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Cuccinelli reaffirms opposition to homosexuality

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate debated challenger Terry McAuliffe on Saturday

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Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli hoped to challenge a ruling that overturned the state’s sodomy law. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Saturday said his belief that same-sex acts are “against nature and are harmful to society” have not changed.

“My personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed,” the Republican gubernatorial candidate said in response to a question from the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff during a debate she moderated between him and former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe that took place at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. “What I want to do as governor is create an environment — including an economic environment — where every Virginian has opportunity.”

Cuccinelli’s comments come less than a month after he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling earlier this year that struck down the commonwealth’s anti-sodomy statute.

His campaign last week launched a website that urges the justices to defend what it describes as the commonwealth’s “anti-child predators law.”

The debate, which the Virginia Bar Association sponsored, also took place two days after a gay Norfolk couple filed a lawsuit in federal court that challenges Virginia’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban that voters approved in 2006.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday noted 50 percent of Virginians support nuptials for gays and lesbians. A survey that Public Policy Polling unveiled on July 11 found 55 percent of commonwealth residents back same-sex marriage.

McAuliffe, who publicly backed marriage rights for gays and lesbians in February, said during the debate that the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ prompted him and his wife Dorothy to evolve on the issue. He also said he would sign a same-sex marriage bill into law if one were to reach his desk, although he conceded it would likely not happen.

“We all know the practical realities,” McAuliffe said, noting there are only 32 Democrats in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. “[A same-sex marriage ban is] now in our constitution.”

McAuliffe also said he would sign an “early” executive order that would ban anti-gay discrimination against state employees as former Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine did. He criticized Cuccinelli’s 2010 recommendation to Virginia colleges and universities that they remove LGBT-specific provisions from their non-discrimination policies.

“My opponent has continually attacked gay Virginians,” McAuliffe said, noting the defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. threatened to scrap plans to relocate 300 employees to its Virginia headquarters after Cuccinelli issued his directive. “There are consequences to mean-spirited hateful comments.”

Cuccinelli described McAuliffe’s assertion as “laughable if it weren’t so offensive.”

“The only candidate in this race who has chased business out of Virginia is you,” he said, questioning his decision to open a factory for his troubled electric car company in Mississippi — and not the commonwealth. “It’s Terry, not me.”

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) criticized Cuccinelli’s statements.

“Ken Cuccinelli’s unapologetic and bizarre views on gay people perpetuate the worst stereotypes and make Virginia look like a hostile backwater,” Ebbin told the Washington Blade after the debate. “Labeling gay people ‘harmful to society’ and calling homosexuality a ‘personal challenge’ puts him out of the mainstream of Virginia thinking.”

“The attorney general’s position is counterproductive to building a stronger and more inclusive commonwealth, and the role of Virginia’s governor has the opportunity to bridge differences,” Equality Virginia Advocates added in a statement. “We are deeply disturbed that Attorney General Cuccinelli will continue to use his power in office as a bully pulpit instead of lifting up all Virginians.”

The Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday found McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli among likely Virginia voters by a 43-39 percent margin.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd will moderate the next scheduled debate between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli that is slated to take place in McLean on September 25.

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Virginia

Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents

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Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’

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Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award

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Lynden C. Armstrong

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].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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