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Virginia GOP candidates’ LGBT records attacked on final campaign day

Polls show former DNC chair ahead of Ken Cuccinelli going into Election Day.

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Terry McAuliffe, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
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President Obama campaigns for Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Va., on Nov. 3, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

ANNANDALE, Va.—Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Monday again attacked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his Republican ticket mates’ opposition to LGBT rights during the final full day of campaigning in the commonwealth’s statewide campaigns.

“Their Tea Party ticket has demonized gay Virginians,” McAuliffe said during a rally in campaign volunteer Alex Rodriguez’s backyard in Annandale. “Our mainstream ticket believes that Virginia should be open and welcoming for all.”

Vice President Biden joined McAuliffe in Annandale alongside state Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk), who is running against E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant gubernatorial race, and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun), who will face state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) on Election Day to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general. Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Charniele Herring also attended the rally.

President Obama and “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington on Sunday joined McAuliffe at a campaign rally that took place at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington.

“These guys are the absolute antithesis of change and progress,” Biden said as he criticized Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain. “Everything they talk about without exaggeration is about turning back what the rest of the country and the world thinks is progress. It’s hard to fathom this state being led by a man who rejects all that this new thinking stands for.”

A poll that Quinnipiac University released on Monday shows McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 46-40 percent margin. Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis, who backs marriage rights for same-sex couples like the former DNC chair and his two Democratic ticket mates, received eight percent.

A Washington Post/Abt SRBI survey unveiled last week showed Northam ahead of Jackson by a 52-39 percent margin. Herring was ahead of Obenshain by a 49-46 percent margin.

More than half of likely Virginia voters who responded to the Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll said they feel Cuccinelli’s views on most issues are too conservative. Forty-six percent of respondents who took part in a Quinnipiac University survey conducted early last month had the same opinion of the current attorney general.

Jackson: GOP candidates have “been slandered”

Virginia Democrats and LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly criticized Cuccinelli and the commonwealth’s statewide Republican ticket over their opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other gay-specific measures.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month denied Cuccinelli’s request to appeal a lower court ruling that found Virginia’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

The Republican attorney general in 2010 recommended Virginia colleges and universities remove LGBT-specific provisions from their non-discrimination policies. Cuccinelli also defended the commonwealth’s constitutional amendment that bans nuptials for gays and lesbians during a Sept. 25 debate against McAuliffe in McLean.

Jackson, who is a minister in Chesapeake, has faced scathing criticism from LGBT activists and their supporters over his comparison of gay men to pedophiles. He has also previously described them as “very sick people.”

Obenshain sponsored a bill that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law earlier this year that bans public universities from denying recognition and funding to student organizations that discriminate in their membership based on sexual orientation and other unprotected categories under federal law. Obenshain also opposed a measure a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee in February tabled that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees.

A group of gay rights advocates on Saturday heckled Cuccinelli during an event at his Fairfax campaign office at which former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Republican Party of Virginia Chair Pat Mullins spoke. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus joined the attorney general on the campaign trail earlier in the day.

Cuccinelli and his ticket mates on Monday reiterated their opposition to the Affordable Care Act during campaign rallies in Warrenton and Culpeper at which U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mullins also spoke. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was to have joined Cuccinelli at a Richmond event later on Monday.

The GOP candidates did not discuss their positions against marriage rights for same-sex and other LGBT-specific issues during their stump speeches in Warrenton and Culpeper.

“Tomorrow in Virginia is a referendum on Obamacare,” Cuccinelli said during the Warrenton rally, noting he is the first state attorney general in the country to challenge the law after Obama signed it in 2010. “Terry McAuliffe wants to expand Obamacare even farther, and I do not.”

E.W. Jackson, Virginia, Republican Party, Culpeper, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial candidate E.W. Jackson speaks in Culpeper, Va., on Nov. 4, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Jackson on Monday once again criticized those whom he claims have misrepresented his and his ticket mates’ comments.

“The three candidates that stand before you today have been lied on, have been slandered,” he said during the Culpeper rally. “Things we’ve said have been misinterpreted and twisted and contorted and made absolutely unrecognizable.”

Cuccinelli is the “perfect candidate for the 1950s”

Theresa Speake, co-chair of the Nuestro Cuccinelli Committee, which advises the attorney general’s campaign on Latino-specific issues, praised the GOP gubernatorial hopeful as she opened the Warrenton rally.

“Ken represents everything that we like: That’s integrity, family, faith,” she said.

Connolly told the Washington Blade before McAuliffe appeared with Biden in Annandale that voters with whom he has spoken said they remain concerned over Cuccinelli’s position on same-sex marriage and other LGBT-specific issues.

“Ken is the perfect candidate for the 1950s,” Connolly said.

Board members of Hampton Roads Business Outreach, which is Virginia’s only LGBT chamber of commerce, with whom the Blade spoke during their retreat in Norfolk on Saturday echoed Connolly.

“[Cuccinelli’s] too overly concerned about women,” Stacie Walls-Beegle, executive director of Access AIDS care, a local HIV/AIDS service organization, said. “He clearly has issues.”

Hampton Roads Business Outreach President Don King told the Blade he feels Cuccinelli’s social agenda is also “short-changing his focus on jobs.”

“We are losing large corporations to Maryland and Delaware and Washington, D.C., because of his social agenda,” he said. “He’s missing the boat as far as equal rights are concerned for workers in this state.”

Walls-Beegle stressed she wishes McAuliffe was a “stronger” candidate, but added “he’s not Ken Cuccinelli” and that’s “good enough” for her.

“At this time that’s the only choice we’ve got,” Jack Peirson, who sits on Hampton Roads Business Outreach’s Membership Committee, told the Blade. “[McAuliffe’s] not persecuting me, so I’m willing to stand behind him.”

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From left: Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudon) who is running for attorney general in Fairfax, Va., on Nov. 2, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Catherine Read)

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District of Columbia

Man charged with assaulting lesbian activist pleads guilty, gets 14 months in jail

Aiyi’nah Ford hit in head with barstool at Congress Heights restaurant in August

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Lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford was attacked in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 17 sentenced a 46-year-old D.C. man to 14 months in jail after he pleaded guilty in September to an assault charge for an incident in which he attacked lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford at a restaurant on Aug. 3

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police on Aug. 12 states that Donnell Anthony Peterson allegedly knocked Ford to the floor at the Player’s Lounge restaurant and bar in the city’s Congress Heights neighborhood before hitting her in the head twice with the metal legs of a barstool.

Ford told the Washington Blade that Peterson, who was a regular customer at Player’s Lounge as was she, assaulted her while repeatedly calling her a “dyke bitch” after the two got into a verbal argument over, among other things, the city’s violence interruption program. Ford said she told Peterson and others who were having a discussion that she considers the program to be ineffective and a “joke.”

According to court records, witnesses reported seeing Ford bleeding profusely from the head before an ambulance took her to George Washington University Hospital, where she received multiple stitches to treat a serious head wound.

Court records show that D.C. police, who were called to the scene at the time of the assault, initially charged Peterson with Assault With a Dangerous Weapon. The records show that Peterson through his attorney agreed in September to accept a plea bargain offer by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

The offer called for lowering the charge to Assault With Significant Bodily Injury in exchange for pleading guilty with a promise by prosecutors to seek a sentence of no more than 14 month in jail.

The court records show that Superior Court Judge James A. Cromwell sentenced Peterson to 32 months of incarceration but suspended 18 months, requiring that he serve 14 months after which he would be released on probation. Court records show the probation was to last 18 months. Under court rules, if someone violates the terms of their probation, which almost always prohibits them from breaking the law or threatening a person they were charged with assaulting, the released person is ordered back to jail to serve the remaining time that had been suspended.

At the time Peterson was arrested in August a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, in response to a question from the Blade, declined to disclose why prosecutors chose not to classify Peterson’s assault against Ford as a hate crime based on her sexual orientation.

Ford told the Blade this week that the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alec Levi, was supportive of her throughout the case and told her a hate crime designation sometimes makes it more difficult to obtain a conviction if a case goes to trial. Ford said Levi told her prosecutors wanted to do all they could to bring Peterson to justice for his attack against her.

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District of Columbia

Longtime activist Lane Hudson arrested on drug charges

Homeland Security launched probe leading to August 2021 raid

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Lane Hudson was arrested last year on drug charges. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia show that law enforcement officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested D.C. gay activist Thomas Lane Hudson on Aug. 11, 2021, on charges of possession with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.

An affidavit filed in court says the arrest took place at Hudson’s Logan Circle area apartment after officers forcibly entered the apartment when Hudson did not respond to their knocking on the door announcing their presence with a search warrant.

The affidavit says the officers discovered and seized illegal narcotics that were field tested and weighed and which included “1,096.4 grams of a mixture and substance containing Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance; 29.5 grams of a mixture and substance containing Heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance; and 322.974 fluid ounces of a mixture and substance containing Gamma Butyrolactone (‘GBL’), a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Court records show that Hudson was held without bond until at least Aug. 25, 2021, when U.S. District Court Judge Robin M. Meriweather approved a motion filed by prosecutors to seal the case from the public record on grounds that it “contains sensitive information regarding the underlying ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Aug. 25 entry that up until then was part of the public court record announcing the decision to seal the case did not disclose any information about an underlying or ongoing investigation. It also did not disclose why federal Homeland Security investigators became involved in a drug case ordinarily handled by D.C. police.

Hudson and his attorney, who is identified in the court records as Brian Keith McDaniel, did not respond to repeated requests by the Washington Blade for comment on the case and to disclose whether they dispute the accuracy of the charges filed against Hudson.

The arrest affidavit, which was filed before the case was sealed, remains a part of the public record. It says that in addition to the allegation that illegal drugs were seized from Hudson’s apartment, the officers conducting the search found “assorted items related to distribution of controlled substances.”

Among the items found, it says, were digital scales, plastic zip bags, vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags, a currency counting machine, and “approximately $48,000 in United States currency.” 

Although the public court records do not show whether Hudson was released while awaiting trial or was still being held, sources who know Hudson pointed out that he resumed posting messages on social media in December of 2021 after a period when no postings from him could be found. This suggests he has been released while the case remains pending.

Hudson’s arrest came less than a year before the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance released its 2022 D.C. LGBTQ Election Guide called Leave No One Behind, which calls for the decriminalization of possession of currently illegal drugs for personal use.

Although the GLAA document doesn’t call for decriminalizing the selling of illegal drugs, it says “evidence demonstrates criminalization has done little to curb the prevalence of drugs in our communities and is not an effective way of getting people into treatment because it stigmatizes drug users.”

Hudson is well known in the D.C. area and among LGBTQ advocates locally and nationally. He was twice elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention; served on Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee; and once worked for the Human Rights Campaign. 

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District of Columbia

Hundreds attend Dupont Circle vigil for Colorado shooting victims

Clergy members join activists in denouncing ant-LGBTQ violence

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Hundreds showed up Monday night to remember Club Q victims. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Several hundred people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle Monday night to honor the five who died and at least 25 wounded in the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., this past Saturday night.

Among those who participated in the vigil were eight ministers and two elders from local LGBTQ supportive churches.

The event took place shortly after Colorado authorities released the names of the five patrons of the Club Q nightclub who police said were shot to death by lone gunman suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was subdued by other patrons before police arrived on the scene and placed him under arrest.

“We’re going to take the time to heal, to process, to honor those victims, members of our own community,” said Larry Miller, news anchor for D.C.’s WUSA 9 TV, who served as moderator at the vigil.

“It will be tough,” Miller said in opening the event. “But we’ll do it together. If you need to cry this is an opportunity to do that,” he said. “If you need to pray, you’ll have that opportunity as well.”  

The vigil was organized jointly by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs; Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events; the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events; the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community; and the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence.

“Today we are standing in solidarity with our queer family in Colorado Springs in the aftermath of a tragic and deadly shooting at Club Q,” Japer Bowles, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, told the gathering.

“However, gun violence and anti-LGBTQ hate will not stomp out our life,” Bowles said. “And even though we are mourning today and tomorrow and through the holidays where seats around the dinner table will be empty due to gun violence and anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, our love and our strength as a community will prevail.”

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kenya Hutton, deputy director of the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events, told those attending the Dupont Circle vigil he worries that a shooting incident like the one in Colorado Springs could happen anywhere, including in D.C.

“I’m tired of having to say the names of those we’ve lost for no reason,” he said. “We have legislators pushing all these anti-LGBTQ bills,” Hutton said. “We can’t sit by silently and let this continue.” 

Among the clergy members who spoke was Rev. Adalphie Johnson, Senior Pastor of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.

“I come here this evening with a heavy heart,” she said. “A heavy heart because we are still living in a world where folks need to understand what it means to love, what it means to allow people to be free, what it means to allow people to live their authentic self.”

Others who spoke included Mike Silverstein, a member of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission; Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance; Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors and a member of the Human Rights Campaign board; Alexis Elizabeth Rodriguez, director of D.C.’s Latinx Pride organization; and D.C. artist and poet Reggie Rich.

Other clergy members who participated in the vigil included Rev. Aaron Wade, founder and Pastor Emeritus of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, Senior Minister at First Congressional United church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Arthur Cribbs Jr., Senior Pastor of Little River United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Sidney Fowler of United Church of Christ; and Rev. Kenneth King, Pastor serving New Hope Baptist Church and Plymouth Congressional United Church of Christ.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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