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Heather Mizeur: Andy Harris a ‘traitor’ for attending pre-Jan. 6 meeting

Former delegate challenging Republican congressman in 1st Congressional District

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Heather Mizeur (Photo by Joanna Tillman Photography)

Heather Mizeur on Wednesday called U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) a “traitor” after the Jan. 6 committee disclosed he attended a meeting with former President Donald Trump that focused on how he could stay in office after losing the 2020 presidential election.

“I was completely flabbergasted,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. “It should surprise us, and yet what we know from Andy Harris it wasn’t so surprising after all.”

“This proved that he wasn’t just one of 147 that voted against democracy on Jan. 6, he was one of 10 in the room with the Trump administration in the White House plotting the overthrow of the peaceful transfer of power,” she added, referring to the Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House that Harris and other Republican members of Congress attended. “He’s a traitor to our nation. Andy Harris has betrayed his oath of office, and I believe he’s unfit to serve.”

Mizeur was at an early voting center in Edgewood in Harford County on Tuesday when the committee disclosed Harris participated in the White House meeting with Trump. Mizeur later in the day held an event in Bel Air.

“It was the number one thing everyone wanted to talk about,” she said. “It has just ignited a renewed passion for getting rid of this horrible, lousy congressman that has not just failed at doing his job.”

Harris’ spokesperson on Thursday did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Victory Fund, LPAC have endorsed Mizeur

Mizeur served on the Takoma Park City Council before she served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007-2015. Mizeur ran for governor in 2014.

Mizeur, who now lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, announced her campaign against Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District less than a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Mizeur would be the first openly lesbian member of Congress from Maryland if she defeats Harris in November.

“I’m the patriot and the woman who’s going to hold him accountable and defeat him in November,” Mizeur told the Blade.

Harris has represented the 1st Congressional District — which currently encompasses the entire Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties — since 2011. Mizeur is running against David Harden in the Democratic primary that will take place on July 19.

The Cook Political Report currently ranks the district as R +11.

Campaign finance reports indicate Mizeur raised $1,954,881.08 from Jan. 1, 2021, through June 29 compared to the $1,493,411.83 that Harris raised during the same period. Campaign finance reports indicate Harris’ as of June 29 had $1,849,850.56 on hand, compared to Mizeur’s $1,103,317.43.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, state Del. Lisa Belcastro (D-Baltimore County), House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are among the elected officials who have endorsed Mizeur. The Victory Fund, LPAC, Emily’s List, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, SEIU and other groups have also backed her campaign.

“Money is energy, and people are putting their energy behind this race,” said Mizeur. “There’s a grassroots urgency to this campaign and excitement. People are equal parts excited to fire Andy Harris and to hire Heather Mizeur.”

Roe decision ‘sent shockwaves everywhere’

Mizeur spoke with the Blade less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

She said the decision “sent shockwaves everywhere.”

“It didn’t matter that they telegraphed that it was potentially happening,” said Mizeur. “It still felt differently when it landed. None of us anticipated there would really be a day where the court would turn over 50 years of settled law and precedent that many of those justices themselves said that they would uphold when they were being questioned in their confirmation hearings.”

Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion said the Supreme Court should also reconsider the decisions in the Obergefell and Lawrence cases that extended marriage equality to same-sex couples and the right to private, consensual sex. Mizeur said the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that overturned Roe “has huge implications for the LGBTQ community as well.”

“We’re next in line for those rights to potentially be overturned,” she said.

“Now in Maryland, we’re okay because we have abortion rights enshrined in law here and we’ve passed marriage equality and it was affirmed in a citizen referendum here,” added Mizeur.

Mizeur said she supports the codification of abortion rights in federal law.

“I absolutely refuse to sit back and allow coat hanger and back alley abortions to threaten women’s lives again,” she said. “This is serious stuff, and democracy dies with complacency. And I think that’s what had been happening for a really long time. This has all just been a giant wake up call. For those who believed it didn’t matter whether or not they were involved in the process, that they absolutely have to consistently be engaged involved, voicing their concerns, and voting their values at the ballot box.”

President Joe Biden has said he supports calls to end the filibuster to codify federal abortion rights. Mizeur told the Blade that she too backs such a move.

“It is such a challenge because of the makeup of the Senate right now,” she said. “All we can do is to continue to grab our pitchforks and take to the streets and commit and continue to demand this, but I absolutely am somebody is in support of that.”

Mizeur also spoke about her support of the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law.

“I would like to think that it has even more energy and momentum behind it now,” she told the Blade. “Because similar to how we’re sitting here, dealing with a post-Roe world, we have to be worried about the LGBTQ community what it means to potentially be in a post Obergefell world and get in front of that and in law protections, not just for marriage equality, but for all the other issues that are encompassed in the Equality Act.”

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Maryland

LGBTQ University of Maryland students prepare to celebrate Hanukkah

Eight-day festival to begin Thursday night

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A number of Hanukkah events for LGBTQ students will take place at the University of Maryland this week.

Queer Jewish students and allies are welcome to attend Crazy Cozy Chill Chanukah Celebration on Sunday at the University of Maryland Hillel. Hamsa, home to queer Jewish life on campus, hosted a study break with hot drinks, snacks and games and a chance to welcome Hanukkah early. 

The first night of Hanukkah is Thursday.

Chabad UMD is hosting a menorah lighting on Thursday in front of McKeldin Library and plans to mention the war between Israel and Hamas, according to Rabbi Eli Backman of Chabad UMD. The event is going to be a focus on the positivity and the message of the Hanukkah story.  

“We’ve been around for thousands of years and all those who’ve tried to make sure that we didn’t live to see the next generation (is) no longer here,” Backman said. “That message will really resonate at home for the holiday.”

The story of the Maccabees is one of the few stories where Jewish people fought, Backman said. In Jewish history, people don’t see a military response in many of the other holiday moments. 

“It should give us a boost of energy,” Backman said. “A boost of strength (and) a boost of hope.”

Part of the Hanukkah story’s message is that Jewish people were in a position that they needed to form a military to secure their borders, Backman said. And they succeeded. 

For some, celebrating Hanukkah depends on the people they’re around, Florence Miller, a sophomore English and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies who is Hamsa’s president, said.

Miller is agnostic and does not find themself to be a religious person, but the thing that has kept their Jewish faith is the people about whom they care are Jewish and the sense of community that comes from being Jewish.

“I just wanted to do a Hanukkah event,” Miller said. “It’s been a good refresher with how the semester has been.”

Miller last year attended a Hanukkah party and played a game of dreidel, a spinning top with four sides marked with a Hebrew letter. The people who were in attendance wanted to bet something, but the only thing they could find were pinto beans. 

“When I took them out of my pocket one got stuck in there,” Miller said. “I still have that bean.”

For some Jewish students it’s important to go to Hanukkah events like Hamsa’s celebration to be around like-minded Jewish people, Yarden Shestopal, a sophomore American Studies major, said. 

“Which is why I like Hamsa,” Shestopal said. “Since we’re all queer people or allies we kind of share that mentality of acceptance.”

Being part of the Jewish community at the University of Maryland has opened Shestopal up to how diverse the LGBTQ and Jewish communities are. Shestopal this year, however, debated whether or not to put his menorah up on the windowsill of his apartment because of the rise in anti-Semitism due to the war in Israel.  

“I’m pretty sure I am going to put the menorah in my window,” Shestopal said. “The only way to combat anti-Semitism is to stay visible.” 

Several University of Maryland students lived in Israel before or during their time at the university. 

Elisheva Greene, a junior animal science major, went to seminary, a school for women to learn about Torah, during the pandemic. Greene said celebrating Hanukkah while a war is happening is going to be a similar feeling. 

“I’m able to do what I can from over here by supporting my family and friends,” Greene said. “The biggest thing I can be doing is living my life as a Jewish person and showing that I express my Judaism and I’m not afraid.”

Greene recalled they could not go more than 1,000 feet from home for two months and Hanukkah took place during that time. While it was difficult, Greene said people still put their menorahs on their windowsill.  

“Knowing the resilience the Israelis have and the fact people like to show their Jewishness (is not) gonna stop me,” Greene said. “Like there’s a war going on but you’re gonna be a Jew and you’re gonna flaunt that.”

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Maryland’s Trone, Alsobrooks pledge to champion LGBTQ rights in U.S. Senate

Sen. Cardin to retire at end of term

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Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Md.). (Photos courtesy of the campaigns)

The two leading Democratic candidates who are running to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have pledged to continue to champion LGBTQ rights in the U.S. Senate.

Jared DeWese, a spokesperson for Congressman David Trone’s campaign, in a statement to the Washington Blade noted the Total Wine & More founder is a member of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and co-sponsored the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law.

DeWese pointed out that Trone voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act and co-sponsored a U.S. House of Representatives resolution in support of transgender rights. DeWese also highlighted that Trone helped secure $530,000 in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to develop violence prevention programs for LGBTQ youth in Montgomery County.

Total Wine & More began to offer benefits to employees’ same-sex partners more than 20 years ago. (Maryland voters in 2012 approved the state’s same-sex marriage law.)

“David Trone is the most outspoken and long-standing supporter of the LGBTQ+ community in this race,” said DeWese. “Before marriage equality was a reality in Maryland and across the country, David extended partner benefits to all employees at the company he founded, Total Wine & More, because he believes that equal rights are the bedrock of American democracy and must be extended to everyone.” 

DeWese further described Trone as a “consistent ally” in Congress.

“Congressman Trone’s record aligns with his personal values and those of the voters of Maryland, and they can expect that from him in the Senate,” said DeWese.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in a statement to the Blade noted she supported Maryland’s marriage equality law in 2012 and “will continue to stand up for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, including the right to marry, grow their families, and live free from discrimination, in the Senate.”

Alsobrooks is among those who attended a pro-marriage equality fundraiser at state Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County)’s home in October 2012. 

The Montgomery County Democrat last week told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that her now wife worked with Alsobrooks when she was Prince George’s County state’s attorney. Kaiser said Alsobrooks encouraged her wife to propose to her, and toasted them at their wedding in 2013.   

“A lot of people were good personally, but not so much publicly,” said Kaiser, referring to Alsobrooks’s support for marriage equality before the 2012 referendum. “She was for marriage equality before it was cool to be for marriage equality.”

Alsobrooks in her statement to the Blade said she will “strongly oppose Republican efforts to undermine equality and promote discrimination including the recent wave of anti-trans legislation in some Republican-led legislatures.”

Trone, company made donations to anti-LGBTQ Republicans

Cardin earlier this year announced he will retire from the Senate after three terms.

Gov. Wes Moore; Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller; Comptroller Brooke Lierman; U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); Maryland Congressmen Glenn Ivey, Steny Hoyer and Kweisi Mfume, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones, state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin and Howard County Registrar of Wills Byron Macfarlane are among the officials who have endorsed Alsobrooks. Emily’s List and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC are two of the organizations that have also backed her campaign.

Maryland Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and state Del. Kris Fair (D-Frederick County) are two of the dozens of current and former elected officials in the state and across the country who have endorsed Trone. 

IBEW Locals 24, 26 and 307 and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers have also backed his campaign. 

Campaign finance records indicate Trone and/or his wife have previously supported anti-LGBTQ Republicans. These include a $38,000 donation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s election campaign in 2014, two $4,000 contributions to former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in 2008 and 2012 and $2,500 to U.S. Sen. Tom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Total Wine & More between 2007-2022 contributed $272,971 to Republican officials, candidates and state parties. 

Trone in 2015 stepped down as the company’s CEO. His campaign on Tuesday noted to the Blade that he “has had no involvement in the company’s contributions since becoming a member of Congress.” 

“Prior to stepping down from Total Wine & More, David made contributions to support his company’s efforts to protect tens of thousands of jobs across the nation,” it said.

“While our opponents may attempt to distract from David’s proven track record as an ally and advocate for LGBTQIA+ Americans, the facts are clear: David Trone is the only candidate for United States Senate in Maryland who has taken bold action to support the LGBTQIA+ community,” added the campaign. “That’s why the Human Rights Campaign has given David a 100 percent rating and was honored to endorse him in 2022.” 

His campaign further noted Trone “has supported causes to strengthen and expand mental health access for the  LGBTQIA+ community across the country.” They include $8.5 million in donations to the Democratic Party and pro-LGBTQ candidates. Trone, according to his campaign, has “also been a decades-long supporter of the ACLU, one of the first organizations to fight for marriage equality and equal rights in the nation.”

Alsobrooks disavows anti-gay comments made at her church

Prince George’s County Councilwoman Krystal Oriadha, who is bisexual, in June criticized the decision not to hold a ceremony for the raising of the Pride flag over the county administrative building in Upper Marlboro.

Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., of First Baptist Church of Glenarden, the Upper Marlboro church that Alsobrooks attends, in 2012 urged his congregants to vote against Maryland’s marriage equality law. Shirley Caesar, a well-known gospel singer, during a 2017 appearance at the church defended Kim Burrell, another gospel singer who referred to the “perverted homosexual lifestyle” in an online sermon that has been removed from YouTube and social media.

“You (Burrell) should’ve said something four years ago when our president made that stuff alright,” said Caesar.

Alsobrooks’s campaign told the Blade she “does not agree with those sentiments.”

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Major donor sues One Love Foundation, alleging organization in ‘disarray’

Funder claims Sharon Love critical of ‘outreach to LGBTQ and minority communities’

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Sharon Love (Screen capture via East Idaho News YouTube)

BY JULIE SCHARPER | A major donor is suing the One Love Foundation, claiming that the Baltimore-based nonprofit, which has educated 2 million young people about relationship violence, has breached an agreement and is in “disarray” due to the actions of one of its founders.

The lawsuit asserts that founder Sharon Love fought against One Love’s “outreach to LGBTQ and minority communities” and threatened to fire board members who disagreed with her, prompting nearly all board members and the organization’s CEO to resign earlier this year. Love founded the non-profit after her daughter, University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2010.

The rest of this article can be found at the Baltimore Banner website.

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