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Majority of Va. Republicans back LGBT nondiscrimination protections

GOP state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel early LGBT rights supporter

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Jill Holtzman Vogel, gay news, Washington Blade
Virginia state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier County) (Photo by YngSupervisor; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A new poll finds a majority of Virginia Republicans support efforts to ban anti-LGBT discrimination.

Mason-Dixon Polling between Jan. 7-9 asked Republicans voters in Virginia whether they supported protections for LGBT individuals in housing and public employment. The survey found 53 percent of Republicans would support “legislation at the General Assembly this year that would update Virginia’s nondiscrimination laws to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing.” And 63 percent would support similar legislation in public employment.

Thirty-eight percent opposed the housing bill, and 30 percent opposed the public employment legislation.

These results come 11 months after The Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm, conducted a similar survey.

The February 2018 survey found 55 percent of Republican voters believed discrimination against gay and transgender people in housing should be illegal and 59 percent believed similar discrimination in public employment should be forbidden. The poll also found support for these protections among a variety of sub-groups of Republican voters; including Trump backers, National Rifle Association supporters, individuals classified as “very” or “extremely” conservative, anti-abortion voters and individuals who have participated in all of the four most recent Republican primary elections.

These results may appear surprising.

The Republican Party of Virginia’s 2016 platform makes no mention of LGBT people or protections. It explicitly opposes same-sex marriage and “condemns” the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the Windsor and Obergefell cases that paved the way for same-sex marriage across the nation. And in its discussion of religious liberty, it implies that businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBT people.

The idea that a majority of Republican voters in any state would support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people would be ludicrous based on this document alone, but many are saying they expected these survey results.

“This is a trend we’re seeing across the country. Voters simply have no appetite for discrimination and want to be sure that their friends and neighbors are protected the same way they are,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “The ground really has shifted on these issues of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. There is much more support for these anti-discrimination efforts.”

Winterhof noted legislation in most states hasn’t caught up to this new level of public support.

Virginia is one of 31 states that lacks protections for LGBT people in housing and public employment. “The ground has shifted, but lawmakers … didn’t get that memo, and we’re certainly trying to educate and share more of that information,” said Winterhof.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish also told the Washington Blade he anticipated the results from the polls. He emphasized a majority of lawmakers in the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates — both of which are controlled by the GOP — support protections for LGBT individuals.

Parrish said Republican support for LGBT equality has lagged behind that of the general public but that “support for LGBT issues among all Americans has been inching up for decades.” In Virginia specifically, Parrish pointed to two instances from the past five years that he believes led to a shift in attitudes toward LGBT issues.

In Bostic v. Schaefer, a U.S. district court ruled the Marshall-Newman Amendment in Virginia’s Constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2014 decision, and in October of that same year, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case. Bostic v. Schaefer legalized same-sex marriage in Virginia before it was permitted in much of the rest of the country.

Danica Roem, the first openly transgender member of the state House of Delegates, in 2017 defeated consistently anti-LGBT Bob Marshall who Parrish noted introduced “quite a number of bills to harm our community.”

“That also brought change,” said Parrish.

Equality Virginia has focused some of its recent efforts on gathering favor for LGBT protections among Republicans.

Its Virginia Beach for Fairness campaign aims to pick up that support in one of the most conservative areas of the state. Parrish hopes increased reception to LGBT issues among conservatives will help nondiscrimination proposals in housing and public employment get past the House of Delegates this year. The laws have passed in the state Senate for the past four sessions with an increasing number of Republican supporters over the years.

Some Republican lawmakers in Virginia are now coming out in favor of LGBT protections. Others, like state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier County), have long supported them

A Trump supporter, Vogel doesn’t fit the archetype of an LGBT ally. But she made her support of nondiscrimination policies a central aspect of her lieutenant gubernatorial campaign, according to Evan Draim, an openly gay man who ran the LGBT Virginians for Vogel Coalition.

“I worked with the Vogel campaign to talk with LGBT voters throughout the commonwealth about Jill Vogel’s record,” Draim told the Blade. “Jill came with us to attend various Pride festivals around Virginia.”

Vogel eventually lost the race to Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, but in many ways she is a manifestation of the results from the Mason Dixon and Tarrance Group polls. Vogel backs Trump, holds an A+ rating from the NRA and has stood against the Affordable Care Act for years. She also supports nondiscrimination legislation for LGBT people.

Vogel’s profile suggests LGBT protections may soon no longer be a dividing issue between Republicans and Democrats in Virginia or elsewhere in the country.

Draim, who now serves as the 10th District Representative for Young Republicans in Virginia, emphasized that while tides are turning, there is still much work to be done.

President Trump has banned transgender individuals from serving in the military, and Vice President Pence recently defended his wife’s decision to take a job at a school that forbids LGBT employees and students. As an entity, the GOP remains staunchly opposed to any legislation that would advance LGBT equality. Individual politicians may be changing their tune, but the Republican Party’s official stance looks to be set in stone for at least the next two years and likely longer.

“We still have a lot of work to do to get the party to a place where the LGBT community feels like we are 100 percent where we need to be on LGBT equality. But I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” said Draim.

The Blade has reached out to Vogel for comment.

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Lane named senior counsel at Brady United

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Thomas Patrick Lane

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Congratulations to Thomas Patrick Lane the new Senior Litigation Counsel and Director of Affirmative Litigation with Brady United. According to its website, Brady’s mission is, “To unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.”

Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of legal at Brady said, “The whole Brady team is thrilled to welcome Tom’s skills as a trial lawyer and his leadership as a champion for justice and a voice for inclusivity and equal rights. Tom is one of the top litigators in the country, and has been a fighter his whole life who has proven himself undaunted by any challenge, including taking on the gun industry for its role in causing gun violence in America. Tom’s expertise and insights into complex litigation involving emerging technologies, such as 3-D printed guns, “smart” technology, and online commerce, will bolster our fight for industry-wide change by holding companies accountable and forcing reforms that will make all Americans safer.”

Upon accepting the position Lane said, “From my time as a prosecutor to private practice, I have seen the effects of gun violence and the importance of defending victims and survivors and upholding common-sense laws that keep our families and communities safe. I am excited to bring that background to Brady and to continue this important work nationwide.”

Prior to joining Brady, Lane was a partner in the New York office of Winston & Strawn, LLP. Before that he was a partner in Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP. He is recognized as one of the country’s top intellectual property and new media lawyers. He tried the first Internet music case and the first Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor case before juries. He has also served as a senior trial attorney in the office of the New York Kings County District Attorney.

Lane represented the City of New York in litigation against major gun manufacturers in the early 2000s. LawDragon named him as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Lane earned his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.; and his J.D. from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans. He has created an endowed scholarship there for LGBTQ students to help law firms realize the importance of hiring diverse rosters of attorneys, and to honor the courage of his uncles Bernard Lane (an Army Ranger decorated with two Bronze Stars) and Richard Morrison (a recovered alcoholic who devoted his life to counseling others).

Both men were known for their toughness tendered by humor and both lived openly in loving relationships with same-sex partners in the 1970s. Lane is a former board member of the National LGBT Bar Association. He directs all external legal matters for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose mission is to end bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities.

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100th anniversary celebration of Dupont Circle fountain set for May 17

GWU student creates tribute video

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Dupont Circle Fountain, Russian news agency, gay news, Washington Blade
The iconic Dupont Circle fountain turns 100 this month. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ residents and longtime visitors to D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood are expected to be among the participants in the 100th anniversary celebration of the installation of the Dupont Circle fountain scheduled to be held at the circle on Monday, May 17.

Aaron DeNu, president of Dupont Festival, a nonprofit arts and cultural programming group that’s organizing the celebration, says it will take place from noon to at least sunset inside Dupont Circle.

The celebration will take place one week after the May 10 release of a YouTube video, “How Dupont Circle Evolved as a Hub for LGBTQ+ Life in the District,” produced by George Washington University student Dante Schulz. Schulz is the video editor for the G.W. student newspaper The Hatchet.

Among those appearing in the documentary video are veteran LGBTQ rights activists Deacon Maccubbin and his husband Jim Bennett, who owned and operated the Dupont Circle LGBTQ bookstore Lambda Rising beginning in the 1970s, which is credited with contributing to Dupont Circle’s reputation as the epicenter of D.C.’s LGBTQ community for many years.

Also appearing in the video is longtime D.C. gay activist and Dupont Circle area resident Craig Howell, a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“At this point in time due to COVID restrictions we’re not going to be doing any particular formal gathering of folks,” DeNu told the Washington Blade in describing the May 17 celebration. “But we’ll have a soundtrack that’s playing throughout the day from that original ceremony – the same songs they used in the original dedication a hundred years ago,” he said.

DeNu said the event will also feature “historic imagery” related to Dupont Circle and the people who have gathered there over the years.

“So, we’re really just inviting people to come and have lunch, stop by the park after work, and just stop and reflect on 100 years of Dupont Circle fountain, take a look at the imagery and see some old friends and hopefully stop by and see the Dupont businesses that are around the area,” DeNu said.

The LGBTQ video produced by Dante Schultz can be accessed here.

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Va. GOP governor nominee opposes transgender-inclusive youth sports

Glenn Youngkin made comment to Arlington voters in March

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Glenn Youngkin (Photo via Twitter)

 

The Republican gubernatorial candidate to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

“Biological males should not be allowed to play sports in girls sports,” Glenn Youngkin said during a meeting with a group of voters in Arlington on March 25, according to the Washington Examiner. “It’s just not fair.”

The Washington Blade has reached out to Youngkin’s campaign for comment.

Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, on Saturday defeated Pete Snyder, former House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield County), Peter Doran, Sergio de la Peña and Octavia Johnson in the Republican Party of Virginia’s nominating convention. Virginia Republicans nominated Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares as their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general respectively.

The Democratic Party of Virginia will hold its primary on June 8. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to win the vote, and run against Youngkin in the general election.

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