O’Malley launches video campaign for marriage equality
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this week delivered the ﬁrst in what marriageequality advocates say will be a series of video messages calling for the approvalof a same-sex marriage bill next year by the Maryland Legislature.The video campaign, organized by the newly formed Marylanders for MarriageEquality Coalition, is modeled after a similar campaign in New York State, whichpassed a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year under the leadership of New YorkGov. Andrew Cuomo.“I’m Gov. Martin O’Malley and I’m a Marylander for marriage equality,”O’Malley said in the video message recorded from his ofﬁce at the State Housein Annapolis.“As a free and diverse people of many different faiths, we choose to begoverned under the law by certain fundamental principles – among them equalprotection of the law for every individual and the free exercise of religion withoutgovernment intervention,” he said.“The legislation we plan to introduce in the 2012 legislative session will protectreligious freedom and equality of marital rights under the law,” he said. “I ask youto join us as we work to pass marriage equality in the State of Maryland.”Raquel Guillory, O’Malley’s communications director, said the governor’s ofﬁceprovided the video equipment used to record his message. She said the HumanRights Campaign, which coordinated a similar video campaign in New York,arranged for O’Malley to make the video on behalf of the coalition.HRC ofﬁcials say they are working on additional videos expected to be recordedover the next few months by civil leaders, sports ﬁgures and “regular Marylandcitizens.”In addition to HRC, the coalition members include the state LGBT advocacygroup Equality Maryland, the NAAP Baltimore Chapter, the ACLU of Maryland,the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199, Parents and Friendsof Lesbians and Gays of Maryland, Progressive Maryland, National Black JusticeCoalition, Catholics for Equality, Maryland Faith for Equality, the National Gay andLesbian Task Force, and the National Organization of Women of Maryland.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Man dies in Southwest nightclub
D.C. police issued a statement Wednesday saying they were investigating thedeath of a patron of the Southwest D.C. gay nightclub Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, who wasfound unconscious at the club “in the early morning hours of Oct. 2.”Police late Wednesday identiﬁed the patron as 43-year-old Patrick Coats of Richmond, Va.Capt. Edward Delgado, director of the police Special Liaison Division, whichoversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said Coats was taken toa hospital where he died a short time later.“The death is being investigated by the MPD’s Homicide Branch and the causeof death is undetermined,” the police statement says.Police ofﬁcials have said the Homicide Branch investigates all deaths in caseswhere the cause has not been determined. In many cases, those deaths are laterfound to be due to natural causes or accidental injuries, police have said.A statement released by Ziegfeld’s/Secrets general manager Jon Parks says anemployee found the patron later identiﬁed as Coats outside the club’s ﬁrst ﬂoorbathroom and the club immediately called 911 for help. The statement, which wasprovided to the Blade by another club employee, says the staff and managementare cooperating with the police investigation.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.washingtonblade.com
02 • OCTOBER 07, 2011LOCAL NEWS
Trans victim upset overplea deal in shooting
is a‘Marylander for marriage equality.’
WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTOBY MICHAEL KEY
Woman says she was notconsulted about loweringcharge in case
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.firstname.lastname@example.org
A transgender woman says shedisagrees with a decision by the UnitedStates Attorney’s ofﬁce to lower the chargeagainst a man arrested for shooting her inthe neck on Sept. 12 while she sat in hercar parked in Southeast Washington.District resident Darryl Willard, 20,pleaded guilty last week in D.C. SuperiorCourt to a charge of aggravated assaultwhile armed in connection with theshooting. His plea came after prosecutorsagreed to drop a more serious charge of assault with intent to kill while armed.D.C. Superior Court Judge AnnO’Reagan Keary scheduled a sentencinghearing for Willard on Dec. 6.The assault with intent to kill chargecarries a mandatory minimum sentence of ﬁve years in jail and a possible maximum jail term of 20 years. The aggravatedassault charge, to which Willard pleadedguilty, carries a mandatory minimumsentence of ﬁve years in prison and apossible maximum sentence of 10 yearsin jail.“I told them I was willing to go to a trialand testify” if prosecutors went with themore serious charge, said the victim, whospoke on condition that her name waswithheld.She said prosecutors informed herof their decision to lower the charge inexchange for Willard’s guilty plea lastweek shortly after she was released fromthe hospital and after the decision wasreached.“They said that going to trial with a jurycould be a problem because they [thedefense] would bring up my lifestyle,” thewoman said.Local transgender activists Earline Buddand Jeri Hughes said they, too, disagreewith the lowering of the charge. Both saidthey were troubled that the U.S. Attorney’sofﬁce apparently didn’t consult the victimin advance of its plea bargain decision andappears to have presented her with a faitaccompli on the matter.“How about if a U.S. Attorney gets shotin the neck?” said Hughes. “Let’s seeif someone gets just ﬁve years for that.That’s crazy. It’s an outrage.”Budd, an ofﬁcial with the local groupTransgender Health Empowerment,arranged for the woman to speak with theBlade.A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’sofﬁce has said the ofﬁce never commentson why it chooses to offer plea bargainagreements that lower charges in speciﬁccases.In discussing its general policy on pleabargain decisions, the U.S. Attorney’sofﬁce in the past has said it considersfactors such as whether a jury would belikely to convict someone on a moreserious charge.A police arrest afﬁdavit says the victimand Willard had known each other formore than a year and that Willard allegedlyhad paid the woman for sex in the past.It says the woman picked up Willard inher car at 22nd and Savannah streets, S.E.,and the two drove around the area. It saysWillard asked the woman to perform oralsex on him and she refused. When shepulled over to let Willard out of the car, hepulled out a gun and demanded she turnover her money, the afﬁdavit says.According to the afﬁdavit, the womanrefused to hand over her money,prompting Willard to shoot her at closerange in the neck.“The shot hit her in the right side of her neck, punctured both of her lungs,and lodged near her heart, where itremains,” says a statement released bythe U.S. Attorney’s ofﬁce on Tuesday. “Thedefendant turned himself in to police thefollowing day and has been in custodyever since,” the statement says.