Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Arlington Man Accused Of Abusing Boy — “A teacher at Anne Beers Elementary School in Southeast Washington has been charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old student between December 2016 and April 2017, according to police and documents filed in court. David Christopher Noble, 46, of Arlington, Va., was arrested Monday and charged in an indictment with several sex abuse counts and with threatening the boy and his family.” [Washington Post]

Big Raise for Arlington Startup — “Enterprise software company Stardog announced Tuesday morning that it had raised $9 million of a Series B round to expand its product offerings as well as its engineering, customer success, sales and marketing teams. The Arlington, Virginia-based maker of an enterprise data unification platform secured the funding in a round led by New York City-based venture capital firm Tenfore Holdings.” [Technically DC]

Scams Still Targeting Local Residents — “ACPD is warning the public about two telephone scams targeting area residents… learn about the outstanding warrant scam and a scam referencing Dominion Energy and ways to protect yourself.” [Twitter]

Generator Work in Courthouse This Weekend — “Generator replacement at Justice Center means no parking/sidewalk access on 14th Street between N Troy and N Courthouse Road. Expect early a.m. noise for crane set-up… This work was rescheduled from last weekend for this coming Saturday, Nov. 2.” [Twitter]

Wardian Wants to Go Full Gump Next Year — Newly-minted MCM50K champ Michael Wardian “has participated in more than 250 marathons and another 150 ultramarathons. His longest distance thus far is a 400K (nearly 250 miles) through the Gobi Desert that was self-navigated and took him four days… Next year, he hopes to run across the continental United States, but don’t compare him to Forrest Gump; he says he’s heard that one a few too many times.” [Arlington Magazine]

Four Percent of Nuptials in Va. Are Same-Sex — “Same-sex couples have made up one of every 26 marriages in Virginia since such unions were legalized in the commonwealth in 2014.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Marymount University main house during Christmastime (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

Man Found Dead in Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse — A middle-aged man was found dead in the bathroom at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Crystal City Monday afternoon. The restaurant was closed and the man was found by a cleaning crew. Arlington County police say the death is not considered suspicious. [WTOP, Fox 5]

Same-Sex Marriage Rate Falls — So far in 2016, only 1.9 percent of the more than 3,600 marriage licenses issued by the Arlington Circuit Court were issued to same-sex couples. That compares to 5.3 percent from June to December 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally. The first same-sex marriage in Arlington took place in Oct. 2014. [InsideNova]

Morning Rush Hour Crash on I-395 — Several lanes of northbound I-395 were blocked near Shirlington Circle this morning due to a crash. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Reunited With Trophy — Arlington resident Larry Funkhouser has been reunited with a high school baseball trophy he won 50 years ago but had since lost. Thanks to a post on the “I grew up in Arlington” Facebook page, the trophy was located at an antique shop in Purcellville and delivered to Funkhouser just in time for Christmas. [Fox 5]

Arlington’s Family Christmas Miracle — An Arlington couple’s two-year-old has become only the fifth child in the country to receive an auditory brainstem implant surgery. As a result of the procedure, which is in a clinical trial, the child, who was born deaf, can now hear. [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Adam Ebbin and Alfonso Lopez before Arlington's first same-sex marriage on 10/6/14State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) is trying again to codify some basic LGBTQ rights in Virginia.

Ebbin has proposed three bills to the General Assembly regarding same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights — bills very similar to the three that were rejected during last year’s legislative session. They were all defeated in their respective committees.

One bill would repeal the amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that defines valid or recognized marriages as “only a union between a man and a woman.” It also prohibits the creation or recognition of other legal relationship statuses — including partnerships and unions — that are assigned the same rights and benefits as marriages. This amendment was approved by voters during the November 2006 election, but declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2014.

Another Ebbin bill would repeal two pieces of state law that prohibit same-sex marriages and civil unions. The statute prohibiting marriage between individuals of the same sex and considering such marriages conducted in another state void was first enacted in 1975. The statute that does the same for civil unions was passed in 2004.

The final bill would amend the Virginia Human Rights Act by prohibiting public employers from discriminating against potential employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Furthermore, this bill would ensure pregnancy, childbirth/related medical conditions, marital status and status as a veteran are also included under the anti-discrimination section of the law. Race, color, religion, political affiliation, age, disability and national origin are already protected under this law.

These bill proposals were reintroduced to the state legislature approximately six months after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. Various Arlington officials spoke out after the ruling, supporting the decision.

Ebbin — who became the first openly gay state legislator elected in Virginia in 2003 — could not be reached for comment on his proposals. All three are currently in committee for consideration.

Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly legislative session is scheduled to last for 60 days, beginning on Jan. 13 and ending on March 12.

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Morning Notes

Apartment building in Pentagon City at sunset

Same-Sex Marriage Stats in Arlington — One in nine marriage license applications in Arlington — 11 percent of the total — have been from same-sex couples since October, according to Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson. The first legal same-sex marriage in Arlington took place on Oct. 6, 2014. [InsideNova]

Disease False Alarm at Lubber Run — County officials were informed last week that two children in a preschool program at Lubber Run Community Center had been diagnosed with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. In response, parents of children in the preschool and a daycare program at the center were notified, toys and surfaces in facility were disinfected, and toys that could not be disinfected were thrown away. Within a day, however, county officials say they were told that the diagnosis was wrong and that the children did not, in fact, have the disease.

Sweet Leaf Now Open in Ballston — The Sweet Leaf Cafe at 650 N. Quincy Street in Ballston opened last week. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., according to owner Arita Matini.

Storytime with Caps Player at Library — Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr stopped by the Westover Branch Library Monday night for a reading of his new children’s book, The Bulliest Dozer. Fehr signed books, hockey sticks and at least one library card. [Arlington Public Library]

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Morning Notes

Rainy fall day in Bluemont Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Civ Fed Votes Against Tall Buildings — The Arlington County Civic Federation has voted to urge the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt stricter rules regarding skyscrapers around airports. Such a rule, intended as a safety measure in the event a plane suffers an engine failure on takeoff, could impose a moratorium on future tall buildings in Crystal City and Rosslyn. [InsideNova]

Walk and Bike to School Day — Arlington Public Schools participated in International Walk and Bike to School Day this morning. Students and parents across the county ditched their cars and made their way to school on foot. [Arlington Public Schools]

Man Steals Skinny Jeans from Mall — A 33-year-old D.C. man has been charged with stealing numerous pairs of skinny jeans from the Hollister store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. The alleged crime happened Tuesday afternoon. [NBC Washington]

Slow Start for Gay Marriage in Arlington — Only five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in Arlington in the 24 hours following the Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Virginia and a number of other states. Among Virginia jurisdictions, Arlington grants the third-most marriage licenses per year. [InsideNova]

Fairfax Approves Streetcar Design Funds — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved its $4.2 million share of design and program costs for the Columbia Pike streetcar on Tuesday. The Board voted 7-2. Arlington County already approved its share of design funds. The Pike streetcar will run from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Following a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning, a same-sex couple became the first to legally receive a marriage license and get married in Arlington.

Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson quickly approved the couple’s application for a marriage license, and the women then took part in a wedding ceremony outside the Arlington County Courthouse.

“It’s wonderful to be able to stand here today and perform this ceremony,” said Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles, a minister at Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, who has been performing same-sex unions for more than 20 years. “The Commonwealth of Virginia agrees with us that every person has worth and dignity and that love matters no matter what your sexual orientation is. We all have the right to be married to the person we love.”

Newlyweds Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop both are 26 years old and live in Centreville. They have been together for four years and planned on getting married in the District next year. They traveled to Arlington immediately upon learning of the court decision this morning because they heard an officiant may be available to perform a ceremony. They had no idea they were the first same-sex couple to request a marriage license in Arlington until they arrived.

“Not everyone in the United States has this opportunity,” said Turner, referencing the states where same-sex couples still cannot legally wed.

Ferguson noted some changes to the state-approved marriage application.

“Now, instead of saying ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ it says ‘spouse’ and ‘spouse,'” Ferguson said. “When we got the word this morning, we were not prepared for this. But we’re doing our best to prepare now and welcome anybody that would like a marriage license to please come to Arlington. At this point, we can process it in the next 15 minutes or so. But if we get big crowds there could be a little bit of a wait.”

Ferguson explained that same-sex couples now will go through the same process to request marriage licenses as all other couples. They can go to the sixth floor of the county courthouse, pay $30, fill out an application, take an oath and then get married within the next 60 days. No appointments are necessary and applicants are attended to on a first-come, first-served basis. The Commonwealth also will recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring spent part of the afternoon in Arlington to speak about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages in Virginia and four other states.

“This is the outcome that we have hoped for. It is the outcome we have fought for. And it is the outcome the Constitution requires,” said Herring to a crowd in front of the Arlington County Courthouse. “The rights and privileges of marriage, which are guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution, are now available to all loving, committed couples in Virginia.”

Herring explained that the court’s action would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, file joint tax returns, share employer benefits and make medical decisions for each other.

“Simply put, this ruling allows all Virginians to be full members of our society, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage,” he said. “A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through. All Virginians have a constitutional right to be treated fairly and to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward. This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history.”

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LGBT rainbow flag (image via Wikipedia)(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) The U.S. Supreme Court has denied appeals from five states — including Virginia — seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages.

The court decided not to review decisions that struck down gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana. The action immediately ends delays on same-sex marriages, which took effect in Virginia in August when the court issued a stay.

According to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who has supported reversing the state’s gay marriage ban, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a mandate at 1:00 p.m. and same-sex marriages can begin at that time. Virginia also will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Herring, who will be speaking at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse, issued the following statement.

A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through.

All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.

This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.

State Senator Adam Ebbin also took to Twitter, saying same-sex marriages in Virginia now are “imminent.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court decision:

This is a historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country. On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision. Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.

I applaud all of the Virginians who gave so much time and effort in the fight for equality, and congratulate my friend Attorney General Mark Herring on this important victory for justice and equal treatment under the law.

Equality for all men and women regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation is intrinsic to the values that make us Virginians, and now it is officially inscribed in our laws as well.

The Supreme Court did not offer an explanation for its decision and did not issue a ruling about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Rep. Jim Moran addressed the court’s lack of a nationwide decision in a statement.

This is a momentous day for Virginia and for all who believe in equality under the law. This decision affirms the right of all people to pursue happiness, the most basic example of which is the ability to marry and share your life with the person you love.

Still, it is disappointing that the Court has delayed a final decision on a federal right to marriage equality. Legalized discrimination anywhere is wrong. The Court was right to affirmatively strike down DOMA a year ago, and now it is time to end the uncertainty so many couples are forced to live with and guarantee marriage equality throughout the country.

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Arlington County's courthouse and police headquarters

Update at 3:20 p.m. — The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Arlington will not be able to grant marriage licenses unless the Supreme Court either declines to take further action or considers and then upholds the ruling.

Update at 4:40 p.m. — Paul Ferguson has issued a statement: “I am disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision but remain hopeful that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling will ultimately be upheld. Our office will be prepared to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples whenever that time comes.”

Earlier: Arlington officials are preparing to issue what could be the state’s first same sex marriage licenses tomorrow (Thursday).

Unless a stay is issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson says he will start taking applications and issuing licenses to same sex couples at 8:00 a.m.

The applications will be taken on the 6th floor of the Arlington County Courthouse (1425 N. Courthouse Road), but in light of the fact that cameras are not allowed inside the courthouse, Ferguson will also administer oaths outside.

“Since cameras are not allowed, I will administer oaths to those couples who want to be filmed/interviewed outside of the courthouse,” Ferguson told ARLnow.com today. “Also, there will be ministers and civil celebrants outside the courthouse ready to perform marriages for those who would like to get married immediately after receiving the license.”

Arlington County is expecting a large media presence for the event. From 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., the police department is planning to shut down N. Courthouse Road between 14th and 15th Streets to allow for television truck parking.

Arlington will not be joined tomorrow by Arlington’s neighbor Fairfax County, whose clerk, John T. Frey, told RestonNow.com that he would not issue same sex marriage licenses until the court case was “a done deal.” If no stay is ordered, Ferguson said he’s not sure how big of a crowd to expect in his office tomorrow.

“We have redeployed staff from other sections of the office and will do our best to serve people as promptly as possible,” he said. “It is hard to estimate how many couples might request licenses. We have an overflow room for people to wait that is comfortable. I am guessing it will be a festive atmosphere with couples visiting with other couples who are waiting.”

Despite the planning, there’s a chance it could all be for naught, at least for a while.

Following the ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals last week that same sex marriages could begin first thing Thursday morning, state Attorney General Mark Herring requested a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court until it rules fully on the case to strike down the state’s constitutional amendment ban on same sex marriage.

“A stay is warranted,” Herring said in a press release, “in light of the negative impact on Virginia children, families, and businesses if the Supreme Court eventually rules against marriage equality and forces an unwinding of Virginians’ marriages, adoptions, inheritances, or workplace benefits.”

Chief Justice John Roberts has yet to issue a decision.

Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette married his longtime partner, Bob Rosen, last fall, and told ARLnow.com from his office last week that even he was stunned with how quickly the momentum toward legal same sex marriages has grown.

“The pace of this evolution has been remarkable and rewarding,” Fisette said. “In my view, it’s just a matter of time. There’s now an inevitability around marriage equality, as there should be.”

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LGBT rainbow flag (image via Wikipedia)(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Same-sex marriages could begin next week in Arlington and the rest of Virginia, following this afternoon’s decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond not to delay its ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The court denied a request to stay the decision while it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes in the next few days, same-sex couples may begin marrying in Virginia next week. State Attorney General Mark Herring’s office tells ARLnow.com licenses can start being issued next Wednesday (August 20), unless the Supreme Court issues a stay.

“Throughout this process, we have fought for the principle of equality, moving the case forward in a swift and orderly way. That is why I have asked the Supreme Court to review the case to quickly and definitively resolve the issue for the Commonwealth and all the states,” said Herring in a written statement. “No one anticipated we would be this close this quickly to the day when all Virginians have the right to marry the person they love. That will be a historic day for our Commonwealth and a joyous day for thousands of loving couples.”

Arlington’s Clerk of the Circuit Court is prepared to issue licenses starting on Wednesday.

“If the Supreme Court of the United States does not intervene, the 4th Circuit decision stands and Arlington would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson told ARLnow.com today.

When asked last month how his office would handle a possible influx of same-sex marriage applications, Ferguson said he and his staff “will do our best to accommodate applicants in a timely manner.”

Last month, the court ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

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Morning Notes

Decorated signals in Ballston

APS Still Looking for Teachers — Officials with Arlington Public Schools are still searching for teachers for the 2014-2015 school year, which is only about three weeks away. APS would like about 75 more new teachers in addition to the 225 it already hired. [InsideNova]

Att’y Gen. Asks Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Case — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has, as expected, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s gay marriage case. Herring agrees with the gay marriage ban being struck down, but believes the Supreme Court should look at the case because it could set a nationwide precedent. Last month, Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson told ARLnow.com he was waiting for guidance from Herring and would begin performing gay marriages as soon as he received word they would be valid. [Daily Press]

Cemetery to Change Dates on Monument — Arlington National Cemetery has agreed to change the date on a monument to a World War II bomber crew lost in 1944. The stone monument currently shows the year 1946 — which is the year the Army officially classified the crew members as dead — but the plane went missing in 1944. Family members of the crew have been trying to get the date changed for about 12 years. [Stars and Stripes]

Central Library to Loan Garden Tools — Residents soon will be able to borrow garden tools from Central Library. A start date hasn’t yet been set because the library is still gathering gently used tool donations and signing up volunteers to assist with the program. Those interested in helping out or donating tools can get more information online. [Arlington Public Library]

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LGBT rainbow flag (image via Wikipedia)(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) If a federal appeals court ruling goes unchallenged, Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson says his office is prepared to “start issuing marriage licenses to same sex applicants immediately.”

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond upheld a lower court’s decision that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. State Sen. Adam Ebbin who represents part of Arlington and was the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, applauded the court’s decision.

“This victory for liberty is in keeping with Jefferson’s admonition that ‘laws and institutions must go hand and hand with the progress of the human mind,'” Ebbin said in a statement. “As the birthplace of America’s civil liberties, it is especially fitting that Virginia provides full equality to all of her citizens.”

The ruling will not take effect for 21 days, according to news reports, and could be put on hold indefinitely if those seeking to uphold the marriage ban are granted a stay while appealing to the full appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ferguson, who participates in an annual pro-gay marriage demonstration in Arlington, said he believes the appeals process will continue to drag out.

“From what I have heard, it is likely that a stay will be asked for and granted by the Fourth Circuit consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Utah case,” Ferguson told ARLnow.com Monday afternoon. “If the stay is granted, it is likely we will need to wait until the Supreme Court rules.”

Ferguson said he expects to receive guidance from Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, “in the near future.”

Should a stay not be granted, however, Ferguson said “the Arlington Circuit Court Clerk’s office will issue marriage licenses to same sex applicants as soon as we are certain they would be valid.”

“It is possible that the court could rule rejecting the stay sooner,” he said. Asked about the possibility of a crush of gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses, Ferguson said his office “will do our best to accommodate applicants in a timely manner.”

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