008 approved Proposition 8 that banned gay nuptials in the state, also gave an emotional speech on the floor of the House of Delegates before it passed the same-sex marriage bill in 2012.

Mizeur also noted she and the other seven openly gay Maryland lawmakers remained focused on the same-sex marriage effort throughout the 2012 legislative session.

“Each of us was working hard in our own way,” Mizeur told the Blade last fall. “My entire public schedule was Question 6-related for months.”

Mizeur said she also worked “very closely” with Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer earlier this year to advance a bill that would have banned anti-transgender discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in March narrowly struck down the measure.

Mizeur pointed to both the same-sex marriage and trans rights bills as examples of her “ability to work with my colleagues” to “push through some pretty big efforts.”

“I will continue to build on those relationships in order to get other priority issues pushed through the General Assembly,” she said

Beyer, who supports Mizeur, on Tuesday described the Montgomery County Democrat as “a force to be reckoned with.”

“History can be made,” Beyer told the Blade. “Identity politics aside, Heather does her job really well.”

While not explicitly endorsing Mizeur’s campaign, Equality Maryland PAC Chair Tim Williams welcomed her candidacy and other out Marylanders who have decided to seek office in 2014.

“The presence of at least one openly gay candidate in the governor’s race, as well as the many LGBT individuals and allies who are running for other state and local offices, is an indication of how far we have come as a state and a nation,” Williams said in a statement to the Blade.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. E Chike Anyanwu

    July 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Unfortunately, if the only achievement that Ms. Heather Mizeur can quickly point to is the marriage equality, that has to be disappointing. That's perhaps the agenda she wants to vigorously pursue as an LGBT governor – truly disappointing.

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Local

Long-time LGBTQ activist running for Md. House of Delegates

Patrick Paschall is former FreeState Justice executive director

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Patrick Paschall (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

Former FreeState Justice Executive Director Patrick Paschall last week announced via social media that he is running for the Maryland House of Delegates.

“As a proud parent of two kids in Prince George’s County public schools, former Hyattsville City Council member, and lifelong civil rights advocate and policy analyst, I’ve spent my life and career working for equity, community and sustainability for my family,” Paschall said in a statement posted to Facebook on Nov. 23. 

Paschall, who currently is the American Rescue Plan Program Manager for the city of Hyattsville, previously served as executive director for FreeState Justice from 2015 to 2017. 

His LGBTQ advocacy work also includes serving as senior policy counsel for the National LGBTQ Task Force, as an organizer for Pride at Work and as a policy fellow for the National Center for Transgender Equality.  

He also worked for Family Equality Council, an organization advocating for the rights of same-sex couples and their children. 

“One of the things I’m running on is being a parent,” Paschall told the Washington Blade. “We can provide more opportunities for families to succeed in our communities.”

Paschall is running to represent District 22, which includes Hyattsville, where he has lived for over 10 years with his two children, who currently attend Hyattsville Elementary School, and his wife, who identifies as pansexual. 

He told the Blade he views his family as a “rainbow family,” but pointed out since he and his wife did not have to endure the same difficulties as his friends who are married same-sex couples when they wanted to adopt children.

“When I became a parent, no one stopped by my house to make sure it was an adequate living situation for my child, no one checked to make sure I had a room dedicated to the child and for no other purpose,” he said. “But my friends Jamie and Sean went through all of that when they tried to adopt a kid.”

Paschall explained that even though he and his wife didn’t go through these experiences, there was still room for Maryland to improve in the areas of adoptions and civil rights. 

“It strikes me how much privilege I have because the state doesn’t design to make it hard for me like it does for so many same-sex couples,” he explained. 

Patrick Paschall with his family. (Photo courtesy of Eli Sauerwalt of Patrick Paschall for Delegate)

Much like with the recent elections in neighboring Virginia, Paschall said helping parents is an important issue for him — one he wants to carry to Annapolis — if elected “because my district deserves better schools for our kids, more child care options and family support like paid family leave.”

“I think that District 22 needs a voice in Annapolis to represent progressive parents and to exercise policy expertise in achieving the values of our community,” he added. “And I have the experience to get it done.”

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D.C. area LGBTQ bars, eateries receive $100K COVID-19 relief grant

Pitchers, League of Her Own received NGLCC, Grubhub funds

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indoor dining, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. LGBTQ sports bar Pitchers and League of Her Own, its adjoining lesbian bar, are among the nation’s first LGBTQ bars that serve food as well as alcoholic beverages to receive a $100,000 COVID-19 relief grant under a $2 million Community Impact Grant Program.

The program, aimed at supporting LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-allied small businesses struggling from the pandemic, was launched in September as a joint project of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which goes by the initials NGLCC, and the global online food delivery company Grubhub.

In a Tuesday announcement, NGLCC and Grubhub said Pitchers and League of Her Own, which operate as one business in adjoining buildings in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, are among the first three recipients of $100,000 grants under the Community Impact Grant Program. The other two recipients are FOODE + Mercantile of Fredericksburg, Va., and Café Gabriela of Oakland, Calif.

“Following this initial round of recipients, more grants will be issued in late 2021 and early 2022,” the announcement by the two groups says. In an earlier announcement, the groups said the application period for the grants program took place from September through Oct. 12, and the grants would range in amounts from $5,000 to $100,000.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been debilitating for countless restaurant and bar owners, including the many LGBTQ+-owned restaurants across the country who have persisted through lockdowns, operational changes and labor supply shortages,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “We’re grateful to have partnered with Grubhub to offer real lifelines to support businesses throughout the nation,” Nelson said.

“Building community in a fun and safe place has been our mission since the very beginning,” said David Perruzza, the owner of Pitchers and League of Her Own. “We’re relieved and thankful for these funds, and are looking forward to more stable days ahead,” Perruzza said.

“As a trans masculine and queer immigrant person of color, I’ve worked hard and put all my love and energy into building a beautiful and welcoming space in Café Gabriela,” said owner Penny Baldado. “I’ve remained resilient through COVID, and this grant is the injection of funds that we need to continue along our journey to full recovery,” Baldado said.

The statement announcing the first three grant recipient says funds for the $2 million grant program were generated by Grubhub’s “Donate the Change” program of which NGLCC became a partner in June. Grubhub says the program asks customers receiving food delivered by Grubhub “to round out their order and donate the difference” to the charitable fund.

“COVID has turned the restaurant industry on its head the last 18 months, and at Grubhub, we’ve been working hard every day to support our restaurant partners across the country,” said Amy Healy, Grubhub’s vice president of government relations. “As the world starts to return to a new normal, we’re proud to partner with the NGLCC and provide these grants to LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+ ally-owned restaurants across the country that are pillars of their communities.”

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Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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