State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) earlier this month proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia. The bill, SB 1269, would reduce marijuana possession to a civil offense punishable only by fines, much like a traffic ticket. Another bill introduced by State Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D), SB 908, would have had similar effects.
Though the Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee did not approve the bills yesterday, it did promise more study on marijuana decriminalization, according to Ebbin’s office.
State lawmakers didn’t set aside every marijuana-related bill, however. The committee overwhelmingly advanced another bill, SB 1091, by a vote of 14-1. If enacted into law, that bill would make it so adults convicted of simple possession of marijuana wouldn’t automatically lose their driver’s license for six months, as is the current law.
“My marijuana reform legislation will end consequential outcomes for simple marijuana possession, particularly for communities of color,” Ebbin said in a statement. “Possession of marijuana shouldn’t impact future employment opportunities, or cause the suspension of your driver’s license.”
A Senate committee also advanced two bills having to do with LGBT equality yesterday. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee gave its blessing to two bills, SB 783 and SB 822, “with strong, bipartisan support,” according to a press release from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus.
The bills, introduced by Ebbin and Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D), respectively, address nondiscrimination in public employment and target anti-LGBT practices in public housing.
CEB Being Acquired — Arlington-based CEB Inc., one of the county’s biggest private employers, is being acquired by Connecticut-based Gartner in a $2.6 billion cash-and-stock deal. CEB is set to anchor one of the under-construction Central Place towers in Rosslyn once it is completed. [Reuters, Gartner]
Fisette Still Mulling Reelection Run — Jay Fisette, who is serving as Arlington County Board Chair for 2017, has not yet decided whether he’ll run for another four-year term. Fisette says he’ll make a decision in February, the Washington Post’s Patricia Sullivan reports. [Twitter]
What County Board Members Did for New Year’s — With the County Board’s traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting moved to Jan. 3, what did County Board members do on Jan. 1 instead? Nothing too interesting, it turns out. [Falls Church News-Press]
Obama’s Military Farewell Ceremony — It tied up some traffic in Arlington, but yesterday afternoon the country’s armed forces bid farewell to President Obama and Vice President Biden on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The event went well, minus one Army honor guard member fainting during the ceremony. [NBC News, Daily Mail]
Couple Married After 20 Years Together — An Arlington couple that first met 20 years ago in a D.C. nightclub finally tied the knot over the summer. Bob Kenney, a real estate agent, and Mark Treadaway, an airport executive, were wed in the backyard of their Woodmont home in front of 75 guests. [Arlington Magazine]
Nearby: Alexandria Flips Out Over Taco Bell — Residents in the West End of Alexandria are really worried about a proposed Taco Bell. In letters to the city’s planning commission, residents decried the potential for “late night riff raff,” “the devastating effects of an accident,” and “lowered home values.” One resident also relayed her personal experience of going to a Taco Bell that had run out of forks. There are four Taco Bells in Arlington County, including one on the Alexandria border and another in the Pentagon. [Washington Business Journal, City of Alexandria]
Va. Legislator Proposes N.C. Style Bathroom Bill — Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) has proposed a “bathroom bill” similar to the controversial bill that because law in North Carolina. The bill would restrict transgender individuals from using certain bathrooms and would require school principals to “notify all parents if a student at their children’s school asks to be treated as a member of the opposite sex.” [Washington Post]
Updated at 12:45 p.m. — The Arlington County Human Rights Commission contacted Crabb and Johnson minutes ago about their appeal, informing them that reasonable grounds do exist to support allegations of discrimination based on gender. The written decision notes that the “no long dresses” policy is not specific and there are “at least twenty-seven images” on the daycare’s website of girls wearing dresses, including some of similar lengths to the boy’s dress. The commission notes that the boy is the only child who has been disciplined over the policy and that Crabb and Johnson received no warnings or reminders about their son’s dress length. The commission says evidence indicates the boy was expelled as retaliation for his parents speaking up about their child’s dress being removed. The Arlington County Human Rights Commission’s Executive Director has been authorized to initiate “conciliation efforts” between the parties.
Earlier: An Arlington couple is accusing a local daycare of discrimination, saying their young son was kicked out for wearing a dress.
Kristen Johnson and Robin Crabb say their son had been wearing a dress to his daycare, the Arlington Children’s Center near Rosslyn, for several weeks when trouble suddenly broke out in November 2015. Arlington Children’s Center has not responded to ARLnow’s multiple requests for comment, but Johnson and Crabb shared their recollection of the events.
Johnson says last year she went to pick up her then-three-year-old son from daycare when she noticed he was not wearing his dress — which was in the style of Elsa’s dress in the animated movie “Frozen” — over his pants and shirt, as he had been when he was dropped off that morning. When her son said the dress had been taken off of him, Johnson questioned daycare employees about why that had happened.
At first she thought perhaps her son had gotten the dress dirty and staff therefore had to remove it. But staff told Johnson that the daycare center’s owner saw the boy wearing the dress and instructed staff to take it off.
“A teacher said [the owner] was irate when she saw my son wearing a dress,” Johnson says. “My son was essentially kicked out because he was wearing dress.”
She points out that although the boy had been wearing a shirt and pants under the dress because it was cold outside, the dress reportedly was taken off of him in front of the other children at the daycare.
“I said no one should take my son’s clothes off until they talk to my husband or myself first,” Johnson says.
An employee reportedly returned the dress to Johnson in a plastic bag but did not provide any additional information. Johnson requested to speak with the owner and staff said the owner would call her. Johnson says although she became angry at the lack of answers to her repeated questions about why the dress had been removed, she realized she wasn’t making progress and left the daycare without becoming disruptive.
Johnson says once she got home she called the daycare and spoke with the director. She recalls that the director also did not answer questions about the dress removal and told Johnson she would have to speak with the daycare’s owner. Johnson admits becoming frustrated at that point and hanging up on the director. “It was not my best moment, but I did it,” she says.
She received a call from the owner shortly thereafter. The conversation quickly became “animated,” according to Johnson and her husband, Crabb, who joined the call when Johnson grew agitated. The couple repeatedly asked the owner if she instructed staff to remove the dress just because it was on a boy. The owner repeatedly stated that the center had a policy against long dresses for safety reasons. But Crabb believes the owner’s animated response to the questions indicates otherwise.
“If somebody violates a policy against long dresses, you don’t have an emotional reaction like that. You just say they’re not allowed to,” he says.
After more discussion about the long dress policy, the owner reportedly told the couple not to bring their son to the daycare again or employees would call police. The owner told the couple that the boy was expelled because of Johnson’s interactions with staff after discovering the dress had been removed.
Johnson says the expulsion is unjustified on those grounds because she was not inappropriate or aggressive with anyone, other than hanging up on the one employee. She says parents and staff who witnessed her at the daycare center on the day of the dress removal have attested to her appropriate behavior during the incident.
Although the daycare does indeed have a “no long dresses” rule, Crabb and Johnson say, they had never been warned that their son was violating the policy prior to this incident. Additionally, they say that the vague rule does not even state exactly where on a child’s body dresses are allowed to reach or what constitutes a violation.
The boy received the dress as a hand-me-down gift from one of the girls at the daycare. She reportedly had worn the dress at the center on more than one occasion without any repercussions. In fact, the girl was wearing the dress in a photo featured on the daycare’s website (above left).
Crabb and Johnson point out that the dress was longer on the girl than it was on their son; it reached nearly to the girl’s ankles but only mid-calf on the boy (above right). They say other girls also wore dresses longer than their son’s without reprimand, as seen in another photo from the center’s website (below right).
Crabb and Johnson are certain their son was discriminated against for wearing non-gender conforming clothing and took their case to the Arlington County Human Rights Commission earlier this year. The commission investigated the case but did not rule in Crabb and Johnson’s favor.
A spokesperson for the Arlington County Office of Human Rights told ARLnow that all matters it investigates are confidential and it will not discuss them with anyone except the parties directly involved.
The commission’s ruling in the discrimination case was based on a number of factors, according to its final written report. One factor is that the parents did not inform the daycare that their son might have a “gender identity issue.” The commission also decided the dress in question was not related to his gender identity because it is a “costume dress,” and it cited insufficient evidence that the boy wore dresses outside of daycare.
County Manager on Buck Property — County staff have “made no recommendations for any specific function” at the to-be-acquired Buck property near Washington-Lee High School, the county said in a press release this morning. Nearby residents have launched a petition against a proposal to use the property for school bus operations. Said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwarz: “Our ability to provide essential services is only as good as the facilities we have to support them. As our population continues to grow, our services will either deteriorate or cost the taxpayer more without adequate support facilities.” [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Employee Struck By SUV — A fundraiser for a Mad Rose Tavern employee run over by an SUV raised more than $5,000 last night, the restaurant’s manager said on Facebook. Victoria Gonzalez, 34, is still in the hospital, preparing to begin rehabilitation. The next court appearance for the DUI suspect in the case is scheduled for Nov. 17. [WJLA]
Bowl’d to Introduce Breakfast — Healthy fast casual eatery Bowl’d (1028 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon is introducing weekend breakfast service from 9 a.m. to noon, starting this Saturday. Bowl’d founder Allen Reed says the restaurant will be “giving away breakfast tacos, greek yogurt bowls and hot breakfast bowls to the first 150 people who come through our doors this weekend.”
Talento to Bring New Perspective to School Board — Democrat Tannia Talento, who’s running unopposed for Arlington School Board, says she wants to bring “the perspective of the working parent” to the Board. Another unique perspective: Talento said economic and family issues prevented her from getting a college degree. Talento says her priorities on the Board will be dealing with the growing student population, improving access to mental health services and narrowing the achievement gap. [InsideNova]
Arlington Lauded for LGBTQ Protections — “Arlington has been named one of 37 American ‘All-Star Cities‘ acclaimed for their high standard of inclusiveness toward their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities.” [Arlington County]
Innovative Companies in Crystal City — Business publication Bisnow says the following are “five disruptive companies establishing Crystal City as [a] nexus of innovation:” Lyft, TMSOFT, OrcaVue, Polynox Solutions and FourStay. [Bisnow]
Update at 1:20 p.m. — The missing boy was found around 1 p.m., according to police. He was located on the roof of Williamsburg Middle School.
Earlier: Arlington County Police are calling in resources from Virginia State Police to help search for a missing 12-year-old boy.
Police say Eli Check, 12, was last seen early this morning at his home on the 3400 block of N. Emerson Street, near Williamsburg Middle School in the Rock Spring neighborhood.
Check, who is transgender and identifies as male, was last seen dying his hair black, according to police.
“We’re worried about his safety,” said ACPD spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson.
At least one K-9 unit is involved in the search of the neighborhood around the boy’s home, Benson confirmed. Police are also asking for the public’s help.
From a press release issued shortly after noon today:
The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating a 12 year old boy. Eli Check of Arlington, was last seen at his home in the 3400 block of N. Emerson St. at 2 a.m. on Monday, October 24, 2016.
Eli was last seen in his home dying his hair black. He is white, weighing 85 lbs. and is 5’0″ tall. He may be wearing light colored blue jeans with multiple, multi colored patches on the legs.
Eli is transgender, female to male, and it is possible he may present as a female. Eli’s legal name is Eliana Check.
Anyone who has information about Eli is asked to call the Arlington County Police Department immediately at 703-558-2222.
Gun Store Has New Owner — Lyon Park gun store Nova Armory has reportedly been sold to one of its employees. Shawn Poulin, the store’s manager, says he is now also its majority owner. The previous owner, Dennis Pratte, at one point claimed that the store was actually owned by his 16-year-old daughter. Poulin says the store is profitable and he plans to expand it to a second floor, “with a showroom to feature rifles, tactical gear and an expanded clothing line.” [Washington Post]
New Bishop for Arlington — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is getting a new bishop. Bishop Michael Burbidge, 59, is transferring to Arlington from Raleigh, N.C. Burbridge is scheduled to be installed as bishop on Dec. 6, replacing current bishop Paul Loverde, 76. Some local Catholics have been pushing for a new bishop who will take the diocese in a different direction than Loverde, a traditionalist who decried the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. Burbridge was critical of North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom” law, which was seen as anti-LGBT, though he was also against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte that HB2 was intended to undo. [Fox 5, InsideNova]
The Evolution of Ballston — GGW takes a look at the past, present and future of Ballston. The article notes that Ballston was once the end of the Orange Line and that ridership at the station fell in the 1980s when the line was extended to Vienna. [Greater Greater Washington]
Immigrant Women to Protest at DCA — Immigrant women and labor union allies are planning a protest at Reagan National Airport today. They’ll be protesting the treatment of immigrant women who work at the airport, claiming poor working conditions for immigrant mothers in particular. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
Virginia tourism officials have started a new marketing push to bring more LGBT travelers to the Commonwealth.
Virginia Tourism Corp. yesterday announced it has a new LGBT travel website, which notes that “Virginia is for all Lovers.”
Visitors to the website can find LGBT-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, wineries, breweries and attractions. The site also has a “Virginia is for Lovers Pride Shop” with hats, pins and T-shirts for sale.
“Virginia is proud to be an open and welcoming destination for every visitor attracted by our scenic mountains and beaches, as well as our world-renowned restaurants, wineries and breweries,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “I am pleased the Virginia Tourism Corporation has created this landing page to connect travelers with inclusive, LGBT-friendly establishments across the Commonwealth.”
The website came out of recommendations from the LGBT Tourism Task Force, which McAuliffe put together last year.
Members of the LGBT community make up about 5 percent of Virginia tourists, according to Virginia Tourism Corp. They also take longer trips to Virginia and spend more money in the Commonwealth than all other visitors there, the tourism authority noted.
“A vacation in Virginia is all about doing the things you love to do with the ones that you love, and we are thrilled to offer this new resource for the LGBT community, their friends, and their families, to help them plan the perfect vacation in Virginia,” Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., said in a statement.
Image via Virginia Tourism Corp.
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By: Delegate Alfonso Lopez
Over the past several years, Democrats have won every Virginia statewide elected office.
In presidential elections, the Commonwealth has become a bellwether state. The competitive nature of Virginia’s statewide political campaigns is, however, largely absent in the Virginia House of Delegates, where, with 66 Republicans and 34 Democratic legislators, political gerrymandering has created a body that is anything but representative of the Commonwealth.
The consequences of a House that is unrepresentative of the Commonwealth as a whole is ideologically-driven legislation that is harmful to Virginia.
Just this week, the House passed HB773 with the Orwellian title – “The Government Nondiscrimination Act.” This bill actually does just the opposite. It allows non-government entities to discriminate against others based upon that entity’s religious beliefs as they relate to same-sex marriage, the transgender community, and even sex outside of marriage.
Under this bill, private companies, universities, and non-profits could refuse to work with individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without any repercussions to state contracts, funding, accreditation, or licensure. Simply put, the state would not be allowed to stop discrimination.
The bill passed on a 56-41 vote.
You read that correctly. In 2016, a sizable House majority still wants to embrace and enshrine discrimination in the Code of Virginia.
It is the will of the House to require the Commonwealth to continue providing contracts, tax exemptions and state funding to support discrimination. Accredited private universities could deny admission or degrees to Virginians based on their sexual orientation.
While Governor McAuliffe has issued an executive order banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, he would become powerless to prevent the Commonwealth from supporting entities that discriminate on this basis in Virginia.
This is not the message we should be sending as a Commonwealth. Instead of protecting Virginians from discrimination, their state would be required to support it.
It appears that the real reason supporters pushed this bill through the House is so that social conservatives can send a message to their base during a Presidential election year and prior to the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries.
They think little of how this type of legislation makes Virginia appear unwelcoming and hostile to people and businesses who might be considering relocating here.
If we want to make sure that Virginia is open for business and to create a new Virginia economy less dependent on federal spending, do we really want to fall into the traps that other states have fallen into when they pursued similar legislation?
General Electric, Apple, Salesforce.com, Eli Lilly, Lyft, Twitter, WalMart, and AirBnB are examples of companies that have spoken out against similar bills in other states.
Advisory Board Wants Birthday Cake Banned from Schools — Student birthday celebrations are getting out of hand in Arlington Public Schools, with too many sugary treats being consumed as a result. That’s the view of the Student Health Advisory Board, which made its case to the School Board last week. Some individual schools in Arlington have banned birthday celebrations or, at least, sweet birthday treats. The overall school system, however, does not currently have a formal policy on the matter. [InsideNova]
Del. Hope Wants to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has introduced a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in Virginia. Practitioners of the controversial “therapy” claim that it can change the sexual orientation of individuals from homosexual to heterosexual. [Washington Blade]
The Corner Tex-Mix Lives? — Despite being pronounced dead by ARLnow and Google, it appears that The Corner Tex-Mix at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive was open last night, at least for a short period of time. A tipster said lights were on and an employee answered the phone and confirmed they were open, shortly before a power outage sent everyone home. The county health department confirmed to ARLnow this morning that there have been no health code violations that would have closed the restaurant temporarily. The tipster said The Corner Tex-Mix seems to just be keeping “odd hours.” [ARLnow]
‘WeLive’ Apartments to Feature Free Cleaning, Sunday Supper — Details of a new apartment building in Manhattan from co-working company WeWork have been released, and they’re likely to also apply to the company’s second “WeLive” building, in Crystal City. The apartments will be fully furnished and will have cable TV, monthly cleaning and a communal Sunday supper included, among other amenities. [UrbanTurf]
$5 Ribs from Texas Jack’s Barbecue — Ribs at the recently-opened Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Lyon Park will cost you around $5. As in, nearly five bucks per rib. The restaurant, in the former Tallula and EatBar space, features a menu of smoked meat created by Executive Chef Matt Lang, winner of the Food Network’s Best in Smoke 2011 and formerly of Hill Country Barbecue in D.C. [DCist]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline Approaches — The deadline to vote in Virginia’s March 1 presidential primary is Monday, Feb. 8. On the GOP side, the election will feature a somewhat controversial loyalty pledge requested by the state party. “Voters who wish to vote in the Republican Primary must first sign the following non-binding statement, which is permitted under § 24.2-545.A of the Code of Virginia: ‘My signature below indicates that I am a Republican,'” county officials note. In-person absentee voting, meanwhile, starts Friday. [Arlington County]
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Twice — The Washington-Lee girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams both defeated their Yorktown counterparts yesterday, in cross-county rivalry games. The girls won 54-45, while the boys won 65-59.
Branson-Backed Startup Coming to Rosslyn — OneWeb, a startup that’s aiming to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites that will provide affordable Internet access across the globe, is coming to Rosslyn. The company, backed by Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson, will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in Monday Properties’ 1400 Key Blvd building. The building, which is also home to ARLnow.com, is slated to replaced with an apartment tower and grocery store at some point, though it’s unclear when the redevelopment will move forward. [Washington Business Journal]
Reminder: Get Rid of Dry Christmas Trees — The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents that dry Christmas trees are a big fire hazard. The county is currently in the midst of its annual Christmas tree collection. [Twitter]
A-SPAN Kudos for Paisano’s — Paisano’s Pizza saved the day for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after A-SPAN’s planned hot dinner for its homeless clients fell through at the last minute. Paisano’s delivered pasta, salad and garlic bread on a cold night and on short notice. [Facebook]
Levine Proposes LGBT Rights Bills — Yesterday we reported on three LGBT rights bills proposed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Delegate-elect Mark Levine (D), who represents part of South Arlington and Alexandria, has proposed several such bills of his own. Among them are bills prohibiting employment, housing and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Levine was formerly legislative counsel to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). [Washington Blade]
TransportationCamp DC Coming to GMU — George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host the 5th annual TransportationCamp DC gathering on Saturday. The “un-conference” will discuss various transportation, technology and mobility issues. More than 400 “thought leaders, young professionals, and students from around the country” are expected to attend. [TransportationCamp]
Thank You to Crystal City Rotary Club — Thank you to the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club for a hearty breakfast this morning. ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck spoke to the group about his experience running a small business that happens to be Arlington’s most-read local news outlet. ARLnow.com will celebrate its sixth anniversary on Jan. 29.
In a press release, the county said that it received perfect marks for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender protections, but was held back on overall rankings due to restrictive state laws.
From Arlington County:
The County received a score of 87 out of 100 in this year’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) issued by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. The annual report card graded 408 localities across the nation, measuring the effectiveness of state and local laws in achieving inclusivity.
Arlington won perfect scores for ensuring that LGBT constituents receive the fullest measure of County services, law enforcement efforts and outreach. It also received bonus points for having openly LGBT officials and for being “pro-equality despite restrictive state laws.”
County Board member Jay Fisette says Arlington’s high score in the MEI “validates us as a community that not only espouses a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, but applies those values in real ways that make a difference in people’s lives.” The index also shows, however, “that there’s still plenty of work to do to protect each and every Virginian.”
Although 47 jurisdictions in the United States achieved overall perfect scores, Virginia can claim none. Arlington and the eight other participating local governments in the Commonwealth were held back by a lack of state protections in areas such as transgender benefits for employees.
The so-called Dillon Rule prevents localities in Virginia from acting on those issues in which authority is not expressly granted by the General Assembly.
Fisette was the first openly gay elected official in state history.
There are currently no statewide laws in the Commonwealth that prevent discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sen. Barbara Favola (D) sponsored the bill, SB 799, which failed by a 7-6 vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee last week.
Another local state Senator, Janet Howell (D), serves on the committee and voted to pass, along with five other Democrats. “No” votes by the seven Republicans on the committee doomed the bill before it reached the Senate floor.
If it had passed, the bill would have given crimes directed at people because of sexual orientation or gender identification the same protections under state law as those directed because of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin.
Favola’s bill was one of several proposed by Arlington legislators aimed at increasing protections for the gay and transgender communities. Del. Patrick Hope introduced HB 1385, which would make conversion therapy — interventions and efforts to change one’s sexual orientation — illegal when conducted on someone under 18 years old. That bill is in subcommittee in the House of Delegates Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Virginia’s first openly gay state legislator, has a number of bills on the matter, including one officially striking down Virginia’s state prohibition on same sex marriages and civil unions. Even though the state Supreme Court has ruled that same sex marriage is legal in Virginia, the state’s laws still do not reflect that.
Ebbin has also introduced bills to replace “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” in the state code and to prohibit discrimination in the public sector when considering gay and transgender job applicants.
IOTA Club & Cafe, a music venue and restaurant at 2832 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, will begin hosting “LGBT and Straight Friends Social Night” every Tuesday.
Starting next week on Aug. 5, patrons 21 and over, gay or straight, are encouraged to come to the cafe for a night of unity. There’s no cover charge — IOTA frequently requires tickets purchased at the door for its Tuesday night shows — and IOTA says it will stay open until 1:00 a.m. or later.
“We’re making a commitment to the LGBT community by making our Tuesdays a weekly social for LGBTs and their straight friends at IOTA,” co-owner Stephen Negrey said in a press release. “Why not? This will be great fun and maybe even productive.”
Negrey and his sister Jane Negrey Inge have co-owned IOTA since they opened it in 1994 as a music venue. Since then, they’ve expanded to serve coffee and espresso during the day and “smasher” sandwiches. The club also announced there would be “Mikey’s ‘Bar A’ Video Wall” to entertain guests during the socials.
“In planning this new weekly event at IOTA,” Inge said, “I’m trying to lighten up and not imagine arty or intellectual rumination, cultural connection and the like.”
Inge said in the announcement that she hopes local LGBT advocacy groups will partner with them in the future.
“It seems the LGBT community and their straight friends might benefit from a reliable place and a routine time to cross-pollinate,” Inge said. “We hope people will come IOTA on Tuesdays to party and meet people working on LGBT events.”
An Arlington County police officer has become a viral sensation after he was photographed, in uniform, kissing his boyfriend in front of Westboro Baptist Church protesters at the Capital Pride Parade earlier this month.
Officer D.J. Stalter was one of three Arlington officers participating in the parade when he was snapped holding a rainbow flag and smooching boyfriend Mark Raimondo along the parade route. That alone was not overly remarkable, but it was the background of the photo that helped it gain international attention: Westboro Baptist Church members can be seen behind Stalter and Raimondo, holding offensive signs decrying gay marriage and homosexuality.
Headlines on Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail (U.K.) and elsewhere applauded Stalter for appearing to stand up to intolerance. “A Cop At D.C. Pride Kissed His Boyfriend to Piss Off the Westboro Baptist Church,” “A Defiant Police Officer Kissed His Boyfriend in Front of a Westboro Baptist Church Protest,” and “A Brave Cop Turned the Westboro Baptist Church’s Hate Into an Inspiring Kodak Moment,” were some of the headlines.
ACPD Lt. Kip Malcolm, who was walking the parade route with Stalter, said the kiss, which took place near the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and R Street NW, wasn’t necessarily meant to provoke the protesters.
“A lot of people in the LGBT community thought it was defiance, but my thought it was more about affection and celebrating the moment,” he said. “The crowd cheered and they were excited to see that ability to display that affection. The fact that we’re in a day and age where a uniformed officer can walk in the parade hand and hand with his partner is a big step.”
Arlington County Police officials declined to say whether Stalter faced any reprimand or disciplinary action for the photo seen ’round the world, saying that it does not comment on personnel matters. But the department currently has no formal policy regarding public displays of affection.
“There hasn’t been any negative feedback for the department that I know of,” Malcolm said, of the photo. “Common sense would say be tactful and mindful, but I don’t think a kiss among two gay officers at a gay pride parade is too shocking. Just like a heterosexual couple out at dinner kissing is not something we’d frown upon.
Arlington Police Chief Doug Scott said he supports the department’s participation in the parade — it’s part of a larger LGBT outreach effort — but in the future he might seek to avoid photos of uniformed officers engaged in public displays of affection.
“Unequivocally, I have supported our participation… in the parade,” Scott told ARLnow.com. “I applaud the officers in our agency that want to participate in that way. The issue of the photo did raise some concerns…. do we need a policy of public displays of affection for officers in uniform?”
Scott said such photos “could affect the professional image of law enforcement” and there’s been “kind of an unwritten rule for some time” against PDA while in uniform. He said a review will be conducted to see if the department should codify that rule.
Regardless, Scott said he will continue to support the involvement of uniformed Arlington officers and police vehicles in the pride parade.
“I would just like to reemphasize the point that our agency is very progressive,” said Scott. “Our participation is one that I personally support, that the community supports and that our County Board supports.”
Greg Greeley is not your typical suburban School Board candidate. A single gay man, a father of two adopted boys, and an Air Force veteran, Greeley breaks the mold in more ways than one.
This might be big news elsewhere in the country. In Arlington, however, Greeley is just running to succeed another mold-breaker.
Greeley, a Douglas Park resident, filed to run to replace Sally Baird on the School Board earlier this month. If elected, Greeley would be Arlington’s first openly gay male School Board member, replacing Baird, Virginia’s first openly lesbian elected official. (Like Greeley, Baird also has two sons.)
Greeley has served as chair of the “Planning and Capacity Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs” and as treasurer of the Randolph Elementary School PTA, among other volunteer positions with school organizations.
The 49-year-old Democrat has already received endorsements from state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and is prepping for a door-knocking campaign before the Democratic caucus in May. Greeley, a federal government contractor and project manager, is primarily focused on capacity and facility issues — building and renovating schools to keep up with Arlington’s burgeoning student population — since it’s where he thinks the School Board needs the most improvement.
“I want us to make better decisions about how to deal with the capacity crunch,” he told ARLnow.com this morning. “The tipping point [in my decision to run] was last summer when the North Arlington elementary schools were dealing with boundary changes. It was really a painful public process.”
As a member of the capacity subcommittee, and the boundary liaison to Nottingham Elementary School during the process, he said he kept seeing reasons to run for the Board.
“As I got more involved in the facilities,” he said, “I saw more things I wanted to change.”
Greeley has never run for office before, but he has experience in helping change happen. He served four years in the Air Force — which he called “a great experience” — before applying for discharge because, as he put it, “I was too out to stay in.”
“I’ve always wanted to lead the life I wanted to live,” he said. He explained that that’s why, in 2002, he adopted his first son, Kolya, from the Ukraine as an 18 month old. “I hit my mid-30s and decided I wanted to have a family.”
Greeley doesn’t worry about convincing voters that he’s a capable, qualified School Board candidate despite his status as a gay single parent.
“That’s why I like living here,” he said. “People here are open and accepting. It wasn’t always this way. There was lots of pushback in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and we weren’t welcome in the political scene. Now we’re just part of the community.”