Just as they did when they sparred in 2014’s mayoral Democratic primary, Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and former Mayor and Councilmember Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) again topped the list of office-seekers earning high praise and ratings in the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance’s (GLAA) 2016 candidate questionnaire. Luckily, though, this year they are not opponents, but allies seeking separate seats on the D.C. Council.
The biennial survey, issued to candidates seeking elected positions within the District, is used to gauge candidates’ activism and responsiveness to the major concerns of the LGBT community. Candidates are rated on a scale of -10 to +10 based on their answers to GLAA’s questionnaire, their record on LGBT issues and any advocacy on behalf of the community. All questions are based on issues broached in GLAA’s annual policy brief, “Building on Victory,” which is made available to all candidates in advance.
So far, GLAA has only rated those candidates running in the primaries for the District’s three officially recognized political parties: Democrats, Republicans, and Statehood-Green members, all of whom will select nominees in the June 14 citywide primary election. The organization is expected to release ratings for independent candidates — including incumbent Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large), who is running for re-election — ahead of the November general election.
Both Evans, running unopposed for re-election to his Georgetown, Dupont and Downtown-anchored district, and Gray, who is running for the Southeast D.C.-anchored seat he once held before becoming Council Chairman in 2007, earned a top score of +10 on GLAA’s rating scale, which ranges from -10 to +10. Both men have long and substantial records that indicate a commitment to LGBT rights from their years on the Council, and Gray, during his four-year tenure as mayor.
Other strong scorers on GLAA’s candidate questionnaire were Robert White, who is challenging incumbent Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) in the Democratic primary, who earned a +8.5, as well as Councilmember LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) and G. Lee Aikin, running in for the Statehood-Green nomination for one of two at-large seats, who both earned +7.5.
For the two at-large seats, challenger David Garber earned a +6.5 for agreeing with GLAA’s positions on all issues and providing substantive answers, but lost points because of his limited record on LGBT issues. Meanwhile, incumbent Orange earned a +4, which marks a significant improvement over his 2012 GLAA rating of +0.5. GLAA noted in its writeup of Orange that he has generally been an ally to the LGBT community, but did, during his 2006 campaign for mayor, call some of his primary rivals “morally unfit” for office because of their support of marriage equality. Republican Carolina Celnik, a Navy Yard resident and law firm employee who works on regulatory issues, did not return a questionnaire and was given a zero based on her lack of a record on LGBT issues.
In Ward 4, Democratic challenger Leon Andrews earned a +6, besting incumbent Democratic Councilmember Brandon Todd, who earned a +5, and Calvin Gurley, who earned a +3.5. Challenger Ron Austin did not return a questionnaire and was given a zero rating.
In Ward 7, Gray faces off against incumbent Democratic Councilmember Yvette Alexander, the only remaining councilmember who voted against marriage equality in 2009. Alexander, who earned a +5.5, showed improvement over her 2012 rating of -3.5 and has generally been an ally to the LGBT community on the Council, sponsoring and pushing through her committee legislation allowing transgender people to amend their birth certificates, require health professionals receive training to be competent in dealing with LGBT-specific health issues, and banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Democrats Delmar Chesley and Grant Thompson did not submit responses to GLAA’s questionnaire.
In Ward 8, May’s challengers Trayon White and Aaron Holmes earned ratings of +4 and +2, respectively, while Maurice Dickens and Bonita Goode did not submit responses to GLAA’s questionnaire.
Even before the recent spate of "Don't Say Gay" laws forbidding discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools in certain states, LGBTQ history and culture has largely gone undiscussed at institutions of all kinds and unknown by even many on the queer spectrum.
For too long, the hardcore truth is that only the most dedicated and self-motivated research-loving among us are well-versed in queer movement fundamentals.
Fortunately, an increasing number of media companies are showing an interest in helping to start to fill the queer knowledge void.
Add Discovery+ to that growing list. The streaming service, launched in 2021, is being promoted as having "the largest-ever content offering of any new streaming service at launch," most of it drawing from the vast libraries of "factual programming" from Discovery's main channel brands, including Animal Planet, TLC, the Food Network and HGTV.
By Joseph Reberkenny on May 31, 2022
Last week’s primary runoffs in Texas offered good news for advocates of diversity and the LGBTQ community, with three out LGBTQ Black candidates winning their contests.
Prior to 2022, Texas voters had never elected an out Black LGBTQ person to the state legislature, even though a handful of LGBTQ legislators were elected in other districts.
But starting in February, with the special election victory of Jolanda Jones for the 147th District seat vacated by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), that losing streak ended.
Jones, who became the first out LGBTQ Black legislator in state history, followed up that victory with another win on Tuesday, setting her up for the general election for a full two-year term.
Several prominent LGBTQ clubs in New York City are boycotting a Pride Month reception being hosted on Tuesday by Mayor Eric Adams in protest of his decision to hire several pastors with anti-LGBTQ views as part of his administration.
In a lengthy statement, Stonewall Democrats of New York City, along with Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and Equality New York, said that Adams' appointees are "reinforcing the violent institutions that harm LGBTQ people every day."
"We will not celebrate Pride with him," the groups said in the joint statement. "Mayor Adams has tested the boundaries of the LGBTQ community to see where he can overstep -- including who he can afford to disregard for the sake of his own interests. Mayor Adams' only interests are his own, and prioritizing the needs of the policing and surveillance institutions in the city, at the expense of investment into education, mental health, community health and LGBTQ services."
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!