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Levine loses Lt. guv and delegate races in Va. primary

Three other Va. LGBTQ delegates secure nomination for re-election



Mark Levine, Democratic Party, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
Mark Levine lost his two races on Tuesday.

Virginia House of Delegates member Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) lost his bid to become the state’s first gay lieutenant governor on Tuesday by finishing in third place in the Democratic primary with 11.2 percent of the vote in a seven-candidate race.

In a development that surprised some political observers, Levine also lost his primary race for the Democratic nomination to keep his House of Delegates seat to Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker by a margin of 59.3 percent to 40.6 percent of the vote.

Under Virginia’s election law, Levine was allowed to run for the two offices at the same time, enabling him to secure renomination for his delegate seat if he won the primary for that seat while losing his race for lieutenant governor.

Virginia Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William County) won the primary for the lieutenant governor’s race with 37.3 percent of the vote. She had been endorsed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), a strong LGBTQ rights supporter.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, another longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights, was the decisive winner in the Democratic primary for governor, finishing with 62.1 percent of the vote in a five-candidate race. Under Virginia’s constitution, governors cannot run for a second consecutive term but can run again after leaving office for four years. Northam also endorsed McAuliffe.

Levine, an attorney, has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights issues in the House of Delegates, where he has served since 2016. He currently holds the seat for the 45th District, which includes most of the City of Alexandria and parts of Arlington and Fairfax Counties.

Although he lost his bid for renomination for his delegate seat, Levine came in first place in Alexandria in his race for lieutenant governor, capturing 30 percent of the vote in that seven-candidate race.
Meanwhile, three other LGBTQ members of the House of Delegates, all Democrats, easily secured renomination for their seats and will be running in the November general election against Republican nominees.

However, in what may have been yet another surprise to some LGBTQ activists, gay Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) endorsed Bennett-Parker over Levine in that House of Delegates race. Ebbin, who is not up for re-election this year, told the Washington Blade he considered Bennett-Parker an excellent candidate who is highly qualified to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

Levine couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The other LGBTQ candidates who won renomination include Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), who four years ago became the nation’s first transgender person to win election and to be seated in a U.S. state legislature. Roem was not challenged in the Democratic primary this year.

Similarly, gay House of Delegates member Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax County) was unchallenged in Tuesday’s primary, securing his nomination to run against a Republican in the November general election.

Lesbian Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) did face an opponent in the Tuesday primary, which she won decisively by a margin of 61.1 percent to 38.8 percent against challenger Kyle Elliott.

In the hotly contested race for six at-large seats on the Alexandria City Council, 13 candidates, including two gay men, competed for the seats. One of the two gay candidates, Kirk McPike, who currently serves as chief of staff for gay U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), won the nomination for one of the seats by finishing in 6th place with 7.2 percent of the vote.

Gay civic activist James Lewis, who serves as vice chair of the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board, finished in 8th place with 5.9 percent of the vote, disqualifying him from being nominated for one of the six seats up for election.

Under election rules for the primary in the Alexandria City Council race, the highest six vote getters are declared the winners. The candidate who finished in first place, John Taylor Chapman, received just 12 percent of the vote.



Va. House committee advances two anti-transgender bills

Democrats in state Senate will likely kill measures



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia House Education Committee on Friday approved two anti-transgender bills.

Committee members advanced state Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach)’s House Bill 1387, which would ban transgender athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, and state Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun County)’s House Bill 2432, which would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

A House subcommittee earlier this week approved the two bills.

Republicans control the House of Delegates by a 51-47 margin. Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Virginia Senate.

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-trans bills. It is likely HB 1387 and HB 2432 will meet the same fate once they reach the state Senate.

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Comings & Goings

Swaruup takes role as executive director of DC Legal Aid



Vikram Swaruup

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].

The Comings and Goings column also invites LGBTQ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, landed an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Vikram Swaruup on his new position as executive director of DC Legal Aid. Upon accepting the position Swaruup said,“Legal Aid is one of the most important institutions working to make sure all District residents are treated fairly in our legal system, and I could not be more grateful to the board for this tremendous honor. I’m excited to be joining a top-notch team that is on the front lines of fighting for District residents.” 

Swaruup has been working in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, as Chief Deputy Attorney General. He served as second-highest ranking officer and thought partner to the attorney general in management of all legal work of the office, including the District’s affirmative, defensive, and appellate litigation, as well as legal advice provided to District agencies and the legislature. He began working there in the Civil Rights Section, as Assistant Attorney General. He litigated civil rights cases, including investigating pre-suit, drafting complaints, engaging in discovery and motions practice, and developing recommendations for amicus participation. 

Prior to that he served in the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Appellate Section, Washington, D.C., as a senior attorney. Before going to the DOJ, he served as a law clerk for Judge Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose, Calif. He was a summer associate with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, Oakland, Calif. He was a Holley Law Fellow with the the National LGBTQ Task Force in D.C., and a Pride Law Fund Fellow with the Transgender Law Center, San Francisco. 

Vikram earned a bachelor’s of journalism, with high honors, University of Texas, Austin; and a Juris Doctor, University of California, School of Law, Berkeley, Calif. During his college years he participated in many activities including: California Law Review (Senior Articles Editor); Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice (Executive Editor); Faculty Appointments Committee (student co-chair); Queer Caucus (outreach chair); and South Asian Law Student Association. 

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District of Columbia

D.C. Council to honor drag performer Ba’Naka

Memorial resolution expected to pass unanimously on Feb. 7



Drag performer Dustin Michael Schaad (Ba’Naka) died Jan. 11. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

All 13 members of the D.C. City Council have signed on as co-introducers of a ceremonial resolution honoring the life of the late D.C. drag performer Dustin Michael Schaad, who performed at many of the city’s gay bars and LGBTQ events under the name Ba’Naka.

The resolution, introduced by D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), was expected to be approved unanimously at the Council’s Feb. 7 legislative session.

“The Council of the District of Columbia honors Dustin Schaad’s memory, recognizes and celebrates their legacy of love, unity, and compassion for all those who knew him, and expresses sincere condolences to Dustin’s family and loved ones,” the resolution states.

The resolution notes that Schaad, 36, moved to D.C. shortly after graduating high school in his hometown of Bradenton, Fla., and not too long after that “began performing as Ba’Naka at drag shows around the city, eventually becoming one of the most recognizable people in the District’s drag community.”

Schaad died Jan. 11 at George Washington University Hospital from complications associated with a longstanding illness, according to friends.

David Perruzza, owner of the D.C. gay bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, said Schaad had been performing most recently at Pitchers while overseeing a popular drag bingo event at the Adams Morgan bar. Perruzza said Schaad talked about having performed in drag since the age of 18.

“[T]hrough their vibrant personality and outgoing nature, Ba’Naka raised awareness around issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community,” the Council resolution says, adding, “Ba’Naka became a beloved regular at gay bars and clubs around the District, lifting the spirit of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, that this resolution may be cited as the ‘Dustin Michael Schaad Memorial Recognition Resolution of 2023,’” the resolution states.

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