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Robert York hosting birthday charity event

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 03:14 PM PST

Robert York, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Robert York, seen here at a Miss Gay D.C. pageant, hosts Champions for Charity, a 50th birthday celebration, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 5-10 p.m.

Music is by DJ Grind, DJ Chord and DJ Twin. Brian Justin Crum, Frenchie Davis, Beth Anne Sacks and Simone Denny will make appearances.

Tickets are $25 and will benefit in full York's favorite charities including Athlete Ally, Capital Pride, Capital Trans Pride, City Dogs Rescue and City Kitties, NMAC, Trevor Project D.C. and ziMS Foundation. Host level tickets and sponsor tickets are also available.

For more details, visit champsionsforcharity.eventbrite.com.

Lawmakers demand meeting with Trump officials on anti-trans rollbacks

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 02:54 PM PST

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) is calling for a meeting with Trump officials on anti-trans rollbacks. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Decrying the rollback of transgender rights in the Trump administration, lawmakers led by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass) are seeking a meeting with civil rights officials in federal agencies “to end the current pattern of publicly-funded and government-sanctioned discrimination.”

The letter, dated Feb. 13 and obtained Monday exclusively by the Washington Blade, is addressed to the heads of eight federal departments and calls for a roundtable meeting on transgender issues with each of those agencies’ directors of the Office of Civil Rights.

Included in the letter as evidence of transgender rollbacks are the withdrawal of guidance assuring transgender kids access to school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, Trump’s transgender military ban and the Justice Department’s disavowal of Title VII protections for transgender people.

“During the first year of the this administration, transgender Americans have endured a systematic attack on their dignity, rights and freedom,” the letter says.

Specific attention is given to the creation of a Conscience & Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health & Human Services and reports the Education Department isn’t investigating transgender civil rights claims in school.

“The Trump administration should no longer encourage doctors to deny health care services to patients in need, promote an education systems that make children feel unwelcome in their own schools, allow employers to deny jobs to workers simply because of their gender identity and turn away patriots from serving in the military simply because of who they are,” the letter says.

The letter is public on the same day as a Buzzfeed report quoting a spokesperson affirming the Education Department won’t take up civil rights complaints of transgender kids who say their school is barring them from the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

Joining Kennedy, who’s chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, in signing the letter are fellow task force members Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).

The letter requests a response from the federal agencies on setting up an appointment for the roundtable meeting no longer than Feb. 23.

A House aide said the White House wasn’t included in the letter because lawmakers wanted to speak to the directors of each department's civil rights offices.

The Blade has placed a request for comment in with each of the eight federal departments on whether a meeting will be granted. State Department and Justice Department officials confirmed receipt of the letter and said a response will follow in due course.

Andrew Garfield says he has “an openness to any impulses” in his sexuality

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 11:30 AM PST

Andrew Garfield (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Andrew Garfield revealed that although he identifies as heterosexual he is “open” to sexual exploration.

Garfield, 34, spoke with Out in promotion for his 18-week run in New York City as Prior Walter, a gay man living with AIDS, in the Tony Kushner revival play “Angels in America.”

“Up until this point, I've only been sexually attracted to women," Garfield, who dated actress Emma Stone from 2011-2015, says. "My stance toward life, though, is that I always try to surrender to the mystery of not being in charge. I think most people — we're intrinsically trying to control our experience here, and manage it, and put walls around what we are and who we are. I want to know as much of the garden as possible before I pass — I have an openness to any impulses that may arise within me at any time.”

He added, "But, if I were to identify, I would identify as heterosexual, and being someone who identifies that way, and who's taking on this seminal role, my scariest thought was, Am I allowed to do this?"

Last year Garfield was slammed for saying he felt gay “without the physical act” because he was watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in preparation for the play’s London opening.

Jimmy Kimmel shows why gay wedding cake ruling is wrong with skit

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 11:10 AM PST

(Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Jimmy Kimmel used a skit on his late night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to explain why he thinks refusing to serve a customer because of religious beliefs is wrong.

A recent court decision from Kern County, California ruled in favor of a bakery owner that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it went again the owner’s Christian faith.

Kimmel took the reasoning behind that ruling and applied it in a skit where he plays a waiter in a restaurant. He refuses a signature salad to a lesbian customer because of the chef’s beliefs.

“Our salad chef today is Tony and he believes homosexuality is a sin, so he won’t be creating any of our salads for you,” Kimmel says.

“You know what? I’m not gay. I’ll order you the salad,” another patron at the table suggests.

“Oh no, you can’t do that. You can’t order for her,” Kimmel says. “Well our owner Patricia is a Wiccan priestess and she won’t allow men to order for women. She says it perpetuates the patriarchy.”

Watch below.

Arrest made in death of lesbian found shot in burning car

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 10:06 AM PST

Peter Newsham, gay news, Washington Blade

Police Chief Peter Newsham said the victim knew two men who were also murdered on the same day. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. police announced on Sunday that they have arrested a 23-year-old District man for the Dec. 28 shooting death of a lesbian whose body was found in the trunk of her burning car located in the 800 block of Adrian Street in Southeast Washington.

According to a police statement, after obtaining a D.C. Superior Court arrest warrant, members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force on Saturday, Feb. 10, arrested Ashton Briscoe of Northeast D.C. on a charge of first-degree murder while armed for the death of Hyattsville, Md., resident Kerrice Lewis, 23.

"I have been advised by officials overseeing the investigation that at this time, there is no reason to believe the issue of sexual orientation contributed to Ms. Lewis' murder, however the case is still being actively investigated," said Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the Metropolitan Police Department's LGBT Liaison Unit.

A police statement released on the day after the murder said members of the Sixth Police District responded to the 800 block of Adrian Street, S.E. at about 7:21 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2017 for the report by nearby residents of a shooting.

"Upon arrival, officers located a vehicle on fire," the statement says. "Once the fire was extinguished, an unconscious and unresponsive adult female was discovered inside the vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds," it says. "D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and determined there were no signs consistent with life," the statement says.

Fox 5 News reported a police source saying residents living near an alley where the car was found reported hearing gunshots before seeing the car covered in flames and hearing a woman's screams from the inside of the burning car. Lewis's family members later said the Lexus car in which Lewis was found was her vehicle.

Mercedes Rouhlac told ABC7 News that she was Lewis's best friend and ex-girlfriend. Other news outlets also reported Rouhlac saying she and Lewis had been in a same-sex relationship.

"No matter what, she still loved me and my son," Rouhlac told Channel 7 News.

The police announcement of Briscoe's arrest doesn't provide any additional details of the case, including whether investigators have determined a motive or other circumstance surrounding the murder. At least some of those details were expected to be released in D.C. Superior Court on Monday when Briscoe was scheduled to appear before a judge in a presentment hearing.

In the week following the murder D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham disclosed that investigators had found that Lewis was friends with or knew two men who were also shot to death on the same day that Lewis was murdered. He said detectives were looking into whether the three cases were linked.

Since that time police have arrested individual suspects for each of the two cases but authorities have not said whether those two cases and the Lewis case were in any way connected.

The Washington Blade will provide an update to this story when additional information related to Briscoe's court appearance becomes available.