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Lead plaintiffs in Va. marriage case plan wedding

Nuptials came sooner than anticipated for couple

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Tim Bostic, Tony London, gay news, Washington Blade
Tim Bostic, Tony London, gay news, Washington Blade

Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, Va., were the lead plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit that challenged Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By TIM BOSTIC

Editor’s note: Tim Bostic and his partner, Tony London, were the lead plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit that successfully challenged Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Sitting in the fitting room of the dress shop, waiting for one of the female attendants in our wedding to get fitted, I watched transfixed as a young woman gave precise orders to her mother and aunt. She knew exactly where she wanted her veil to fall, how tall her bouquet would be and exactly how she was going to hold it.

At that moment I had an epiphany. The reason that I’ve been floundering around is I had no vision for our wedding or reception. As a gay man who never thought getting married was possible, I tuned out when people started talking about weddings. We were so concerned about being able to get married it never occurred to me to think about the wedding itself. The one thing I would advise anyone is make sure you have people you can rely on. Our caterer, Cathy Carter with East Beach Catering, and our wedding planner, Ivory Morgan-Burton with Storybook Events, have helped me as I slowly came to understand all of the ins and outs of planning a wedding. The number of things that have to be done meant we had to choose between our wedding or our honeymoon. We had hoped to go on a safari after the wedding. The wedding won.

When we started our fight for marriage equality in Virginia, we were cautioned that it would not be a fast process. The attorneys told us it would probably take five years, so I wasn’t thinking about the wedding because I was focused on obtaining the right to marry the man I love. Thus, when the Supreme Court decided in October not to hear our case and uphold the 4th Circuit Court’s decision, I found myself with no more fight on my hands but a wedding to plan instead. The day after the decision, we met with the rector of our church and picked the first Saturday available, May 2. When I sat down with my caterer Friday of the same week, she knew I had a date set and she asked where the reception was going to be. I told her that I didn’t know, and that was why I was there.

Blanching, she looked at me and said, “You are getting married May 2nd, and you don’t have a venue?” I told her, “Cathy, I didn’t know we could get married until this week!” Bless her heart, she got on the phone, made about 10 phone calls in as many minutes, and found us a venue. The problem was it only held 200 people, so our hope of being able to invite all of the people in the community who supported us was shot. Of course, as I begin to understand the costs involved in a wedding, I guess it worked out.

While much of the planning has been stressful, there have also been some amazing moments. Once we had the church and our venue, I started to reach out to my friends to ask them to be attendants. It felt awkward calling people and asking them to spend money on clothes, airline tickets and hotel rooms. As I asked them to stand up with us, I apologized about them having to spend so much money. All of my straight friends laughed and said they’ve done this numerous times and they know what’s involved. They told me this is one time they were truly happy to do it.

Having a wedding provides a unique opportunity to bring the people in one’s life together. The female attendants, who are spread around the country, came in for the dress fitting and we had an amazing time. Our best men had everyone over for a dinner party. As we were getting ready to leave, I stood on the front porch looking in at these people who mean the world to me and realized there’s never been a reason to have all of these people, who represent my support structure from birth until today, together in one place.

Waiting for everyone to say their goodbyes, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy, illustrating another reason to be grateful that Tony and I can get married. About three weeks after the decision, we went to a dinner party with three other couples from our neighborhood. As we sat down at the table, the hostess told us our next-door neighbor Jim brought champagne to toast our engagement. It seemed a little strange since we have been together for 25 years, but it also felt good. As he raised his glass to toast us, he said if 20 years ago someone had told him that this conservative, Virginia Military Institute graduate would support marriage equality, he would have told them they were out of their mind. However, he was so grateful that Tony and I moved in next door to him and opened his mind and heart. He thanked us for making him a better person. I think straight people understand just how important marriage is and these experiences illustrate how important it is that LGBT folks have the opportunity to partake in this major societal rite.

So on May 2, Tony and I will stand in front of our friends, family and community and pledge ourselves to each other for life, and while I know a piece of paper doesn’t make a difference in terms of our love for one another, it validates us a couple in the eyes of the law and our community. When we wake up on May 3, I don’t know if we will feel any different. But, I do know that on May 3, 2015 Tony and I will finally be married, just like everyone else.

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Casa Ruby’s services must survive

But the organization’s name doesn’t matter

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A group of asylum seekers gather at Casa Ruby on March 5, 2019. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A judge approved putting Casa Ruby into the hands of a receiver and approved the D.C. Attorney General’s recommendation of the Wanda Alston Foundation, of which June Crenshaw is the executive director. She is an amazing person. Founded in 2008, according to its website “the Wanda Alston Foundation provides housing and support services for D.C. homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 and advocates for expanded city services for LGBTQ youth.” 

Contrary to what Ruby Corado said at the hearing she apparently Zoomed into from El Salvador, it is only important to have someone who knows the work of Casa Ruby and if it is someone who worked for a successful organization in the area all the more reason for them to be named. 

It’s not important that the name Casa Ruby survives. What is important is the services it once provided to the transgender community survive, and even expand. That can be done under any name. 

Taking over as receiver will not be an easy task. Crenshaw will have to unravel the mess that is there now. The receiver will have to face the fact money may have been stolen and deal with employees who weren’t paid. They will have to deal with the fact, which now seems clear, that Casa Ruby was out of compliance with the District Non-Profit Corporations Act. 

D.C. was an amazing place for me to come out and I did so after moving here in 1978.  As a political person I got involved with what was then the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which had just played a major role in electing Marion Barry as mayor. Over the years I got more and more involved in the LGBTQ community. I, along with Rick Rosendall, founded and incorporated the Foundation for all DC Families, the organization we set up to fight for marriage equality in D.C. We worked hard, raised funds and had Celinda Lake do the first major poll on the issue in D.C. We found the white community in D.C. was heavily in favor of marriage equality and the Black community was partially supportive based on age and religion. We recognized many of us who began the organization had white privilege, which made life easier for us. We never earned that privilege it was something society just awarded us. We worked hard to recruit a diverse board for the organization and involved the faith community in the fight as well. Then along with Sheila Alexander-Reid and Cornelius Baker we incorporated the Campaign for All DC Families as the 501(c)(4) to do the political work to secure marriage equality. We continued to raise some money for the organization and worked with HRC, which lent us staff and meeting space. We recruited new people. We won the fight working with Council member David Catania and the rest of the Council. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the D.C. marriage equality bill and I still have one of the pens presented to me at the signing. 

White privilege made it easier for me to be out. Because of this over the years I supported groups like the Wanda Alston Foundation, and Casa Ruby, because there are so many members of the LGBTQ community who still struggle in the District, no matter how LGBTQ-friendly our laws are. We must all work to ensure no one falls behind due to homophobia, transphobia, racism, or sexism. Again, I will continue to support the services for the transgender community, which Casa Ruby provided, but don’t care what the organization providing them is called. 

The problem I have with Ruby Corado was compounded when I read in the Blade what she said at the virtual hearing disputing “the allegations, saying among other things, that claims that she was not in communication with the Casa Ruby board was a misconception.”

If Corado cares about the people Casa Ruby served, why is she in El Salvador? Who has she been in touch with — which board members, and will they confirm this? If she cared about the organization and people it served, and has done nothing wrong, why is she not here in the District fighting for the employees, calling a board meeting (if there is a board)? Non-profit boards hire executive directors and oversee their work. I don’t think Casa Ruby ever had a real ‘working’ board overseeing Corado’s work. We need to question and get affidavits from former ‘board’ members as to what they did and what they know about what Corado did.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Opinions

Supporting LGBTQ rights is good for business and the right thing to do

Equity and inclusion must be a corporate imperative

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Brad Baumoel is the Global Head of LGBT+ Affairs at JPMorgan Chase.

In communities across the United States, LGBTQ+ people and their families are facing a growing number of significant barriers to equal rights and protections. In 2022 alone, at least 30 states have introduced anti-LGBTQ+ bills, with a majority targeting transgender and non-binary youth, on top of continued anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and bias in various states across the country. Despite progress toward equity and inclusion, the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly struggling for equality and basic human rights.

I’m truly concerned for members of my community, given the impact these actions are having on our mental health and wellbeing. Several of my LGBTQ+ colleagues and colleagues with LGBTQ+ family members have expressed fear for themselves and their children. Some are scared their transgender child will be taken from them and placed in foster care. Others feel they might be personally prosecuted for seeking gender affirming care for their child. Many are worried they’ll need to move to a different state just so they can continue accessing essential forms of health care.

I feel lucky to work for a company that opposes discriminatory actions that could harm our employees, customers, and the communities where we do business, and has equally advanced policies, practices, and benefits to support our LGBTQ+ workforce. It comforts me to know my employer supports a society that serves all Americans, including the LGBTQ+ community. But not everyone has the same assurance when they go to work.  

Now more than ever, LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion must be a business imperative. Business leaders must use their voice to condemn the hate, bias, transphobia and homophobia that sadly exist in our communities. We also need businesses to take meaningful and measurable action in promoting and advancing inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community year-round, not just during Pride month. While it starts with inclusive benefits, policies and networks of support, this commitment requires businesses to lead with the values of acceptance and belonging in every decision they make. It’s only then that your LGBTQ+ employees, customers and communities will truly feel included and equal. 

Since the first LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group at JPMorgan Chase was created in the 1990s, many, like me, have worked hard to make our company a place where LGBTQ+ employees feel they can be their authentic selves when they come to work. Last year, we strengthened this commitment by creating the Office of LGBT+ Affairs, a full-time, dedicated team focused on advancing equity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees, customers, clients, and communities. It’s my sincere hope that we don’t see our efforts slowed down by attempts to threaten the rights of people for who they are, whom they love or how they identify.

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Queer kids are not brainwashed

Trans children are real transgender people, not trend chasers

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In some conversations with progressive friends, my peers, despite their proclaimed liberal attitudes, voice concern over the fact that children can experiment with gender and sexuality. They say things like “kids are too young to question their gender…that seems dangerous” or “a lot of children are just following gender trends and are not actually trans.” Other friends state that they don’t believe that transgender children should have access to hormone blockers. 

All of these statements are bogus and harmful. Many people who question gender fluidity in children don’t realize that they themselves have been brainwashed into thinking, from a young age, that being cisgender and straight is the norm. It should not be the norm. In fact, queerness is ever more common now among Gen Z’ers, and this is because the youth of today are feeling more and more comfortable opening up about their different sexuality and gender from an early age. 

Being able to safely come out as trans or gay in high school is an extremely healthy process and greatly improves the mental health of kids who would otherwise struggle. In red states, and conservative high school districts, this kind of coming out is still difficult, and might even be banned in the future, if Republicans continue with their cruel agenda. But there is hope in progressive cities like Portland and New York, where students feel free to question cishet and straight standards. 

Much research points to the fact that trans children are who they say they are: real transgender people, and not trend chasers. Kristina Olson, a psychologist at the University of Washington, started running a long-term study on trans youth in 2013. Olson eventually amassed a group of more than 85 trans kids. Olson kept in touch with both the children and their parents over the years. Her team ultimately found that an overwhelming, vast majority of the children stayed consistent with the gender nonconforming identity they chose in childhood. In other words, these trans children were correct about their gender identity from a young age. The notion that children pick up trans identities as a “fad,” or are wrong about them, is outdated. 

We already know that Republicans are dangerous to trans children, and have already prevented them from receiving health care or playing sports in many red states. But what we need to stop is dialogue from progressive voices that discourages gender fluidity in youth. These statements from otherwise liberal leaning people are contradictory to the very values that Democrats stand for. 

Isaac Amend (he/him/his) is a trans man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Amend is also on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Find him on Instagram @isaacamend.

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