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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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Virginia

Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July

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(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’

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‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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Comings & Goings

Former D.C. resident opens art gallery in San Francisco

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Jonathan Carver Moore

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].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Jonathan Carver Moore on opening his contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. The gallery specializes in working with emerging and established artists who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women. As the only openly gay Black male-owned gallery in San Francisco, Moore is committed to amplifying the voices of the often-underrepresented artists through a Black queer lens. He said, “I want the gallery to be a place where the LGBTQ+ community and people of color walk inside and see themselves knowing that they belong. I want us to be able to collect work from and support underrepresented artists who are often overlooked, but add some much value to our culture.”

Moore is also the founder of ARTUCATED, a digital journal that helps share, spotlight, and educate people about marginalized artists. Previously he was director of Donor Relations, Partnerships & Programming Director with the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. He was Communications Manager, Rosenberg Foundation; and Associate Director of Public Relations, Out & Equal, San Francisco Bay Area. 

Moore earned his bachelor’s in Sociology, Women’s Studies, from George Washington University in D.C.; and his master’s in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications, also from George Washington University.

Congratulations also to Jim Bobick on having his paintings included in a permanent collection by Saks Fifth Avenue. He said, “I am thrilled Saks Fifth Avenue chose my art for its permanent collection. I have long been a customer of the store and an admirer of the fashion designers represented there. I am especially pleased to know my work is on public view in the Chevy Chase, Maryland store. Not only did I grow up in the area, for part of my education I attended art school nearby, where I had the good fortune of studying under the notable painter Allen Dester Carter of Washington, D.C., whose work is in the Smithsonian collection. My ties to the Washington area art scene and my love of Saks makes this professional moment especially important to me. I am grateful and honored the store chose my paintings for their collection.” 

He has had numerous exhibitions of his work, including: Gallery 101 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (solo); Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs, Fla. (group); Studio B “Delicacies” Washington, D.C. (group); Columbia Art Center “Abstract Paintings” (solo); and Gallery 50 “Freestyle” (solo) Rehoboth Beach, Del. He has been written about in several publications including Michael Mills, Jim Bobick Creates Landscapes of the Mind at Gallery 101, New Times; Arterpillar South Florida Arts Blog; Stefan Braham, Eclectic Expressions, Coastal Style Magazine; Artist Looks Beyond the Temporal Beauty, Coast Press.

He earned his bachelor’s in Visual Arts, University of Maryland, College Park, Fine Art; and attended the Maryland College of Art and Design. 

Jim Bobick
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