Smart In Your World

We Are Family

Joe Price’s associations with LGBT law and activism are lengthy. He’s a past president of the William & Mary’s Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association, and was among the founders of Equality Virginia , serving on its board and as general counsel. It should be noted here that Dylan Ward also worked in EV’s development office from 2003 until 2006 and that according to MetroWeekly, Price was instrumental in Ward securing the  job.

Gay parenting is also important for Joe.  He and Victor Zaborsky are the biological fathers of two children with a lesbian couple in the DC suburbs and were featured in USA Today in 2004.  A very high profile case for him was his pro bono legal work on behalf of Janet Jenkins in a custody battle over visitation rights with her five year old daughter, featured here in this Newsweek story from December, 2008.

Nearly a year after the Wone murder on June 29, 2007,  Joe co-hosted and presented this continuing legal education webinar at the Arent Fox offices entitled: “Lambda Legal – A Review of Legal Issues Concerning GLBT Citizens and Their Families.” A search of the law firm’s website doesn’t yield much for Joe Price, listed as an “inactive attorney” , but this webinar remains for viewing. 

Spoiler Alert:  Handily indexed in six parts, Joe introduces the day then later presents for thirty minutes on family law as it applies to Miller v. Jenkins,  a heartbreaking case in which Joe’s client was denied visitation rights to her daughter for nearly four years.  Joe gives an animated and authoritative presentation, something one would see on C-SPAN, but with less production values.  Injecting a bit of levity a number of times to this weighty issue, Joe says that despite his Commonwealth roots and education, his talk was going to be “perhaps not entirely kind to Virginia.”

He joked that during a drive up to a Winchester,Virgina court appearance, he and his colleagues “…weren’t feeling so welcome actually” due to the “…gun stores and churches, gun store and churches…. tons of gun stores.”   In his powerpoint deck were a couple slides showing one such store, Stonewall Arm’s, along with their menacing looking guard dog.  The slides were titled, “Welcome to Winchester, Janet.”   (It appears the  German Shepard featured survived the website redesign and is still seen on the gun shop’s pages.)

Frederick County Judge John Prosser who presided over the trial wasn’t spared either.  For his deck Joe said he’d spent some time looking for a picture of Prossner, but to no avail.  “But I believe that Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies bears a striking resemblance…”

Joe ended up besting Judge Prossner.  He won a key Vermont case that finally granted Janet Jenkins her visitation privileges.  He tells us that on the very next morning, June 30, Jenkins , “…will have visitation with her daughter, pursuant to court order for the first time in… four years.”  Great timing.

Joe ends with a story about a recent lunch he’d had with civil rights giant Julian Bond.  Making an analogy to the civil rights struggle, Bond tells Price that when the history books are written about gay rights, organizations like Lambda Legal Defense, the CLE’s co-sponsor, “will be the NAACP” of that civil rights movement.  A big finish.

-posted by Craig

40 comments for “Smart In Your World

  1. L.
    03/23/2009 at 10:04 AM

    Nice post. Price did much for gay rights.

    Unforunately he also lived a double live – one that fits right into the stereotype that the religious right likes to use against all gay people – drugs, sex – and now rape and murder.

    I think all of us gays need to keep fighting for gay civil rights, visibility, and understanding – but we also need to look closely at how we live all aspects of our lives.

    Frankly – I don’t want someone like Joe Price as one of our “leaders”

    • WilliamandMaryAlum
      04/08/2009 at 11:49 PM

      I think Joe is both a chameleon and a megalomaniac. He has some need for power that may have driven him to this horrible crime. At William and Mary he seemed to want to be President of the student body simple for the offices own sake. And here is something you might find interesting. He was very comfortable with those Christian evangelicals he now disparages. One even managed his campaign. At that time Joe was in the closet.

      • cdindc
        04/09/2009 at 12:34 AM

        interesting, will….a megalomaniac. the s/m scene makes a little more sense….i,ve heard that people that maintain a high levels of control in their lives sometimes turn to s/m as means of relinquishing that control. joe’s controlling nature has been touched on before on wmrw. did joe’s need for power show in other ways such as competitiveness? did you ever perceive any type of competitiveness between joe and robert? jealousy?

  2. L.
    03/23/2009 at 11:03 AM

    I watched part of the webinar. Price seems like a very sharp guy. What a waste.

    What is it about us gay men that we think we can make a disaster of our sex lives and its no big deal -in fact its a cliche – almost as if its one of the benefits of being gay. In reality – it is self-destructive, unhealthy and irresponsible.

  3. SwannStObserver
    03/23/2009 at 11:39 AM

    “What is it about us gay men that we think we can make a disaster of our sex lives…”

    What a horrible and inaccurate statement to make about all men who happen to be gay. Please speak for yourself, and in doing so, I’d strongly discourage echoing Right-wing talking points. Trying to live, or act, in fierce juxtaposition to smears is never productive nor spiritually fulfilling. Fighting for our God-given rights is what matters. Joseph Price has surely ruined his life, but that doesn’t negate the tangible good that his pro bono work on behalf of lgbt rights will have for countless beneficiaries over the future years. Your reaction is akin to the false and overly broad damnation that many people had for the troubled Marion Barry, i.e. suggesting that his behavior somehow was a mark against all African-Americans, or even that his good work early in the civil rights movement was somehow directly negated. I hope we can look back, now, with a dispassionate eye: Barry’s troubles were his alone, just as any troulbes Price has are his own. I feel no need to apologize for Price, just as no heterosexual is expected to apologize for troubled persons of that orientation.

    • L.
      03/23/2009 at 12:16 PM

      As a gay man I am dismayed by what I see everyday in the gay male culture – to the importance placed on leather events and parties to the lack of caring for each other to superficiality times ten. THIS is the climate into which young gays are entering. Its not good.

      Its a real problem that needs to be addressed and not swept under the rug.

      As far as Marion Berry goes – how on earth did that man get re-elected?

  4. SwannStObserver
    03/23/2009 at 12:44 PM

    I agree that selfishness should be avoided and challenged wherever it is found. But, how is a cultural obsession with looks, sex, and self aggrandizement unique to the gay community, in existence or proliferation? It’s not. There’s nothing that happened in 1509 Swann that hasn’t happened in heterosexual households. Ever watch Dateline?

    • L.
      03/23/2009 at 12:51 PM

      I agree. All one has to do is watch reality TV shows. It just seems to me like it is out of proportion among gay men.

  5. Corcoran Cutlet
    03/23/2009 at 1:13 PM

    It was fascinating to watch parts of that webinar. I can’t say I found anything really brilliant about his presentation. As gay people we have such lowered expectations. If someone wins a case for a person’s basic rights we think that is special. Of course it is a good thing, and it is a tragedy that someone who can pull it off was involved in all of this mess. But seeing him in action, especially with all his little “woo-hoos” for other attorneys who are “Senior” for some non-profit ( while he quietly counts his dough internally) seems pretty pathetic. Brilliant looks quite different I am sorry to say. That is part of the reason we are so behind on our rights. Those involved are mostly in it for their own egos and so that they can say “woo-hoo” to someone else.

    • L.
      03/23/2009 at 1:21 PM


  6. jackson
    03/23/2009 at 1:29 PM

    Nice find. Joe is pretty good in this.
    L – I want to kiss and make up. I was irritable yesterday. Jeff, Jerk

    • L.
      03/23/2009 at 2:43 PM

      Its all good Jeff.

  7. CDinDC
    03/23/2009 at 1:36 PM

    Legal Beagle’s post from yesterday, should be in this thread….here’s a sample:

    ~~Legal Beagle
    March 22, 2009 at 7:02 PM
    As I see it the leather lifestyle presents more of an aesthetic conundrum than a moral one. Why is it that when a guy grows fat with age he thinks that becoming a leather queen is an appealing prospect? Plump can be beautiful, but not with guts hanging over chaps~~

    I think THIS might be an example of what L. is talking about.

    • SwannStObserver
      03/23/2009 at 1:48 PM

      One thing very unique to elements of the lgbt community is its insularity from non-lgbt social circles. Specifically, it shocks most lgbt persons to realize the countless heterosexual leather devotees, hookup sites, sex clubs, and more.

      Again, there is nothing that happened inside 1509 Swann Street for which persons who happen to be gay have to offer any specific apologies or analysis from that community’s perspective.

      • CDinDC
        03/23/2009 at 2:03 PM

        Agreed, SSO.

        The straight community has a very sophisticated BDSM network. The Black Rose being a starting point. People shouldn’t be surprised to know that Mr. John Doe and his wife that live in the cul-de-sac down the street have a full-fledged dungeon in their basement.

        • L.
          03/23/2009 at 2:46 PM

          I agree too – but it seems like its out of proportion among gay men. It seems like a more prominent part of the community – probably b/c the object of a gay man’s sexual desire is other men.

          • CDinDC
            03/23/2009 at 3:04 PM

            I wonder if it’s more prominent because the gay community, as a whole, is more accepting of alternative life-styles. Gay people are generally a little more “loud and proud” of their lifestyles. It’s a little more under wraps in the hetero community.

            • L.
              03/23/2009 at 3:53 PM

              Bondage being a lifestyle – not sexual orientation.

              • The Perfervid Inch
                03/23/2009 at 4:51 PM

                A friend told me that this conversation is going on here, and I just want to interject this bit of reality. If you’ve ever rented one of those Tom “Ropes” McGurk movies or others like them you know that it is all pretty lame and circus-like. But I will say that this Dylan Ward character would not look out of place for the nelly master -role guys they get. It is all pretty funny, and pretty far from looking dangerous, unless you call intense skankiness a danger.

                • CDinDC
                  03/23/2009 at 5:38 PM

                  Just a little FYI….movies are not reality.

                  • The Perfervid Inch
                    03/23/2009 at 6:03 PM

                    Well, true. But neither is Miss Nelly as master. What is real, unfortunately, is insecure little creep with a knife in his pathetic little hand.

                    • CDinDC
                      03/23/2009 at 7:05 PM

                      good point, inch.

                  • SwannStObserver
                    03/23/2009 at 6:04 PM

                    As a friend once said: hang out long enough at a gay leather bar, and you’ll get more baking recipes than rough action.

                    • The Perfervid Inch
                      03/23/2009 at 8:12 PM

                      That is truly hilarious!

  8. CDinDC
    03/23/2009 at 1:53 PM

    As far as Joe Price’s legal work, that’s pretty much par for the course at any major law firm in Washington, DC. Pro bono work is part and parcel of an associate’s workload on any given day. Adoptions, immigration, civil rights issues…..nothing unusual. So don’t toot Joe’s horn TOO loudly. He doesn’t deserve the accolades….this is nothing above and beyond.

  9. david
    03/23/2009 at 8:47 PM

    (1) ‘Double lives’ and ‘shocking’ private lives are practically a prerequisite to positions of public influence. How else could they be kept in line?

    (2) Everything you gain is just more that you can lose. Embrace death and destruction at every opportunity, cherish it.

  10. CDinDC
    03/23/2009 at 10:01 PM

    (1) There are millions of people with public influence that lead regular lives. Many people do not need to be “kept in line.”

    (2) Oh, the drama.

  11. 03/24/2009 at 7:42 PM

    how sad for victor the day that ward spanked her way into joe’s life and victor’s house. victor, it need not end like this; there is always time to do the right thing.

    • CDinDC
      03/24/2009 at 8:21 PM

      it would be interesting to hear from someone regarding how Price/Zaborsky’s relationship changed (for better or worse) after Ward occupied the extra bedroom.

      Perhaps Zaborsky enjoyed the dynamic. Or not.

      • SwannStObserver
        03/25/2009 at 11:16 AM

        This is probably the crux of the case, at this point: Zaborsky’s mood and actions going forward. Has he fully awakened to the situation into which he has been placed, by his own initial agreement, and the actions of that night? And even if that is fully realized, what continues to bind him to the other two, what is the strongest part of that connection, and what is the weakest part?

        • CDinDC
          03/25/2009 at 2:01 PM

          Seems like this is the kind of stress that would tear a “relationship” down. Be it 2- or 3-way. At some point, these fellas may loath being around each other. Originally, it was all good times. Not so, anymore. Maybe Z will crack one day.

        • L.
          03/25/2009 at 5:09 PM

          Zaborsky most likely feels that he can’t turn back b/c if he did he would go to jail anyway – he might feel he has a decent chance of beating the rap by staying quiet.

          I don’t know how plea deals work. I wonder if he has been offered one? Are there DAs skilled in getting defendants to turn?

          • CDinDC
            03/25/2009 at 5:24 PM

            We hope!

  12. 03/24/2009 at 8:20 PM

    “dylan was successful” — you don’t read that phrase everyday about ward! lots of evidence suggests a very different conclusion.

    • Craig
      03/24/2009 at 8:38 PM

      Would love to see. And think about all those scrapbooks out there. BTW SDI, I think we lost your email addy. can you drop another note into the mailbox please.
      -craig, editor

  13. Barbra
    03/02/2010 at 12:44 PM

    These guys are a disgrace to the community – they probably believed they were “fabulous” and deserved to use and abuse folks as they felt appropriate. They are not the role-models that we should embrace – we should speak out against the segment of our community that thrashes their sexuality around in public – who are so miopic in their lives –…tanning…sex, shopping…sex, drinking….sex, drugs….sex….there is a difference in being gay and leading a gay lifestyle…totaly Democrat here, but self-serving behavior is not only mirrored in the gay community – it is 100% maginified…do some research about sub-cultures they do mimic the majority but behavoirs are hightened…these creeps were into some weird #*%$, they drugged a guy, raped his ass and then killed him – all the “fabulous” accomplishments – their 1.3 million townhouse, their BMWs, their D&G clothes, their high-end everything won’t mean &$*% when they are getting their daily rapings in prison…these guys deserve the dealth penalty (Too bad DC doesn’t allow it).

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