Washingtonblade.com, Volume 51, Issue 39, September 25, 2020.

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Our hero

(Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ rights hang in balance after RBG’s death, PAGE 12

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District will not bid to host 2026 Gay Games

LGBTQ sports event to take place in Hong Kong in 2022

Md. man sentenced to 35 years for trans woman’s murder

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Just under three years after losing its bid to Hong Kong to become the host city for the 2022 Gay Games, the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports and cultural event, D.C. has not submitted a bid to host the 2026 Gay Games, according to a statement released last month by the Federation of Gay Games. The FGG, which organizes the Gay Games, released a list of eight cities that have submitted bids to host the 2026 games. D.C. is not on that list. Among the cities on the FGG list are San Diego, the only U.S. city to submit a bid; and Guadalajara, Mexico, which along with D.C., emerged as one of three finalists along with Hong Kong in the bidding for the 2022 games.

ZELLA ZIONA was shot to death in October 2015. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Prosecutor ruled out hate crime as motive By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Mayor MURIEL BOWSER backed effort to bring 2022 Gay Games to D.C. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Brent Minor, executive director of Team D.C., the local LGBTQ sports coalition that coordinated efforts to persuade the FGG to select D.C. to host both the 2022 and 2014 Gay Games, couldn’t immediately reached for comment on why his organization did not push for D.C. to submit a bid for the 2026 games. The FGG selected Cleveland over D.C. to host the 2014 games. Local LGBTQ sports advocate Vince Micone, who played an active role in advocating for D.C.’s Gay Games bids for 2014 and 2022, and D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos, who played an active role in pushing for D.C. to host the 2022 games, each said they were unaware of any effort on Team D.C.’s part to consider a bid for the 2026 games. “I’m not aware of anything Team D.C. was planning or not planning to do,” said Micone. “But I do personally think we’ve bid enough and it’s time for someone else to step up,” he said. In response to a question from the Washington Blade at a press conference on Sept. 21, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she too did not take part in a discussion over whether D.C. should bid for the 2026 Gay Games. Bowser, who played an active role in lining up D.C. government support for the city’s bid for the 2022 games, said she would defer to the local LGBTQ sports groups that coordinated the 2022 effort on behalf of D.C.’s bid for the games. Among other things, Bowser traveled with the Team D.C. leaders to Paris in 2017 to make a personal presentation on behalf of D.C.’s bid for the games before the FGG’s annual General Assembly. “And we had the best presentation, I just have to tell you, and the strongest application by far,” Bowser said at her news conference. “It was not even close.” Bowser said that while she did not participate in any discussion over whether D.C. should host the 2026 games she said D.C.’s bid to become one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup did not play any role in whether or not D.C. should host the Gay Games that same year. Team D.C. announced earlier this month that Minor has been selected to serve on an advisory committee to help promote D.C.’s bid for hosting World Cup games in 2026. Although LGBTQ sports observers consider it a long shot, the FGG has a policy of considering the two runner-up cities to become the host city for the Gay Games if the city selected is unable to serve as host. With Hong Kong facing disruptions related to prodemocracy protests and China threatening to take military action, some have speculated that Hong Kong might not be able to host the Gay Games in 2022. When asked if D.C. would be ready to host the 2022 games if that unlikely development would occur, Bowser said, “I would say yes.” The mayor said she would consult with the various groups and venues that were part of the infrastructure that made up D.C.’s bid for the 2022 games to determine for sure the availability of those venues. 0 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • LO CA L NE WS

A Germantown, Md., man charged with the October 2015 shooting death of transgender woman Zella Ziona, 21, in an alley behind a Gaithersburg shopping mall was sentenced on Sept. 15 to 35 years in prison. The sentencing followed two trials in which Montgomery County prosecutors were unable to secure a conviction for Rico LeBlond, who was 20 at the time he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the case. The first trial ended when the jury was unable to reach a verdict, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial. In the second trial, a jury found LeBlond guilty of first-degree murder and the judge in 2017 sentenced him to life in prison. But in February 2019 the Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling that the trial court judge made several errors in improperly admitting evidence. Earlier this year members of Ziona’s family who said at the time of the murder they fully accepted and loved Zella Ziona for who she was, asked prosecutors to offer LeBlond a plea bargain deal to avoid having to go through a third trial, according to WTOP News. WTOP reported in August that Tyshika Smith, Ziona’s mother, testified during the second trial that she witnessed the murder of her child behind the shopping center in 2015 and did not want to go through the trauma of testifying at another trial. Instead, she urged prosecutors to give LeBlond a chance to confess to the murder and accept responsibility, WTOP reported. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, the lead prosecutor in the case, agreed to the request and LeBlond agreed under advice of his attorney to plead guilty to first-degree murder with the promise by McCarthy that prosecutors would urge the judge to issue a sentence of no greater than 35 years. McCarthy told the Washington Blade at the time of LeBlond’s second trial that he and investigators determined the murder was not a hate crime based on evidence that surfaced in the case. Among other things, McCarthy said investigators learned that Ziona and LeBlond had been friends since the two were in middle school and that they remained friends after Ziona transitioned as a woman. According to McCarthy, police and prosecutors were able to substantiate through multiple witnesses that LeBlond and Ziona got into a fight that involved physical violence one day before the shooting and that fight appears to have prompted LeBlond to fatally shoot Ziona the next day on Oct. 15, 2015. LeBlond formally entered his guilty plea in court on Aug. 6. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Debra Dwyer accepted the plea deal and scheduled a sentencing date for Sept. 15. At the Sept. 15 sentencing hearing Dwyer handed down the 35-year sentence as requested in the plea agreement. “Thirty-five years is a substantial amount of time to think about what he’s done,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney spokesperson Ramon Korionoff told D.C.’s NBC 4 News. “Hopefully, today’s sentence will be the first step on the road to healing for the friends and family of Zella Ziona,” Korionoff said.

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Delaware back on D.C. ‘high risk’ states list

Visitors from coronavirus hotspots must self-quarantine for 14 days By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

For the third time since July 27, the D.C. Department of Health on Sept. 21 placed Delaware on its list of “high risk” states from which D.C. residents and visitors are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return or arrival in the District if their travel is considered non-essential. Delaware’s placement on D.C.’s high risk list for the coronavirus has had a direct impact on many D.C. residents, including LGBTQ residents who spend time in the popular Delaware resort city of Rehoboth Beach, a longtime LGBTQ tourist destination. Based on an order issued in July by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, states are placed on the list if the 7-day moving average of daily new coronavirus cases is 10 or more per 100,000 people who live in the state. Travel to and from Maryland and Virginia is exempt from the order. In its updated list, the D.C. DOH high risk list includes 31 states. A statement accompanying the list says Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, West Virginia and Wyoming were added to the list this week. It says California, Hawaii and Ohio were removed from the most recent earlier list. “Anyone coming into Washington, D.C., from a high risk state (within the prior 14 days) who was traveling for non-essential activities will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days from their arrival in the District,” the statement says. Vacation and leisure-related travel is considered non-essential. “Individuals traveling from high risk states after essential travel or arriving in the District for essential travel are required to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days and, if they show signs or experience symptoms of COVID-19, they are to self-quarantine and seek medical advice or testing,” the statement says. The DOH has been updating its list every two weeks since the first version of the list was issued on July 27. Delaware was on the list at that time but was removed on Aug. 10. It was put back on the list on Aug. 24. Three days later, on Aug. 27, the DOH issued a statement saying it had again removed Delaware from the high risk states list. It said the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services provided DOH officials with information showing that the DOH based its decision to return Delaware to the list on outdated data for the number of new coronavirus cases.

The Delaware Capitol Building in Dover, Del. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Jill Fredel, director of communications for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 she would check with the department’s Division of Public Health to determine if the D.C. assessment accurately reflects the state’s current number of new COVID-19 cases. “We might be right around that threshold,” Fredel said. “It might be right around that mark so it might be legit,” she said. Fredel noted that like D.C. and most other states, the number of new cases reported in Delaware changes from week to week.

Trans woman opens resource center in Norfolk Man who Tarena Williams met on dating app shot her in 2017 By STEPH PURIFOY

The center provides transportation, counsellor and In 2017, Tarena Williams, a transgender woman TARENA WILLIAMS, center, at the Southeastern Transgender doctor referrals, and support groups. Williams said she from Norfolk, was shot in the chest by a man she met Resource Center in Norfolk, Va. (Photo courtesy of Tarena Williams) wants to turn the small space into a “one stop shop” on a dating app. for the trans community, which faces higher rates of She was staying in a Ramada Inn in Norfolk while homelessness and unemployment than any other preparing to move into a new home when she invited subsect of the LGBTQ population. the man over. Shortly after arriving, the man pulled out a The trans community has also been hit particularly gun and began making sexual demands, Williams said. hard by the coronavirus pandemic, Williams said. Many After fighting with him, she managed to push the man haven’t been able to receive unemployment benefits so out the front door and this was when he turned and shot STRC has been lending support to those without jobs. her. “When you can’t find what you need and when you The bullet passed inches from her heart and need help, I want this to be the place people can come permanently damaged nerves in her arm. She still to,” she said. “No one is left out here. Everyone is treated cannot use her left hand. equal.” During her long recovery process she said she found To find the physical space for the resource center, strength from the people around her and she became Williams said she drove up and down the city for hours determined to give back to the community in some way. until she found the spot on Colley Avenue with the “For “[The shooting] just kind of left me in a space where Rent” sign outside. She considers it “another blessing” I didn’t feel safe,” Williams told the Washington Blade during an interview. “I didn’t feel loved and I didn’t feel like anyone had really cared about myself that the owner of the shop allowed her to rent it. Once they had the green light, Williams said she and several others spent hours every day for or the trans community. I wanted to make a change in the community by giving them resources and giving them job opportunities to get them off the streets. And I wanted to give them a safe an entire month gutting the inside of the space and remodeling it to suit their needs. The resource center opened with a party that doubled as Williams’ birthday celebrations—her space.” Williams started a support group out of her house and began applying for grants. In July 2020, birthday was Aug. 29. “It’s been amazing,” she said of the weeks since opening day. “We’ve had our support group. she finally received a grant through the Racial Immigration Family Foundation and got the funds We have had people stopping in, saying hello, giving donations. It’s been overwhelming.” to open a support center. To those hoping to achieve their dreams in the face of violence or oppression Williams said “It was extremely emotional [when I got the grant],” she said. “I always tell people it’s not about what I’ve already done, it’s about what I’m gonna do. I would’ve been helping people with or resilience is the most important thing. “Know that they are beautiful and never give up. Just believe in yourself,” she said. “I speak without that money. If I could only help one person, that would be enough for me.” On Aug. 30, the Southeastern Transgender Resource Center on Colley Avenue in Norfolk those words because I know that I’m a beautiful person inside and out. I wanted to do this and I never gave up on myself nor my community.” opened to the public. 0 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • LO CA L NE WS

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice RUTH BADER GINSBURG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 Justice was LGBTQ rights champion By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined major decisions for LGBTQ rights on the bench and was known as the “Notorious RBG” in progressive circles, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87. “Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, D.C., due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” a Supreme Court spokesperson said in a statement. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a statement upon Ginsburg’s passing she was “a giant of justice, a champion for equality and progress.” “Justice Ginsburg was an American hero and pioneer, a voice for so many marginalized people, leaving behind a legacy of courage, tenacity and historic impact in creating a better country and a better world for all of us,” Carey said. “We are all so grateful for all Justice Ginsburg has done for LGBTQ people, for women, for our ability to control our own bodies, for all that seek to move freedom forward in this country.” Ginsburg’s death will light a bonfire in an already tumultuous political season, as emotions are heated and civil unrest—even violence—has gripped the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The fate of Ginsburg’s seat, who was a strong proponent of abortion rights, will be seen as key to deciding whether or not abortion will remain legal in the U.S. With a seat vacant on the Supreme Court, the responsibility falls to the president to appoint a replacement who will be subject to Senate confirmation. For the time being that is Trump, who would have a Republican-controlled Senate evaluate his pick before the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), flip-flopping from rules he set in 2016 when he refused to allow a vote on the confirmation of Merrick Garland, said in a statement the situation is different from 2020 and Trump’s pick will get a vote. “Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” When conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, McConnell struck a different tune, saying he’d let the people have their voice in the presidential election rather than allow the consideration of Garland, who President Obama nominated. “This vacancy should not be filled,” McConnell said at the time. “The American people should have their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide.” Trump has recently updated his list of potential Supreme Court picks, which include anti-LGBTQ choices such as U.S. Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan and James Ho of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). ‘A force for good’ Appointed by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed in 1993, Ginsburg joined the majority for every decision for LGBTQ right from the Supreme Court. Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement Ginsburg was “a force for good—a force for bringing this country closer to delivering on its promise

of equality for all.” “Her decades of work helped create many of the foundational arguments for gender equality in the United States, and her decisions from the bench demonstrated her commitment to full LGBTQ equality,” David said. “She was and will remain an inspiration to young people everywhere, a pop culture icon as the Notorious RBG and a giant in the fight for a more just nation for all. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.” Among the rulings she joined were Romer v. Evans in 1996, which struck down Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which struck down state laws criminalizing sodomy. Both decisions were early indications the nation was beginning to head into a different direction to accept gay people. Ginsburg also joined rulings that advanced same-sex marriage, including Windsor v. United States in 2013, which struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act; Hollingsworth v. Perry in 2013, which restored marriage equality to California after Proposition 8; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and extended full marriage equality throughout the country. For each of these rulings on marriage, justices were split 5-4, so if Ginsburg weren’t on the court, the decisions may not have come out in favor of the LGBTQ community. More recently, Ginsburg joined the decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The broad ruling grants protections to LGBTQ people wherever there are laws against sex discrimination, including employment, housing, health care and education. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said although former Justice Anthony Kennedy and current Justice Neil Gorsuch were the authors of major LGBTQ rights from the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was “the most important voice for LGBT people.” “As a civil rights advocate, she litigated and won the groundbreaking cases that established strong constitutional protections for women,” Minter said. “As a Supreme Court justice, she authored key sex discrimination decisions that paved the way for the Court’s embrace of equality for same-sex couples in Obergefell and for LGBT workers in Bostock. She was our champion and the architect of an expansive vision of gender equality that was broad and capacious enough to include LGBT people. Without her influence and legacy, none of those landmark decisions would have been possible.” Ginsburg herself became the first Supreme Court justice to conduct a same-sex wedding, marrying Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and economist John Roberts in 2013. Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal, said in a statement Ginsburg was an “irreplaceable giant” on the Supreme Court. “Throughout her entire legal career, including her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg fought for the rights of those on the margins,” Jennings said. “From her time as a lawyer with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project to her years on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg spoke with a clear and strong voice against inequality and gender discrimination. A long-standing ally of the LGBTQ community, her unwavering support, both on and off the bench, was a testament to her commitment to equality for all people.”



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Ginsburg’s death leaves LGBTQ rights on Supreme Court vulnerable Unclear whether past wins would be in jeopardy By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

In the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the resulting conservative shift on the U.S. Supreme Court may enhance the prospect of wins for religious freedom at the expense of LGBTQ rights, including in a pending lawsuit that will decide if a Catholic foster care center in Philadelphia can reject same-sex couples. The remaining 8-member court will lack a reliably progressive voice as it adjudicates where to draw the line on contentious social issues—and that disparity will be compounded if President Trump gets to pick a replacement from his list of potential judicial nominees, many of whom with extensive anti-LGBTQ records. Nan Hunter, a law professor at Georgetown University who has written on LGBTQ issues, said with Ginsburg gone the “biggest area of jeopardy for LGBT rights at the Supreme Court will be in the area of religious claims from anti-discrimination principles.” “She was rigorous in assessing the impact of religious liberty claims with regard to protecting employees and others who are protected by civil rights laws,” Hunter said. “You can see that in Masterpiece Cake[shop] for example, or in the Christian law student case where she wrote the opinion, so the issues that I worry about most are the issues involving those sorts of religious grounds.” The issue of religious freedom versus LGBTQ rights, in fact, is presently before the court in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services, which operates foster care services in Philadelphia, is asserting a First Amendment to reject same-sex couples as parents based on religious objections, even though it signed a contract with the city agreeing to abide by LGBTQ non-discrimination terms. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the case on Nov. 4, which is the day after Election Day. The stakes are incredibly high in the case because a ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services could mean exemptions for religious entities to all nondiscrimination laws and policies—whether it be based on LGBTQ status or any other category, such as race, gender or national origin. Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law who’s set to argue on behalf of Catholic Social Services before the Supreme Court, previewed her argument on behalf of plaintiffs Sharonell and Toni Fulton in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, although she explicitly didn’t address how Ginsburg’s factors into her litigation plan. “Our litigation strategy is what it always been,” Windham said. “Philadelphia has violated the Constitution, and done it in a way that is particularly harmful for foster moms like Sharonell and Toni, and for foster children. The city of Philadelphia admitted there were 250 children who were in institutions in Philadelphia and needed to be placed in loving homes, and yet it refuses to move any of those children into homes that are empty like Sharonell’s, just because thaws families work with Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia.” Hunter said Ginsburg—who joined each of the landmark Supreme Court decisions for LGBTQ rights and is remembered as a steadfast LGBTQ ally—would have taken a skeptical view of the religious freedom claims raised by Catholic Social Services. “I just don’t think Justice Ginsburg would stand for that,” Hunter said. “I think she would say that in a completely privately funded space, there are ways in which religious groups can live out what they believe their faiths commands them to do, but … the city has a right to use public funds and to contract with agencies that will abide by the city’s own anti-discrimination laws.” One possibility is without Ginsburg, neither side in the case would be able to reach a majority and the court would issue a split 4-4 decision. Jon Davidson, legal counsel for the LGBTQ group

Freedom for All Americans, said “Ginsburg’s death is a serious blow to the LGBTQ community, among others” and a tied decision would leave the issue open to further litigation. “If a new justice is not sworn in by Nov. 4, when the Fulton case is set for argument, and the court rules 4-4, that ruling would affirm the result of the 3rd Circuit, which rejected claims that a religious agency has a constitutional right to an exemption from a city nondiscrimination requirement in contracts under which the city pays groups to provide government foster care services,” Davidson said. “A tied decision, however, would not create any precedent binding on lower courts.” Even with an 8-member court, there are signs a majority of the court could rule against LGBTQ families. Already three members on the court—Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas—have signaled they would have granted relief to Catholic Social Services in a dissent to an earlier order the court had issued. That was before any briefing took place in the case at any level. Moreover, Senate Republicans are chomping at the bit to replace Ginsburg with a Trump appointee before the presidential election in less than two months. They may succeed in confirming a justice such as Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who’s Catholic and indicated her judicial philosophy is with infused with her religious views. Davidson, however, said all is not lost if Senate Republicans get their way with a new confirmation, pointing to conservative justices who joined with liberal justices in LGBTQ rulings. “The Fulton case is incredibly important. Its outcome could have broad implications for the application of nondiscrimination laws and government policies around the country,” Davidson said. “But even though freedom of religion matters to all of us as Americans, it shouldn’t be used to create a license to discriminate. The justices should oppose sweeping, extraordinary exemptions that could create a broad license to discriminate based on a taxpayer-funded agency’s religious beliefs, and we are hopeful that any new justice would recognize that as well.” It wasn’t immediately clear at what point it would be too late for a newly confirmed Supreme Court justice to weigh in on the Fulton case. The Supreme Court public affairs office didn’t respond to repeated requests to comment on what the rules say for when a Senate confirmation would be too late for a justice to intercede on any particular case pending before the court. Could past LGBTQ wins be in peril? Meanwhile, fears persist with Ginsburg gone that LGBTQ victories previously won at the Supreme Court will be in jeopardy. The range of these victories include the decriminalization of same-sex relations in the U.S., same-sex marriage nationwide and, most recently, a guarantee that LGBTQ people are protected under civil rights laws. Hunter, however, downplayed the idea these wins could be in peril, making the case they’re “thoroughly accepted in the law and in society more broadly.” “For example, take Obergefell, you can’t unmarry people,” Hunter said. “I think the degree of acceptance of that issue is now so widespread throughout the country that I don’t think there would be any significant effort to try and reverse it. I just don’t think that would go there.” Hunter made a similar assessment with the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas ruling in 2003, which struck down state laws criminalizing same-sex relations, and the Bostock v. Clayton County decision this year, which found anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “The power of Bostock was that it shifted the burden of inertia and Congress is so dysfunctional at this point that unless


Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death leaves LGBTQ rights on the Supreme Court open to religious claims. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

there’s a really transformational shift in the control of Congress, it’s unlikely to amend Title VII in either direction frankly—either to secure the decision in Bostock or to undo it,” Hunter said. But while some past victories seem safe even with Ginsburg no longer on the court, chipping away at marriage equality remains a possibility. Although the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of marriage equality nationwide in 2015, Arkansas had sought to relitigate the issue in 2017 the case of Pavan v. Smith by refusing to grant birth certificates to children reflecting same-sex parents where one parent is a birth mother, the other a same-sex partner. The Supreme Court affirmed Obergefell applies in the cases, but Gorsuch led a stinging dissent suggesting marriage equality has limits, including in the area of birth certificates. Hunter conceded that marriage equality remains an issue around the edges, such as employers who don’t wish to recognize same-sex marriage in terms of spousal benefits. “I think the issue in terms of marriage, there the concern would be whether such an extremely conservative majority could dominate the Supreme Court that although the right to marry would remain in place, there might be exceptions in terms of solely equal treatment of same-sex marriage at least by some employers or some institutions,” Hunter said. “And the most likely category would be religious institutions or religiously affiliated institutions, or even as we saw in Hobby Lobby businesses that are privately owned and owners claim to be acting on their religious beliefs in the way they run a business.” Given the persistence in some of places of the U.S. were politicizing same-sex marriage would be still be politically popular, state actors might still be responsible. All it would take is one state to undermine marriage equality. In fact, the question is before the Supreme Court in the form of a petition of review filed by the state of Indiana, which justices will consider ahead of the long conference at the start of its term next week. Indiana Attorney General Tom Fisher is asking the high court to review a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that sided with a gay married couple who challenged the state’s birth records law. Another issue that may soon come before the court is whether or not transgender people are guaranteed access to public restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused this week to reconsider a decision determined Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 grants trans student Gavin Grimm access to shared facilities as a male. The next step in the case, if the Virginia school district continues to litigation the issue, would be a petition for review before the Supreme Court. Davidson, however, cautioned he doesn’t expect the Supreme Court act on any of petition related to LGBTQ issues before it decides the Fulton case. “While there are several cases touching on LGBTQ rights in which petitions for Supreme Court review are pending, I would be surprised if the Court granted review in any of those cases when it considers pending petitions on Sept. 29,” Davidson said. “I think it is more likely that the court will wait to decide Fulton before it takes on any additional LGBTQ cases.”

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Outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 19, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ginsburg ‘was a hero for us’

Activists paid tribute to RBG at Supreme Court By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

LGBTQ people emerged as a visible contingent in the crowd of more than a thousand that spontaneously turned out on the plaza and steps in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after learning of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18. A small group of LGBTQ people carrying three large rainbow flags along with an American flag became the hub of clusters of LGBTQ people joining hundreds of others on the court’s marble steps to mourn the passing of someone they described as a champion of equality for all and a hero for LGBTQ people. “As soon as I learned of the unfortunate passing of Justice Ginsburg I decided to come down and pay my respects and to show this country that we loved her and everything she stood for,” said gay activist Gary Lin, who waved both a rainbow and an American flag while standing on the court’s steps. Standing a few feet away from Lin holding another rainbow flag was gay activist John Becker, a member of the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance who said he came representing himself. “I’m here with other LGBTQ people to honor one of our heroes, somebody who has steadfastly stood with our community and protected and expanded and safeguarded our civil and human rights,” Becker said. “And actually, this is a black stripe on my flag that I tied to it the day of the Pulse [LGBTQ nightclub] shooting to symbolize the LGBTQ community in mourning,” Becker told the Washington Blade. “And I’ve never taken it off and it seemed appropriate tonight as we mourn one of our heroes.” Northern Virginia resident Meg Zajac, who said her wife is a transgender veteran, expressed concerns shared by other LGBTQ people who assembled outside the Supreme Court about who will succeed Ginsburg on the high court. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will arrange for a Senate vote to approve a Supreme Court nominee as soon as President Trump submits a nominee to the Senate. LGBTQ rights advocates and legal observers have said that an expected appointment by Trump of a far-right conservative justice would almost certainly change the balance of the current often divided court, placing in jeopardy many of its longstanding and more recent decisions expanding the rights of LGBTQ people. “Our marriage, our existence, our job protections—they’re all in question,” Zajac said while standing on the court’s steps. “We’re scared. We need to be with each other to support each other because I know this has been emotionally devastating,” she said in referring to Ginsburg’s passing. “So, for many of us, we need to know we aren’t alone, that we aren’t going through this alone,” she said. “So, this is a memorial. This is a celebration of an amazing life, but it’s also a support system for each of us,” she said. D.C. trans activist Charlotte Clymer said she too came to the site of the high court tohonor Ginsburg’s life accomplishments. “Like the thousands of people who have come through here tonight, I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero for us,” Clymer said. “She fought for us, she fought for our equality and her life was dedicated to making sure no one gets left behind,” said Clymer. “We want to make sure we’re continuing that fight, and I think that’s why you see so many people here right now.” Like many of the other LGBTQ activists who turned out at the Supreme Court, Clymer criticized McConnell for blocking a Supreme Court nominee of President Obama in 2016, when he said he wanted to wait until after the presidential election to give the American people a chance to “speak” before the Senate would vote on a Supreme Court nominee. But now, Clymer others pointed out, McConnell has disregarded his earlier rationale and plans to allow a vote by the GOP controlled Senate on a Trump nominee. “So, all we really have as an option is to educate the American public about what they’re doing and then fight like hell to block it,” Clymer said. “And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to fight like hell.” Many in the crowd, which remained at the Supreme Court until well past midnight, placed dozens of lit candles on the court’s steps as a tribute to Ginsburg. Others placed hand written messages next framed photos of the late-Supreme Court justice expressing their love and admiration for her. A message written in chalk on the court’s plaza in front of the steps where the activists displayed the rainbow flags stated, “Equality: Wouldn’t have the right to be who I am without RBG — a queer immigrant Latinx woman.” D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) was also among those who turned out to pay tribute to Ginsburg after she died. “I have been incredibly inspired by her as a person, as a lawyer and as an advocate throughout my life,” Pinto said. “And I’m close enough by in the city to be here tonight and do my very, very small part in honoring her incredible contributions to our country.”

Comings & Goings

Architectural Lighting Magazine recognizes Richard Molinaroli By PETER ROSENSTEIN

The Comings and 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: comingsandgoings@ washblade.com. 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, gotten 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 Richard Molinaroli on recognition by Architectural Lighting Magazine of his work at the Virginia Theological Seminary’s Bicentennial Hall as one of the world’s ten most outstanding projects for 2020. Richard said “this is a tremendous honor for our design team, especially so for our talented lighting designer, Chris Stroik. As lead interior RICHARD MOLINAROLI designer, I wanted to reimagine all the finishes (Photo courtesy of Richard Molinaroli) and create a space filled with light, placing emphasis on this small building’s exceptional 19th century architecture and providing an elegant setting for the seminary’s extraordinary Assyrian reliefs. Stepping into this building transports visitors to a special world created by light and color.” Since 2015 Richard has had his own frim, RAM Design Studio, LLC. Prior to that he was Principal in charge of exhibitions and interiors with MFM Design, Inc. for 32 years. Richard along with two partners founded MFM Design, Inc. in Washington, DC. The firm’s concentration was on exhibition, interiors, and graphic design projects. As president of that firm, Richard was lead designer on the majority of the firm’s exhibition and interiors projects for the Smithsonian Institution and numerous museums and sites in the US and Japan. Richard’s professional career in museum exhibition design began on the staff of the Smithsonian Institution. During eight years there he was lead designer for several largescale, permanent natural history exhibitions as well as a number of temporary exhibitions focused on art and anthropology. Richard attended the NC State University, and then the Rhode Island School of Design. Richard has a major art exhibition, Caravans of Gold, opening when the Smithsonian reopens, at the National Museum of African Art.


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Tijuana authorities criticized over handling of trans woman’s murder Jeanine Huerta López found dead on Aug. 28. By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

The family of a transgender woman who was murdered in Tijuana last month has sharply criticized the way that local authorities have handled the case. Local media reports indicate Jeanine Huerta López’s best friend found her dead in her apartment in Tijuana’s Francisco Villa neighborhood on Aug. 28. Her sister, Diana Jiménez López, on Sept. 15 told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from California that Huerta had stab wounds throughout her body. Huerta was reportedly last seen at a Birthday party on Aug. 24. Jiménez told the Blade her sister was born in Puerto Vallarta, but grew up in San Bernardino County. Jiménez said she moved to Tijuana around 12 years ago after she graduated from high school. Huerta worked for Centro de Servicios Ser A.C., a group that provides health care and other services to the LGBTQ community and people with HIV/AIDS in Tijuana. Jiménez told the Blade her sister was also a sex worker. “She was a kind-hearted soul,” said Jiménez. “She really helped others whenever she could.” Huerta’s mother, Dolores López, told the Blade that Huerta bought food for people during the coronavirus lockdown in Tijuana. López also said her daughter previously worked as an interpreter for a Mexican telephone company. “She was an activist,” López told the Blade. “She was a very, very hard worker.” Jiménez said it took a week for her to claim her sister’s body because authorities identified her by her birth name, even though the friend who found her provided them with the correct spelling of her name. Jiménez said she had to identify her sister’s “decomposed body” twice “just so they would release the body to me.” Jiménez also told the Blade the morgue did not properly store her sister’s body. “When I had to see my sister, it was a horrific smell,” she said. “There were worms crawling on her. She had no hair. It was just the worst thing that anybody should have to see.” “I’m not sure why I had to see my sister’s body twice in order for them to release her to me,” added Jiménez. López echoed Jiménez’s anguish. “It’s been hard because of all the things that Diana had to go through to recover her body,” said López. “[It’s been] very painful.” The morgue released Huerta’s body to Jiménez on Sept. 2. She was buried in Puerto Vallarta the next day. López told the Blade her mother and Huerta’s brothers were able to attend the funeral. López said she could not travel to Mexico because she is undocumented.

Cuban authorities threaten to arrest LGBTQ activist, journalist

Jancel Moreno summoned to police station on Sept. 16 By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com


(Photo courtesy of Diana Jiménez López)

Authorities have not made any arrests in connection with Huerta’s murder. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico in a Sept. 1 tweet urged them to thoroughly investigate it. “We are shocked by the murder of Jeanine, an activist for the rights of the LGBT community, in Baja California,” reads the tweet. “Authorities should carry out a thorough investigation to find those responsible and give justice to Jeanine.” Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. in a lengthy statement echoed the embassy’s call for a thorough investigation. The group also urged Baja California lawmakers to add a formal recognition of murder based on gender identity to the state’s Penal Code. “I don’t feel like the authorities are putting much effort into her case because she was trans,” Jiménez told the Blade. “They started off the investigation, trying to brush it off as maybe it’s just another case. It’s just not another case. She was my sister and just because she was trans doesn’t mean she should be treated unequally.” The Blade has reached out to the Tijuana Municipal Police Department and the Baja California Attorney General’s office for comment.

‘We seek justice for Jeanine’

Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. on Aug. 30 held a memorial service for Huerta at their Tijuana offices. Many of the activists who attended wore t-shirts that read, “we seek justice for Jeanine.” Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. in the statement it issued after Huerta’s death also noted Mexico is the second most dangerous country in Latin America for LGBTQ people. It cited statistics that indicate more than half of the 473 reported victims of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the country between 2012-2018 were trans women. “Jeanine, we promise you that we are going to keep your fighting spirit and fervent conviction that our lives must be respected and lived with dignity alive,” reads the Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. statement. “We are in pain. We are sad, but we are also angry and not powerless because we will fight to ensure that no other transgender woman has to suffer the agony that you suffered and that deprived you of your hopeful smile.”


(Photo courtesy of Jancel Moreno)

An LGBTQ activist and journalist in Cuba says authorities on Sept. 16 threatened to arrest him. Jancel Moreno, who contributes to ADN Cuba, an independent website, in a Facebook post said he arrived at a police station in Matanzas, a city on the island’s northern coast that is roughly 60 miles east of Havana, at around 2 p.m. after he received an order to do the day before. Moreno wrote a major with Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police showed him a file with “more than 40 publications from my profile, also telling me that I am a follower of” José Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and other opposition figures. “It was really impossible to enter into a debate, because neither he will change his position, nor will I,” wrote Moreno. Moreno said the major told him he summoned him to the police station “to alert me that I can face four charges for his publications.” These include “enemy propaganda” and “disrespect (specifically because of my way of not showing respect for authorities, Mariela Castro’s name comes out …)” Mariela Castro is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTQ-specific issues in Cuba as director of the National Center for Sexual Education. Mariela Castro is also a member of Cuba’s National Assembly. Cubans on Sept. 8 honor the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre. Moreno publicly criticized Mariela Castro after she evoked her to defend the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought her uncle, Fidel Castro, to power. Moreno in his Facebook post wrote the file he saw at the police station had copies of his public criticisms of Mariela Castro, including a hashtag that mocked her. Moreno said the mayor also told him he could face charges of “incitement to commit a crime (because I supported women who entered military officers’ houses last Saturday)” and “spreading a pandemic” that he concedes “is not very clear to me.” Moreno wrote he could face between 3-4 years in prison “for simply publishing on social media networks.” Moreno, 21, is the latest in a series of independent LGBTQ activists and journalists who the Cuban government has targeted. Leandro Rodríguez García and his mother, Tania García Hernández, say a state security official on Sept. 11 threatened them at their home in Villa Clara province in Central Cuba. A judge last September granted asylum to Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor who faced persecution in Cuba because of his work as an independent journalist. The Cuban government on May 8, 2019, detained this reporter for several hours at Havana’s José Martí International Airport after he tried to enter the country. Authorities three days later arrested several people during an unsanctioned LGBTQ rights march that took place near the Cuban Capitol in Havana. Dayana Mena López, a transgender woman of African descent who is from Villa Clara province, fled Cuba in December 2018 because of persecution she said she suffered because of her gender identity and her opposition to the Cuban government. She won asylum in the U.S. in August 2019 and she now lives in Jacksonville, Fla. Yanelkys Moreno Agramonte and her girlfriend, Dayana Rodríguez González, suffered harassment and discrimination in the small town in Central Cuba where they lived because they are lesbians. The two women asked for asylum in the U.S. last November, and an immigration judge this month ruled in Moreno’s favor. Jancel Moreno’s former partner, Victor Manuel Dueñas, asked for asylum in the Netherlands in 2018. Dueñas said authorities threatened him when he publicly questioned police mistreatment of LGBTQ people in Cárdenas, a city adjacent to Matanzas. Rodríguez and Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, are among those who the Cuban government has prevented from leaving the country.


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For Joe Biden, push relentlessly until Nov. 3


Trump administration no friend to LGBTQ community




Among the many compelling reasons to make sure that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not reelected on Nov. 3, perhaps the 26 most compelling are the transgender Americans—most of them trans women of color—known to have been murdered this year. We needn’t be simple-minded in making this argument. Trump and Pence did not pull the trigger, and those who did must, of course, bear the consequences for their horrific acts. But the all-too-toxic environment which too many of our transgender siblings have endured in their lives has gotten immeasurably worse over the past four years. For this reason and many more, in an historic move, the 12 newspapers of the National LGBT Media Association (NGMA), which represents the nation’s oldest and most established LGBTQ publications with a combined circulation of more than one million readers, are issuing this joint endorsement of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket this week. From the start, Donald Trump has used the trans community as a punching bag to prove his toughness to his socially conservative base hungry for a strongman willing to turn back the clock. He has denied trans folks the ability to serve openly in the military, sought to strip them of nondiscrimination protections in healthcare, worked to rob trans youth of dignity in their schools, and battled to take away the right of student athletes to compete in sports. And against the trans community as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans, Trump’s administration fought tooth and nail to prevent the pivotal advance we won at the Supreme Court in June—the recognition that we enjoy employment nondiscrimination protections thanks to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Still, Trump and his see-no-evil GOP Senate allies refuse to move the Equality Act, which would extend those nondiscrimination protections across the board in areas like housing and public accommodations. For them, the nation’s most embattled minority are bigots who want to enshrine their right to discriminate under the cloak of “religious liberty.” As in every other aspect of this endorsement, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris offer a stark and redemptive alternative. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied President Barack Obama federal judicial appointments in his last year in office, he and his colleagues have rubber-stamped an unprecedented number of judges—many of them viciously right-wing, others lacking in even the most elementary judicial qualifications—whose influence will last for decades to come. The cornerstone decision in protecting reproductive freedom—Roe v. Wade—may already be doomed by the Trump court’s configuration. Give him another chance or two to name a member to the high court and the ball game will definitely be over. Trump’s governing has been much like his court appointments—where he is not cruel, he is merely incompetent. Mexican and other Latin American immigrants have been slurred in overtly racist terms, and their children have been caged. Muslim newcomers to America have also been stigmatized where they have not been blocked outright. The damage is not limited to the newcomers. Latinx and Muslim-American citizens have faced increasing levels of hostility and hate crimes. Trump saw “very fine people, on both sides” during the 2017 neo-Nazi invasion of Charlottesville, but he’s been snide in reacting to the Black Lives Matter movement, telling Bob Woodward, in response to a question about why he can’t bring himself to empathize with African-American citizens, “You, you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you?” The coronavirus’ most recent surge—in the Midwest—and the wild fires raging through wide swaths of the West are only the most calamitous indicators of Trump’s refusal to accept the basic facts of science, a posture at one with his hostility to fact-based discourse on almost any public policy issue. It’s no surprise that the nation’s free press and the unfettered right of Americans to vote—the twin jewels of American democracy—are, in his mind, enemies of the people. Meanwhile, Trump is most at ease with fellow authoritarian figures around the globe, whether Russia’s Putin, North Korea’s Kim, Turkey’s Erdoğan, or Brazil’s Bolsonaro. Since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency in 2016 even while winning almost three million more votes than Trump, the Democratic Party has undergone an internal battle of sorts for its soul, pitting insurgent, left-leaning candidates, many of them young newcomers, against more moderate establishment figures—on issues from racial justice to healthcare policy, economic inequality, and climate change action. Those are all areas on which debate is legitimate, indeed needed. But here’s the thing: With four more years of Trump, there is no real consequential venue for having those debates. Trump and his enablers are draining the oxygen out of our democracy. Debating between left and center in the House of Representatives is no substitute for regaining the White House and the Senate. Only then can we have our debates, lick our wounds, and set a course for a better tomorrow. This election will be decided in a small number of states—perhaps as many as a dozen, more likely just a handful. In all of the battleground states, LGBTQ activists and our progressive allies are on the ground working to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Especially in a year when much of the campaign will be carried out on the air and online rather than in person, all of us—everywhere across the nation—can pitch in to help in those states where a boost for Biden is most needed. Grab a bucket, adopt a state, and dive in to the battle. None of us should wake up Nov. 4 wishing we had done more. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • V I E WP O I NT

A hero passes; may RBG rest in peace Justice spent lifetime fighting for equality

is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice RUTH BADER GINSBURG (Photo courtesy Library of Congress)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg; a hero, an icon, a brilliant woman whose life was spent fighting for equality. I first learned of RBG when working for Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.) another brilliant woman and leader in the women’s movement. As a gay man, I owe much to both of them for fighting and speaking out for my rights. RBG was a scholar on the front lines of the woman’s movement. Ginsburg understood discrimination against women from personal experience. According to Wikipedia, “At age 21, she worked for the Social Security Administration office in Oklahoma, where she was demoted after becoming pregnant with her first child.” Then “in the fall of 1956, Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of only nine women in a class of about 500 men.” It was reported “The Dean of Harvard Law invited all the female law students to dinner at his family home and asked the female law students, including Ginsburg, ‘Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?” Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews.” After graduation “At the start of her legal career, Ginsburg encountered difficulty in finding employment. In 1960, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter rejected Ginsburg for a clerkship position due to her gender.” From 1961 to 1963, Ginsburg was a research associate at Columbia and in 1963 became a professor at Rutgers Law School. Even there she encountered discrimination “informed she would be paid less than her male colleagues because she had a husband with a well-paid job.” Ginsburg began to fight back. First, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU then becoming its general counsel. She was to argue six major cases in front of the Supreme Court of which she won five. In 1980 Jimmy Carter nominated her to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Then in 1993 she was nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton. The story goes she was not on Clinton’s original list of people to consider but Hillary Clinton knew her and asked Bill to add her to his list. After he met and talked with her she became his choice. Hillary understood “By the time she sat on the Supreme Court, she had already wiped over 200 discriminatory laws off the books.” At the age of 86 Ginsburg spoke of her fame and “while referencing her popular nickname, ‘the Notorious R.B.G,’ saying that it was beyond her ‘wildest imagination; that people of all ages would want to take selfies with her.’” Well I was one of those people and fortunate to have met her a number of times. The first when she spoke at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia on whose Board of Trustees I served. I was mesmerized by her speech. She took some questions after the speech before joining us for tea. One reporter asked her a fairly dumb question to which she responded politely, in essence telling him it would behoove him to do his research before he asked questions in the future so he would sound smarter. The next time we were sitting at the same table at an event hosted by the Shakespeare Theatre Company where she was a regular attendee. She was a theater lover and good friend of their artistic director, Michael Kahn. The last time we spoke and I had the chance to thank her for all she had done for so many of us was when she officiated at Michael Kahn and Charles Mitchem’s wedding. She did this before the Supreme Court recognized marriage equality. When pronouncing Michael and Charles Husband and Husband she said she did so as a justice of the court because it was right, and under the laws of the District of Columbia which had recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry. The fight over replacing her on the court will be epic and may influence the election. Clearly Trump and “Moscow Mitch” and a raft of hypocritical Republicans won’t recognize her final wishes as reported, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed, Ginsburg said in a statement dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera.” But for today let us just remember and mourn this great woman who will forever have a place of honor in our history.


The National LGBT Media Association unanimously endorses Democratic ticket.

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CEO of House Buyers of America, is a tech-savvy industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience as a real estate investor. Since 2001, he has bought thousands of homes in the D.C. Metro area through his hybrid real estate model that balances technology with human, on-the-ground expertise. Technology has transformed the real estate industry, enabling contact-less viewings and sales.

Technology & real estate: How COVID propelled industry forward

Enabling buyers and sellers to move quickly from start to finish By NICK RON

Over the past six months, nearly every industry in our economy was accelerated by technology due to COVID-19. Whether consumers or businesses were ready, the global pandemic forced us to conduct business almost 100 percent virtually. Residential real estate was undoubtedly one of the industries most affected. The entire process from start to finish shifted, and now the future of real estate has never been more technology driven. Follow along as I address how COVID impacted technology changes in residential real estate and take a glimpse of where the industry is headed. The Cloud Movement: In the past, real estate has always been paper-heavy, so when the economy shut down there was a scramble to set up remote workforces. Paperless transactions became key, and cloud-based systems were essential to survival. In most markets, there was no option to go into the office and pull files or save paper documents. Streamlining the entire real estate process on a digital platform between all parties was the biggest step businesses could have taken to continue serving their buyers/sellers through stayat-home orders. In some areas, real estate was deemed essential. Therefore, in-person meetings were unavoidable. However, choosing to conduct minimal tasks face-to-face and saving the bulk of the process for digital gave peace of mind to both employees and consumers. From now on you must be forward-thinking on the cloud movement and flexible to support a remote workforce because office days in real estate are long gone. Productivity Tools: With that said, the technology movement in real estate started a few years back, but COVID placed urgency on the digital drive. The real estate professionals adapting best are those placing the biggest priority on transforming their business with productivity tools. Some veteran real estate professionals are not keeping up with the times, creating a competitive gap between them and the tech savvy. The goal for the entire real estate industry should be to streamline and automate the entire process with technology to make it as painless and easy as possible for buyers and sellers. This is done by integrating the best practices and tech tools into one system. This enables all parties to work in partnership more effectively and efficiently. If you are an investor, your productivity tool should assist in managing your leads, conducting property assessments, making the offers, negotiations and settlement, renovations, accounting, purchasing, scheduling and field management. If you are an agent, your productivity tool should manage lead generation, negotiations, 2 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • S P E C I A L S E CT I O N

settlement and closing procedures. Going Contactless: On the consumer side, technology has allowed buyers and sellers to move extremely quickly from start to finish. You are now able to search and view properties on new platforms and even some agents are showing houses via FaceTime. Agents sharpened their marketing with 3D tours and began hosting virtual open houses. Investors with state-of-the-art technology can now quickly analyze property values and provide home sellers an offer within minutes. Signing documents over email using e-sign is also the new normal. Now more than ever, consumers have multiple options to navigate real estate contactless. Your Technology Platform: The key to ensuring the process is seamless for consumers relies on your technology platform. You must have a deep knowledge of the real estate industry. Some industry veterans are not tech-savvy, and some others who are tech-savvy do not hold industry knowledge. When companies build technology around faulty business practices, the platform fails and vise-versa. Marrying technology with industry expertise will provide the most robust infrastructure. This will maximize workforce productivity and give customers a unified hassle-free experience more rapidly than the pre-COVID days. If you choose to purchase a software package instead of building one, ensure your goals are aligned with the software’s capabilities. For example, firms with significant growth plans should invest in software that can scale with their needs by offering extensive functions for multiple users. Small firms may not need all those extra capabilities. Think ahead and invest in a system that will grow along with your needs. Looking to the future, technology will continue to evolve and reshape the way real estate is conducted, courtesy of COVID-19. The one factor that the pandemic will not change is the importance of personal relationships. Investors, agents, lenders, and brokers should continue to build their sphere of influence. Technology cannot replace human interaction in this regard. As you map out the future, keep these points in mind and remember that technology is only as good as the knowledge base it is built on. You must understand the best practices and know the policies and procedures to develop the most dynamic package. The companies that develop these integrated systems will have significant productivity advantages and cost savings. They will also recruit the most elite agents/employees because the future of the industry lies in technology.




Exquisitely built & unique LEED Gold townhouse Inspired by 1850's Cast Iron architecture, this home boasts open floor plan with custom finishes throughout. 3,300 Inspired by 1850's Cast Iron architecture, this home boasts open floor plan with custom finishes throughout. 3,300 sqft of light drenched living space ceiling windows. Gourmet Thermador appliances. sqft of light drenched livingwith spacefloor with to floor to ceiling windows. Gourmetkitchen kitchen with with Thermador appliances. HardwoodHardwood floors & recessed lighting. Built inBuilt sound system/intercom system. Geo-thermal heating floors & recessed lighting. in sound system/intercom system.Highly Highly efficient efficient Geo-thermal heating & cooling.&Private 2 over car garage. Too many features toto list! billisis150 150 less). cooling.terrace Private over terrace 2 car garage. Too many features list!(Average (Average utility utility bill oror less).

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Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in DC, MD & VA with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at (202) 246-8602, email her at www.DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

The basics of appraisals

Three types of loans are generally available in D.C. By VALERIE M. BLAKE

If you’re buying a home, chances are you’ll need a loan to make the purchase. Once you have a contract, your loan officer will order an appraisal of the property. There are three types of loans generally seen in D.C.: Conventional, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Veteran’s Administration (VA). Outside the Beltway we also see United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans. The job of a licensed or certified appraiser is to determine a home’s fair market value. This lets the lender and the buyer know whether the value and the loan amount are in keeping with the what you have agreed to pay for the property. An appraiser will view the home, take pictures and make notes to later be transposed to the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report and provided to the lender, who will share it with you. In the case of FHA, VA, and USDA loans, the appraiser’s requirements also include a limited property inspection. Armed with that information, the appraiser will research properties that have recently sold to determine which are closest to the makeup of the home you are buying. Typically, the appraiser will look at properties within a half mile radius that have sold within the last six months and select at least three homes to compare. Some typical items compared are lot size, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, exterior features such as patios, decks and fencing, parking availability and features like central air conditioning and fireplaces. The sales price of each property is the starting point. From there, the appraiser will assign a dollar amount to each item, then add to or subtract from the sold price to arrive at an adjusted sales price for each of the comparable homes. For example, if the home you are buying has a fireplace and a comparable home has none, the appraiser will add a predetermined value (perhaps $3,000) to adjust the actual sales price of the comparable home to reflect the value if both homes had fireplaces. Similarly, if the comparable home has two fireplaces, the appraiser will subtract the $3,000 to adjust the home’s value in line with the one fireplace your home has. Also included are the age of each home and its condition and quality. The condition standards range from C1 (new construction) to C6 (deferred maintenance that affects structure and stability). Most commonly seen in our area is category C3 (well-maintained with some upgrades). The categories that denote quality are Q1 (individually designed for a specific person or purpose using the highest quality exterior and interior materials) to Q6 (basic quality using lowest cost building materials). Once again, Q3 is what we normally see (higher quality with upgraded interiors and finishes). Most appraisals will reflect the sales price of your property. If yours comes in above, congratulations! You got a bargain. But what happens if it comes in low? If you have an appraisal contingency, you have five options: 1) challenge the appraisal, 2) proceed with the sale, adding money to your down payment to make up the difference, 3) ask the seller to lower the price to meet the appraised amount, 4) negotiate with the seller to split the deficit in a mutually agreeable manner or 5) exit the contract and have your earnest money deposit returned. To challenge an appraisal, review it with your agent and look for discrepancies. Are the comparable homes located in the same area? Are there better homes to compare? Are there errors in describing the houses? Have specific items been properly adjusted? Your agent can provide any new information to your lender, who will forward it to the appraiser to review and make a final decision. If your challenge is not successful, your agent will help you negotiate with the seller to find the best solution. So, what’s the worst-case scenario? My own experience, of course. I attempted to purchase my current home four years ago with an FHA loan. I was all excited until the appraisal came back—at $90,000 less than what I had agreed to pay! And because of FHA guidelines, that appraisal would be tied to the property for four months until I could get a new one. My loan officer provided the solution—change my loan to conventional and order a new appraisal. When I received it, I realized that the first appraiser had made a $50,000 error and used houses that were of much lesser quality as comparable homes. I had been avenged! 2 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • S P E C I A L S E CT I O N

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Rehoboth Beach boardwalk

F A L L Fall is still beach season?

Pandemic has not slowed market down By LEE ANN WILKINSON

Each year, Rehoboth’s “Nation’s Summer Capital” nickname becomes increasingly fitting. Even and in some ways especially in fall, the beach is a relaxing, easy escape from the city. This year is no exception—even in the wake of COVID-19—and even with the cancellations of some of our most popular fall events. Not surprisingly, for the greater good, events including Sea Witch and the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival are off until 2021. While large-scale events are cancelled, the merchant sidewalk sales are still on in Rehoboth Beach and downtown Lewes for the first weekend of October. These postponements have dealt a devastating blow to Coastal Delaware’s local economy. If you can still plan a getaway, our local restaurants are open, many with outdoor and socially distant seating. Local businesses continue to observe “COVID courtesies” (and our local rates of infection are staying low, with no current hospitalizations, according to Beebe Medical Center this week.) Unlike some hotter summer nights, crisp fall evenings are perfect for dining safely, al fresco, by a fire pit. Of course, the beach itself and miles of bike trails are open to enjoy! Fall is the ideal time of year to bike, hike, kayak, paddle board on the bay, and sample local craft beer along the way. Farmer’s markets are still on and going strong in Rehoboth Beach on Tuesdays and in Lewes on Wednesdays at the Crooked Hammock and in-town on Saturdays. Get your seasonal pumpkins here in Sussex County! While we love to take a “Chamber of Commerce” role and entice visitors to the beaches, our real area of expertise is real estate sales. To give you an idea of our primary market: As of the end of August, the number of single family homes sold was up nearly 26 percent over last year at this time. Moreover, the average sales price is up by 7 percent, and the median sales price is up by 12 percent. While sales are up, available inventory on the market continues to decrease and is extremely low right now (by 11 percent over the previous month’s end total for the last two months.) If you already own property at the beach, now is truly an unbelievable time to sell your home. Well-priced, well-located homes in Rehoboth and Lewes are selling extremely quickly and some with multiple offers. If you have been on the fence about buying, now is a great time for you, too, considering still-low interest rates and Delaware’s famously low property taxes. This draw, along with the effects of a quarantine last spring, have definitely contributed to our busy market conditions. All of us have been charged to stay home more, and many of us have discovered that we can work from home/remotely relatively easily. This realization is another reason to consider where “home” really is. If you feel that it could be the beach, reach out to any of our local real estate professionals. We are more than happy to help you weigh your options. At the very least, plan a visit this fall and enjoy a breath of fresh sea air! The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group is the top-selling real estate team in Delaware and #3 nationally for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. For more information about real estate in Coastal Delaware, visit LeeAnnGroup.com, email LeeAnn@LeeAnnGroup.com, or call 302.645.6664. 2 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • S P E C I A L S E CT I O N

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REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.

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By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, payment and insertion schedule.

“I sell homes the old-fashioned way . . . one-at-a-time.” S E PT E M B E R 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 2 5

We are honored to be nominated once again, amid amazing nominees, for the Blade’s “Best Of” Beach Realtors! Thank you for your trust and confidence.

16698 Kings Highway Ste. A, Lewes, DE 19958 • (302) 645-6664 • LeeAnnGroup.com

2 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0



320 Union Street in Historic Milton, Delaware

1301 Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, Delaware

Offered at $380,000 | MLS: 169502

Offered at $1,099,900 | MLS: 169376

Home business potential!

Over $70K rental income in 2020

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Blind and queer and finding community A look at the unique struggles, triumphs of the visually impaired

If you ask Gabriel Lopez Kafati, 43, if he’s out, he’ll tell you about his tattoos. One, above his shoulder, is a rainbow-colored equality sign. The tattoo on his right leg is the word “aequalitas” (the Latin word for “equality.”). In another tattoo, his first name is in Braille. “On my lower back, there’s a heart with an error,” he said in a phone interview, “the rest is best left to your imagination.” Lopez Kafati is one of the members of the LGBTQ community who are queer and blind or visually impaired. There have always been people who are LGBTQ and blind. Yet, in telephone interviews, they told the Washington Blade, they often feel “unseen” in the queer community. (This reporter is queer and visually impaired.) Twenty years ago, Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays (BFLAG), became an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), an advocacy group. In 2009, BFLAG’s name was changed to Blind LGBT Pride International (BPI). Here are the stories of some of the people who have found their tribe in BPI. BPI’s vice president, Leah Gardner, 44, who is lesbian and blind, lives in the Bay Area in California. “I grew up in a conservative part of New Hampshire,” Gardner said in a phone interview. “I came out as lesbian to my friends when I was 17.” But, she didn’t come out about being blind until after she graduated from college. “I was mainstreamed in school,” she said, “I didn’t know a lot of other blind kids growing up.” Gardner’s attitude began to change when she took a self-defense class and became friends with some of the other blind students. She went to her first ACB convention with them. At the convention, there was a meeting of a group of LGBTQ blind people. They had the same dating woes and fears that Gardner had. “I was in a room with other queer blind people! I’d come home.” People in the queer community are happy to see blind people as friends, but not as sexual, she said. The Internet and social media have helped blind people connect to the LGBTQ community, Gardner said. But, “there’s still a chasm in terms of romance!” Sarah Chung, 31, who’s queer and visually impaired, graduated from Adler University with a master’s degree in counseling in 2019. She was set to compete in judo in the Paralympics in Tokyo this summer. But, because of COVID-19, the Paralympics was canceled. Due to the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to find a job in counseling. “It’s not easy,” says Chung, who uses a screen magnifier and “voice over” to read the screen on her phone, “employment’s so important.” As a child of Korean parents, Chung found a hero in Margaret Cho. Chung, who identifies as non-binary came out recently to her Mom. Before that, she’d reached out to Asian-American, Pacific Islander Pride organizations. “They were incredibly helpful,” Chung said, “I’d no idea there were other queer Asian-Americans.” Being queer and visually impaired made her feel somewhat alone. But, Chung said, “a friend invited me to join BPI.” Since then, she’s met other LGBTQ blind people on BPI’s podcast “Pride Connection.” “It was great to meet folks from all over the nation,” Chung said. How the queer community reacts to your being blind depends on the time, place and who you’re with, she said. Chung finds that LGBTQ bars can be disorienting if you’re blind. Because you can’t see non-verbal interactions or hear what people say over loud music. “In bars, I’ll text my friends,” Chung said, “some view that as being uninterested. But, I’m doing that to get more information [about the surroundings and the people who are there]. To see through the eyes of my friends.” Over the years, BPI has advocated on behalf of queer, blind people. The group urged the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled to add an LGBTQ+ category to “talking books.” (The category was added to the Library’s main catalog in 2019 and appeared on BAARD, the program’s mobile app last summer.) Blind people are vulnerable during the pandemic, BPI president Lopez Kafati said. If you’re blind, you can’t drive to get a COVID-19 test. If you’re visually impaired, you’ll need assistance if you go to get groceries. To help blind people tell the media their pandemic stories, BPI developed Storytelling Camp. “We’re training them to make their points effectively,” Lopez Kafati said. But BPI isn’t all work. It’s also for socializing and, sometimes, for romance. Anthony Corona and Lopez Kafati met at a BPI mixer at ACB’s convention in 2019. The two have been together ever since. Lopez Kafati, 43, was born in Honduras. He knew he was gay when he was in his mid 20s, but wasn’t fully out until he was 32. Lopez Kafati went to law school and worked as an attorney. But he began losing his vision from retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive eye disease. “I was convinced that I was the only person who was blind and gay in the world,” Lopez Kafati said. He Googled “blind and gay.” “And BPI popped up,” he said. “It was life changing to find others who shared my experience.” He came to the United States to enter rehab in Miami so he could learn to travel, work, and live 2 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • A &E


‘I was convinced that I was the only person who was blind and gay in the world,’ said GABRIEL LOPEZ KAFATI.

independently as a blind person. Lopez Kafati earned an MBA from Barry University, and in 2015 he became a U.S. citizen. Today, he manages accommodations for students with disabilities at Miami Dade College. “Often, gay people know so little about blindness,” Lopez Kafati said. “They think we can’t have sex!” Gay men communicate so much non-verbally – through a wink or a nod – and he can’t see to respond. This makes Lopez Kafati feel excluded from the gay community. “Gay friends almost make me feel like I’m charity,” he said, “like I have a gay blind friend who I help shopping. Not like, here’s a guy I want to date.” When he went to his first ACB convention in 2012 and met other queer, blind people in the BPI suite, Lopez Kafati said to himself, “I’m home!” Corona, 45, worked for the Associated Press for 10 years – on its East Coast arts and culture desk and later as an editor in its entertainment bureau. In 2011, he was in a white rafting accident. In March 16, he lost his vision 20 days after he contracted shingles. He was devastated by his loss. “I had to go through grief,” he said in a phone interview, “I’d enjoyed journalism. My life was good. Honey, I wasn’t lonely on any night!” There were days when he didn’t want to live. Corona didn’t think there were other gay, blind men out there. He sought counseling. His love of life came back when he went to guide dog school and got Boaty, his guide dog. “He was born to guide!” Corona said. Like others interviewed by the Blade, Corona says that many in the queer community don’t want to date blind people. Once, as an experiment, he went on a dating app. “When I didn’t disclose my blindness, I got hit up many times within an hour,” he said, “when I disclosed, I was lucky to get hit up even once in a day.” Sometimes things, even sad things, happen for a reason, Corona said. On March 24, 2016, his vision was completely lost. On the same day, his father died. For three years, he spent every March 24 sobbing. But that changed after he and Lopez Kafati became a couple. “Gabriel’s birthday is March 24,” Corona said. “Now, I’m sad on the anniversary of the worst day of my life. But I’m happy because I’m celebrating the birthday of the love of my life!”

The time to sell is now. Let me put my 32 years of experience to work for you! Since 1988 OLD TOWN - 1020 Prince Street, Alexandria - $2,700,000 A distinguished historic residence located in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria. Built in 1810 this magnificent home had a full state of the art restoration with local builder William Cromley in 2012 and additional modern appointments more recently. Elegant and dramatic, it boasts high ceilings, hardwood floors, seven fireplaces, a grand double parlor with Murano glass chandeliers, lavish Master Suite, and Chef’s eat in kitchen complete with center island, marble countertops and wall of built-ins. This awe inspiring home is approx. 4,000 finished sq ft four levels and features 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a detached two car garage with an alley access and a beautiful side yard with a private walled gardening covered brick patio perfect for entertaining and al fresco dining!

KINSALE - 100 Shore Lane, Kinsale - $325,000 Catch oysters, fish and sunsets. One of the Northern Necks best kept secrets! This wonderful home away from home on the Yeocomico River has a private Pier, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 fireplaces AND BEAUTIFUL WATER VIEWS! This waterfront home is located in Shannon Park Beach. Working from home has never been so relaxing. Take a break to go boating or canoeing or just sit and enjoy the tranquility of the water. Sunsets are amazing here!

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By Steph Purifoy

SMYAL Executive Director SULTAN SHAKIR at the organization’s 2018 Fall Brunch


Friday Tea Time is a virtual social gathering at 2 p.m. for older LGBTQ adults via Zoom. Participants are encouraged to bring their beverage of choice while socializing with friends. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/events The D.C. Center is hosting a virtual Trans Support Group session today at 7 p.m. The support group is designed as a safe space for transgender people and those who may be questioning their gender identity or expression. For more details, visit the dccenter.org/events Women in their Twenties and Thirties is a social discussion group for queer women in the D.C. area. They are meeting at 8 p.m. via Zoom. For the link to the meeting, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org Bet Mishpachah is hosting Shabbat Shuva at 8 p.m. led by Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin. For more details, visit betmish.org The Library of Congress is holding its 2020 National Book Festival online starting at 11 a.m. The event will feature 120 of the nation’s most-renowned writers, poets and artists during the showcase. Virtual stages will offer on-demand videos, live author chats and discussions, and options to personalize your own journey through the festival with particular themes. For more information, visit loc.gov/bookfest

Saturday, September 26

The LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will meet at 1 p.m. to provide an outlet for LGBTQ people of color to talk about anything affecting them. For the Zoom link to the meeting, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org. The D.C. Center and the Rainbow History Project are holding a Queer Womxn Creating Spaces virtual panel at 1 p.m. The panel is designed to bring together organizers from different generations of Black and Latinx LGBTQ women in the D.C. area. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/events. The D.C. Center is encouraging members of the LGBTQ community to join them in volunteering at Food and Friends at 9 a.m. Food and Friends is located 219 Riggs Road, N.E., If any volunteers need a ride from the Fort Totten Metro, call the Food and Friends shuttle at (202) 669-6437. Bet Mishpachah is hosting Shabbat Shuva Morning Service at 10 a.m. led by Paula Morris and Elke Martin. For more details, visit betmish.org. Online Yoga at the Garden is being hosted by the U.S. Botanical Gardens today at 10:30 a.m. An instructor from WithLoveDC will guide participants through a one-hour meditation and yoga practice via Zoom. There will only be enough room in the Zoom for 100 participants. The sessions

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

are free but registration is required. More information can be found on The U.S. Botanic Garden’s Facebook page.

Sunday, September 27

Bet Mishpachah is hosting Kol Nidrei at 7 p.m. led by Scott Reiter and Rachel Hamberger. For more details go to betmish.org.

Monday, September 28

LGBTQ older adults and friends are invited to join the D.C. Center at 10 a.m. for a Center Aging Coffee Drop-In. For more information visit thedccenter.org and Center Aging on social media. Bet Mishpachah is hosting several services today. A Yom Kippur Morning Service will take place at 10 a.m. led by Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin and Alex Carter. Bet Mishpachah is hosting a Yizkor Service at 2 p.m. led by Allan Armus and Elke Martin. A Rabbi’s Study Session led by Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin will take place at 3 p.m. Bet Mishpachah is hosting Havdalah at 6 p.m. led by Larry Neff and Ruth Potts. This service will be sign language interpreted. For more details go to betmish.org.

Tuesday, September 29

The DC Center is hosting its monthly support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary over Zoom at 7 p.m. Meetings are on the fourth Tuesday and third Monday of each month. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events

Wednesday, September 30

The D.C. Center’s Virtual Job Club meets today at 6 p.m. via Zoom. This weekly support program helps jobseekers improve their self-confidence, resilience and motivation needed for effective job searching and networking. Discussions include strategies, techniques and goal plans needed to find meaningful and satisfying employment. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Thursday, October 1

Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society DC is holding a support group meeting for the Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Community at 7 p.m. The meeting is co-hosted by the D.C. Center and Asian Queers United for Action. Visit thedccenter/org/events for more details.

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SMYAL announced that MSNBC journalist Joshua Johnson will be a featured speaker at this year’s Fall Brunch on Oct. 11. As a Black, gay journalist, Johnson has covered diversity in the media, the intersections of being Black and queer, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Johnson at the brunch will discuss the importance of gay representation in the media. This year’s fall brunch will be the first brunch to take place virtually. Johnson has been at MSNBC since 2019 after leaving his previous job hosting WAMU’s “1A”. Tickets for the brunch can be purchased at smyal.org.

Washington DC History and Culture Washington DC History and Culture is hosting a free, live streamed event Sunday from 7-8:30 p.m. titled “The Motown Sound of the 1960’s”. This program will examine over a dozen songs from the 1960’s and provide the historical context for them. Songs include “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye and “Fingertips” by Little Stevie Wonder. The session will be hosted by Robert Kelleman, the founder and director of Washington DC History and Culture. For more information, go to the organization’s Facebook page.

Playbill and The Broadway League Playbill and The Broadway League joined forces this year to hold “¡Viva Broadway! Hear Our Voices” a digital concert to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. The event will premiere on Playbill.com, Playbill’s YouTube channel, and on the Broadway League’s website on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. It will remain there for viewing until Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. The concert will seek to celebrate Latinx artists and their contributions to Broadway by showcasing their talent. The show will be directed and choreographed by Olivier and Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Sergio Trujillo. It will feature performances from famous Latinx artists from Broadway including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Ramos and Karen Olivo. The show will also showcase new and upcoming talent by featuring performances from Broadway-bound musicals and new works including Arrabal, Passing Through and John Leguizamo’s Kiss My Aztec!

Non-binary actor wins Helen Hayes Award Temídayo Amay was Gifty in ‘School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD

This time last year, non-binary actor Temídayo Amay was delighting audiences as Gifty, in Round House Theatre’s production of Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play.” The rangy actor gave a terrific comedic turn as a minion to the top girl at a boarding school in Ghana in 1986 where cliques, beauty pageants and skin tone were the chatter of the day. For their efforts, Amay won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Play—the honor was presented via Zoom TEMÍDAYO AMAY (Photo courtesy of Temídayo Amay) earlier this month (postponed from May because of COVID-19). Although this year’s awards were adjudicated through a binary lens, they were presented through a gender inclusive format. Next year will be different. Washington-based Amay, 26, grew up in suburban Maryland, earned a BA in theater from the University of Maryland, and soon after began her career. In addition to working at Round House, their crowded bio boasts gigs at the Kennedy Center, Studio Theatre and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company to name a few. In a recent interview, Amay expresses gratitude and a hopeful yet savvy look forward in uncertain times. WASHINGTON BLADE: Congrats on your Helen Hayes Award. TEMÍDAYO AMAY: Thanks, I’ve been riding a wave of good energy since I got it. Basking in the memory, the moment, and excited to see what’s ahead. BLADE: Your acceptance speech stood out as particularly heartfelt and poignant. AMAY: Actually, I misplaced my prepared speech not long before my name was announced, so I spoke from the heart. I’m grateful for the global embrace of Black queer, trans, and gender expansive people that is happening right now. Specifically, what’s happening in the entertainment industry. It means a lot to me and I’m very grateful to be a part of it—a lot of people have laid the groundwork over many, many years. I wanted to use that moment to encourage people to support the projects of these storytellers. BLADE: Tell us about Gifty. AMAY: The part came at a rough time for me. I’d just officially come out as non-binary and was finding out what that meant and what it would look like career wise. When I was cast as Gifty and things began to come together. BLADE: Has coming out as non-binary affected how you’re cast? AMAY: I’m grateful to continue to be cast in roles for ciswomen as well as parts specifically written for non-binary and gender expansive actors. The parts are out there, more every day. As people are finding the space to understand the non-binary experience, it’s being increasingly explored. Also, there’s some reimagining of characters from existing plays, offering more insight into the character and the depth of that human being. I’ve been asked to audition for traditionally male roles, Puck from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for instance, but I’m more of a Helena or Hermia. BLADE: When did you first want to act? AMAY: There was a never a time I didn’t like performing. I was always entertaining family and friends in the living room or at mosque, but I got my first real part in the sixth grade at middle school. Then just two weeks before the performance date, the director replaced me. It was heart shattering. I vowed then to one day show the director what a mistake he’d made. BLADE: Has the pandemic stalled your career? AMAY: Quarantine gave me time reevaluate what I wanted to do. It gave me time to reopen to film and music, to remember myself as the kid sitting in front of the TV and watching “The Mask” with Jim Carrey. I’ve also been writing songs, and recorded my first music video— it’s Afro-house sound and is set to launch next month. BLADE: And other immediate plans? AMAY: Besides doing my part to help flatten the curve—I wear a mask and social distance— I’m writing a series about Ope, a young non-binary character who is exploring issues of intimacy. It’s an opportunity to talk about things that most audiences haven’t seen. The Helen Hayes Awards finale ceremony, presented and produced by theatreWashington, will be celebrated virtually Friday, Sept. 25, and afterward at theatreWashington.org. S E PT E M B E R 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 3 1

At Jackie, food is a catalyst for conversation Chef Jerome Grant showcases diverse American cuisine By EVAN CAPLAN

At Jackie, you don’t kick off your shoes. You throw on a pair of stilettos and make like it’s your first night on the Vineyard. Jackie is the pearl of a new restaurant in Navy Yard, a high-concept addition to the neighborhood’s dining scene. This rebranded, refreshed restaurant at gay-owned Dacha Beer Garden by Nationals Stadium features James Beard Award finalist Chef Jerome Grant, lately of Sweet Home Café (the restaurant at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture). Back in 2019, owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin opened an interior restaurant across from their new Dacha beer garden, but kept the name Dacha for the restaurant. “That created a bit of a confusion,” Chekaldin said, “because ‘Dacha’ is associated with boots of beer, pretzels and tons of puppies, not necessarily a restaurant.” When researching a new concept in early 2020, they were introduced to Grant, looking for new opportunities after working to successfully represent African and African-American cuisine to visitors at the museum. Together with Grant, they conceived of Jackie, a restaurant that speaks to the breadth of American cuisine through the lens of Chef Grant, son of a Black father and Filipino mother. Alter said that they landed on the name Jackie after the former first lady, and in reference to the Shaw location’s mural of Elizabeth Taylor. “We love these strong, beautiful women who survived and thrived after tremendous traumas,” he said. “We worked with a great design team,” he said, “that took the groovy, forward-looking themes of 1960s architecture and understood the understated glamour of the era we wanted to showcase.” But it’s through Grant’s cooking that the restaurant sparkles like so many glamorous tiaras. Working up from a sous chef position at Mitsitam Cafe of the National Museum of the American Indian before helming Sweet Home Café, Grant oversees all menus at Dacha, down to those beer garden pretzels. Yet he only agreed to the job with Dacha because of the freedom he was given to express his creativity at Jackie. “I’m a firm believer that food should be a catalyst for conversation. I wanted to spark a dialogue about what American food means.” Grant is passionate that “American cuisine is not just burgers and pizzas; it’s a melting pot of the cultures that helped build this country. Jackie tells the story of my experiences with food growing up in a multicultural environment — it is my American table.” To wit: One signature dish is a makeover of Grant’s childhood favorite, the great American spaghetti and meatballs. This dish is an homage to his Filipino mother. She tossed in longganisa, a spiced Filipino sausage, as part of a Bolognese sauce that comes together on a base of banana ketchup, a common condiment in Southeast Asia. The ingredients, he emphasizes, are not “new.” Many Americans, like Grant, grew up eating dishes like these – echoing a sentiment present in Padma Lakshmi’s “Taste the Nation” series on Netflix that explores immigrant neighborhoods across the U.S. through their food. A hearty, cheesy spoonful of his grits reveals additional layers of the “new” American palate. Another important dish from his childhood, these grits are just as South Asian as they are southern. Grant replaces traditional corn with rice, smothering it in Pecorino and a vegan ranch. It’s served alongside fried chicken, anther quintessentially southern favorite – but the batter is spiked with miso. Grant says that a modern-day Jackie Kennedy, worldly and urbane, would have embraced the influences of various cultures in today’s America. He relays the story of her weekend diet consisting of “baked potatoes and caviar,” at once down-home and sophisticated. Jackie (the restaurant) is an opportunity for Grant to “put myself 3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • A &E

‘I can serve a menu that tells the story of my experiences with food growing up in a multicultural environment,’ says Chef JEROME GRANT. (Photo courtesy Grant)

in a space to learn more and grow as person,” he said, and serve “food that showcases the women who raised me and how they sustained their families” – yet another homage to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Grant was also included in a New York Times list of 16 Black chefs changing food in America, confident that his take on American food would resonate with a colorful quilt of Americans. As highly visible gay owners of two highly popular beer gardens that have not been without controversy, Alter and Chekaldin take pains to ensure they have a diverse staff and provide support for LGBTQ organizations through a Cause Tuesday program. Opening during COVID was challenging, Alter reports, but the presence of the sizeable patio allowed for crowds eager to try the award-winning chef’s dishes to dine alfresco. Plus, they were pleased to be able to allow several workers ineligible for unemployment to continue working. Grant and Alter also ensured that the cocktails reflected Kennedy Onassis; one standout cocktail is “Jackie O,” features her favorite liquor, Lillet Blanc. Free to flex his culinary wings, Grant maintains humility. “I feel that I had to work three or four times harder than some others,” he said, because of what he looked like. “Now I can serve a menu that tells the story of my experiences with food growing up in a multicultural environment — it is my American table.”

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‘I Have Something to Tell You’ not typical, political puff piece Chasten Buttigieg memoir a frank look at history-making campaign

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By KATHI WOLFE As a tween, if you’d said that one day a gay man, with his husband as First Man, could be president of the United States, I’d have thought you were nuts. I’m glad Pete Buttigieg, 38, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., proved me wrong! In April 2019, he became the first openly gay major presidential candidate. Buttigieg dropped out after losing badly in the South Carolina primary due to his failure to connect with Black voters. You may or may not like Buttigieg’s politics. But I’d bet that if you’re queer, you were awed by the history he made by entering the presidential race! One of the most moving parts of the campaign was Buttigieg’s marriage to Chasten Glezman Buttigieg. “Nothing in my life, from shaking hands with a president to experiencing my first rocket attack,” Pete Buttigieg wrote in his memoir “Shortest Way Home,” “matched the thrill of holding Chasten’s hand for the first time.” Chasten Buttigieg, 31, who has more than 400,000 Twitter followers, was a major asset to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. Chasten, who was raised in Traverse City, Mich. and calls Pete Buttigieg “Peter,” has written a funny, touching memoir. By Chasten Buttigieg Often, memoirs of political campaigns are merely pablum. “I Have Something to Tell You,” released on Sept. 1, is far from a hard-nosed take on the Buttigieg campaign. How could Chasten be objective about his husband? From the moment when Chasten and Pete eat Scotch eggs on their first date, Chasten is totally smitten with Peter. Peter is intelligent, unflappable and caring. “The only thing that’s annoying about Peter’s lifestyle is how reasonable and laid back he is about, well, everything,” Chasten writes. It’s clear that since the campaign ended, Pete Buttigieg has been working to extend his brand. His 20-episode podcast “The Deciding Decade” premiered on Sept. 9, and his new book “Trust: America’s Best Chance” comes out on Oct. 6. Chasten’s memoir fits into the effort to build Pete Buttigieg’s political future. Yet, “I Have Something to Tell You” isn’t your typical, political puff piece. It’s often refreshingly candid. It gives us a ringside seat to what it was life to be the first spouse of the first gay presidential candidate. Chasten realized how important he and Pete Buttigieg (as a presidential candidate and spouse) were to the LGBTQ community two weeks before Buttigieg officially announced he was running. An older woman, recognizing the political couple, stopped them as they walked down 14th Street in Washington, D.C. “I’m the mother of two gay children,” she told them, “and what you’re doing for this country and for them ... I am just so proud of you and so happy you’re getting out there.” Life during the campaign was, in some ways, the same for Chasten as it was for the spouses of the other candidates. As was the case for them, Chasten knew that there was “only one star” in his campaign—and it was his husband Peter—not him. Along with the other spouses, he sat in the front row, watching the candidates’ debates. Sometimes, the spouses exchanged small talk. In other ways, being a gay candidate’s spouse was different for Chasten. After the Buttigieges kissed at the campaign launch, a commentator said, “something like ‘Of course, I don’t mind if they kiss in public’ ... ,” Chasten writes, “but ... ’real Americans’ elsewhere wouldn’t stand for it.’” It isn’t Chasten’s job to be a political analyst. Yet, his failure to acknowledge Pete Buttigieg’s disconnect with Black and Latinx people is a glaring omission. Especially, after the George Floyd protests. This being said, “I Have Something to Tell You” is well-worth reading. The Buttigieg campaign is the main point of historical interest. Yet, the memoir is, also, a riveting account of Chasten’s life. Chasten movingly describes his experiences of sexual assault and domestic violence (issues seldom talked about in the queer community) as well as his struggle to go to college while holding several jobs and acquiring student debt. For a frank, inside look at a campaign that made history, check out “I Have Something to Tell You.”

‘I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir’


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Emmy’s big night was virtually a first RuPaul makes history, ‘Schitt’s Creek’ wins big By SUSAN HORNIK

Sunday’s virtual Emmy Awards was a bright light amongst the darkness and unpredictability Hollywood has faced over the past several months due to COVID-19, civil unrest and wildfires. Minus the elaborate red carpet full of photographers, journalists, a celebrity-laden audience, etc. the 3-hour event had a more intimate feel. The Washington Blade is here to tell you about all the highlights! The Wins –“Schitt’s Creek”—a marvelous series that honors LGBTQ love, kindness, inclusivity—won an impressive seven awards; including best lead actor, best lead actress, and best comedy. Therefore making Emmy history sweeping all the comedy categories. “Our show is about the transformational power of love and acceptance—and that is something that we need more of now than we’ve ever needed before,” said co-creator/ director/writer/producer/star Daniel Levy in his acceptance speech. During the virtual pressroom, he talked about importance of the series’ finale, in which the same-sex marriage of David (Levy) and Patrick (Noah Reid) took place. “I think getting to write that storyline was incredibly cathartic for me for many reasons,” said Levy. “One, I don’t get to see those kinds of relationships depicted on TV so I felt that it was an incredible responsibility to be given the opportunity and to try to tell it as authentic as I possibly could.” He added: “We made a decision to not include the conversation of homophobia or bigotry on our show. By projecting a sweeter, gentler world, I feel that it was a political statement. It seemed to have an incredible effect on people.” –During the creative arts Emmy, RuPaul also made Emmys history for the most wins in the competition host category. “I’ve always said, every time I bat my false eyelashes, I’m making a political statement. Well, tonight, the only political statement I want to make is this: Love.” Urging Emmy viewers to vote, Ru dedicated his victory to Chi Chi DeVayne, the season 8 queen who died last month. “Love for our LGBT brothers and sisters, love for Black queens and Brown queens, and love for the United States of America, where a little gay boy with nothing more than a pussycat wig and a dream can build an international platform that celebrates sweet, sensitive souls everywhere.” Last night, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” also won for outstanding competition program –Zendaya won her very first Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her riveting performance as Rue, a recovering teen drug addict who is in love with a trans girl in HBO’s “Euphoria.” “I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating, but I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there. I know that our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that, but there is hope in the young people. And I just want to say to all my peers out there, doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you, and, yeah, thank you so, so much.” –Tyler Perry and his foundation were given the Governor’s Award for outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences. During his speech, the filmmaker highlighted the importance of telling diverse stories, including LGBTQ stories. Laverne Cox Laverne Cox was amongst the few who appeared live at the awards show, presenting the award for outstanding writing in a drama Series. While making a joke about her lack of Emmy wins, it appeared as if ABC had censored what she was saying. “I am living proof of the American dream that anyone in this country can lose the Emmy four years in the same category and yet somehow end up on this stage presenting an award to someone who probably didn’t … ,” Cox said before cameras cut her off. The Television Academy eventually posted the entire video on YouTube. Cox said she was “presenting an award to someone who probably didn’t effing vote for me.” While not profanity, effing was bleeped out for broadcast television. The Emmy Drink Ketel One Vodka created a spectacular at home viewing experience with the help of the Emmy nominee Billy Porter, Cocktail Courier and mixologist Charles Joly. “The Seven Minute Martini is meant to be both classic and innovative, elegant and celebratory and showcase the versatility of Ketel One vodka,” enthused Joly. “It is familiar with its base of the iconic martini, but becomes interactive and complex with the rapid infusion. You can serve several people at once, so there is a communal aspect, pouring small sips and 3 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 • A &E

DAN LEVY, CATHERINE O’HARA, and NOAH REID in ‘Schitt’s Creek.’

(Photo courtesy Pop TV)

watching the cocktail evolve as you go.” As part of the brand’s commitment to create a marvelous world where people are seen and heard as equal, Ketel is donating to organizations that champion representation in Hollywood, including GLAAD. “Ketel One Family Made Vodka has been a long-standing partner to many LGBTQ organizations and in GLAAD’s mission to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Kicking off Emmy weekend by centering the iconic Billy Porter and trailblazing creator Daniella Carter is just the latest step in our joint commitment to amplify Black queer voices and move diverse LGBTQ representation forward.” Emmy Gift Bags A veteran in the production of star-studded events, Nathalie Dubois, president and CEO of DPA, has proven herself to be exceptionally innovative and successful in the realm of celebrity gift suites. Due to the COVID-19 worldwide crisis, DPA paused its lounge operations, delivering Emmy nominees a very full gift bag. Brands represented in the gift bags are: Miami Cocktail Company, Heavensake, Pearson Brothers winery, Carvery Kitchen, Jaci Haircare, Lisa Stardust, Sarah Potter, Indigo Collagen, Treedom, Asea Renu28, Sparti Scents, Blumenes CBD products, Chipz Happen, Kesaine Walker, Renee Watt, Narayana Montufar, Fly by Jing, Mantra Mask, Nupeutics, Luxie, and Good Dee’s. Celebrity astrologer Lisa Stardust gifted nominees a free astrology reading, along with her fellow readers. “With all of the uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever to look within and to align with our spirituality,” she asserted. “Then, we can guide ourselves, with the healing help of a reader, towards our destiny.” “Carvery Kitchen offered Emmy nominees and presenters a gift certificate and gift bag for their restaurant,” said Mela Gallegos. “We enjoy every minute of it. It’s a great pleasure to let people try our food and know how much they enjoy it. Some of the guests come to the restaurant after the event or order catering.” Carvery has many amazing dishes on the menu. “Ours are the most popular items, according to everyone who tried our food is signature beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken caprese, spinach and salmon roll, meat pie, avocado salad and mashed potatoes, just to name a few!” The restaurant is open for patio dining and is expanding their catering and delivery orders, while adjusting to the new customer friendly way of service. “We continuously work on new specials as well as creating exciting, full and simply delicious virtual events, like wine tasting and food pairing,” said Gallegos. This year’s Emmy nominees were celebrated with a “Best of Quarantainment” bag by Distinctive Assets, which featured gifts from minority and female-owned companies that give back to their communities. “With everything going on the world right now, we wanted to honor these amazing nominees who helped entertain us during the quarantine with gifts that also serve a higher purpose,” enthused founder Lash Fary. Nominees like Jim Parsons, Billy Porter, Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Mahershala Ali, Daniel Levy and Issa Rae received a plethora of fantastic gifts. Some of Fary’s favorites include the subscription box Baketivity (“I personally love baking and this makes it fun for kids to learn early. And it is a perfect quarantine activity.”); Isa Lazo natural facial oil (“The product is incredible but truthfully I mostly love the luxe bottle it comes in!”); PETA vegan snack bag, Stretchy Stack volcanic bracelets and EON Sanitizing Mist (“by far the best I’ve tried so far!”) . Fary’s next project will be doing a gift bag celebrating small businesses, which will be delivered to 50 top celebs the week before Small Business Saturday. “We are hoping to leverage celebrity social media support to bring attention to a slew of small businesses for holiday shopping and such. Then it will be GRAMMYs and our Everyone Wins for the Top Oscar nominees as usual.”

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Thank You. We are again honored to be a finalist for Best Real Estate Group. We appreciate your votes and your business during these challenging times.

Time to turn a new leaf. Interest rates are down. Demand is up. Now is the perfect time to buy or sell a home! Contact us at 202-242-1616 or email info@bediz.com to get started!

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