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D.C. requires insurers to cover gender reassignment

Mayor bans insurance discrimination against trans residents

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Vincent Gray, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade
Vincent Gray, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade, gender reassignment

‘Treatment of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria is a covered benefit in all individual and group insurance plans in the District of Columbia, including Medicaid,’ said Mayor Vincent Gray. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced on Thursday that health insurance companies doing business in the District must provide full coverage for medically recognized treatments to help transgender people change their gender, including gender reassignment surgery.

At a news conference in a meeting room outside his office, Gray said the city’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking issued a bulletin directing insurers to recognize a condition known as gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as a medical condition to be covered by insurance plans.

Transgender advocates note that the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association recognize gender dysphoria as a diagnosable condition through which physicians and other health care professional provide a wide range of approved medical treatments to assist people in transitioning from one gender to another.

“Today, the District takes a major step toward leveling the playing field for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” Gray said. “These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not,” he said.

“I’m clarifying today that treatment of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria is a covered benefit in all individual and group insurance plans in the District of Columbia, including Medicaid,” Gray said.

Gray’s remark drew a prolonged, standing ovation from LGBT activists, including transgender advocates, who gathered in the mayor’s ceremonial bill-signing room where Gray held his news conference.

“Those who know me know how proud I am that the District continues to be on the cutting edge and on the forefront when it relates to equality and fairness for its LGBTQ residents,” Gray said.

The bulletin, which the city sent to insurance companies on the day of Gray’s announcement, cites the D.C. Human Rights Act as among the legal grounds being used to require insurers to cover transgender related treatments. The Human Rights Act, among other categories, bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation.

The bulletin cites the D.C. Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act of 2001 as further grounds for not allowing insurers to exclude coverage of trans-related treatments from their insurance plans.

Among those speaking at the news conference was Mara Keisling, executive director of the D.C.-based National Center for Transgender Equality, which worked with the mayor’s office and insurance department officials to help draft the four-page bulletin.

Keisling said Gray’s action places D.C. among just five states that have adopted similar policies requiring insurers to cover treatments such as gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy to assist an individual’s transition to another gender.

Those states are California, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont and Connecticut.

“This is really significant,” Keisling told the Blade after the news conference. “It means that transgender people in D.C. now can make their health care decisions with their doctor rather than with their insurance companies,” she said.

Mara Keisling, NCTE, National Center for Transgender Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Asked what treatments are involved in a gender transition, Keisling said experts with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care (WPATH) have developed a wide range of treatments that may vary from person to person depending on individual needs.

“It’s a whole range of transition-related care — everything from diagnostic visits to experts in the field,” Keisling said. “It can mean hormone treatments. It can mean lab tests to make sure your hormones are working correctly and not causing any harm. There are various kinds of surgeries that transgender people may need. So it covers a whole range of things.”

D.C. transgender activist Andy Bowen, who recently joined the staff of the NCTE as a policy associate, called the D.C. initiative announced by Gray the most comprehensive among the states that have adopted similar policies.

“If you look at some of the other states they say they’re not going to cover some treatments,” Bowen said. “D.C. has not done that. It just said that if it’s one of the WPATH treatments we’re going to cover it. And that’s amazing to hear a government be that unequivocal about it.”

Philip Barlow, the city’s Associate Commissioner of Insurance, said after the news conference that requiring health insurance companies to cover the medical treatments for transgender people would likely result in a small increase in premiums over a period of time.

“It will just be incorporated into the general cost and utilization that insurers use in coming up with future rate increases,” he said. “But we don’t really anticipate it to have a significant impact on the rates.”

Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, praised Gray for taking action that he said would “end health care discrimination against transgender residents of Washington, D.C.”

The bulletin issued by the city’s Department of Insurance that directs insurers to provide full coverage for medically approved treatments to transgender individuals in D.C. can be obtained here.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. brian

    February 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

    **********
    “Those who know me know how proud I am that the District continues to be on the cutting edge and on the forefront when it relates to equality and fairness for its LGBTQ residents,” Gray said.
    **********
    Don’t you mean ‘cutting edge’ of an election, Mr. Gray? Stop your crass cynicism, please.

    Gray exquisitely TIMED this important reform to be announced just THIRTY DAYS before the Democratic primary election– and everybody knows it.

    DC is one out of five. So why didn’t ‘cutting edge’ Gray do this three years ago? Or last year? Even months ago? The truth is Vincent Gray intentionally waited to do this for his own self-serving political purposes.

    But Gray made DC’s Trans community wait, too.

    That is SO NOT leadership. That’s more akin to a patronizing daddy doling out bits of sugar candy to his LGBTQ children — expecting them to repeatedly and dutifully fawn over him in desperate appreciation.

    Why should any LGBTQ resident give a vote of confidence to Gray’s crass political cynicism and PR?

    DC’s LGBTQs can do a lot better than Vince Gray.

    • Lane Hudson

      February 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      You are clearly not connected to nor listening to any member of DC’s trans community. This has been in the works for almost a year when an “advisory” was issued to insurance companies. Yesterday, Mayor Gray issued a “bulletin”, which is binding on insurance companies. I challenge you to find me a single member of the transgender community who was not moved to tears by what happened yesterday. The room was full of leaders of the trans community and they witnessed history take place.

      Mayor Gray has been a steadfast supporter of the trans community throughout his time in office and long before. From a high school friend that was transgender to serving transgender youth at Covenant House through his time in elected office, he has always been an ally to the entire LGBT community, including the T, which many often ignore. DC is the ONLY city or state to have run a public awareness campaign to promote acceptance of the transgender community, instituted by the Gray Administration. We are one of the only, if not the only, to have a comprehensive job training and placement program for the trans community, which was instituted at Mayor Gray’s order. And now we have the strongest non-discrimination policy in health care in the nation, which is happening at Mayor Gray’s order.

      This is something to be celebrated. I saw Mayor Gray at a fundraiser full of non-LGBT people last night. He beamed with pride at the historic nature of what he did yesterday. This is a life changer and life saver for so many of our trans brothers and sisters. Proper health care is directly tied to every one of the areas in which they have terrifyingly high rates of incidence: violence, discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, alcohol/drug addition, depression and suicide.

      Much work is left to be done, but this Mayor understand that and will continue to fight against discrimination in any form. I am incredibly proud of him and I am not alone.

    • Lane Hudson

      February 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Statement from NCTE:

      The National Center for Transgender Equality praised the move, announcing that the decision created “the most comprehensive [insurance] plans for transgender Americans in the United States.”

      Statement from Center for American Progress:

      Andrew Cray, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress’s LGBT Research and Communications Project, said in a statement, “This policy will make D.C.’s healthcare programs and insurance coverage the most comprehensive in the country for the full scope of health care that transgender people need throughout their lives.”

      Further statement from Andy Bowen at NCTE:

      Bowen noted that the move will be used by advocates pushing for similar coverage elsewhere. “Critically important is that as more states follow the District’s lead, we’ll be better able to educate the medical community about respectfully and comprehensively meeting our healthcare needs. And that sets us up for more wins like this in other states,” she said.

    • Alexa dra Beninda

      February 28, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Brian, your comments are self-serving as you intend on saying whatever you can to say something negative about the Mayor while demonstrating that you have no concept of what the Mayor has done for the Transgender community, and many other communities in DC,, not because it achieves anything other than the fact that it’s the right thing to do.

      • brian

        March 3, 2014 at 8:25 am

        Alexa, fyi, I am not running for public office, nor have I ever. Nor have I been an activist for much of anything beyond trying to help end anti-LGBT police bias and anti-LGBT hate crimes in DC. I haven’t even selected a mayoral candidate to vote for yet.

        I *DID* vote for Gray, BTW, and supported him until it was clear Gray came to office with a criminally fraudulent ‘shadow campaign’ in 2010. And like tens of thousands of other DC voters, I simply don’t find Gray’s denials of knowledge of his criminal campaign any more credible than Chris Christie’s denials regarding his GW Bridge traffic jams.

        As to LGBT rights and benefits in DC, there is nothing that Gray has done on behalf of LGBTs that likely would not have also been done by Wells, Evans, Bowser or Catania. Moreover, there really is a ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’– especially when LGBT activists demand so little competent and honest performance from their public officials.

        I was just shocked to read that some trans activists will be appeased/ satisfied with merely a statement (i.e., more excuses) from a police leadership that has repeatedly demonstrated its own anti-LGBT biases since 2007.

        After the first or second bold police harassment of LGBTQs, don’t you get it? It is intentional police harassment– and it is CRIMINAL. That encouragement of police bias has been signaled to MPD’s rank and file in a variety of subtle actions and comments by MPD’s police leadership.

        Many of us have witnessed it before, BTW. Indeed that’s why, in large part, Lanier’s predecessor was brought in from Chicago to clean up MPD’s biased policing.

        Smell the coffee, please.

  2. jeri hughes

    February 28, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    The Mayor was accused of making this announcement as a political maneuver just prior to the upcoming election. Why? So he could gain all 800 votes from the District’s transgender community. The provision will probably alienate quadruple that number of conservative voters who oppose the action. Vincent Gray already had the transgender vote, almost without exception. he believes in equality and human rights. He has been to the memorials of our slain. He has been to our TDORs. He has promoted changes in all District agencies based on inclusion and employment opportunities. He has been extremely accessible to our community and to EVERY citizen within the District. he has done more for the promotion of equal rights for the LGBT community than any other mayor in the Nation – and that is BEFORE this latest announcement. Remember, he scored a 10+ on the GLAA survey. Brian, your cynicism is an insult. And it just doesn’t make any sense. Try thinking about it, and give the man credit where it is due.

  3. brian

    March 1, 2014 at 7:53 am

    **********
    Remember, he scored a 10+ on the GLAA survey. Brian, your cynicism is an insult.
    **********
    Jeri, let’s park the mock outrage and ad hominem attacks, and stick to the issues, please.

    Many of us believe GLAA was in error in rating an embarrassing, ethically-challenged mayor– who now leads a police department with homophobic, secretive and unethical practices– a “perfect 10.” But that’s OK. GLAA is a very human organization. It always has lots of irons in its volunteer-based, advocacy fire. GLAA can not be expected to be “perfect” with every rating.

    Jeri, I do appreciate that you’re an outstanding soundbite herald for our dubious mayor. Still, why don’t we tackle this ONE ISSUE that might really matter NOW to LGBT peoples’ lives and safety.

    Please get your pal, Mr. Gray, to provide detailed answers to the following…

    — How many anti-LGBT hate crimes cases that have occurred during Gray’s term are still OPEN?

    — How many anti-LGBT hate crimes cases have been CLOSED/ CLEARED with an arrest?

    — How come Gray’s secret police does not provide an ONLINE LOOKUP– for that individual case information– so that victims, their friends and neighbors can take their own precautions to avoid being assaulted by the many hate crimes perpetrators MPD has failed to apprehend?

    — Indeed, why do LGBT victims of prior hate crimes have to continue to fear for their safety in Gray’s DC?

    — And why is it NYPD can catch their anti-LGBT hate crimes perps so quickly, but Gray’s MPD can not?

    Answers to the above questions might actually help *ALL* LGBTs in staying SAFE from the hate crimes Gray’s secretive police– through their biased policies and practices– now encourage.

    Be “insulted” if you must, Jeri. But those are reasonable, non-cynical questions to which any LGBT citizen or business can expect answers from their mayor.

    • jeri hughes

      March 2, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Brian, the argument I presented dealt as a specific response to your statement, point by point. Although I did find your cynicism repugnant, there were no “ad hominem” attacks. I merely asked you to re-think your argument. On the other side of the fence, you respond by attacking GLAA, claiming that the organization was “in error” for the high rating provided to “an embarrassing ethically-challenged mayor” and continue by adding spurious allegations concerning “a police department with homophobic, secretive, and unethical practices.” Shame.
      GLAA specifically provides the points and the reasoning supporting each rating. The organization is comprised of individuals who have been defending the rights of the LGBT community for decades. The results of the GLAA survey deserve credibility, and the members deserve your respect for a lot more than just being “human”.

      I find your reference to me as “a sound bite herald for our dubious mayor” as a veiled personal attack, insinuating that my opinion should be reduced to the promotion of my “pal”, Mayor Vincent Gray. For the record, he is not a personal friend, and I owe him no specific allegiance.

      As a member of the transgender community, a deeply oppressed minority, I am delighted that the Mayor of the District of Columbia has taken the time to acquaint himself with me and so many, many others in response to our efforts to obtain relief from discrimination. Vincent Gray’s concern is real, and he has provided considerably more than lip service. He responds to ALL of our concerns. We are citizens, and he accords us that respect. Without question, he has EARNED respect and loyalty in return.

      The questions you seek answered would be better addressed to the OGLBTA than directly from the Mayor. Certainly, if you truly want answers from the Gray administration, you would not address them to me in a newspaper blog. You would do well to phrase the questions without including unsubstantiated and biased statements like “staying SAFE from the hate crimes Gray’s secretive police – through their biased policies and practices – now encourage.” However, as a former citizen of NYC let me assure you that I feel more secure and safe within the borders of the District (and I specifically include all six wards) than I ever did in the City. I personally only know of two hate crimes against the members of the transgender community during the Mayor’s term. Both cases are closed. One perpetrator is convicted and sentenced; the other is in the process of being tried. I have developed working relationships – and I might even call them friendships – with several officers serving in the MPD, and in the DOC. So have many of my friends. Things are so much better in DC than anywhere else that I have ever lived, but it isn’t perfect. Bigotry and prejudice still exist in these agencies as well as the general public. Discrimination cannot be eliminated solely by legislation. Ending discrimination is an ongoing effort. Mayor Gray has championed, prioritized, and spearheaded reforms, but he has not been personally responsible for all of the progress the District has enjoyed. Advocates, allies, Council members, and innumerable agencies have participated and share in whatever credit may be allotted. Perhaps that credit should be shared with you, as well. We don’t need to knock each other down. We need to support each other’s efforts and move forward. We still have work to do. Let’s get to work.

      • brian

        March 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

        Well, Jeri, I’d say we’re both hard at work on our respective tasks, as we see them. We just have fundamental differences regarding this mayor and his increasingly biased and secretive MPD.

        However, Gray *IS* the incumbent candidate voters must pass judgment upon– not Gray’s MPD, nor Gray’s OGLBTA. Vince Gray is THE candidate who has and owes DC voters those answers.

        Let’s do hope together, though, that we see no more police harassment episodes as reported by Ruby Corado happened last Friday. Maybe the mayor will surprise me and ask for Lanier’s resignation.

        Whatever, thank YOU, Jeri! Thanks for the time and the consideration of your frank responses– and thanks for the many ways YOU further our city’s LGBTQ causes! See you in the funny papers.

  4. Chris

    March 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Brian, Let it go or move to NYC Gray is winning re-election!

  5. Lane Hudson

    March 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Any effort to paint Vince Gray anything other than fully supportive of the LGBT community is not genuine. And despite the headline that the Blade gave the report given to Cathy Lanier, members of that committee feel like her response to them was a home run. There is no greater ally that I know if in elected office than Vince Gray.

  6. brian

    March 2, 2014 at 5:01 am

    John Adams wisely noted, “facts are stubborn things,” Lane.

    Even if Gray dares to answer the questions I put to Jeri (above), Vince Gray still can’t run away from his mixed record on life/death and LGBTQ public safety/ policing issues.

    Of course, Vince Gray can’t run away from his criminal shadow campaign of 2010. But neither can he run away from his homophobic and transphobic police chief.

    “Fully supportive,” you say. Really?

    Hasn’t the Gray 2014 campaign hired former NOM-supported, Marriage Equality foe Bob King to work in his campaign, after Bowser’s campaign wisely let him go? …
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/02/04/anti-gay-consultant-working-gray-campaign/

    Gray also can’t run away from the ongoing anti-LGBT police bias at local police stations like MPD’s Fifth District and its exclusionary, anti-LGBT MPD-5D-Citizens Advisory Council.

    Nor can Gray run away from the fact that his police chief just weeks ago used a MPD awards ceremony to reward anti-LGBT/ anti-Marriage Equality politicians in the chief’s home ward (Ward 5)? TWO of those Lanier crony awardees, btw, are running to unseat Ward 5’s Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (who really *IS* fully supportive of Ward 5’s LGBTs).

    That’s highly unethical and biased interference by any police chief! Lanier ought to be FIRED for that unethical political interference alone. When citizens call MPD for help, will it matter which campaign sign they have in their front yard? Is DC subtly morphing into Gray’s Police State?

    Gray also can’t run away from his police chief’s repeated public verbal harassments of DC transgender activists– and just this week, the police chief’s very public, gratuitous, homophobic insult of attendees of DC’s Leather Week.

    No wonder why MPD’s rank and file officers feel encouraged by their MPD bosses to discriminate against LGBTs in general– and to harass transgender citizens like Ruby Corado and her friends– as reportedly happened Friday night.

    ******
    “And despite the headline that the Blade gave the report given to Cathy Lanier, members of that committee feel like her response to them was a home run.” –Lane
    ******
    And is it any wonder that Cathy Lanier’s cronies on her exclusionary Hate Crimes Task Force think Lanier’s response to it (including, presumably, her gratuitous, homophobic remarks against DC Leather Week) was a “home run.”

    Sorry, Lane. DCTC’s Jason Terry already blew the cover off of Gray’s police chief’s “independent” task force…
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/02/27/trans-group-d-c-hate-crimes-review-biased-toward-police/

    LGBT voters can see for themselves, in numerous instances, how “genuine” Vince Gray is to their interests. We can do better.

  7. Samuel Augustus Jennings

    March 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    This is why I love DC.

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17th Street High Heel Race draws large crowd

D.C. Mayor, three Council members, police chief mingle with drag queens

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34th annual High Heel Race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Close to 1,000 spectators turned out Tuesday night to watch D.C.’s 34th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in which several dozen men dressed in drag and wearing colorful high heel shoes raced along a three-block stretch of 17th Street near Dupont Circle.

As she has in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office organizes the annual event, gave the official signal for the runners to start the race from a stage at the intersection of 17th and R streets, N.W. 

Joining the mayor on the stage was Japer Bowles, who Bowser recently named as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which plays the lead role in organizing the High Heel Race. 

Also appearing on stage after being introduced by Bowser were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).

Bowser, who along with the three Council members delivered brief remarks before the start of the race, said the event highlights the city’s diversity and resilience coming after over a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we want the world to know – that even in a pandemic, even when we had to trim the budget, we stayed focused on how we can make life better for our LGBTQ community,” Bowser told the crowd. “And we’re going to keep on doing it,” she said. “We’re investing in making sure everybody in our community is accepted and safe.”

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who walked along the three-block section of 17th Street before the race began, was greeted warmly by bystanders, some of whom called out his name to welcome him to what has become the city’s largest Halloween celebration.

“This is a great event,” Contee told the Washington Blade. “I enjoy coming out to be among D.C. residents and all who find our D.C. culture,” he said. “It’s just a great evening, so we’re happy to be out here supporting our community.”

Members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit were among the police contingent on duty at the event and overseeing the closing of the streets surrounding 17th Street.

Like past years, many of the race participants and dozens of others dressed in Halloween costumes paraded up and down 17th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m., more than two hours before the start of the race, which was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.  

However, the mayor this year gave the signal to start the race at about 8:35 p.m. Although a large number of drag runners participated in the race, some who planned to join the race didn’t make it to the starting line in time because they expected the race to begin at 9 p.m. as advertised, according to people in the crowd who knew those who missed the race.

To ensure that everyone had an opportunity to participate, Bowles and others from the mayor’s office agreed to hold a second race about a half hour after the first one. The number of participants in the second race appeared to be about the same as those who joined the first race, indicating many of the drag participants ran twice.

“This is a special treat,” said one bystander. “We got to see two races instead of one.” 

The High Heel Race was cancelled last year due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Many in the crowd watching the race on Tuesday night said they were delighted the city decided to go ahead with the event this year at a time when other large events continue to be canceled or postponed.

Also similar to past years when the High Heel Race took place, the restaurants and bars that line 17th Street were filled on Tuesday night, including the gay bars JR.’s and Windows as well as the longtime LGBTQ-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Prior to the mayor’s arrival, gay local radio and TV personality Jimmy Alexander of DCW 50 TV served as host to a drag show and costume contest on the stage. DCW 50 also set up and hosted a separate stage on the sidewalk next to JR.’s bar in which race participants and others dressed in costumes were invited to have their pictures taken and provided with copies of the photos of themselves.

“I think it’s amazing,” Bowser told the Blade after the completion of the first race. “It’s good to be back. It was tough missing a year of activities,” she said referring to the business shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. “We had a lot of great, beautiful racers. And so, I’m really excited about it.”

To see more photos from this event, click here.

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Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting

Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote

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Mitch Crane, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane. (Photo courtesy Crane)

Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.

The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website. 

The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022. 

The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.

Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.

Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.

“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.

Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.

The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.

 “The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee. 

In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.

He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

 “I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.

Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.

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MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6

Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker

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Gay journalist Jonathan Capehart will host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area. 

“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.

The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.

According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.

The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”

Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”

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