April 9, 2018 at 11:42 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Madaleno mocks Democratic opponent at Victory Fund brunch
Madaleno, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s annual National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 8, 2018. (D-Montgomery County)

Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Sunday at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch in D.C. mocked a Democratic opponent who said he “prances around Annapolis.”

“I’m proud to say I’m looking forward to prancing right to victory in June and in November,” said Madaleno as his running mate, Luwanda Jenkins, stood by his side on stage at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Alec Ross — who is among the other Democrats who are seeking to succeed Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — on March 25 said after a candidate forum that Madaleno “prances around Annapolis.” The Victory Fund and Maryland state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) are among those who criticized Ross over the comment.

Ross and his running mate, Julie Verratti, who is a lesbian, strongly denied allegations the comment was homophobic when they spoke with the Washington Blade on March 29.

Madaleno would be the first openly gay man elected governor in the country if he and Jenkins were to win in November.

“Here’s to reaching a major turning point in our nation where the LGBT community, the African American community, the Asian community, the Hispanic community, the Native American community, the Muslim community, people of all ethnicities, religions, gender and socioeconomic groups can come together to take our seat at the table,” said Jenkins as she led brunch attendees in a toast. “Now is our time.”

Warner, Roem headline brunch

Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks at the Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch. (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

Madaleno and Jenkins are among the elected officials and candidates who spoke at the brunch, which is the Victory Fund’s largest annual fundraiser.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) criticized President Trump on issues that include his efforts to ban transgender people from enlisting in the military and his failure to support comprehensive gun control in the wake of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Warner, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the investigations into whether the Trump campaign had any involvement in Russian interference with the 2016 election must be allowed to continue.

“History has shown that when (in) a nation of laws when people start attacking without regard for truth or validity the folks who enforce our laws, you get to a pretty scary place pretty quickly,” said Warner.

Warner also cited the election of Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) last November as “good news.”

Roem is the first openly trans person seated in a state legislature in the U.S. She is also among the 15 Democrats who were elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2017.

Republicans have a one seat majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem on Sunday stressed elections “have consequences,” noting no anti-LGBT bills were introduced during the 2018 legislative session.

“Last year we defeated several incumbents who either introduced, co-patroned or voted for anti-LGBTQ legislation and replaced them all with 100 percent pro-equality delegates, so even the opponents of equality who are still left know their anti-LGBTQ agenda will be dead on arrival,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing in Richmond, though,” added Roem.

Roem noted none of the pro-LGBT bills that had been introduced in the House this year made it out of subcommittee. She also pointed out members of the Republican-controlled chamber in February killed a proposed amendment to the House budget bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination provision.

“We still have work to do,” said Roem. “We still have elections to win.”

Lesbian congressional candidate from Texas defends ‘Dreamers’

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Malcolm Kenyatta, an openly gay man who is running to represent Pennsylvania’s 181st District in the state House of Representatives, are among those who also spoke at the brunch. U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced Gina Ortiz-Jones, a lesbian who is running to represent Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.

Ortiz-Jones, who served in the U.S. Air Force under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said there are 124,000 “Dreamers” — young undocumented immigrants who have been allowed to remain in the U.S. and obtain work permits under the Justice Department’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — in Texas alone. Ortiz-Jones sharply criticized Trump over the uncertainty around DACA’s future after he announced last September that his administration would end it.

“The fear that they’re living with is needless,” said Ortiz-Jones, noting that her mother is a naturalized U.S. citizen. “We are better than that, even if our president isn’t.”

Parker: 2018 ‘is an unprecedented election cycle’

This year’s brunch took place roughly four months after former Houston Mayor Annise Parker succeeded Aisha Moodie-Mills as the Victory Fund’s president and CEO.

Parker on Sunday noted U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Roem and Long Beach (Calif.) Mayor Robert Garcia are among the more than 520 openly LGBT people who are currently in elected office in the U.S. She also pointed out Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis is being challenged by David Ermold, a gay man to whom she denied a marriage license in 2015.

“2018 is an unprecedented election cycle in unprecedented times,” said Parker.

Parker also criticized Trump over his efforts to ban trans servicemembers and religious freedom laws that opponents contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

“It’s not just about who bakes our wedding cake,” said Parker. “It’s about our lives.”

Parker in her speech also said Vice President Pence “redirected HIV prevention funding to conversion therapy.”

The Blade previously reported that Pence during his 2000 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives said that he would support public funding for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts if they went to organizations that “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Activists maintain Pence backed so-called conversion therapy, even though his spokesperson has denied he ever supported the widely discredited practice.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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