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Gay man to head D.C. Office of API Affairs

Appointment of David Do makes four out cabinet members

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David Do, gay news, Washington Blade
David Do, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed gay urban planning specialist David Do, on right, as director of the city’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. (Photo courtesy of David Do)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday night announced she has appointed gay urban planning specialist and former D.C. government official David Do as director of the city’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

Bowser made the announcement while speaking at the 26th Annual Korean-American Grocers Association of Washington, D.C. Scholarship Award Banquet. The event was held at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family located near Catholic University in the city’s Brookland section.

“David is a passionate leader who is committed to improving the quality of life for the residents of the District of Columbia,” Bowser said in making the announcement.

“I welcome David’s enthusiasm and am delighted to have him join our team. David will be instrumental in working with the AAPI community on behalf of my administration to deliver a fresh start for the District’s residents,” she said.

Do’s appointment to the cabinet-level post requires confirmation by the City Council. Political observers familiar with the Council expect the Council to approve the appointment.

Do is a Vietnamese American and the child of a family that came to the U.S. as Vietnam War refugees. He finished a close second in a five-candidate race for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education from Ward 1 in last November’s city election. In December he received a master’s degree in community planning from the University of Maryland.

Prior to enrolling in graduate school at Maryland, where he also served as a teaching assistant, Do served as a correspondence management specialist in the mayor’s Correspondence Unit under Mayors Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray.

A statement released by Bowser’s office on Sunday says among Do’s goals in his new job will be to “move forward together by continuing to build bridges between the District’s AAPI community and all Washingtonians.”

The statement adds, “Do will lead OAPIA in its mission to improve the quality of life for District AAPIs through advocacy and engagement. Do will advise the mayor, the Council, and District agencies on the views, needs, and concerns of the AAPI community, provide recommendations on District programs and initiatives affecting the AAPI community, and help to coordinate programs and initiatives within District government that promote the overall welfare of the AAPI community.”

Do becomes the fourth openly gay or lesbian appointed by Bowser to a cabinet-level position. Last week Bowser named lesbian activist, media professional and former Washington Blade vice president for strategic initiatives Sheila Alexander-Reid as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

Shortly before taking office as mayor on Jan. 2, Bowser named lesbian housing and homelessness policy expert Polly Donaldson as director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and gay former city official Matt Brown as director of the Mayor’s Office of the Budget.

“I am excited to be appointed by Mayor Bowser to lead the Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs,” Do said in a statement. “I will bring my experience and deep understanding of various community groups and stakeholders in Washington, D.C. to my new role,” he said. “My focus will be on making sure that the Asian-American and Pacific Islander has a strong advocate and voice within the District.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    January 26, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Do becomes the fourth openly gay or lesbian appointed by Bowser to a cabinet-level position.
    –Blade
    ********************
    Why do the few LGBT cabinet level Bowser appointments really matter so much? Why should this be news in 2015? It seems kind of elitist, doesn't it?
    ˙
    That's especially so given the fact that the Bowser Administration is failing to stop de facto anti-LGBT employment and promotions discrimination among the city's most important public safety employees for LGBTQ residents– the Metopolitan Police Department and DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services
    ˙
    Open and out LGBT adults comprise fully 10% of DC's adult population. Are there 400 open and out DC police officers to reflect LGBTQs share of the city's population? How about 200 open and out employees of DC FEMS?
    ˙
    For, five, six (or even more) LGBTs at cabinet level– but not as Chief of Police or FEMS chief, of course– and that's versus NOT hiring and promoting *HUNDREDS* of LGBT police and EMS professionals to safeguard DC's LGBT residents and their loved ones.
    ˙
    Where's the hiring diversity and fairness in that?

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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 four D.C. gay bars announced this 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, and 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 four bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday 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 was scheduled to take effect 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 will 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 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 Friday to also put in place a requirment that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a 5-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than three a requirement to accomodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

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

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Va. school guidelines for transgender students

Christian Action Network and other conservative groups filed suit

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Connor Climo, gay news, Washington Blade

Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge J. Frederick Watson on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies for transgender students that are to be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year.

The VDOE introduced the policies in March to better protect and affirm trans and non-binary students in schools, considering they are more likely to face discrimination and harassment from their peers and students. The directives would require Virginia schools to allow them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that conform to their gender identity and pronouns and a name that reflects their gender identity.

Several conservative organizations, including the Christian Action Network, and families whose children attend Lynchburg public schools had sought to overturn the VDOE’s policies. The groups cited their need to protect their right to free speech and religion under the First Amendment.

Challenging the enactment of non-binary and trans-inclusive school policies in Virginia is not a new occurence. 

Tanner Cross, a Loudoun County teacher, was suspended in May after stating he would not use trans students’ preferred pronouns. Circuit Judge James E. Plowman, Jr., who invoked Pickering v. Board of Education,  a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a teacher that stated they have the right to provide commentary on issues of public importance without being dismissed from their position, reinstated Cross after he filed a lawsuit,  

Equality Virginia on Tuesday a statement celebrated what they described as “a win for Virginia schools and students.”

“This ruling is important progress and emphasizes the continued need to protect transgender and non-binary youth in Virginia,” said Executive Director Vee Lamneck. “These policies will create safer classrooms and will reduce bullying, discrimination and harassment. It’s imperative school boards adopt these policies as soon as possible because the lives of transgender students are at risk.”

Equality Virginia, ACLU of Virginia, and more than 50 other organizations and school board leaders across the state filed an amicus brief earlier this month encouraging the court to deny the lawsuit.

The brief’s arguments included references to historic lawsuits like Brown v. Board of Education and Grimm v. Gloucester City School Board that specifically addressed inequalities in schools for minority students.

While Tuesday’s ruling is a win for LGBTQ rights advocates in education and their respective students, there still remains a final barrier to ensure that the VDOE’s policies are sanctioned in the fall. 

“The dismissal clears one statewide hurdle for the guidelines and limits future challenges,” reports the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. “But it leaves the fight to continue at local school boards, which are currently debating how or if to implement policies before the start of the school year.”

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