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District of Columbia

Bowser, gay D.C. Council candidates trail opponents in GLAA ratings

Robert White leads incumbent mayor in scorecard

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D.C. Councilmember Robert White scored the highest on GLAA’s ratings in the mayoral race. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance on May 10 released its rating scores for candidates running for D.C. Mayor, D.C. Attorney General, and D.C. Council in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary as it has in D.C. elections since the early 1970s.

In a development that may come as a surprise to some observers, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the two gay candidates running for seats on the D.C. Council received lower ratings than one or more of their opponents. 

Bowser received a +6 rating out of a highest possible rating score of +10 compared to her lead opponent, at-large D.C. Councilmember Robert White, who received a +9 GLAA rating. Ward 8 D.C. Councilmember Trayon White, who’s also running for mayor, received a “0” GLAA rating for not returning a GLAA candidate questionnaire. The remaining mayoral contender, James Butler, received a +3 rating.

GLAA, a nonpartisan LGBTQ advocacy group, issues its ratings on a scale ranging from -10, the lowest possible score, to +10, the highest possible score. It bases its ratings on candidates’ responses to a 10-question GLAA questionnaire that covers a wide range of both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ specific issues. The questionnaire also asks candidates to provide a detailed account of their past record on LGBTQ specific issues.

Candidates that do not return the questionnaire receive an automatic rating of “0.”

Gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary, who’s running for the Ward 1 Council seat and who has been endorsed by the Washington Post, came in third place in the GLAA ratings for the three-candidate race in Ward 1. He received a +4 GLAA rating compared to the +9.5 rating for incumbent Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and the +6 rating received by challenger Sabel Harris.  

Gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker, who’s running for the Ward 5 Council seat, came in second place for the GLAA ratings in the seven-candidate Ward 5 race with a +6.5 GLAA rating.  Community activist Faith Gibson Hubbard came in first for GLAA’s Ward 5 ratings with a score of +7.5. Candidates Gordon Fletcher, Gary Johnson, Kathy Henderson, and Art Lloyd each received a “0” rating for failing to return the GLAA questionnaire.

GLAA announced it has declined to rate the Ward 5 candidate with the highest name recognition – former at-large and former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange “due to his 2016 resignation from the D.C. Council for a conflict of interest.”

GLAA adopted a policy of not rating candidates found to have what it considers ethics related violations in 2020 when it similarly declined to rate former Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, who also resigned over ethics issues.

In the race for D.C. Council Chair, GLAA awarded a rating of +8.5 to Democrat Erin Palmer, the only challenger in the primary to incumbent Council Chair Phil Mendelson, who received a +6 GLAA rating.

For the at-large D.C. Council race, incumbent Councilmember Anita Bonds came in second place with a +6 rating behind challenger Lisa Gore, who received a 8.5 rating. Of the two remaining challengers, Nate Fleming received a +5.5 rating and Dexter Williams received a +4.5 rating.

In the three-candidate D.C. Attorney General’s race in which incumbent Attorney General Karl Racine is not running for re-election, attorney Bruce Spiva received a +6.5 rating compared to attorney challengers Brian Schwalb, who received a +6, and Ryan Jones, who received a +2.5.

In a statement accompanying its ratings for each of the candidates GLAA explains the rationale for its individual ratings, pointing out that some of the candidates – including Bowser and the two gay candidates – lost points for disagreeing with GLAA’s positions on both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ specific issues.

Those issues are outlined in a nine-page document GLAA released with its rating scores called “Leave No One Behind: 2022 D.C. LGBTQ Election Guide.” The document expresses strong support for a number of controversial issues that political observers say will play a role in D.C. voters’ decisions on which candidates to support for mayor and D.C. Council.

Among the issues for which GLAA supports and asks in its questionnaire whether the candidates support are “full decriminalization of sex work for adults;” repeal of the subminimum wage for tipped workers; removal of criminal penalties for drug possession for personal use; and a call to “divest” from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department funds that should be invested in “vital programs, including anti-poverty, violence prevention, and crisis intervention” programs.

The GLAA policy document also calls for providing “sufficient affordable housing units for all households earning less than 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI);” expanding access to the city’s housing voucher programs for LGBTQ people in need; and additional funding for the D.C. Office of Human Rights to end its backlog of discrimination cases.

In the statement accompanying its rating for gay candidate Czapary, GLAA says he supports the GLAA policy statement on most issues but lost points for opposing cuts in the D.C. police budget and for not providing enough details about his past record on LGBTQ issues. “GLAA values him running for office as an out member of the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement says.

GLAA said Parker, the Ward 5 Council gay candidate, also supports GLAA’s policy positions on most issues and his responses to the questionnaire “have an average level of detail.” The group said he too didn’t provide sufficient detail on how his past work “impacts LGBTQ+ people” but that GLAA “appreciates him coming out as gay while running for office.”

In a “President’s Message” accompanying GLAA’s detailed policy statement and election guide, GLAA President Tyrone Hanley appears to raise broader non-LGBTQ political issues that GLAA, the nation’s longest continuously running LGBTQ organization, has not addressed in the past.

“Sadly, these simple truths go ignored as the District government continues to neglect individuals and families struggling to get by in a wealthy city, demolish homeless encampments, blame city challenges on housing voucher holders, and stuff residents in decaying jails,” Hanley states in his message.

“Our election guide outlines key priorities for addressing the need of LGBTQ residents while focusing on racial and economic justice,” he says, “including housing, workers’ rights, health, and policing and incarceration.” Hanley adds, “Our priorities reflect feedback from community partners and the work being done across D.C. to make it a better place for everyone.”

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Mayor Bowser’s re-election, expressed the sentiment of some local LGBTQ activists who disagree with GLAA’s expanded policy positions.

“GLAA has issued candidate ratings for 2022 based on criteria which the president of the organization explained in a statement,” Rosenstein said. “Sadly, based on that statement, the entire focus of the organization has changed,” he said. “Clearly, a revered organization once representing the entire LGBTQ+ community, no longer exists.”

Asked to respond to concerns raised by Rosenstein and others who say GLAA has expanded its agenda too far beyond LGBTQ related issues, Hanley said in a short statement that GLAA has put on the table multiple issues that should never have been taken off in the first place.

“We at GLAA want to uplift everyone in our community, including drug users, sex workers, the poor and homeless, and those who are currently and formerly incarcerated,” he said. “They are our people, and we will fight for them. We are learning and building from the successes and failures of the past,” he said, adding, “we want to build a new world where all of us are free and happy living as we truly are.”

The GLAA ratings for each of the candidates, its statement explaining the ratings for each of the candidate, and the candidates GLAA questionnaire responses can be accessed at glaa.org.

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District of Columbia

Pride Run returns after two-year hiatus

1,500 participants to join 10th annual event on June 10

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The Pride Run 5K is back after COVID hiatus. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After a two-year pandemic hiatus that saw the Pride Run go mostly virtual, the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K is elated to once again welcome nearly 1,500 runners, walkers, volunteers, and spectators back to the Historic Congressional Cemetery for their Tenth Anniversary Race on Friday, June 10.

As an official Capital Pride Partner Event, the Pride Run 5K kicks off Capital Pride weekend with a bang. Well perhaps more of a “On your mark, get set, GO!” 

Join us as we run, walk, skip, shantay, and sashay on a course that starts near the cemetery’s “Gay Corner” where many LGBTQ rights activists, such as Leonard Matlovich, are interred. The race then winds along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to finish where you started.  

Gates open at 5 p.m. for packet pickup with the race beginning at 7 p.m. The post-race party includes beer and hard seltzer provided by DC Brau along with a DJ playing music until 9 p.m. Be sure to check out the return of the DCFR dance troupe performing to a hyped-up crowd. 

Race proceeds benefit the following local LGBTQ and youth-supporting organizations via the Pride Run Foundation: Ainsley’s Angels (National Capital Region), Casa Ruby, Team DC Student-Athlete Scholarship, SMYAL, The Wanda Alston Foundation, The Blade Foundation, and Teens Run DC. You can help support these amazing charities by registering for the race or donate directly at DCPrideRun.com.

A special thanks to the presenting sponsors, Capital One Café, Choice Hotels, KNEAD Hospitality + Design, Shake Shack, and Wegmans Food Market to the premier sponsors DC Brau, Pacers Running, and Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, and our elite sponsors, AHF Healthcare Centers, Avalon Bay Communities, Casey Trees, Endorphin Fitness, and Starbucks, and of course our special partner the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Last, but not least, a big thank you to all individual donors who contribute via the race website directly to our incredible charity partners. Together, we proudly celebrate who we are in a festive, safe, and inclusive event.

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District of Columbia

Mattachine Society of D.C. donates documents to William & Mary

New LGBTQ archive established at Swem Library

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Charles Francis, anti-gay purge, Mattachine Society, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Our motto ‘Archive Activism’ brings us to this decision to donate all of our collection to William and Mary,’ said Charles Francis. (Photo courtesy Francis)

The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the group that collects historic documents related to the federal government’s discrimination against and persecution of LGBTQ people in past years, announced this week that it is donating all its documents to a newly created Archive of American LGBTQ Political and Legal History at the College of William & Mary.

The Williamsburg, Va., based college announced last week that its new LGBTQ archive is being established at its Swem Library in memory of the renowned gay historian John Boswell, who was a 1969 Bachelor of Arts graduate in history at the College of William & Mary.

“There are many fabulous collections of LGBTQ historical materials in libraries across the country, but this archive will have a unique focus on the political and legal architecture of the movement,” said Carrie Cooper, dean of University Libraries at William and Mary.

“Our motto ‘Archive Activism’ brings us to this decision to donate all of our collection to William and Mary, for the benefit of historians, researchers, and students nationwide,” said Charles Francis, co-founder of the reestablished Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The group was originally founded by D.C. LGBTQ rights pioneer Frank Kameny in the early 1960s as D.C.’s first politically active LGBTQ organization.

“This exciting new archive will collect materials that illuminate the history of LGBTQ Americans’ struggle to secure their rights through the political process and legal systems of the nation,” according to LGBTQ rights advocate and former William & Mary Rector Jeff Trammell. 

Trammell is donating to the new archive material collected from his tenure as the first openly gay board chair of a major public university, a statement released by William & Mary says. It says Trammell’s donation is the second donation after the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which made the first of what is expected to be many more LGBTQ-related documents to be donated to the new archive.

The Mattachine donation includes “original, declassified documents obtained by meticulous research into sources such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, numerous presidential library archives, and public and university libraries, to name just a few, according to attorney Pate Felts, the other Mattachine co-founder.

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District of Columbia

Capital Stonewall Democrats backs Robert White over Bowser

LGBTQ group endorses Erin Palmer over incumbent Mendelson

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Council member Robert White won the backing of Capital Stonewall Democrats in his bid for mayor over incumbent Muriel Bowser. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, announced on May 17 that it has selected D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) over incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser and political newcomer Erin Palmer over D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson as its endorsed candidates in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary.

With Bowser and Mendelson as well as White having longstanding records of support for LGBTQ rights and Palmer expressing strong support for the LGBTQ community, local observers say the LGBTQ Democratic group’s 163 voting members appear to have based their endorsement decisions on other pressing issues facing the city rather than only LGBTQ specific issues.

In other races, Capital Stonewall Democrats, formerly known as the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which was founded in 1976, voted to endorse incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau over gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary and community activist Sabel Harris who are running against Nadeau.

In the Ward 5 Council race, the group has endorsed gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker in a five-candidate contest for the seat being vacated by incumbent Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who ran unsuccessfully for the office of D.C. Attorney General.

The group has also endorsed Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is running unopposed in the primary; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who’s favored to win re-election against two lesser-known opponents; and D.C. shadow U.S. Rep. Oye Owolewa, who’s also favored over a lesser known opponent.

Capital Stonewall Democrats announced it did not make an endorsement in the Ward 3 and At-Large D.C. Council races and in the D.C. Attorney General race because no candidate received a required 60 percent of the vote under the group’s longstanding rules for endorsements.

By not endorsing in the At-Large race, the group passed over incumbent At-Large Council member Anita Bonds, a longtime supporter of LGBTQ issues. Bonds is being challenged by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lisa Gore, former D.C. shadow House member Nate Fleming, and former D.C. Council staffer Dexter Williams.

In the hotly contested Ward 3 Council race, nine candidates are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Mary Cheh, another longtime LGBTQ rights supporter.

In the race for attorney general, three prominent local attorneys — Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones, and Bruce Spiva — are competing for the AG position being vacated by incumbent Karl Racine, who chose not to run for re-election.

Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsements follow a series of five LGBTQ candidate forums the group held virtually in which most of the candidates running in the various races attended.
In the group’s mayoral form, Bowser was the only one of the four mayoral contenders that did not attend. Her supporters said she had a conflicting event organized by gay Democratic activist Kurt Vorndran that prevented her from attending the Stonewall event.

Those who attended the mayoral forum were Robert White, D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Trayon White (D-Ward 8), and former attorney and community activist James Butler.
A detailed vote tally released by Capital Stonewall Democrats shows the vote count for each of the endorsed candidates as well as candidates in the races for which the group did not make an endorsement.

In the mayoral race, Robert White received 120 votes, or 74.5 percent. Bowser came in second place with 37 votes or 23.0 percent; Trayon White received just two votes or 1.2 percent, with Butler receiving just 1 vote at 0.6 percent. One vote was cast for no endorsement.

In the D.C. Council Chair race, Palmer received 89 votes or 60.1 percent, just surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement. Mendelson received 48 votes or 32.4 percent. Eleven votes were cast for no endorsement.

In the Ward 1 Council race, Nadeau received 100 votes or 69.4 percent compared to gay candidate Czapary, who came in second place with 23 votes or 16.0 percent. Candidate Sabel Harris came in third place with 9 votes or 6.3 percent, with a no endorsement selection receiving 12 votes or 8.3 percent.

In the Ward 5 contest, gay school board member Parker received 91 votes or 64.5 percent. Candidate Faith Hubbard came in second with 31 votes or 22.0 percent. The remaining candidates received fewer than 10 votes each, including former At-Large and former Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange, who received 5 votes or 3.5 percent.

“Since Capital Stonewall Democrats has only 221 members, and only 163 bothered to vote, this is clearly not representative of the LGBTQ+ community in the District,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Bowser for mayor.

But longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate A. Billy S. Jones-Hennin is among the local activists who view the Capital Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of lesser-known challengers – most of whom have progressive, left-leaning views – as a reflection of changes in the demographics of the LGBTQ community and the Stonewall group’s members.

“At the forefront for voters is who they feel can address core problems like crime, open drug transactions, and increased homeless populations,” Jones-Hennin told the Blade. “Just asking voters for support based on their support of the LGBTQ+ community in the past does not cut it,” he said. “We are multi-faceted voters looking for new, more progressive and aggressive leadership.”

The Capital Stonewall Democrats list of endorsements as well as races with no endorsement can be viewed below:

• Mayor: Robert White, with 74.5% of the round one vote
• DC Attorney General: No Endorsement
• DC Council Chair: Erin Palmer, with 60.1% of the round one vote
• Ward 1 Council: Brianne K. Nadeau, with 69.4% of the round one vote
• Ward 3 Council: No Endorsement
• Ward 5 Council: Zachary Parker, with 64.5% of the round one vote
• Ward 6 Council: Charles Allen, with 83.2% of the round one vote
• At-Large Council: No Endorsement
• Delegate to U.S. House of Representatives: Eleanor Holmes Norton, with 69.7% of the round one vote
• U.S. Representative: Oye Owolewa, with 66.1% of the round one vote

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