the lgbtq community’s news source
NOVEMBER 27, 2009
Catania, Mendelsonurge Catholic leadersto compromise
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.
The D.C. City Councildrew national attention this week as it made final prepara-tions for the first of two voteson a same-sex marriage billnext Tuesday that observerssay was expected to pass by amargin as wide as 11 to 2.Council insiders said there was no surge in phone calls or e-mails to the Council over thepast week in response to nationalmedia reports about a warningabout the bill from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. Archdiocesan officials saidthey would stop operating city funded social service programsthat help as many as 68,000needy people unless the Councilmakes changes in the bill allow-ing the group Catholic Charitiesto deny same-sex spousal bene-fits to its employees.“I hear everybody in thepress talking about it, but wehaven’t heard anything atall,” said Jason Shedlock,chief of staff to Councilmember Phil Mendelson(D-At-Large), who chairs thecommittee that approved thebill earlier this month.In a separate development,opponents of the same-sexmarriage bill, led by a Mary-land minister, filed suit againstthe city in D.C. SuperiorCourt to contest a decision two weeks ago by the city’s electionboard rejecting a proposedvoter initiative to ban same-sexmarriage in the District.The election board ruledthat the proposed ballot initia-tive would violate the D.C.Human Rights Act, whichbars discrimination based onsexual orientation. Same-sexmarriage opponents say they have the funds to appeal theruling all the way to the U.S.Supreme Court should they lose in Superior Court.Shedlock said Mendelsonand Council member DavidCatania (I-At-Large), the au-thor of the bill, had yet to re-ceive an answer as of Monday to a letter they sent to Arch-bishop Donald Wuerl, headof the Washington Archdio-cese, suggesting a compromisesolution to the church’s objec-tion to the marriage bill.In statements last week, Archdiocesan officials said pro-viding spousal benefits to theiremployees’ same-sex marriedspouses would violate churchteachings that marriage must berestricted to a man and a woman. Church officials haveasked the Council to add a pro-vision in the marriage bill toamend the city’s Human Rights Act to exempt groups likeCatholic Charities from havingto provide equal employee ben-efits to same-sex couples.The Council has refused therequest, saying it would be un-fair to single out gay or lesbianemployees for discrimination.
Story continues atDCAgenda.com.
called on the Archdiocese toadopt what has been dubbed the ‘San Francisco-Georgetown’compromise over how the Catholic Church could provide healthinsurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of employees.(Photo by Michael Key)
City poised to approve gay marriage bill
Dana Beyer chargesMont. Co. ethics panelwith discrimination
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.
The Montgomery County,Md., Ethics Commission — which is headed by a D.C.government attorney workingin an unofficial, volunteer ca-pacity — violated the county’shuman rights law by waging a“blatant political attack”against a transgender womanbased solely on her gender iden-tity, according to a discrimina-tion complaint filed last week.The complaint was filed with the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission by transgender activist DanaBeyer, who works as a senioraide to Montgomery County Council member Duchy Tra-chtenberg (D-At-Large). Beyerplans to run for the MarylandHouse of Delegates next year.Beyer said she filed thecomplaint Nov. 17 after theEthics Commission found “rea-sonable cause” that she abusedher position as a County Coun-cil employee by allegedly “in-timidating,” “threatening” or“coercing” members of a groupopposed to a county non-dis-crimination law protectingtransgender people.Members of the group filed acomplaint with the Ethics Com-mission accusing Beyer of intim-idating them in an effort to stopthem from gathering petitionsignatures at a Giant supermar-ket in 2007 for a referendum tooverturn the transgender non-discrimination law. The referen-dum died after its supportersfailed to obtain the requirednumber of valid signatures. At a Nov. 17 news confer-ence in Rockville, Beyer calledthe accusations against herbaseless. She said the commis-sion took statements only fromher accusers and failed to inter-view several eyewitnesses whodispute claims that she actedimproperly to stop the signa-ture gathering.She also noted that thecommission may have actedillegally by arranging for acounty attorney to search hercomputer without her orTrachtenberg’s knowledge todetermine whether she wasusing office equipment tocampaign against the pro-posed referendum.“If the Ethics Commissionacted responsibly, and frankly,ethically, we would not be heretoday,” Beyer said at the newsconference. “Instead, politicsand bigotry dictated their ac-tions and corrupted an institu-tion dedicated to fighting publiccorruption.” According to Beyer andTrachtenberg, the EthicsCommission has never be-fore investigated or broughtcharges against a County Council employee for engag-ing in political activity dur-ing their off-duty time. Antar C. Johnson, chair of the five-member Ethics Com-mission and a Silver Spring res-ident, serves as AssistantGeneral Counsel in the D.C.Office of the Chief FinancialOfficer. When contacted Mon-day by the D.C. Agenda, John-son said he could not commenton a pending case before thecommission.He said his involvement with the commission is based onhis role as a volunteer commis-sioner appointed by formerMontgomery County ExecutiveDouglas Duncan and is unre-lated to his full-time job as aD.C. government attorney.
Story continues atDCAgenda.com.
D.C. gov’t official linked to trans bias complaint
Dana Beyer WillGartshore
leads talentedcast inSignatureTheatre’s‘Show Boat.’