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On the first day of March, Gov. O’Malley signed Maryland’s marriage-equality bill, setting in motion the referendum battle to follow. The Human Rights Campaign, an ally in securing Maryland marriage, named a successor to outgoing Executive Director Joe Solmonese. Chad Griffin, a leader in the fight against California’s Proposition 8 as a founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, would take the top spot June 11.
A final farewell for the late Frank Kameny, scheduled for March 3 at Congressional Cemetery, was put on hold indefinitely as legal squabbling arose between Kameny’s sole heir, Timothy Clark, and longtime associates of Kameny. While the community would surely welcome a month in which the only mention of death involved legal wrangling, March instead followed January and February’s lead. On March 7, Jared Neff, booking manager for D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, died of pneumonia-related complications. He was 30.
Neff’s death wasn’t the only news that shook the community in March. In an early morning incident at the Columbia Heights IHOP Restaurant, anti-gay slurs escalated to a gunshot. The victim of that March 11 shooting survived, but the violence did not stop. On March 12, a gay man was attacked at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street NW, beaten and robbed by a group shouting homophobic epithets. Days later, March 20, hundreds marched through Northwest D.C. to protest crimes against the LGBT community.
In a sort of victory for at least one member of the LGBT community, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington announced March 9 that it had put Father Marcel Guarnizo on administrative leave. In February, Guarnizo denied Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson, a lesbian, at her mother’s funeral.