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Sarah McBride poised to become first trans member of Congress

McBride currently holds a seat in the First State Senate District of Delaware and has used that momentum to mobilize her supporters



Del. State Senator Sarah McBride (D-1st District) (Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

By Joe Reberkenny | WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride has become the Democratic frontrunner for Congress after her primary opponent dropped out of the race. This sets up McBride to possibly become the first transgender member of Congress if elected in November. 

Eugene Young announced on Wednesday he suspended his campaign for Delaware’s At-Large congressional district, leaving McBride as the only Democratic candidate running for the seat. Young’s announcement leaves Republican challenger Donyale Hall as McBride’s only obstacle to the House of Representatives.

As the new Democratic frontrunner, McBride is slated to win the strongly Democratic state’s sole House seat, which is currently held by Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester. Blunt Rochester is leaving the House to run for Thomas Carper’s seat in the Senate who will be retiring at the end of the year. 

According to McBride’s campaign, she has raised more than $2 million and does not appear to be slowing down. Not only could McBride become the historic first trans member of Congress, but her campaign has raised record-breaking amounts — more than any candidate for an open congressional seat in state history.

McBride currently holds a seat in the First State Senate District of Delaware and has used that momentum to mobilize her supporters.

LPAC, an organization that works to get LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary candidates elected to public office, has endorsed McBride’s run for Congress as well as her past campaigns. LPAC’s Executive Director Janelle Perez released a statement regarding McBride’s path to the House.

“LPAC is thrilled that Sarah McBride has cleared the Democratic field and is on a clear path to making history in November as the first out trans person ever elected to the U.S. Congress,” Perez wrote in her statement. “This did not happen by accident: Sarah has actively cleared the field by building an undeniably formidable campaign, connecting deeply with voters and out-raising every candidate in the field by a longshot.”

Other candidates have until July 8 to enter the race, although that is unlikely given McBride’s fundraising advantage and growing momentum. 

“It is no surprise to me that Sarah has reached this point — she is a compassionate leader who truly cares for her community and has a tangible impact on everyone around her,” Perez added. “This is a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ representation in our country and I know that Sarah McBride will make an incredible member of Congress.”


Joseph Reberkenny, is a recent graduate of American University and the Blade Foundation’s seventh recipient of the Elkins fellowship. Reberkenny will cover Delaware politics for the Washington Blade in this summer, 2024.



Former Delaware LGBTQ center official sentenced to nine months

“Mr. Seeley’s actions are a deep betrayal to not only CAMP Rehoboth but also the entire community we serve”



CAMP Rehoboth LGBTQ community center, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (Washington Blade/Michael Key)

GEORGETOWN, Del. – Salvator “Sal” Seeley, who served as an official with the Rehoboth Beach, Del., CAMP Rehoboth LGBTQ community center for 20 years, was sentenced on April 5 by a Sussex County Superior Court judge to nine months in prison and to pay $176,000 in restitution to the organization.

The sentencing took place about five weeks after Seeley pleaded guilty to a charge of Theft in Excess of $50,000 for allegedly embezzling funds from CAMP Rehoboth, a spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Justice told the Washington Blade.

Seeley’s guilty plea came shortly after a grand jury, at the request of prosecutors, indicted him on the felony theft charge following an investigation that found he had embezzled at least $176,000 from the nonprofit LGBTQ organization.

“Salvatore C. Seeley, between the 27th day of February 2019 and the 7th day of September 2021, in the County of Sussex, State of Delaware, did take property belonging to CAMP Rehoboth, Inc., consisting of United States currency and other miscellaneous property valued at more than $50,000, intending to appropriate the same,” the indictment states.

“The State recommended a sentence of two years of incarceration based on the large-scale theft and the impact to the non-profit organization,” Delaware Department of Justice spokesperson Caroline Harrison told the Blade in a statement.

“The defense cited Seeley’s lack of a record and gambling addiction in arguing for a probationary sentence,” the statement says. “Seeley was sentenced in Superior Court to a nine-month prison term and to pay a total of $176,000 in restitution for the stolen funds,” Harrison says in the statement.

Salvator Seeley (Photo courtesy CAMP Rehoboth)

Neither Seeley nor his attorney could immediately be reached for comment.

At the time of Seeley’s indictment in February, CAMP Rehoboth released a statement saying it first discovered “financial irregularities” within the organization on Sept. 7, 2021, “and took immediate action and notified state authorities.” The statement says this resulted in the investigation of Seeley by the state Department of Justice as well as an internal investigation by CAMP Rehoboth to review its “financial control policies” that led to an updating of those policies.

“As we have communicated from day one, CAMP Rehoboth has fully cooperated with law enforcement,” the statement continues. “At its request, we did not speak publicly about the investigation while it was ongoing for fear it would jeopardize its integrity,” according to the statement. “This was extremely difficult given our commitment to transparency with the community about day-to-day operations during the recent leadership transition.”

The statement was referring to Kim Leisey, who began her job as CAMP Rehoboth’s new executive director in July of 2023, while the Seeley investigation had yet to be completed, following the organization’s process of searching for a new director. It says Seeley left his job as Health and Wellness Director of CAMP Rehoboth in September of 2021 after working for the organization for more than 20 years.

“Mr. Seeley’s actions are a deep betrayal to not only CAMP Rehoboth but also the entire community we serve,” the statement says.

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Library in Delaware forced to take down Pride flag

“I know our staff was really excited to see the library put the Pride flag up. It made them feel comfortable”



Milton Public Library, Milton, Delaware (Photo Credit: Sussex County Department of Libraries/Facebook)

By Joel Lev-Tov | MILTON, Del. – A Delaware library was forced to take down its Pride flag last Friday, causing outrage from some.

“I was super proud of my library (where I work) for putting a pride flag outside this month,” Milton, Del., library employee Jillian Brenneman wrote in a now-deleted post on Facebook. She did not respond to a Facebook message asking for comment. “That is until Sussex County Government decided they needed to be homophobic and force us to take it down.”

Reached by phone Monday, Sussex County Department of Libraries Director Rachel Lynch said the flag’s removal was a county decision. The county only allows American flags, Delaware flags, and Sussex County flags to be flown outside of the building. A Sussex County spokesperson confirmed that in a short interview and said that flying the three flags is not a written policy. Rather, Chip Guy said, it is a custom.

The decision to take down the Pride flag left Fred Munzert, who runs the Milton Theatre, disappointed.

“I know our staff was really excited to see the library put the Pride flag up. It made them feel comfortable,” he said in an interview. “It made them feel good about the town that they lived in and worked in.”

Munzert has led a campaign to “paint the town rainbow” since 2019, where the theater gives out Pride flags to people and businesses. He’s seen more and more Pride flags around town since his campaign.

The display, though, doesn’t come without its opponents in the town of about 3,500 residents. He said Milton Theatre staff have received plenty of emails and phone calls about the flags – one told him that he must display the American flag alongside it and even gave him an American flag to hang up.

“I’m just always surprised, like, just do your thing. I’ll do my thing,” he said. “Nobody’s bothering anybody.”

Hanging the flag was Milton Public Library Director Jill DiPaolo’s idea, Munzert said. Before the county removed the flag, he said DiPaolo emailed him to apologize and said it was a decision from higher up. DiPaolo was unavailable to comment and did not immediately return a voicemail.

Since the flag’s removal, some staff members haven’t felt accepted by the county anymore, Munzert said. Guy, the Sussex County communications director, said the county was just enforcing county norms.

“The county is not sending a message or a symbol,” he emphasized.

The whole situation should’ve been avoided in the first place, Munzert said.

“I wish it would have never been hung, then it just would have been what it was,” he said.


Joel Lev-Tov is a journalist and photographer in the Washington, D.C. area majoring in journalism and minoring in Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland.

They are a journalism Fellow at the Washington Blade and have skills in both photography and A/V systems.

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Anti-Trans youth sports bill in Delaware held up in committee

“The bill was introduced by the most right-wing homophobic Republicans in the legislature- the sponsors knew it could never pass”



Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Wilmington) (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

WILMINGTON – A Republican-backed bill introduced in the Delaware Senate earlier this year that calls for banning female transgender students from competing on women’s sports teams in the state’s schools came under fire in a March 23 committee hearing.

The hearing by the state Senate’s Health and Social Services Committee was led by its chairperson, Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Wilmington), the nation’s first openly transgender state senator. McBride, in referring to dozens of similar bills introduced in state legislatures across the country, said the Delaware bill was “part of a national strategy” aimed curtailing the rights of transgender people, including trans kids.

“The outcome of this strategy is to make life so difficult for trans kids, to make them feel so alone, that some never grow up to be adults,” she told the committee and the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Seaford).

Political observers familiar with Delaware politics believe the six-member committee, which consists of four Democrats and two Republicans, with McBride as the chair, is certain to defeat the bill by letting it die in committee without voting to send it to the full Senate. No vote was taken on the bill during the March 23 hearing.

Neither McBride nor a spokesperson for her office could be reached for comment.

Even in the unlikely development that it was to be released by the committee, Delaware gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane, a former chair of the Sussex County, Del., Democratic Committee, said the Democratic-controlled state Senate and House of Representatives would defeat such a bill by a large margin.

Crane said he thought it was significant that three of the Delaware Senate’s seven Republican members did not sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. The 21-member state Senate consists of 14 Democrats and seven Republicans.

In the 41-member Delaware House of Representatives, just three of the 16 House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. None of the 25 Democrats in the state House signed on as co-sponsors, nor did any Democrats in the state Senate.

The bill in question, Senate Bill 227, states that “a school district, charter school, member school, or higher education institution may not allow a student to compete for an athletic team or in a sport designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex as correctly stated on one of the following…”

It goes on to list two criteria to determine a student’s biological sex – the student’s “official birth certificate” and, “If the student’s birth certificate is unobtainable, another government record.” The bill also states that a document confirming the student’s biological sex, such as a birth certificate, must have been “entered at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

The bill allows cisgender female students, who it says are girls who were born as girls, to compete on boys’ sports teams if there are no girls’ teams for a specific sport such as wrestling.

“The bill was introduced by the most right-wing homophobic Republicans in the legislature,” Crane told the Washington Blade. “The sponsors of this bill knew it could never pass,” he said. “They are just appealing to their base.”

The Delaware General Assembly website identifies the bill’s sponsors as Republican Sens. Bryhant Richardson, Colin Bonini, Gerald Hocker, and Dave Lawson and House Republicans Timothy Dukes, Richard Collins, and Jesse Vanderwende.

Richardson, the state senator who introduced the bill, stated during the March 23 committee hearing that his intent was not to discriminate against anyone.

“You can be anything you want to be in this great country,” the online news site Delaware Live quoted him as saying. “The purpose of this bill is not to undermine that privilege,” the site quoted him as saying. “The purpose of the bill is to protect the gains in women’s sports that came about almost 50 years ago under Title IX.”

He was referring to the Title IX provision of the U.S. Education Amendment Act of 1972 that bans sex discrimination in education related programs, including school sports.

The online site reports that Richardson referred to transgender girls as “male-bodied,” and said they have an unfair advantage over biological girls because on average they are bigger and stronger.

“The inclusion of male-bodied athletes in women’s sports inevitably means that more females lost out,” he said, according to Delaware Live. “We have an obligation to defend everyone’s rights. What is wrong is when the rights of some put at risk the rights of others.”

McBride disputed Richardson’s assertions, saying that claims that trans female athletes in school sports have prevented cisgender women athletes from successfully competing in competitive sports have been shown to be wrong in the cities and states where trans athletes have participated in school sports.

“I want to say, as a senator, as the chair of this committee, and as a trans person, to the trans kids and their families watching this hearing – your government sees you and, for the first time ever, really understands you,” McBride said during the hearing. “You are loved and you are worthy,” she said. “Trans people are here to stay.”

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Delaware’s Governor Carney issues Pride proclamation

These efforts to build an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace send a signal loud & clear that Delaware is inclusive and equitable



Delaware Governor John Carney. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Greg L. Davis)

WILMINGTON, DE. – Delaware Gov. John Carney proclaimed June as LGBTQ+ Pride month. The proclamation urges citizens to observe this month by “celebrating Pride Month at appropriate events and ceremonies across the state.”

“Our work for LGBTQ+ equality goes beyond signing this proclamation. Earlier today, the State’s Department of Human Resources released an Action Plan for Improving State Policies for LGBTQ+ State Employees. The plan outlines specific action items that the state is undertaking to double down our efforts on LGBTQ+ equality. We are making it clear that we not only value a diverse workforce, but that diversity includes sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

These state efforts to build an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace is not just the right thing to do; it also sends a signal loud and clear – for current employees, future employees, and the Delaware community at large – that the State of Delaware is an employer that is inclusive and equitable, where diverse lived experiences are encouraged and celebrated,” the governor said in a statement.

The Delaware Department of Human Resources released an action plan that includes unifying a statewide gender identity and policy procedure and allowing preferred names and pronouns whenever legal and applicable, such as the state job application process.

Carney had failed to issue the Pride proclamation in 2018 after doing so in 2017, prompting backlash from the LGBTQ community and its allies. The governor’s communications director Jonathan Starkey said the lack of action was not meant to “diminish the significant contributions of Delaware’s LGBTQ community,” the Washington Blade reported at the time.

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