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Canadian prime minister will march in Toronto Pride Parade

Trudeau will make Canadian history at Pride Toronto

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Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party, Canada, gay news, Washington Blade
Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party, Canada, gay news, Washington Blade

Justin Trudeau (Photo by Justin Long; courtesy FlickR)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make history as the first Canadian Prime Minister to march in Toronto’s Pride Parade on July 3.

Pride Toronto announced the news via their Twitter.

The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada expressed his excitement about being a part of the event on Twitter.

“Very much look forward to being there again, this time as PM,” Trudeau tweeted.  

Pride Toronto’s executive director Mathieu Chantelois told BuzzFeed Trudeau’s participation would be monumental.

“[It’s] big news in Canada but big news around the world,” Chantelois says. “Not only because he is probably the sexiest politician alive but also because there has never been a leader of a country to walk in a parade, at least not that we know of.”

Trudeau will be joined by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

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Pennsylvania

Malcolm Kenyatta could become the first LGBTQ statewide elected official in Pa.

State lawmaker a prominent Biden-Harris 2024 reelection campaign surrogate

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President Joe Biden, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Vice President Kamala Harris (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Following his win in the Democratic primary contest on Wednesday, Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who is running for auditor general, is positioned to potentially become the first openly LGBTQ elected official serving the commonwealth.

In a statement celebrating his victory, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund President Annise Parker said, “Pennsylvanians trust Malcolm Kenyatta to be their watchdog as auditor general because that’s exactly what he’s been as a legislator.”

“LGBTQ+ Victory Fund is all in for Malcolm, because we know he has the experience to win this race and carry on his fight for students, seniors and workers as Pennsylvania’s auditor general,” she said.

Parker added, “LGBTQ+ Americans are severely underrepresented in public office and the numbers are even worse for Black LGBTQ+ representation. I look forward to doing everything I can to mobilize LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians and our allies to get out and vote for Malcolm this November so we can make history.” 

In April 2023, Kenyatta was appointed by the White House to serve as director of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

He has been an active surrogate in the Biden-Harris 2024 reelection campaign.

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District of Columbia

Bowser budget proposal calls for $5.25 million for 2025 World Pride

AIDS office among agencies facing cuts due to revenue shortfall

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed 2025 budget includes a request for $5.25 million in funding to support the 2025 World Pride celebration. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget includes a request for $5.25 million in funding to support the June 2025 World Pride celebration, which D.C. will host, and which is expected to bring three million or more visitors to the city.

The mayor’s proposed budget, which she presented to the D.C. Council for approval earlier this month, also calls for a 7.6 percent increase in funding for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which amounts to an increase of $132,000 and would bring the office’s total funding to $1.7 million. The office, among other things, provides grants to local organizations that provide  services to the LGBTQ community.

Among the other LGBTQ-related funding requests in the mayor’s proposed budget is a call to continue the annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents “experiencing homelessness and housing instability.” The budget proposal also calls for a separate allocation of $600,000 in new funding to support a new Advanced Technical Center at the Whitman-Walker Health’s Max Robinson Center in Ward 8.

Among the city agencies facing funding cuts under the mayor’s proposed budget is the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease, and Tuberculosis Administration, known as HAHSTA, which is an arm of the D.C. Department of Health. LGBTQ and AIDS activists have said HAHSTA plays an important role in the city’s HIV prevention and support services. Observers familiar with the agency have said it recently lost federal funding, which the city would have to decide whether to replace.

“We weren’t able to cover the loss of federal funds for HAHSTA with local funds,” Japer  Bowles, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, told the Washington Blade. “But we are working with partners to identify resources to fill those funding  gaps,” Bowles said.

The total proposed budget of $21 billion that Bowser submitted to the D.C. Council includes about $500 million in proposed cuts in various city programs that the mayor said was needed to offset a projected $700 million loss in revenue due, among other things, to an end in pandemic era federal funding and commercial office vacancies also brought about by the post pandemic commercial property and office changes.

Bowser’s budget proposal also includes some tax increases limited to sales and business-related taxes, including an additional fee on hotel bookings to offset the expected revenue losses. The mayor said she chose not to propose an increase in income tax or property taxes.

Earlier this year, the D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition, which consists of several local LGBTQ advocacy organizations, submitted its own fiscal year 2025 budget proposal to both Bowser and the D.C. Council. In a 14-page letter the coalition outlined in detail a wide range of funding proposals, including housing support for LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ seniors; support for LGBTQ youth homeless services; workforce and employment services for transgender and gender non-conforming residents; and harm reduction centers to address the rise in drug overdose deaths.

Another one of the coalition’s proposals is $1.5 million in city funding for the completion of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building, a former warehouse building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood that is undergoing a build out and renovation to accommodate the LGBTQ Center’s plans to move in later this year. The coalition’s budget proposal also calls for an additional $300,000 in “recurring” city funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.”

Bowles noted that Bowser authorized and approved a $1 million grant for the LGBTQ Center’s new building last year but was unable to provide additional funding requested by the budget coalition for the LGBTQ Center for fiscal year 2025.

“We’re still in this with them,” Bowles said. “We’re still looking and working with them to identify funding.”

The total amount of funding that the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition listed in its letter to the mayor and Council associated with its requests for specific LGBTQ programs comes to $43.1 million.

Heidi Ellis, who serves as coordinator of the coalition, said the coalition succeeded in getting some of its proposals included in the mayor’s budget but couldn’t immediately provide specific amounts.  

“There are a couple of areas I would argue we had wins,” Ellis told the Blade. “We were able to maintain funding across different housing services, specifically around youth services that affect folks like SMYAL and Wanda Alston.” She was referring to the LGBTQ youth services group SMYAL and the LGBTQ organization Wanda Alston Foundation, which provides housing for homeless LGBTQ youth.

“We were also able to secure funding for the transgender, gender non-conforming workforce program,” she said. “We also had funding for migrant services that we’ve been advocating for and some wins on language access,” said Ellis, referring to programs assisting LGBTQ people and others who are immigrants and aren’t fluent in speaking English.

Ellis said that although the coalition’s letter sent to the mayor and Council had funding proposals that totaled $43.1 million, she said the coalition used those numbers as examples for programs and policies that it believes would be highly beneficial to those in the LGBTQ community in need.

 “I would say to distill it down to just we ask for $43 million or whatever, that’s not an accurate picture of what we’re asking for,” she said. “We’re asking for major investments around a few areas – housing, healthcare, language access. And for capital investments to make sure the D.C. Center can open,” she said. “It’s not like a narrative about the dollar amounts. It’s more like where we’re trying to go.”

The Blade couldn’t’ immediately determine how much of the coalition’s funding proposals are included in the Bowser budget. The mayor’s press secretary, Daniel Gleick, told the Blade in an email that those funding levels may not have been determined by city agencies.

“As for specific funding levels for programs that may impact the LGBTQ community, such as individual health programs through the Department of Health, it is too soon in the budget process to determine potential adjustments on individual programs run though city agencies,” Gleick said.

But Bowles said several of the programs funded in the mayor’s budget proposal that are not LGBTQ specific will be supportive of LGBTQ programs. Among them, he said, is the budget’s proposal for an increase of $350,000 in funding for senior villages operated by local nonprofit organizations that help support seniors. Asked if that type of program could help LGBTQ seniors, Bowles said, “Absolutely – that’s definitely a vehicle for LGBTQ senior services.”

He said among the programs the increased funding for the mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs office will support is its ongoing cultural competency training for D.C. government employees. He said he and other office staff members conduct the trainings about LGBTQ-related issues at city departments and agencies.

Bowser herself suggested during an April 19 press conference that local businesses, including LGBTQ businesses and organizations, could benefit from a newly launched city “Pop-Up Permit Program” that greatly shortens the time it takes to open a business in vacant storefront buildings in the downtown area.

Bowser and Nina Albert, D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, suggested the new expedited city program for approving permits to open shops and small businesses in vacant storefront spaces could come into play next year when D.C. hosts World Pride, one of the word’s largest LGBTQ events.

“While we know that all special events are important, there is an especially big one coming to Washington, D.C. next year,” Bowser said at the press conference. “And to that point, we proposed a $5.25 million investment to support World Pride 2025,” she said, adding, “It’s going to be pretty great. And so, we’re already thinking about how we can include D.C. entrepreneurs, how we’re going to include artists, how we’re going to celebrate across all eight wards of our city as well,” she said.

Among those attending the press conference were officials of D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance, which will play a lead role in organizing World Pride 2025 events.

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The White House

White House debuts action plan targeting pollutants in drinking water

Same-sex couples face higher risk from environmental hazards

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President Joe Biden speaks with reporters following an Earth Day event on April 22, 2024 (Screen capture: Forbes/YouTube)

Headlining an Earth Day event in Northern Virginia’s Prince William Forest on Monday, President Joe Biden announced the disbursement of $7 billion in new grants for solar projects and warned of his Republican opponent’s plans to roll back the progress his administration has made toward addressing the harms of climate change.

The administration has led more than 500 programs geared toward communities most impacted by health and safety hazards like pollution and extreme weather events.

In a statement to the Washington Blade on Wednesday, Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said, “President Biden is leading the most ambitious climate, conservation, and environmental justice agenda in history — and that means working toward a future where all people can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community.”

“This Earth Week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $7 billion in solar energy projects for over 900,000 households in disadvantaged communities while creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs, which are being made more accessible by the American Climate Corps,” she said. “President Biden is delivering on his promise to help protect all communities from the impacts of climate change — including the LGBTQI+ community — and that we leave no community behind as we build an equitable and inclusive clean energy economy for all.”

Recent milestones in the administration’s climate policies include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s issuance on April 10 of legally enforceable standard for detecting and treating drinking water contaminated with polyfluoroalkyl substances.

“This rule sets health safeguards and will require public water systems to monitor and reduce the levels of PFAS in our nation’s drinking water, and notify the public of any exceedances of those levels,” according to a White House fact sheet. “The rule sets drinking water limits for five individual PFAS, including the most frequently found PFOA and PFOS.”

The move is expected to protect 100 million Americans from exposure to the “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to severe health problems including cancers, liver and heart damage, and developmental impacts in children.

An interactive dashboard from the United States Geological Survey shows the concentrations of polyfluoroalkyl substances in tapwater are highest in urban areas with dense populations, including cities like New York and Los Angeles.

During Biden’s tenure, the federal government has launched more than 500 programs that are geared toward investing in the communities most impacted by climate change, whether the harms may arise from chemical pollutants, extreme weather events, or other causes.

New research by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that because LGBTQ Americans are likelier to live in coastal areas and densely populated cities, households with same-sex couples are likelier to experience the adverse effects of climate change.

The report notes that previous research, including a study that used “national Census data on same-sex households by census tract combined with data on hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from the National Air Toxics Assessment” to model “the relationship between same-sex households and risk of cancer and respiratory illness” found “that higher prevalence of same-sex households is associated with higher risks for these diseases.”

“Climate change action plans at federal, state, and local levels, including disaster preparedness, response, and recovery plans, must be inclusive and address the specific needs and vulnerabilities facing LGBT people,” the Williams Institute wrote.

With respect to polyfluoroalkyl substances, the EPA’s adoption of new standards follows other federal actions undertaken during the Biden-Harris administration to protect firefighters and healthcare workers, test for and clean up pollution, and phase out or reduce use of the chemicals in fire suppressants, food packaging, and federal procurement.

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