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Judge strikes down Virginia gay marriage ban

Two couples filed lawsuit against gay nuptials ban

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Carol Schall, Mary Townley, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Virginia
Carol Schall, Mary Townley, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Virginia

Carol Schall (left) with Mary Townley and their daughter Emily. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A federal judge Thursday struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman as unconstitutional.

“The court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s marriage laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” said Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.”

Allen, who President Obama nominated to the federal bench in 2010, repeatedly referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that struck down Virginia’s interracial marriage ban in her 41-page decision. She also opened her decision with a quote from Mildred Loving, who publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples before her death in 2008.

“Tradition is revered in the commonwealth, and often rightly so,” said Allen. “However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

Allen also dismissed arguments made by those who defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban that marriage rights for gays and lesbians harms children.

“Of course the welfare of our children is a legitimate state interest,” she said. “Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples fails to further this interest. Instead, needlessly stigmatizing and humiliating children who are being raised by the loving couples targeted by Virginia’s Marriage Laws betrays that interest.”

Allen’s ruling comes less than two weeks after she heard oral arguments in a lawsuit that Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield filed last year.

“We want to be married for the happy times, but we need to be married for the sad times,” Schall told the Washington Blade earlier this month before Wright heard oral arguments in their case. “When one of us is sick or when one of us needs surgery or when health care is an issue, we need to be there for each other. And Virginia should not be in the business of standing in the way of people wanting to care for each other and take responsibility for each other.”

Virginia voters in 2006 approved the marriage amendment by a 57-43 percent margin.

Attorney General Mark Herring last month announced he would not defend the amendment.

The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates earlier this month overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow any state lawmaker to defend a law if the governor and attorney general decline to do so. Gov. Terry McAuliffe a few days earlier denied a request from 30 state lawmakers to appoint a special counsel to defend the marriage amendment.

A federal judge in Harrisonburg on Jan. 31 certified a second lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia filed on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who are seeking marriage rights in the commonwealth as a class action.

“This decision is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law,” said Herring in a statement after Allen issued her ruling in the Bostic case.

McAuliffe also applauded the decision.

“In order to grow our economy and attract the best businesses, entrepreneurs, and families to Virginia, we must be open and welcoming to all who call our commonwealth home,” he said in a statement. “As this case continues through the judicial process, I will enforce the laws currently on the books, but this decision is a significant step forward in achieving greater equality for all of our citizens.”

Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, who successfully argued against California’s Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court with David Boies, joined the lawsuit last September with the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Olson said in an AFER press release that Allen’s decision has “upheld the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded.”

“Virginia’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples relegates gay and lesbian Virginians to second-class status,” he said. “Laws excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage violate personal freedom, are an unnecessary government intrusion, and cause serious harm. That type of law cannot stand.”

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said Wright’s ruling “finally puts Virginia on the path toward allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry the person they love here in the place they call home.”

“This is an historic day in Virginia,” added Parrish.

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown blasted Allen.

“This is another example of an Obama-appointed judge twisting the constitution and the rule of law to impose her own views of marriage in defiance of the people of Virginia,” said Brown in a statement.

Brown also again sharply criticized Herring for not defending the commonwealth’s marriage amendment.

“This case also leaves a particular stench because of the unconscionable decision of Attorney General Mark Herring to not only abandon his sworn duty to defend the laws of the state, but to actually join the case against the very people he is duty-bound to represent,” said Brown.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, also criticized Herring.

“Regardless of one’s stance on marriage, the people of Virginia were disenfranchised by this ruling as our voice and our vote that amended our Constitution have been rendered meaningless by a single federal judge with the assistance of our own attorney general,” she said.

Neighboring Maryland is among the 18 states and D.C. that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Southern Poverty Law Center earlier on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban on behalf of a gay widower who married his late-husband in Massachusetts in 2011.

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Gays and lesbians in West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana and other states have filed lawsuits seeking marriage rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision last June that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto earlier this week announced she will no longer defend her state’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Feb. 10 announced the Justice Department will now recognize same-sex marriages in civil and criminal cases and extend full benefits to gay spouses of police officers and other public safety personnel. This directive applies to Virginia and the 31 other states that have yet to allow nuptials for gays and lesbians.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) earlier on Thursday introduced a bill that would ban the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states that ban gay nuptials.

Allen has stayed her ruling, pending the outcome of an appeal.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. James Scott

    February 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

    You mean I am no long a second class citizen who pays taxes to the support this country, but EQUAL finally and same rights as everyone else, HOW great is that

    • El Dorado

      February 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      No, as a gay man, you can still be fired, denied accommodations and housing in Virginia legally even if you can eventually be married so you’re far from equal!

  2. Mike Witkop

    February 14, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Fight all you want bigots…we won't give up until we are equal across the country. We have overcome.

  3. John Gould

    February 14, 2014 at 4:58 am

    i get so mad when the gay rights struggle is compared to racial justice; they are not similar at all. you are the race you are strictly based on the race(s) of your parents. people are not gay because their parents were gay! in fact all gay people are the result of a heterosexual encounter. this is laughable, i cannot believe human intellect comes to such a conclusion?? #delusional

    • El Dorado

      February 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I get mad when people like you are too blind to see that discrimination and injustice isn’t limited to race. Religion isn’t a benign characteristic that you are born with yet people have been discriminated against because of it. Gays have an established history of discrimination that can be traced back through history. Simply having had sodomy laws alone were a means to control, stigmatize and ostracize people.

  4. John Gould

    February 14, 2014 at 4:58 am

    i get so mad when the gay rights struggle is compared to racial justice; they are not similar at all. you are the race you are strictly based on the race(s) of your parents. people are not gay because their parents were gay! in fact all gay people are the result of a heterosexual encounter. this is laughable, i cannot believe human intellect comes to such a conclusion?? #delusional

  5. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

    John, the comparison illustrates the agony, harm and disrespect people feel when laws are set up for some people, but denied to others. No one is comparing the race of African American, black or brown people to LGBTI people. I respect and honor you as a person that has different struggles than I do. However, we can and should agree that equality of law is the most important issue here. In a country based on freedom, we should not tolerate it when laws deliberately exclude others, as evidenced by the the horrible ways racial bias played out in this nation.

  6. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

    John, the comparison illustrates the agony, harm and disrespect people feel when laws are set up for some people, but denied to others. No one is comparing the race of African American, black or brown people to LGBTI people. I respect and honor you as a person that has different struggles than I do. However, we can and should agree that equality of law is the most important issue here. In a country based on freedom, we should not tolerate it when laws deliberately exclude others, as evidenced by the the horrible ways racial bias played out in this nation.

  7. John Gould

    February 14, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Ken Nardone i can respect that and i believe everyone should be treated with respect and decency. i see LGBT rights compared to the black civil rights struggle frequently and I just don't see any similarity. it's just not an accurate comparison. my parents had to go to an all black high school because they were not allowed to attend the white public schools in virginia. all blacks were required to do that – be they male, female, gay, straight, whatever. they could not go to schools, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, vote just because they were born with African blood. that is not the LGBT struggle at all. i've known lots of gay people throughout my life and they all have moved about freely, attending any schools they want, getting good jobs, and basically living day-to-day life without limitation. LGBT needs to find a different justification other than comparing their struggle to that of race. i never had to come out as black; it was obvious as soon as one laid eyes on me.

  8. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 5:45 am

    John Gould, thank you for your reply. As I stated in my post to you. "No one is comparing the race of African American, black or brown people to LGBTI people. I respect and honor you as a person that has different struggles than I do. However, we can and should agree that equality of law is the most important issue here."

    You did not have the same struggles as your parents or grandparents but you share the same race. However, the civil rights movement your parents and/or grandparents participated in created great change in our nation. Equality of law was enacted and enforced so that all people had basic human rights that include access to education, voting, and being a true, free and respected citizen with dignity in our nation.

    As we continue on this journey of equality of law, we look at the struggles we caused by wrong ways in the past that hurt, harmed, disrespected and excluded others.

    For example, if there were a large number of Asian Americans in this country that received horrible treatment in the past, we would point that out to show how wrong it was. It so happens, the fact of the matter is, our nation did treat your people very badly. It was wrong. It hurt people. It harmed people. We only point that out to illustrate that when our nation fails in applying the law equally, people get hurt. People are harmed. People are left out.

    I hope I explained it better. Remember, we are comparing your people's struggle with the LAW, not with your race or specific, terrible and uniquely bad situations they went through. No one can erase history and we have not intentions of doing so.

    Discrimination sucks, regardless of reason others are doing it. All people should be treated equally under the law.

  9. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Oh, John, another example I forgot to include that may help. What if you fell completely in love with a white woman and you wanted to marry her but the courts said you are not allowed? How would that make you feel?

    Our struggle is about marriage equality. There was a time, not too long ago that black and whites were not allowed to marry in our nation. That was wrong. That was discrimination to both people involved. This is an issue of marriage equality and it does compare directly to that issue. Peace.

  10. brian

    February 14, 2014 at 4:19 am

    “Elections matter,” it’s often said. And so they do.

    Virginia is reminded again of the promises of Mr. Jefferson– and that of his successor across an arc, Mr. Obama.

    “It’s been a long time coming,” Sam Cooke recorded fifty years ago this month. Lovers in and of Virginia will celebrate again when SCOTUS affirms, of course. But from the Chesapeake and Potomac through its beautiful Blue Ridge, we “know a change is going to come.”


    “It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice…”
    –Barack Obama (April, 2008)

  11. Chris Radtke

    February 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I am a tax paying citizen of the state of VA and I am also a gay man that has been a committed relationship with the man I love for many years now. This should have been done a long time ago and for those that live in Va that are still against marriage equality for all need to come out of the dark ages and look around, the GLBT community will overcome. As Martin Luther King once said Thank GOD almighty FREE at last FREE at last.

  12. William DeHerrera-Villarini

    February 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    John so states like kansas say any person can deny goods or services to gays based on religon is ok? You say all this now because if a white did this you could sue sounds like jim crow to me sounds like those activist judges should not have voided loving v loving

  13. William DeHerrera-Villarini

    February 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    John so states like kansas say any person can deny goods or services to gays based on religon is ok? You say all this now because if a white did this you could sue sounds like jim crow to me sounds like those activist judges should not have voided loving v loving

  14. Lee Delaino

    February 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    The only stench here is Brian Brown's ignorance

    • El Dorado

      February 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      I’m sure more than his ignorance stinks!

  15. Lee Delaino

    February 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    John Gould I appreciate this respectful conversation and would just add that while you may often see LGBT people moving about "freely" taking jobs and living/shopping where they please, this is a mis-perception. I have been required to live outside of the United States for the past fourteen years b/c my partner is a woman. we have risked being seperated when we cross the boarder and worse, having our children seperated from one of us. I am separated from my aging relatives and until very recently could not have moved there to be of help if they needed me. If we were in my home state, Florida, and I died (as the biological parent of the children) there were NO protections for their other mother and could have been apprehended by the state. Imagine living with that kind of worry. Similarly, my partner lives with a lot of fear because of her appearance and the homophobia that she expereinces (being stared at, told she's in the wrong washroom, glared at by angry bypassers.) these fears are based on reality. We do not live our daily lives without limitation—in fact, I'm deeply hurt by your assumption. My stories are not all our stories of discrimination and many LGBT live with much worse.

  16. Jose David Del Sol

    February 14, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    :)

  17. John Gould Jr

    February 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Just a brief comment…this struggle is not about marriage equality…it is about marriage REDEFINITION. Marriage is not a human invention or an accommodation of social engineering or evolutionary development…it was ordained and defined by its Originator. If we abandon this truth, then marriage is whatever anyone chooses to call it.

  18. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    John Gould Jr, is that how you feel regarding interracial marriage? Did you read my comment above discussing this issue? Many people felt very strong about their "Originator", indicating that whites should only marry whites, blacks should only marry blacks, etc. Is that how you feel / what you believe? And if so, should those beliefs be forced on others in a free nation?

  19. John Gould Jr

    February 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Ken Nardone, yes, I read your comments but am not persuaded in the least by your argument. Interracial marriage does not in any way redefine MARRIAGE…inter-gender "marriage" does…

  20. Katrina Rose

    February 14, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    "You mean I am no long a second class citizen who pays taxes to the support this country, but EQUAL finally and same rights as everyone else"

    Only if Virginia enacts a state ENDA

  21. Ken Nardone

    February 14, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    John Gould Jr, That is your interpretation of marriage and interracial marriage. We just just can't pick and chose some imaginary interpretation and say that's the law; we must look at how the law will benefit all adult citizens, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. If the church you choose only marries certain types of people, that's OK for the religion and/or church, but it has no place imposing that belief on others.

    In a nation that clearly has separation of church and state as well as freedom from religion, we need to define equality of law that benefits all adult citizens. Soon as we start picking and choosing what citizens are "eligible" for laws, we deny freedoms, disrespect, harm and hurt countless other people. I know you understand that issue; you stated so previously.

    By the way, it's interesting that you started out objecting to these issues based on the judge in the article comparing LGBTI struggles to racial issues. However, now your argument seems to be more about redefining marriage to fit your interpretation of law.

    Frankly, I am disappointed that someone like you, that knows first hand exactly what discrimination feels like and knows first hand that it is wrong, would support such harmful ideologies. John, you know better. You are better than that. The only advice I can give you is try to understand the struggles of others and have more empathy and compassion.

    I supported civil rights issues my entire life and I always will because I know it's the right thing to do. I can only ask you consider the same for others; it's not your place or societies place to judge others. It's not your place or society's place to deny others equality of law. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were intentionally set up that way. Peace.

  22. Dave Edmondson

    February 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Victoria Cobb needs to keep up with her own movement's talking points. Right after the Maryland marriage vote, the 'phobes did a 180 and said that morality should not be subject to a popular vote. It's almost as though their stated and actual reasons didn't line up perfectly.

  23. Chris Radtke

    February 15, 2014 at 12:10 am

    All states need to do the same, Martin Luther King Jr widow even stated that it was an injustice to not only the GLBT community but to all that has faced oppression and injustice we all Need to unite as one and fight against the travesties that all the states try to put in place. As a tax paying American We are all entitled to our rights under the constitution, and one of those rights is to be able to love and marry the person we choose to without the local government bodies dictating whether we can or not.

  24. Ken Collins

    February 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I just wish the judge hadn't quoted, in her decision, the constitution as saying that all men are created equal. That's not in the Constitution, it's in the Declaration of Independence. That's a pretty big oops for a judge.

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UDC hit with anti-trans discrimination complaint

University accused of misgendering student

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Emma Alexandra accuses UDC of misgendering her and outing her to fellow students and faculty. (Photo courtesy Alexandra)

A female transgender student at the University of the District of Columbia on Aug. 2 filed a discrimination complaint against the university on grounds that it is violating the city’s Human Rights Act by continuing to use her legal name on school documents and class enrollment lists unless she obtains a legal name change.

Emma R. Alexandra, 28, a part-time student who was admitted to UDC in April, states in her complaint filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights that she informed UDC officials that she was not ready to immediately undertake a legal name change. She states in her complaint that she has repeatedly asked that her chosen name alone be used on all documents and student lists that can be viewed by fellow students and professors.

She said she understands that her legal name may be needed for legal admissions and academic transcript related documents. But to her dismay, Alexandra told the Washington Blade, UDC officials put in place what they consider a compromise position that identifies her on all public university documents and student class lists by both her legal name and her chosen name.

She said the university began and currently continues to identify her by her male legal name with her preferred name written next to her legal name inside parentheses in this way: Legal First Name (preferred name Emma); Legal last name (preferred name Alexandra).

“This is an egregious solution,” Alexandra told UDC President Ronald Mason Jr. in a July 4 email. “This is the name that appears everywhere now,” she wrote Mason. “Most notable, it’s the name that was displayed to my fellow students and professor during the class I took this summer on Blackboard,” she said, which is an online site like Zoom on which UDC conducts classes.

“This effectively outed me as trans to every other student and my professor,” she told Mason. “I assume the same will continue when I go to campus in the fall and get an ID. My ID will have this name and out me to everyone I show it to,” she wrote. “This is completely unacceptable, disrespectful and dangerous.”

Alexandra said she currently works full time as a Web Application Architect for Bloomberg Industry Group as part of its News Engineering team. She said the company is fully accepting of her using her chosen name without obtaining a legal name change. She said she has enrolled at UDC to take courses she needs to qualify for applying to medical school to fulfill her dream of becoming a psychiatrist.  

Under longstanding procedures, the D.C. Office of Human Rights investigates discrimination complaints and usually calls on both parties to consider reaching a conciliation agreement over the complaint if possible. If conciliation cannot be reached, OHR makes a determination of whether probable cause exists that discrimination occurred in violation of D.C. law.

If such a determination is made, the case is sent to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which conducts a trial-like hearing that includes testimony by witnesses before it issues a ruling on the case.

In response to a question from the Blade about whether a refusal by a D.C. university to use a transgender person’s chosen name violates the Human Rights Act, OHR Director Monica Palacio said OHR cannot provide legal advice on such a question. But in a statement to the Blade, Palacio said for educational institutions, the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on 15 protected characteristics, including gender identity and expression.

OHR’s regulations related to educational institutions “prohibit creating a hostile environment which could include deliberately misgendering a student,” Palacio said. “If anyone believes the statute has been violated, they may file a complaint with OHR,” she said. “OHR investigations are confidential.”

Alexandra said she had yet to receive a direct reply to her email message to Mason as of early this week. But last week she was contacted by phone by an official from the university’s admissions office and from Dr. William Latham, UDC’s Chief Student Development and Success Officer on behalf of Mason.

According to Alexandra, the two explained that her legal name was needed on certain legal documents. She said Latham explained that a software system the university uses to manage student records known as the Banner system, doesn’t support preferred names and currently prevents the school from displaying only her preferred name.

The officials said the university planned to upgrade to a newer version of Banner in October and the new system “may” support using preferred names, Alexandra said.

“Overall, I thought this was a really ridiculous conversation where folks from UDC tried to convince me that they are using my preferred name while also stating that they cannot use my preferred name as it should be used, mostly due to limitations of software,” Alexandra told the Blade. “I don’t think the Human Rights Act has an exception for software systems,” she said.

The Blade contacted UDC President Mason by email on July 20, asking him to comment on Alexandra’s concerns and asking him what, if any, problems would be caused if the university used Alexandra’s chosen name rather than her legal name on the various public, external documents and lists in which her legal name is being used.

“In response to your July 20 email, the Office of the Registrar can enter the student’s preferred name in Banner (via all access screen for faculty and staff awareness), however all official documents, such as the academic transcript, will require the use of the student’s official legal name,” Mason told the Blade in a one-sentence response.

His response didn’t address the issue raised by UDC official Latham in his phone conversation with Alexandra in which Latham said the Banner software system couldn’t currently identify Alexandra only by her chosen name. Mason also didn’t respond to the Blade’s question of why UDC could not adopt a policy like the D.C. Public Schools system, which accepts a request by transgender students to use their chosen name without having to obtain a legal name change.

Alexandra, meanwhile, points out that UDC’s refusal so far to allow her chosen name alone to be used on all public university documents and student lists without her legal name being attached to it appears to be at odds with a May 4 open letter Mason released to the university community expressing strong support for using the appropriate pronouns for transgender and gender non-conforming students.

“The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) strives to be an inclusive campus that supports and values all members of our community, including LGBTQIA+, nonbinary, intersex and gender non-conforming students,” Mason says in his letter.

“Choosing to not use or ignore the pronouns someone has requested you to use implies that person shouldn’t and doesn’t exist and does not deserve respect,” Mason wrote in his letter. “Therefore, we encourage all faculty and staff to use pronouns in their email signatures as an act of solidarity and to foster a culture of respect for every Firebird,” he concludes in referring to the symbolic name used for members of the UDC community.

UDC is governed by a 15-member independent Board of Trustees. Eleven of the members are appointed by the D.C. mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council. Three are appointed by UDC alumni and one by students, according to information on the UDC website.

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LULAC Lambda announces 2021 scholarship awards

Castro, Javier Rodriguez win $1,000 honors

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Brian Castro and Victor Javier Rodriguez are this year’s LULAC award winners.

The D.C.-based LGBTQ Latinx organization LULAC Lambda has announced it has selected two D.C. residents bound for graduate studies in foreign affairs and higher education to receive its 2021 annual scholarship award.

“For a fourth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community,” said Erik Rodriquez, the LULAC Lambda president, in a statement released by the group. “Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Rodriquez said.

The statement says one of the two scholarship awards, for $1,000, will go to Brian Castro, who will begin studies for a master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

“The generous scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will complement my studies by going directly into my tuition costs,” Castro said in the statement. “Though I have been a resident of Washington, D.C., working full-time at a leading public health consulting firm, I am grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” he said.

The other scholarship, for $1,300, will go to Victor Javier Rodriguez for his doctoral work in education at Florida State University. The LULAC Lambda statement says Javier Rodriquez’s academic interest lies in “exploring the relationship between school communities and districts’ implementation of anti-racist practice and student success.”

In his own words, Javier Rodriquez said, “A long-term career goal of mine is to affect change at the federal level through the United States Department of Education, in which I would work to address our nation’s education crisis by advocating for equitable policies and practices that improve the outcome for all our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

LULAC Lambda says it was founded in October 2014 “to mobilize and strengthen the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Washington, D.C. through community and civic engagement.” It is one of 1,000 chapters across the country affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization, the group’s statement says.

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Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

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