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Questions surround gay officer’s departure from LGBT police unit

Markiewicz headed back to Sixth District



Justin Markiewicz, gay news, Washington Blade, GLLU
Justin Markiewicz, gay news, Washington Blade

Justin Markiewicz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Officer Justin Markiewicz, who was honored by D.C.’s Capital Pride organization in June for his exemplary work as a member of the D.C. Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, has left the unit and began a new assignment on Tuesday as a patrol officer with the Sixth Police District.

Police sources familiar with the GLLU have said Markiewicz was essentially forced out of his GLLU post, even though he submitted an official request to leave the unit. Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the department granted Markiewicz’s request to return to the Sixth District and is unaware of any issues that would have forced him to leave the GLLU.

“My time at the GLLU has come to an end,” Markiewicz stated in a Facebook posting on Sept. 18. “I’m sad that my tenure at the GLLU has ended in the way it did but I’m excited to continue the next step in my career,” he wrote in his posting.

Markiewicz has told the Blade police department rules prevent him from talking to the media. But two police sources familiar with the GLLU said Markiewicz requested that his indefinite detail to the GLLU be ended and that he be returned to his earlier assignment to the Sixth District because higher-up police officials had created a hostile work environment for him at the GLLU.

The sources said Markiewicz was subjected to greater scrutiny and what appeared to others as unfair disciplinary action for alleged minor infractions of rules and procedures after he filed a harassment complaint against Capt. Edward Delgado in August 2014. At the time Delgado served as commander of the Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU and three other police liaison units.

Sources said the complaint, which was filed with the department’s Internal Affairs Division, accused Delgado of repeatedly addressing Markiewicz in person and in emails as “Justine.” Markiewicz viewed Delgado’s action as a form of anti-gay harassment, the sources said.

Delgado was transferred to another assignment shortly after the complaint was filed, but spokesperson Crump said police personnel rules prevented the department from disclosing the outcome of the Internal Affairs investigation into Markiewicz’s complaint.

According to the sources, Markiewicz’s decision to leave the GLLU was based, in part, on the news that Delgado had recently been reassigned to a position that oversees the GLLU and the other liaison units after he was promoted to the rank of inspector. His new position would place him once again in a role of supervising Markiewicz had Markiewicz remained at the GLLU.

“It is difficult to respond to ‘sources familiar with MPD,’” Crump told the Blade in an email on Tuesday. “However, we will state categorically that we will not tolerate retaliation in any form in MPD,” she said.

“Officer Markiewicz made a request to end his detail to GLLU and that request was granted,” Crump said, adding that the department is unaware of any retaliation claim. “We encourage anyone who feels that they have been retaliated against to file a complaint through proper channels.”

Crump said Police Chief Cathy Lanier has yet to decide whether to assign another officer to replace Markiewicz at the GLLU. Markiewicz’s departure lowers the number of GLLU officers assigned to the unit’s headquarters in Dupont Circle from five to four. Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, who serves as the GLLU’s supervisor, is also considered a member of the unit.

“We will continue to ensure trained members are available to assist on GLLU-related calls,” Crump said.

“Hopefully this isn’t goodbye forever and just a see you later,” Markiewicz said in his Facebook posting. “I truly miss seeing everyone. Come visit me east of the river,” he said in referring to the Sixth District’s location in Southeast D.C.



Flight attendants union endorses Sarah McBride

Del. lawmaker would be first transgender member of Congress



Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride speaks at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 10, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Delaware congressional candidate Sarah McBride has earned the support of the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s most prominent flight attendant union.

It’s the second big labor endorsement for McBride after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27’s endorsement. The Association of Flight Attendants praised her for spearheading efforts to bring paid family and medical leave to Delaware, which will take effect in 2026. 

“Sarah’s record in the Delaware Senate shows that she understands how to work collaboratively, build power and make big things happen,” the union’s president, Sara Nelson, wrote in a press release shared exclusively with the Washington Blade. “That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy.”

McBride also announced her support for creating a list of abusive passengers and banning them from flying. Each airline has a list of passengers banned from flying, but airlines don’t share the lists with each other, though Delta Air Lines has asked them, because of “legal and operational challenges,” as a representative for the airline industry trade group Airlines of America told a House committee in September 2021.

“Right now, someone can be violent towards a flight attendant or another passenger and walk directly off of that flight and onto one with a different airline to endanger more people,” an Association of Flight Attendants spokesperson wrote in a statement. 

The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would put the Transportation Security Administration in charge of building the database of passengers fined or convicted of abuse and has bipartisan support but has sat idly in committee since March. It failed to pass last year, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have charged that the list would disproportionately target people of color and strip and a better step to reducing hostility would be making flights more comfortable. Reports of defiant and unruly passengers have more than doubled between 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2022.

“I thank the Association of Flight Attendants for endorsing our campaign,” McBride wrote in the press release. “It’s important that we recognize and celebrate the symbiotic relationship between strong, unionized workforces and the continued growth of employers here in our state.”

The union representing 50,000 flight attendants across 19 airlines is putting pressure on airlines to grant union demands in contract negotiations. At American Airlines, unionized flight attendants voted to authorize a strike — putting pressure on the airline to accede to its demands. Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines say they are ready to strike but have not voted to authorize one yet. United Airlines flight attendants picketed at 19 airports around the country in August, ratcheting up the pressure. 

The union’s endorsement adds to a growing list of McBride endorsements, including 21 Delaware legislators, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and Delaware Stonewall PAC. McBride, who would be the first openly transgender politician in Congress, has powerful connections in Washington — including with the White House — and is favored to win Delaware’s lone House seat. 

A poll commissioned by HRC shows her leading the pack of three candidates vying for the seat — 44 percent of “likely Democratic voters” told pollster company Change Research, which works with liberal organizations. The poll of 531 likely Delaware Democratic primary voters, though, was conducted only online — meaning those with less familiarity or access to the internet may not have been counted — and Change Research’s methodology for screening likely voters is unclear. The company also did not provide a breakdown of respondents by age, gender, and race, but says it uses an algorithm to make the results representative.  

Nelson said McBride’s time in Delaware’s state Senate shows her prowess in building power and working collaboratively.  

“That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy,” she wrote.

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Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July



(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’



‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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