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Md. gubernatorial candidate chooses lesbian running mate

Julie Verratti and her wife founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md

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Julie Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md., with her wife, Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ensign/Alec Ross for Governor)

A Maryland gubernatorial candidate has chosen a lesbian business owner as his running mate.

Democrat Alec Ross on Monday officially announced that Julie Verratti has joined his ticket.

Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring with her wife, Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law. A bio that Ross’ campaign provided to the Washington Blade notes Verratti was a fellow and senior policy advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration who focused on the Affordable Care Act, women’s entrepreneurship and other issues.

Verratti last year was a member of a task force that studied the overhaul of Maryland’s alcohol laws. She also worked for Equality Maryland, which is now known as FreeState Justice, the Human Rights Campaign and other social justice organizations when she was a student at the George Washington University Law School.

Verratti, who is from Silver Spring, worked for the Boston-based MassEquality from 2005-2007.

She has never run for political office. Verratti would become Maryland’s first out lieutenant governor if she and Ross are elected in November.

“I feel good about it,” Verratti told the Washington Blade last week during a telephone interview with Ross. “Obviously when you’re doing something for the very first time, it’s scary.”

“I also think it’s really important,” added Verratti. “Representation matters and it matters tremendously. I’m proud and honored.”

Alec Ross, right, has chosen Julie Verratti as his running mate. Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md., with her wife, Emily Bruno. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ensign/Alec Ross for Governor)

Ross was a senior State Department official during the Obama administration.

He founded One Economy, a nonprofit organization that his campaign bio says “helped deliver high-speech Internet access, educational content and education to low-income communities.” Ross is also a former public school teacher in Baltimore City.

Ross told the Blade he first met Verratti last September at a Democratic Business Council of Maryland meeting that was taking place at a Rockville. Ross said the audience was 80 to 90 percent “men in ties.”

“There was this woman asking these incredibly sharp questions and making these incredible observations in a leather jacket,” said Ross. “She really stood out in that ballroom in a Rockville hotel.”

Ross also told the Blade in response to a question about the history his ticket would make in November if it is elected that he wishes “we were making history long ago.”

“We need to make it now,” he said. “Julie has abundant attributes as a business leader, as someone who has achieved in government. With Donald Trump’s Washington, I want it to be the case that (it) says welcome to Maryland, you’re entering a business and you’re entering a place that’s mirroring the opposite values of Donald Trump’s Washington.”

Verratti: Ross is ‘best person for the job’

Ross will face off against former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County); lawyer Jim Shea and Krishanti Vignarajah, who was former first lady Michelle Obama’s policy director, in the June Democratic primary. The winner will run against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election.

Shea last week announced Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott is his running mate.

Madaleno could become the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S. if he were to win. The Montgomery County Democrat, who is accepting public financing, last month reported his gubernatorial campaign has thus far raised $439,862.

Ross is among the Democratic candidates who have raised more than $1 million.

“The campaign’s going really well,” Ross told the Blade. “Julie’s addition will make it even more distinct.”

He added the campaign is “running statewide.”

“We are running in all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland, running for governor for all of our state’s citizens with progressive values,” said Ross, referring to the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Verratti stressed she is honored that Ross has chosen her as his running mate.

“Alec is the best person for the job and has a tremendous background,” Verratti told the Blade. “His leadership is transformative.”

From left: Julie Verratti with her wife, Emily Bruno, outside Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md. (Daniel Ensign/Alec Ross for Governor)

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards vetoes trans youth sports bill

Discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) (Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s Democratic John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he has vetoed a measure that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. 

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health. We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens. And while there is no issue to be solved by this bill, it does present real problems in that it makes it more likely that NCAA and professional championships, like the 2022 Final Four, would not happen in our state. For these and for other reasons, I have vetoed the bill.”

The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper’s State House reporter, Blake Paterson, noted that [the law] would have required athletic teams or sporting events for women at public institutions be composed only of “biological females,” or those who presumably were listed as female on their birth certificates.

The measure won Senate approval 29-6 and cleared the House 78-19. Those margins are wide enough to override a governor’s veto, though it’s unclear whether lawmakers will return to Baton Rouge to do so.

 

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Anti-LGBTQ religious extremist celebrates death at Wilton Manors Pride

Mehta points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers

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Screenshot vis Twitter

HURST, Tx. – The pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist Church in this suburban Fort Worth, Texas city took to his pulpit to celebrate the death of an attendee at the Wilton Manors, Florida Pride parade this past weekend.

Pastor Jonathan Shelley, whose church is affiliated with infamous “death to gays” Pastor Steven Anderson in Phoenix, Arizona is quoted by Patheos writer and progressive blogger Hemant Mehta saying; […]”I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.” […]

Mehta, who runs the heavily trafficked The Friendly Atheist, also noted that Shelley told his congregants; “And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades. I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.”

Mehta noted that the video of Shelley’s hate-filled remarks on this and other anti-LGBTQ vitriol is still accessible on Shelley’s YouTube Channel. He also points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers.

The Blade has reached out to YouTube Tuesday for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Editor’s note; The language used in the video in the embedded tweet below is uncensored hate speech:

In a related update from the Daily Beast, Fred Johnson Jr., who was named by Wilton Manors police as the driver of the vehicle that veered out of control killing one person and injuring two others at Saturday’s Stonewall Pride Parade has offered his “sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.”

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Vigil held after Wilton Manors Pride parade accident

Fort Lauderdale mayor expressed ‘regret’ over initial terrorism claim

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A vigil in the wake of the accident at the Stonewall Pride Parade took place at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 20, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — More than 100 people on Sunday attended a prayer vigil in the wake of an accident at a Wilton Manors Pride parade that left one person dead and another injured.

The vigil took place at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.

Clergy joined activists and local officials at a vigil at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 20, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

A 77-year-old man who was driving a pickup truck struck two men near the Stonewall Pride Parade’s staging area shortly before 7 p.m. on Saturday. One of the victims died a short time later at a Fort Lauderdale hospital.

The pickup truck narrowly missed U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was in a convertible participating in the parade, and Florida Congressman Ted Deutch.

The driver of the pickup truck and the two men he hit are members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department on Sunday described the incident as a “fatal traffic crash” and not a terrorism incident as Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis initially claimed.

“As we were about to begin the parade, this pickup truck, this jacked up white pickup truck, dashed across, breaking through the line, hitting people, all of us that were there could not believe our eyes,” said Trantalis as he spoke at the vigil.

Trantalis noted the pickup truck nearly hit Wasserman Schultz. He also referenced the arrest of a 20-year-old supporter of former President Trump earlier in the week after he allegedly vandalized a Pride flag mural that had been painted in an intersection in Delray Beach, which is roughly 30 miles north of Fort Lauderdale.

“I immediately knew that something terrible was happening,” said Trantalis, referring to the Stonewall Pride Parade accident. “My visceral reaction was that we were being attacked. Why not? Why not feel that way?”

“I guess I should watch to make sure there are no reporters standing by when I have those feelings, but that was my first reaction and I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found out that it was not, but I don’t regret my feelings,” he added. “But I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd inches away from the congresswoman and the congressman, myself and others.”

Trantalis also told vigil attendees that “I guess we forgive” the pickup truck driver.

“But I regret that his consequences resulted in the death of an individual who was innocent and who was there to have a good time, like the rest of us, and I regret there is a man who is in serious condition … fighting for his life and there,” added Trantalis.

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