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Capital Pride announces 2016 award recipients

Recognition follows normalization of diplomatic relations



Rayceen Pendarvis, gay news, Washington Blade
Capital Pride Heroes, Rayceen Pendarvis, gay news, Washington Blade

Rayceen Pendarvis is among this year’s Capital Pride honorees. (Photo courtesy of Rayceen Pendarvis)

HIV/AIDS activist and local entertainment show host Rayceen Pendarvis, journalist and former TV news anchor Kathleen Matthews, and veteran transgender rights advocate Jeri Hughes are among those named as 2016 recipients of the Capital Pride Alliance’s annual LGBT rights awards.

The organization’s Capital Pride Heroes Award, the Engendered Spirits recognition, and its Bill Miles Award, named for the group’s late founding board member, draw attention this year to eight individuals that have distinguished themselves as extraordinary advocates and allies of the LGBT community, Capital Pride officials said in a statement.

The awards will be presented at the Capital Pride Heroes Gala, which takes place at 7 p.m. on June 1 at the Carnegie Library, 901 K St., N.W.

“The Capital Pride Alliance is extraordinarily fortunate to have a community with so many individuals, leaders, and activists dedicated to fighting for and successfully advancing LGBTA rights for all of us,” said Capital Pride board president Bernie Delia.

“This year was a particularly difficult selection process, with so many outstanding individuals from whom to choose,” Delia said. “We are truly grateful and honored to announce and celebrate these individuals.”

The Capital Pride Alliance, among other things, produces D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade and Street Festival.

The Capital Pride Heroes designation was given to these individuals, whose backgrounds and accomplishments are taken from a Capital Pride pamphlet:

Bishop Allyson Abrams, presiding bishop of the LGBT supportive Pneuma Christian Fellowship, founder of the Empowerment Liberation Cathedral and social justice advocate.

Kathleen Matthews – LGBT advocate, human rights activist, journalist, TV news anchor, vice president for Global Communications at Marriott International Corporation, and former Maryland congressional candidate.

Rayceen Pendarvis – HIV/AIDS activist, host of “The Ask Rayceen Show,” emcee of multiple D.C. Black Pride festivals and events, volunteer, equality advocate, and gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.

Peter Rosenstein – LGBT rights activist, racial justice champion, CEO of national healthcare and education related associations, member of multiple nonprofit boards, and co-coordinator of a group advocating for marriage equality in D.C. He also serves as a Washington Blade columnist.

Engendered Spirits honorees recognized for having made significant contributions to the transgender community:

Julius Agers – “Two-spirited, transgender activist, volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations and political campaigns, staff member at the D.C. Fire and EMS Department.”

Jeri Hughes – “Human rights advocate, volunteer, marriage equality and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal activist,” longtime advocate for banning employment discrimination against transgender people, and LGBT rights activist.

Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service:

Chelsea Bland – “Labor union and LGBTQ rights activist, volunteer co-producer at Capital Pride for Volunteers, LGBT committee chair for the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2, and freelance photographer.”

• Michael Creason – “Volunteer sign language interpreter for Capital Pride and multiple LGBT organizations, nationally certified sign language interpreter, and producer at Capital Pride for Accessibility.”


District of Columbia

Bowser’s highest-level adviser resigns after sexual harassment allegation

Female staffer accuses John Falcicchio of longstanding abuse



John Falcicchio (Screen capture via WUSA9)

Lawyers representing a D.C. government employee shook up the city’s political establishment on Monday when they announced that the employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against John Falcicchio, the now former D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s longtime chief of staff.

The attorneys, Debra Katz and Kayla Morin, did not identify the city employee. 

The announcement by Katz and Morin in a press release came shortly after Mayor Bowser issued her own announcement at a news conference on the same day. The mayor confirmed that Falcicchio’s sudden resignation last Friday, March 17, followed her decision to launch an investigation into allegations against Falcicchio.    

But Bowser said issues surrounding her longtime adviser’s departure amounted to “a sensitive matter that includes privacy concerns” that prevented her from disclosing why she initiated the investigation and why Falcicchio abruptly resigned. 

She said the investigation was being conducted by the city’s Office of Legal Counsel, which is “following established policies and procedures” and that all relevant D.C. government staff members were fully cooperating with the investigation.

“I can also tell you that this investigation does not involve any allegations of improprieties related to business transactions,” Bowser told reporters attending the news conference, which was initially called to celebrate the completion of the city’s 9th Street, N.W. protected bike lane project and to discuss updates on the Capital Bikeshare program.

“I have every confidence in my new chief of staff, Lindsey Parker, and in our new Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Keith Anderson,” Bowser said at the news conference. “And I have immense confidence in the 37,000 employees of the D.C. government who will keep us moving forward,” she said.

Parker has served as the city’s chief technology officer since 2019 and as assistant city administrator since 2022. Anderson has served as director of the D.C. Department of General Services, which oversees the city’s buildings and properties.  

“We represent an employee of the District of Columbia who came forward to report serious allegations of sexual harassment by former Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio,” the statement released by attorneys Katz and Morin says.

“It is our understanding that this behavior is longstanding, and our client is cooperating fully with the investigation, which Mayor Bowser initiated immediately,” the statement continues. “Our client is courageous. She came forward to ensure accountability and protect other women,” it says. “Given the gravity of our client’s allegations – which involve unwelcome advances and sexual contact – we ask the media to respect her privacy,” the statement says.

It concludes by encouraging “everyone affected” to contact Maia Ellis, the Associate Director of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, who’s leading the investigation, at [email protected].

Katz is a founding partner and Morin is an associate of the D.C. law firm Katz Banks Kumin, which specializes in sexual harassment law, whistleblower law, and employment law, according to a write-up on its website.

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Md. Senate approves transgender rights bill

Maryland House of Delegates passed similar measure on Saturday



Md. state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) speaks at a press conference for the Trans Health Equity Act on Feb. 14, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

The Maryland Senate on Monday approved a bill that would require the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment for transgender people.

Senate Bill 460 or the Trans Health Equity Act passed by a 31-15 vote margin. 

“Requiring, beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide gender-affirming treatment in a nondiscriminatory manner; requiring that the gender-affirming treatment be assessed according to nondiscriminatory criteria that are consistent with current clinical standards; prohibiting the issuance of an adverse benefit determination related to gender-affirming treatment unless a certain experienced health care provider has reviewed and confirmed the appropriateness of the determination; etc,” reads a summary of the bill.

The Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday passed a similar measure.

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Md. House of Delegates approves transgender rights bill

State Medicaid program would be required to cover gender-affirming treatment



Md. state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) speaks at a press conference for the Trans Health Equity Act in Annapolis, Md., on Feb. 14, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

The Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday approved a bill that would require the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment for transgender people.

House Bill 283, or the Trans Health Equity Act, passed by a 93-37 vote margin. The measure now goes before the Maryland Senate.

“Proud that the MD House of Delegates passed the Trans Health Equity Act with such a strong majority,” tweeted state Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County), who introduced HB 283.

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