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McAuliffe defeats Cuccinelli in Virginia governor’s race

Republican attorney general faced criticism from LGBT advocates during campaign

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Terry McAuliffe, Virginia, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally with President Obama in Arlington, Va., on Nov. 3, 2013. (Photo by Lee Whitman)

TYSONS CORNER, Va.—Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday defeated Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the commonwealth’s hotly contested gubernatorial race.

With more than 99 percent of precincts reporting, McAuliffe narrowly defeated Cuccinelli by a 48-45 percent margin. Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis came in third with nearly seven percent of the vote.

“Over the next four years, most Democrats and Republicans want to make Virginia a model for pragmatic leadership that is friendly to job creation; a model for strong schools that prepare students for jobs of tomorrow; a model for welcoming the best and the brightest scientists and innovators no matter your race, gender, religion or whom you love,” McAuliffe told supporters at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner who included Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine after CNN and other news outlets declared him the winner.

Cuccinelli again stressed during his concession speech that he feels the election was a referendum on the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in 2010.

“Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare,” Cuccinelli told supporters in Richmond. “That message will go out across America tonight.”

McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli by double-digit margins in Alexandria, Fairfax City and Falls Church and Arlington and Fairfax Counties. The former DNC chair beat his Republican opponent in Loudoun County by a 50-45 percent margin.

Sarvis told reporters after he and his wife voted at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria on Tuesday that his campaign was “pleased with the motivation of our supporters.”

“I’m probably the only person who can say I’m very proud of the campaign we ran,” he said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell is among those who congratulated McAuliffe.

“There is no higher honor than serving in the same office once held by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Virginia is a commonwealth of tremendous history and opportunity; this is the place where America began. The privilege of serving as governor carries with it immense responsibility. And I know Terry McAuliffe will act in the best interests of the more than eight million people who call Virginia home.”

GOP statewide ticket faced criticism over LGBT rights record

Cuccinelli faced persistent criticism from gay advocates and Democrats over his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues during the campaign. These include his unsuccessful effort to appeal a court ruling earlier this year that found Virginia’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia, Fairfax, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Ken Cuccinelli talks with reporters at Eagle View Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., on Nov. 5, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Cuccinelli told reporters outside Eagle View Elementary School in Fairfax earlier on Tuesday that taxes, the economy and the Affordable Care Act were the top three issues about which voters had asked him. The GOP gubernatorial candidate also said he received questions about his television ads.

“That’s where peoples’ focus is,” Cuccinelli said. “On a day like this — much like the rest of the campaign — we try to talk to voters about what they care about.”

Advocates were quick to point out after the Republican Party of Virginia nominated E.W. Jackson as their lieutenant gubernatorial candidate that he had previously compared gay men to pedophiles. The Chesapeake minister has also described gays and lesbians as “very sick people.”

State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) easily defeated Jackson by a 55-45 percent margin.

“Marriage equality and equality’s for all people,” Northam told the Washington Blade during a Nov. 1 interview. “It’s just the sensible way to go in my view.”

State Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun County) leads state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general by a 541 vote margin.

Republican Party of Virginia Chair Pat Mullins on Tuesday initially congratulated Obenshain for his “win” when the GOP candidate was ahead of Herring by roughly 7,500 votes, but the race remains too close to call.

“Election Day is over and I am honored to have a majority of Virginians cast their ballots for me for attorney general,” Herring said in a statement his campaign released early on Wednesday.

LGBT rights advocates welcome Va. election results

June Crenshaw, Ashley King, gay news, Washington Blade, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Virginia, Democratic Party, Terry McAuliffe

LGBT rights advocates cheered at the Virginia Democratic Party post-election party in Tyson’s Corner on Nov. 5. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) described McAuliffe and Northam’s wins as a “clear victory for equality” that brings “the promise of a new day for Virginia.”

“Without exception, the Democratic candidates for statewide office offered unflinching support for marriage equality, a welcoming business climate and respect for a woman’s right to choose,” Ebbin said. “The people of Virginia aligned themselves with McAuliffe’s and Northam’s vision of an inclusive, forward moving commonwealth.”

Ashley Smith of the Human Rights Campaign is among those with the organization who canvassed on behalf of McAuliffe in Northern Virginia, Richmond and the Hampton Roads area in the final weeks of the campaign. Many of them held signs and wore t-shirts that read “Virginia is for lovers of equality” as they awaited the election results in Tysons Corner.

“It was a great feeling,” Smith told the Blade after McAuliffe and Northam spoke to their supporters. “It’s time to change Virginia.”

Poll worker Dennis McNaughton told the Blade outside Christ Lutheran Church in Fairfax on Tuesday that GOP voters with whom he had spoken saw social issues as important going into the election.

“If you don’t have a moral upbringing and moral standard you’re kind of lost,” he said, referring to marriage rights for same-sex couples and abortion. “All those things, they lead to extinction.”

Catherine Read, a member of Equality Virginia’s Board of Directors who worked outside the same Fairfax polling place as McNaughton on Tuesday, noted to the Blade that Democrats who cast their ballots expressed concern over the Republican candidates’ opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians and their positions on women’s reproductive health.

“There’s a lot of people focused on social issues,” Read said.

Fisette re-elected to Arlington County Board

Gay Arlington County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette on Tuesday easily defeated Green Party challenger Audrey Clement.

Pro-LGBT state Dels. Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) and Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) easily won re-election. Atif Qarni lost to state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), co-sponsor of the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that Virginia voters approved in 2006, by a 48-52 percent margin.

State Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax County) defeated challenger Jerry Foltz.

Robert Sarvis, Libertarian Party, Virginia, Fairfax, gay news, Washington Blade

Libertarian Virginia gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis with his wife at a polling station in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 5, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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District of Columbia

Activists, policy makers mark Celebrate Bisexual Day in D.C.

BiPlus Organizing US hosted event at HRC

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Adrian Shanker, senior advisor for LGBTQI+ health equity in the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, speaks at a Bisexual Awareness Day event at the Human Rights Campaign on Sept. 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Cal Benn)

BiPlus Organizing US on Saturday hosted a Celebrate Bisexual Day event at the Human Rights Campaign.

Fiona Dawson, co-founder of BiPlus Organizing US, and Mélanie Snail, committee member of the organization, emceed the event. HRC Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Rebecca Hershey welcomed attendees. 

Heyshey discussed her journey as a bisexual, mixed race, Jewish woman. Hershey paraphrased Adrienne Maree Brown, stating “change is coming, we are creating change.” 

PFLAG Learning and Inclusion Manager Mackenzie Harte gave a presentation on the history of bisexual identities, defined terms surrounding gender and sexuality and went over statistics of discrimination and health disparities that bisexual individuals face.

Harte’s presentation noted 48 percent of bisexual individuals reported an annual income of less than $30,000, compared to 30 percent of gay men, 39 percent of lesbians and 28 percent of all adults in the U.S. 

Harte went on to say 28 percent of bisexual students report having attempted suicide; and bisexual people have a higher risk of mood disorders, substance abuse and mental illness than their lesbian, gay, or straight cohorts. Bisexual people of all genders face higher rates of sexual assault than those same peers. One reason for these statistics is isolation: 39 percent of bisexual men and 33 percent of bisexual women report not being out to any health care provider, and only 44 percent of bisexual youth report having an adult they could turn to if they were sad. 

Harte also spoke about the Bisexual Manifesto, which the Bay Area Bisexual Network wrote in 1990. 

“The bisexual manifesto very intentionally was not binary,” Harte said.

They said the text works against the stigma and stereotypes that claim bisexuality is confined to “male, female.” 

Tania Israel, a bisexual advocate and psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared some of her bisexual haikus, which she calls, “bikus.”

Dawson moderated the next panel.

Panelists included Nicole Holmes, a bisexual advocate and public health professional, National Center for Transgender Equality Communications Director Leroy Thomas and NCTE Policy Counsel Kris Tassone. 

The panel talked about how shame and stigma drive the statistics that negatively impact the bisexual community. Another word that came up as a driving force was “intersectionality.” 

Holmes said that when it comes to intersectionality, it’s important to not just “list identities,” but to look deep into “the purpose behind why we are talking about intersectional identities” in the first place.

Adrian Shanker, senior advisor on LGBTQ+ Health Equity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about health equity for the bisexual community. 

“Striving for health equity remains a core priority. It also remains an unmet dream,” said Shanker. “Queer people have always had to be our own health advocates.” While health equity may not be here yet, Shanker says there is much in the works for the LGBTQ community, bisexuals specifically. 

Shanker cited a National Cancer Institute funding opportunity that invites research proposals to cancer care for sexual and gender minorities, stating bisexual specific proposals are welcome. The impending potential government shutdown may postpone it. 

The Biden-Harris administration is also working to ban so-called conversion therapy at the federal level. Additionally, 988, the national suicide prevention hotline, began a program to offer specialized support for LGBTQ youth and young adults last year. 

Shanker said bisexual people should prioritize preventative screenings for skin cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, regular cervical and anal pap tests, mammograms, prostate exams and colonoscopies. 

“If you have a body part, get it screened,” said Shanker. 

Megan Townsend, senior director of entertainment research and analysis for the GLAAD Media Institute, did a presentation on bisexual representation in the media and opportunities for advancement. 

 “I want to see bi+/pan colors displayed on the White House,” said Dawson. “I want every national LGBTQIA+ organization to be talking about us, to put our concerns front and center.”

The data presented can be found here.

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Delaware

Flight attendants union endorses Sarah McBride

Del. lawmaker would be first transgender member of Congress

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Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride speaks at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 10, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Delaware congressional candidate Sarah McBride has earned the support of the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s most prominent flight attendant union.

It’s the second big labor endorsement for McBride after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27’s endorsement. The Association of Flight Attendants praised her for spearheading efforts to bring paid family and medical leave to Delaware, which will take effect in 2026. 

“Sarah’s record in the Delaware Senate shows that she understands how to work collaboratively, build power and make big things happen,” the union’s president, Sara Nelson, wrote in a press release shared exclusively with the Washington Blade. “That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy.”

McBride also announced her support for creating a list of abusive passengers and banning them from flying. Each airline has a list of passengers banned from flying, but airlines don’t share the lists with each other, though Delta Air Lines has asked them, because of “legal and operational challenges,” as a representative for the airline industry trade group Airlines of America told a House committee in September 2021.

“Right now, someone can be violent towards a flight attendant or another passenger and walk directly off of that flight and onto one with a different airline to endanger more people,” an Association of Flight Attendants spokesperson wrote in a statement. 

The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would put the Transportation Security Administration in charge of building the database of passengers fined or convicted of abuse and has bipartisan support but has sat idly in committee since March. It failed to pass last year, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have charged that the list would disproportionately target people of color and strip and a better step to reducing hostility would be making flights more comfortable. Reports of defiant and unruly passengers have more than doubled between 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2022.

“I thank the Association of Flight Attendants for endorsing our campaign,” McBride wrote in the press release. “It’s important that we recognize and celebrate the symbiotic relationship between strong, unionized workforces and the continued growth of employers here in our state.”

The union representing 50,000 flight attendants across 19 airlines is putting pressure on airlines to grant union demands in contract negotiations. At American Airlines, unionized flight attendants voted to authorize a strike — putting pressure on the airline to accede to its demands. Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines say they are ready to strike but have not voted to authorize one yet. United Airlines flight attendants picketed at 19 airports around the country in August, ratcheting up the pressure. 

The union’s endorsement adds to a growing list of McBride endorsements, including 21 Delaware legislators, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and Delaware Stonewall PAC. McBride, who would be the first openly transgender politician in Congress, has powerful connections in Washington — including with the White House — and is favored to win Delaware’s lone House seat. 

A poll commissioned by HRC shows her leading the pack of three candidates vying for the seat — 44 percent of “likely Democratic voters” told pollster company Change Research, which works with liberal organizations. The poll of 531 likely Delaware Democratic primary voters, though, was conducted only online — meaning those with less familiarity or access to the internet may not have been counted — and Change Research’s methodology for screening likely voters is unclear. The company also did not provide a breakdown of respondents by age, gender, and race, but says it uses an algorithm to make the results representative.  

Nelson said McBride’s time in Delaware’s state Senate shows her prowess in building power and working collaboratively.  

“That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy,” she wrote.

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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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