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Gay marriage opponent working for Shallal campaign

Leo Alexander backed by anti-gay groups in 2010 mayoral race

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Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets, District of Columbia, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Democratic mayoral candidate Andy Shallal’s campaign has paid $4,000 to an official who ran for D.C. mayor in 2010 on a platform supporting a voter referendum to overturn the city’s same-sex marriage law. (Photo by Laela25; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A candidate who ran for D.C. mayor in 2010 on a platform supporting a voter referendum to overturn the city’s same-sex marriage law was paid $4,000 in December as a consultant to Democratic mayoral candidate Andy Shallal, according to campaign finance records.

Records filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance on Jan. 31 identify the consultant as 2010 mayoral candidate and former TV news anchor Leo Alexander.

In his run for mayor, Alexander’s campaign received at least $1,950 from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and was backed by Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland minister who led the unsuccessful campaign to repeal the city’s marriage equality law.

Alexander received less than 1 percent of the vote in the September 2010 Democratic primary, far behind then City Council Chair Vincent Gray, who won the primary and then Mayor Adrian Fenty, came in second place behind Gray.

Shallal has expressed strong support for LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. As owner of the local Busboys and Poets restaurant chain, Shallal has hosted LGBT events at his restaurants.

Shallal campaign spokesperson Dwight Kirk told the Washington City Paper that Alexander met with Shallal before joining the campaign and promised that he changed his mind and that his positions “evolved” on the same-sex marriage issue since his 2010 campaign.

But City Paper columnist Will Sommer, who was the first to report Alexander’s connection with the Shallal campaign, said in a posting on Thursday that Alexander wouldn’t tell him whether his positions on gay marriage changed.

News of Alexander’s involvement in the Shallal campaign comes two weeks after news surfaced that an advocate for a voter referendum on the D.C. marriage equality law in 2010 was working as a paid consultant in January for Gray’s re-election campaign.

Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bob King, who was paid by the anti-gay NOM in 2010, is currently being paid to help the Gray campaign arrange logistics to drive senior citizens to the polls for the April 1 primary. Gray campaign chair Chuck Thies said King has no role in policy making issues and now accepts the marriage equality statute as the “law of the land.”

Alexander and Kirk couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by the Blade.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. brian

    February 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

    GRAY’s ANTI-LGBT SHADOW CAMPAIGN, v. 2014

    There really IS something worse than anti-gay marriage bigots working in mayoral campaigns…

    Vincent Gray has a anti-LGBT police chief working as the top cop of this city. Gray’s Chief of Police is now using her high office to DEMONSTRATE to MPD’s chain-of-command how police favoritism to anti-LGBT politicians (and by inference, anti-LGBT police bias) will be rewarded by the mayor’s MPD bosses.

    Last Thursday night, Cathy Lanier honored virulent anti-gay marriage foes, Ward 5 area ANC Commissioners Carolyn Steptoe and Debbie Steiner with OFFICIAL MPD Police Awards.

    FWIW, Debbie Steiner is now in her second stint as a DC PUBLIC OFFICIAL (ANC Commissioner, Edgewood), having ran in 2006 for Ward 5 Councilmember.

    In 2010, just months after Marriage Equality became the law in DC, then MPD-5DCAC Treaurer, Debbie Steiner made public, demonizing attacks on gay-marriage on the Ward 5 Yahoo! listserv.

    At the time, even Chief Lanier denounced and distanced MPD from Steiner’s “homophobic comments” in a public statement. But this week, despite no known public retraction by Steiner of her 2010 homophobic comments, Lanier presented Steiner with her “Chief of Police Special Award.”

    “Special” indeed.

    Also FYI, Carolyn Steptoe ran for Council in 2006, too, as a losing Statehood Green candidate. Still, excepting winner Harry Thomas, Jr., Steptoe garnered more votes for Ward 5 Council than any other candidate in 2006.

    Carolyn Steptoe is also a *CURRENT* ANC Commissioner in Ward 5. In other words, Steptoe is a longstanding *DC PUBLIC OFFICIAL*, a very activist politician, just like Steiner.
    But get this…
    Carolyn Steptoe is also *CURRENTLY* running to unseat Ward 5’s incumbent LGBT civil rights champion, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.

    So despite Carolyn Steptoe’s very active, OFFICIAL political status, Gray’s top cop (a Ward 5 resident herself, mind you) recognized no problem at all in publicly honoring a fiercely anti-gay politician with MPD’s prestigious “Citizen of the Year Award.”

    How many people live in DC city now? Out of what– 650,000? ‘Citizen of the Year’? For a public OFFICIAL of DC GOVERNMENT? A politician’s politician? And virulently anti-LGBT at that?

    Apparently, so blind to elementary government ethics is Gray’s Administration that neither the mayor nor our police chief understand a simple rule for maintaining public trust our city’s MPD…

    **
    Every police department must remain scrupulously NON-POLITICAL and NON-PARTISAN in ALL aspects of its official policing functions.
    **

    One does not have to be a professional ethicist to understand why that is a fundamental maxim of urban policing best practices.

    Police corruption is just as wrongful — whether its motive is money and/or material gain, or the trappings of political power and influence.

    For shame, Mr. Mayor! You owe the LGBT community of DC an apology for the apparent hypocrisy and unethical police practices going on in your 2014 campaign– and in your increasingly politicized police department.

    We simply can not tolerate the appearance of anti-LGBT police bias anywhere within MPD’s ranks– especially from its leadership.

    COUNCIL should also act immediately to prevent the use of MPD for political favoritism, influence and corrupt practices by this and any other future chief of police.

    The trust of DC citizens in THEIR police department and the honor of dedicated, rank and file police officers deserve no less.

  2. Peter Rosenstein

    February 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I don’t know the background of why these awards were given but I do know that Cathy Lanier in not anti-gay. While she and I have not always agreed she has done a great job as Chief. I don’t know why these awards were given to these people and what they are for but I will ask which the first commenter hasn’t bothered to do. There is a reason the chief is the most popular Chief this city has ever had and that is becasue she has been fair and done a great job.

    As for the Mayor Vince Gray has been the best friend the LGBT community has ever had in the Mayor’s office. He supports the LGBT community because he really cares and has fought his whole life for everyone’s civil and human rights including his own. He is one of the main reasons we have Marriage-equality in the District and he has worked closely with the Transgender community to make sure they are treated equally and fairly in our city.

  3. brian

    February 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    You see how Gray speaks with forked tongue to DC’s LGBT community? Likewise to the entire city regarding Gray’s & Lanier’s very selective release of crime stats.

    How do I put this gently, but honestly? OK. Got it.

    They’re simple LYING to us, Peter. Apparently to Gray supporters, too.

    When you compare apples to apples…
    — DC is now the FIFTH MOST DANGEROUS city for crime above 500,000 population.
    — Only Philly, Memphis, Baltimore and Detroit were worse than DC.
    — Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Columbus, OK City, Houston, San Antonio, Seattle, Charlotte, Portland, LA, San Jose, NYC, San Diego and El Paso– and a lot more– were all among the cities SAFER THAN DC in 2013.

    Don’t let Gray and Lanier get away with lying to you about their “great” crime record. It is in fact, WAAY below average. Just GOOGLE…

    *****
    “Safest and Most Dangerous U.S. Cities 2013 infoplease”
    *****
    As to Gray and Lanier being the best mayor and chief for DC’s LGBTs— that’s just laughable, too.

    Everyone can see that Gray and Lanier are more than happy to quietly curry favor with the city’s most virulent opponents to Marriage Equality and LGBT families’ interests.

    Gray is unethically using his now-corrupt police department management at its HIGHEST levels to manipulate Council elections, while hawking Police Service awards like common carnival barkers. For shame!

    It is an ongoing ethical embarrassment to our city. Who does not get that– irrespective of political party and belief?

    It is also an embarrassment to a formerly great police department, whose non-political, quiet professionalism was once comparable to PDs in New York and London. This is about good government– and simple common sense when it comes to police ethics, too.

    BTW, not only did former MPD Police Chief Charles Ramsey set up a robust, award-winning GLLU unit for DC’s LGBT community. He also established a Metropolitan Police Department Sworn Law Enforcement Officer Code of Ethics– which Gray and his police chief are now trampling upon.

    Peter, I’m glad you at least admitted you don’t know the virulent anti-gay/ anti-Marriage Equality record and/or statements of MPD’s awardees– which Lanier’s political policing team went out of their way to choose. Here’s a hint. GLAA just gave Steptoe a MINUS TWO (-2) rating in her run to unseat pro-LGBT champion Kenyan McDuffie for Ward 5 Council.

    FYI, virulent anti-gay Commissioner Steptoe was a surprise, last-minute choice, too. Steptoe was so giddy she wrote publicly (on MPD’s own listserv, of course) that it was a “Valentine’s present” from MPD.

    This is intentional, despicable high-level anti-LGBT political favoritism exercised by DC’s police department. That’s added to Lanier’s and Gray’s constant assaults on GLLU’s core unit. Read…
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/02/12/police-gay-liaison-unit-transferred-patrol-duty/

    Hey, there’s simply not enough space here to cover what you Gray supporters don’t know of Gray’s 2014 shadow campaign. But for sure, you can probably count on a lot more shoes dropping in MPD’s crowded tenement of anti-LGBT bias.

    That’s a dangerous public safety by-product– compliments of Gray and Lanier.

    PS — Peter, I voted for Gray last time. And Fenty before him. When are we LGBT Democrats going to recognize that we’re being used and lied to?

  4. W Johnston-Murphy

    February 26, 2014 at 7:00 am

    There is a small thing in this country called freedom. People are allowed to have different opinions and the have the freedom and the right to express those opinions. Freedom really is the ability to defend to the death another’s right to express an opinion diametrically opposed to your own. The louder you scream for everyone who is opposed to your way of thinking, the closer you become to a dictatorship. That is not what this country is about, at least it used to be.

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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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Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

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Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least six D.C. gay bars announced last week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners; the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building; the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR.’s; and the U Street, N.W. gay bar The Dirty Goose.

The six bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday, July 29, issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It took effect at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s Delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine would allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof of a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on July 30 to also put in place a requirement that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a five-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than a three-day requirement to accommodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. queer bars couldn’t immediately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other bars as of Friday afternoon that they planned to put in place a proof of vaccination requirement.

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