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Nellie’s reopens, closes after protesters block entrance

Demands include public apology, release of video

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Protesters formed a human chain around Nellie’s on Tuesday night to block the gay bar’s entrance doors. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Hours after it reopened for the first time in a month, Nellie’s Sports Bar on Tuesday night closed its doors again shortly after 8 p.m. when protesters formed a human chain to block the gay bar’s entrance doors.

About 50 protesters showed up outside Nellie’s, which is located at 9th and U Streets, N.W., about 8 p.m. after learning that the bar had reopened. D.C. police closed the streets surrounding Nellie’s to vehicle traffic as the protesters occupied the busy intersection.

Protesters have been assembling outside Nellie’s on Saturday nights for close to a month in response to a June 13 incident during D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride weekend when a security guard was captured on video dragging a Black woman down a flight of stairs shortly after a fight broke out among Nellie’s customers.

Nellie’s announced in a statement a short time later that it dismissed the security company for which the security guard was an employee and apologized for the guard’s action. But LGBTQ and racial justice activists have alleged that Nellie’s has a history of bias against people of color despite the fact that many of its longtime customers have been African-American men and women, LGBTQ and straight.

The city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board two weeks ago asked the Office of the D.C. Attorney General to open an investigation into allegations that Nellie’s violated the terms of its liquor license for its handling of fights that broke out in the bar shortly before Keisha Young, 22, was dragged by her hair down the stairs by the security guard.

The action by the ABC Board came after the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) conducted its own investigation of the June 13 incident and concluded that Nellie’s appeared to have been engaged “in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct” at the time the fight broke out inside the bar. An ABRA spokesperson said it will be up to the Attorney General’s Office to make a final determination of whether Nellie’s violated city laws or regulations at the time of the fight.

The protesters assembled outside Nellie’s on Tuesday night after organizers posted messages on social media saying they had just discovered that Nellie’s had reopened and called on people show up outside the bar for a protest. Among the protest organizers was Makia Green, co-conductor of the Black-led community defense group Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, who describes herself as a queer trans nonbinary Black liberation organizer.

Green told the Washington Blade during the protest that protesters want Nellies to make a full public apology to Keisha Young and to release its own surveillance video of the incident involving Young being pulled down the flight of stairs. An ABRA report of the June 13 Nellie’s incident says ABRA has obtained a copy of the Nellie’s video.

Green said protesters are also calling on Nellie’s owner Douglas Schantz and his managers to participate in “public listening sessions” to hear concerns raised by Nellie’s Black customers and members of the community about alleged racial bias at the bar. She said that also among the protesters’ demands is for Nellies to make “reparations” for Young and the Black community. 

According to Green, some but not all of the protesters are calling for Nellie’s to close permanently and for its building to be “put into the hands of Black queer and trans people” as a community center for social justice endeavors.

Nellie’s owner Schantz didn’t immediately respond to a request by the Blade for comment on the protesters’ action and to disclose whether he plans to reopen Nellie’s again this week.

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Comings & Goings

Cummings joins White House Office of National Cyber Director

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John Cummings

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 John Cummings on joining the Office of the National Cyber Director at the White House as Director of Supply Chain and Technology Security. Upon getting the position, he said, “I am beyond thrilled to join the growing team at the National Cyber Director’s Office and bring my experience to our mission of mitigating the cyber threats facing our nation and ensuring every American can enjoy the full benefits of the digital ecosystem. It is truly a privilege to work with this incredibly brilliant and collegial group of cyber experts.” 

Prior to joining the White House, Cummings served as Associate General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Before that role, he served as interim Chief Counsel for ODNI’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center and as Associate General Counsel for the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.

He has provided legal advice and counsel on matters of government-wide and interagency policy and national security in the areas of executive authority, cyber, constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, legislative affairs, and international cooperation. He has worked on recruiting LGBTQ, women, and minority applicants for government roles in national security and is experienced in public relations, stakeholder relationships, and international partnerships. 

Cummings began his career clerking for the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and also clerked for the House Committee on Homeland Security and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

He attended Villanova University where he received a bachelor’s degree in English. He earned his J.D. from Loyola Law, New Orleans, and his LL.M. in National Security Law from Georgetown Law.

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Maryland

Abortion rights in post-Roe Maryland, Delaware

Practice generally legal, with some restrictions

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (Public domain photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 found that the decision to receive an abortion was generally protected by the Constitution of the United States. With the broadest federal protection of abortion access now rescinded, the legality of abortion will by and large be determined on the state level.

In Delaware, abortion is legal through the Medical Practice Act — but with some restrictions.

After fetal viability, or the point where a fetus can survive outside the uterus, abortion in the First State becomes illegal unless necessary for the patient’s “life or health,” or if the fetus has a condition “for which there is not a reasonable likelihood” that it will survive outside the uterus, according to Subchapter IX of the act

Additionally, under the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, physicians cannot perform a surgical abortion on minors under the age of 16 unless the patient’s parent or guardian has received at least 24 hours notice from a medical professional. Notice is not required for nonsurgical abortions.

On the federal level, the funding of abortion is illegal through the 1977 Hyde Amendement “except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights advocacy organization. States are only federally required to fund abortions that meet these conditions through federal-state Medicaid programs. 

While some states also fund abortions deemed medically necessary regardless of whether they endanger a patient’s life, Delaware state law does not extend beyond federal guidelines: The state only funds abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Abortion legislation in Delaware mirrors neighboring Maryland, whose laws include similar restrictions on abortion after fetal viability and abortion for minors under the age of 16. But abortion laws in these states are generally more restrictive than other mid-Atlantic counterparts, such as New Jersey and New York.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) weighed in on the state’s abortion law on Friday.

“In 1992, Maryland voters approved a constitutional referendum legalizing and protecting access to abortion as a matter of state law – that measure remains in effect today following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor.”

The impact of Roe v. Wade’s fall in Delaware remains uncertain. While the abortion rate in Delaware steadily declined between 2014 and 2017, recent findings show that instances of abortion are increasing once again in the state, reflecting a rise on the national level.

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Virginia

Youngkin backs abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy

Republican governor supports exceptions for incest, rape and protecting mother’s life

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade said he will seek to ban abortions in his state after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Virginians do want fewer abortions as opposed to more abortions,” Youngkin told the Washington Post. “I am not someone who is going to jump in and try to push us apart … There is a place we can come together.”

Youngkin, a Republican, took office in January.

His party controls the Virginia House of Delegates, but Democrats maintain a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dobbs, giving power back to the states to make decisions on abortion,” said Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears in a statement. “The court has recognized that the 1973 decision was an example of judicial and federal overreach. The important question of abortion has now been returned to statehouses across the country, in order for them to make their own policy decisions, which is exactly what the founding fathers envision when they wrote the 10th amendment to the Constitution.” 

“I applaud the court for recognizing this wrong and having the courage to correct it. I look forward to working with the governor and the General Assembly in the next legislative session on legislation that respects life,” she added.

Abortion is currently legal in Virginia during the first and second trimesters.

Youngkin on Friday said he supports abortion exemptions in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk.

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