Washington DC Hub

D.C. Mayor Appoints Local LGBT Activist To Newly Created Deputy Mayor Position

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 1.40.27 PMD.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Wednesday that she named local lesbian activist and public affairs lobbyist Courtney Snowden as her administration’s Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, a new position within the executive office of the mayor reports The Washington Blade. Snowden, who originally ran for a seat on D.C.’s City Council as an independent, is the highest ranking LGBT official in the Bowser administration and the fourth gay or lesbian appointee named to a cabinet-level position.

Over the last 10 years Snowden has worked as a lobbyist and public policy strategist for both corporate and non-profit clients for the Raben Group, a D.C.-based public relations and communications firm founded by gay attorney Robert Raben. Snowden has also worked in several policy positions for the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and then-Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Snowden also served on Bowser’s mayoral transition team prior to Bowser taking office on Jan. 1. 

The D.C. government website posted a revised organization chart showing the newly created post of Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity as one of four deputy mayor’s positions. According to Bowser the deputy mayor "will be charged with creating solutions to improve outcomes for residents who face challenges to entering the workforce or starting their own ventures."


Victory Fund Appoints First Lesbian And First Black Leader: VIDEO

Aisha Moodie-Mills

LGBT activist group The Victory Fund and Institute (VFI) has appointed Aisha Moodie-Mills as its first out female and first black president and CEO, reports Buzzfeed.

Today, we're thrilled to announce that Aisha Moodie-Mills - an accomplished LGBT leader with a passion for civil rights...

Posted by Victory Fund & Institute on Thursday, 26 March 2015

1383576_10153362891555647_1985904950_nFounded in 1991, VFI is a national organizations dedicated to helping LGBT leaders win office and serve effectively at all levels of government.

Moodie-Mills began her LGBT activism in 2009, advocating for the Washington, D.C. Council to pass marriage equality legislation.

At the Center for American Progress, she began the FIRE initiative to talk about and advocate for issues at the intersection of race, class, and sexuality.

At VFI she will oversee a $4 million annual budget, 18 employees, and a mission to support and train out LGBT people to run for office and staff political jobs.

Moodie-Mills says that her focus will be on grassroots work in places where there are no or very few out LGBT elected officials. Specifically, she points to “the South and the plains states” and other areas lacking out LGBT representatives.

She also hopes to focus on training transgender people to run for office and supporting women candidates, referencing the only out senator: “Tammy Baldwin is our beacon of hope, but there just haven’t been a lot of Tammy Baldwins up and down the ballot.”

Watch a clip of Politini, a talk show hosted by Moodie-Mills and her wife Danielle, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Victory Fund Appoints First Lesbian And First Black Leader: VIDEO" »

DNC's Openly Gay National Political Director Sounds Off On LGBT Rights: VIDEO


Last March, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz named longtime operative Raul Alvillar as the party's new political director. 

Alvillar, the first Latino to serve in the position, is also openly gay. 

He previously worked for Vice President Joe Biden and served as interim LGBT liaison for the White House for three months in 2011. Alvillar also worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 and for the John Kerry campaign in 2004, according to a story about his appointment in The Washington Blade.  

In an interview with Fox News Latino published Friday, Alvillar — who grew up in southern New Mexico — sounded off on LGBT rights:  

“Growing up LGBT in a small town, you didn’t talk about it,” Alvillar said. “Especially as a Hispanic male, there’s this expectation that you will have a wife and three kids and a minivan … That’s just how I grew up. Not knowing any other folks who were gay, you kind of feel like it’s not a ‘normal’ thing.

“I didn’t come out until I was in college, and even then I only came out to my sister,” he admitted. “I didn’t come out to my mother until I went back to New Mexico for my 10-year high school class reunion. I told her, ‘There’s something I have to tell you because I don’t want you to feel I haven’t been honest.’ She was immediately concerned and then I told her, ‘I’m gay.’ She was like, ‘Oh, okay,’ and was totally relieved. She thought I was going to tell her I was sick.”

But Alvillar notes that even in rural America, attitudes are changing:  

“I think people in Smalltown, USA,” he said, “recognize that there are people who are their brothers and sisters and cousins – people who are important to them, who they embrace, who are everyday people – who happen to be LGBT.”

He added, “Does that mean that the fight is over? No. Have we accomplished everything we need to for full inclusion in this country? No, there’s still a lot that we need to do. But the country is a better place.”

In fact, things have changed so much that Alvillar believes coming out actually helped him professionally. From an interview with Pink News last year: 

“I think for me, coming out was an advantage for me [in my job]. I think that the Democratic Party embraces diversity and is looking for that diversity. It was something that was advantageous to me. Not to say that it was the only reason why I’m in the positions I’m in. I’ve always said in the past that I’m Raul, I’m not gay Raul and I’m not Hispanic Raul. I’m just Raul. I’m here, I’m doing my job and we’re doing our jobs to get Democrats elected, whatever ethnicity or whatever sexual preference you might be.”

Watch a White House video of discussing his first job, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "DNC's Openly Gay National Political Director Sounds Off On LGBT Rights: VIDEO" »

In A Stunning Display Of Hypocrisy, Sen. Ted Cruz Targets District Of Columbia's LGBT Protections


Sen. Ted Cruz frequently rails against federal overreach and is a staunch defender of the right of states to ban same-sex marriage. 

However, Cruz now wants Congress to dictate how Washington, D.C., regulates LGBT and reproductive rights.

Cruz has introduced what are known as disapproval resolutions seeking to undo two laws passed by the D.C. Council last year. One of the laws would prevent employers from taking action against employees who use birth control or seek an abortion, while the other would remove a religious exemption to the district's LGBT protections.   

Senator Lankford Official Portrait - CopyAs hypocritical as they may be, Cruz's resolutions aren't going anywhere. In order to pass, they'd need approval from both chambers of Congress as well as President Barack Obama's signature. Rather, they appear to be more political posturing from Cruz as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential campaign. 

The Washington Post reports: 

Although rarely successful at stopping D.C. laws, the resolutions are often more effective politically, giving members of Congress legislative records to build bona fides with constituent groups that feel strongly about the District’s often liberal stances on social issues. ... 

Freshman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who co-introduced the measures, issued a statement Wednesday saying “what the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.”

Cruz declined to comment on the resolutions, but Lankford told WaPo the resolutions are in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year in the Hobby Lobby case. In seeking to undo the laws, Cruz and Lankford have the support of anti-LGBT hate groups including the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council. 

Kimberly Perry, head of D.C. Vote, told WaPo the resolutions go against the very principles Cruz and Lankford normally champion, such as states' rights and local control:   

“Senators Cruz and Lankford’s move to disapprove a local District law is absurd and hypocritical,” Perry said. “They are now guilty of the same federal overreach they often criticize in others.”

Perry called on “every other member of Congress to step up and see this for exactly what it is — un-American and un-democratic.”

Coincidentally, Cruz appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers this week and explained his opposition to same-sex marriage: 

"Listen, I'm a constitutionalist," Cruz said. "For over 200 years, marriage has been a question for the states. Now, personally I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is to convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature and change it. It shouldn't be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage." 

Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "In A Stunning Display Of Hypocrisy, Sen. Ted Cruz Targets District Of Columbia's LGBT Protections " »

Meet 'The Check It', America's Only Documented All-Gay Gang: VIDEO


Filmmakers Toby Oppenheimer and Dana Flor spent the last three years documenting America's only all-gay or trans gang, a group of approximately 200 African-American teens in Washington D.C. called 'The Check It', according to a crowdfunding appeal for their new film.

WarrenThe film follows three bullied teens and tells the story about how they started the gang, VICE reports:

The group formed to provide members safety in numbers and let people know that if you jumped a gay kid in DC, you'd likely get jumped back in retaliation. ... Unlike other gangs, the Check It aren't tied to a specific geographic location. They hang out at each others' houses, mostly, as well as a local Denny's and the Chinatown and Gallery Place Metro stations. And they didn't have to do much to spread their name. A local go-go band called ReAction wrote a song about the gang and name-checked individual members. That meant people like [Trayvon] Warren (pictured) had a certain amount of notoriety, which allowed him to go to pretty much any neighborhood in DC without people giving him much trouble for being, as he and his friends put it, "faggie."

Write the filmmakers:

At first glance, The Check It, our documentary subjects, seem to be unlikely gang–bangers.  Some of the boys wear lipstick and mascara, some stilettos. They carry Louis Vuitton bags, but they also carry knives, brass knuckles and mace.  As vulnerable gay and transgender youth, they’ve been shot, stabbed and raped.

Once victims, they’ve now turned the tables, beating people into comas and stabbing enemies with ice picks. Started in 2005 by a group of bullied 9th graders, today these 14–22 year old gang members all have rap sheets riddled with assault, armed robbery and drug dealing charges.

Led by an ex-convict named “Mo," The Check It members are NOW creating their own clothing label, putting on fashion shows and working stints as runway models. But breaking the cycle of poverty and violence they’ve grown up in is a daunting task. So when The Check It are not taking small steps forward on the catwalk, they too often take massive steps backwards. CHECK IT captures the struggles and setbacks, but also the progress and triumphs of these kids.

The doc is produced by RadicalMedia and actor Steve Buscemi.

Watch their trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...


Continue reading "Meet 'The Check It', America's Only Documented All-Gay Gang: VIDEO" »

Hundreds Rally in D.C. to Demand Action in the Wake of Trans Teen Leelah Alcorn's Suicide: VIDEO


Some 200-300 people rallied on the streets of Washington D.C. Saturday to honor Leelah Alcorn, the transgender Ohio teenager who committed suicide late December following months of abuse from her Christian parents. 

News2Share reports:

Alcorn2Protesters gathered at the “Justice for Leelah Alcorn Rally and March” to hear speakers and show support for the late Alcorn who took her own life, because she felt she received little support from her community.

One of the rally’s organizers, Jes Grobman, is also an organizer for DC Trans Power which focuses on empowering and supporting change within trans communities.

The protest marched from Mt. Vernon Square to the Department of Justice to read a list of demands.

Lourdes Ashley Hunter, the National Director for Trans Women of Color Collective, spoke of acceptance, justice and change.

“Oppression manifests in every aspect of our lives, but the way structural oppression  is set up will have you to believe that we need to be fixed. And I’m here to tell you, we don’t need to be fixed there is nothing wrong with us. What is wrong is society’s depraved existence, willful ignorance, complicity, and inactive engagement which refuse trans people humanity and right to life.“

The list of demands:

*We demand a national ban on conversion therapy. This is not a form of “therapy,” it is abuse and needs to be stopped.

*We demand that transgender denial be treated as child abuse. In order to protect children from abusive homes that may lead them to take their own lives, transgender denial in parents must be addressed with restorative justice.

*We demand easier access to medical treatments for transitioning. It should be cheap, covered by insurance, and be accessible to minors. Transgender people have the right to control their bodies and we demand that the state recognize that.

*We demand statements from Leelah’s church and religious leadership in general condemning conversion therapy. 

Watch a news report on the rally and Hunter's full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hundreds Rally in D.C. to Demand Action in the Wake of Trans Teen Leelah Alcorn's Suicide: VIDEO" »


Towleroad - Blogged