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Gay physician challenges anti-LGBTQ incumbent in Va. House race

Dr. Doug Ward faces ‘very tough race’ in rural district

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Dr. Doug Ward is challenging an anti-LGBTQ incumbent in a conservative district. (Photo courtesy Doug Ward campaign)

Doug Ward, a physician in private practice for 34 years with a specialty in HIV medicine, is running as a Democrat for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in a rural district held by Republican incumbent Michael Webert, who has repeatedly voted against LGBTQ supportive legislation.

Ward, 71, states on his campaign website that he and his husband, Rev. Earl Johnson, have been married for 22 years. He acknowledges he is facing a “very tough race” in the November general election in the GOP leaning 18th District that includes large sections of Rappahannock and Fauquier Counties.

Ward notes that President Joe Biden and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam each lost in the 18th District by sizable margins while incumbent Webert has won in the rural district that includes parts of the Shenandoah National Park since first winning election to the district in 2011.

“It is a really conservative district,” he told the Washington Blade. “It will be a very tough race for me. But we need someone to run against him,” said Ward, who points out that Webert has voted against virtually all the progressive legislation passed in 2020 by the Democratic-controlled Virginia Legislature, including LGBTQ bills.

Among the bills approved by the legislature that Webert voted against were the Virginia Values Act, which expands the state’s nondiscrimination law to include LGBTQ people in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. Webert also voted ‘no’ on a bill that bans use of the so-called LGBTQ “panic” defense in criminal trials and against a bill to ban the use of conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors.

He also voted against a bill approved by lawmakers to repeal a provision in the Virginia Constitution outlawing same-sex marriage in the state. Although the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide made the Virginia Constitution provision unenforceable, civil rights advocates called for its repeal on grounds that it was a symbol of anti-LGBTQ bias.

In its legislative scorecard, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Virginia gave Webert a rating of 6 percent out of a possible perfect score of 100 percent for his voting record on LGBTQ-related bills in the 2020 legislative session.  

Ward said he would have voted for all of the dozen or more LGBTQ measures passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020, which Equality Virginia called a historic development for Virginia. 

In addition to being a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, Ward said that, if elected, he would support improving medical services to rural parts of the state such as his district, raising the minimum wage, and expanding broadband and cell phone service in parts of the state such as the 18th District, where service is lacking.

“Broadband and even cell coverage is a major problem in rural areas,” he said. “This is more than a problem of convenience, but impacts education, healthcare, and the economy. It’s embarrassing that our access to this is so poor.”

On his campaign website, Webert describes himself as a “family man, a farmer, and a business owner” with “strong ties to the environment and conservation.” His website says he has and would continue to be a strong advocate for 2nd Amendment gun owner’s rights, protecting the unborn, and reducing taxes.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

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 Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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