September 23, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Fenty beat Gray in gay precincts

Vince Gray and Mayor Adrian Fenty. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: Go here to see a breakdown of votes in the gayest neighborhoods. Our chart does not include the last of the 15 LGBT precincts we analyzed for this story — Precinct 23, which includes parts of Columbia Heights and the U Street, N.W. corridor. In that precinct, Fenty received 443 votes (57 percent) and Gray received 332 votes (42 percent).

Election returns for the city’s Sept. 14 Democratic primary show that Mayor Adrian Fenty won in 12 of the 15 electoral precincts believed to have high concentrations of LGBT residents, even though many LGBT activist leaders backed City Council Chair Vincent Gray for mayor.

Gray won the primary with a citywide vote of 54 percent to 44 percent, making him the strong favorite to win the November general election in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of nearly nine to one.

LGBT-supportive D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) also beat gay challenger Clark Ray, the city’s former parks and recreation director, by lopsided margins in all 15 of the gay-oriented precincts. Ray came in third behind Michael D. Brown, the city’s shadow senator, in all but one of the 15 LGBT precincts.

Many LGBT activists following the election said Ray was an attractive candidate but they saw no reason for backing him over Mendelson, who is one of the Council’s strongest supporters on LGBT issues.

While the visible “gay” precincts went for Fenty by wide margins, nearly all of those precincts are in majority white neighborhoods, suggesting that the LGBT vote could have split along the same racial lines as the city vote as a whole in the mayoral race.

All but one of the 15 precincts believed to have high concentrations of LGBT residents are in majority white Wards 1, 2 and 6, which Fenty won. Majority white Ward 3 also went heavily for Fenty.

Majority black Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 went for Gray by wide margins.

Both Gray and Fenty have strong records of support on LGBT issues. Gray voted for and Fenty signed the city’s same-sex marriage law.

“The black gays in Washington, D.C. tend to be from Washington, D.C. and they live in all parts of the city,” said gay Democratic activist Brad Lewis, who is black. “So I don’t think there’s any one particular precinct that would be the black LGBT precinct,” he said. “I’m at a loss to tell you which one that would be.”

Lewis, a former president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, joined other activists who hold the view that most black gays voted for Gray.

“I think there were a lot of concerns, especially in the African-American community that their voices weren’t necessarily being listened to by Mayor Fenty,” Lewis said. “I think that transcended sexual orientation.”

Gay Democratic activist Phil Pannell, who also lives in Ward 8 and who backed Gray, has identified Precinct 112 in Ward 8’s Anacostia neighborhood as the one precinct east of the Anacostia River where an identifiable concentration of black gays live. Gray won Precinct 112 by a wide margin.

The precincts selected as areas where high concentrations of LGBT people live include the longstanding gay neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Logan Circle. They also include areas where large numbers of LGBT people have migrated in recent years such as Columbia Heights, Shaw and the U Street, N.W. corridor that stretches between 9th Street and 17th Street.

Two precincts on Capitol Hill and Precinct 127 in the Southwest D.C. waterfront neighborhood are also included as LGBT-oriented areas.

In addition to winning in Precinct 112 in Anacostia, Gray won Precincts 127 in Southwest and 18 in Shaw, which are believed to have large numbers of black LGBT residents.

Speculation begins on appointments

Gray most likely will name a new director of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs and ask Police Chief Cathy Lanier to remain in her position, according to sources familiar with Gray.

Gray’s impending decision on whether to retain controversial city schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has captured the attention of the media and most political insiders.

But to many LGBT activists, Gray’s decision on whether to keep Lanier as chief and his working relationship with her should she stay on will have a critical impact on the status of the department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit and efforts to combat hate crimes.

During his campaign for mayor, Gray criticized Fenty’s decision to adopt a plan by Lanier to downsize the GLLU’s central headquarters as part of an effort to create a system of affiliate GLLU officers in each of the department’s seven police districts.

“I don’t think it should be an either-or proposition,” Gray told the Blade in an August interview, saying he would prefer to have a fully staffed GLLU headquarters along with affiliate officers.

The local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence has complained that Lanier spurned their longstanding request to retain a fully staffed GLLU headquarters office, which GLOV says is needed to train and coordinate the affiliate officers.

Once source familiar with the Gray campaign said Gray would likely set a policy on how the GLLU should be set up and ask Lanier to follow that policy should he decide to retain Lanier. But one police source said Lanier feels strongly about keeping in place the changes she has made with the GLLU.

The source, who spoke on condition of not being identified, predicted Lanier would resist Gray’s plan to add more officers to the GLLU’s central office, a development that would “test” Gray’s resolve in keeping to his campaign promise to restore the GLLU to a staffing level set by former Police Chief Charles Ramsey under the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams.

Gray has declined to disclose his plans for appointments for all city agencies, saying it would not be appropriate for him to discuss personnel matters until after the November general election.

Most local activists have praised Christopher Dyer, who has served since 2007 as director of the GLBT Affairs Office under Fenty. But sources close to the Gray mayoral campaign, who spoke on condition that they not are identified, said they expect Gray to name his own person to head the GLBT office.

The City Council created the office through legislation introduced by gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) during the Williams administration. The legislation also established a mayoral GLBT advisory committee, to which Fenty named Dyer as chair.

Gray has said he strongly supports the GLBT Affairs Office and its advisory panel. During his campaign for mayor he has said the office and advisory panel would play an important role in his administration if he were elected mayor.

Some activists have speculated that Jeffrey Richardson, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which endorsed Gray for mayor, and Christopher Fitzgerald, coordinator of Gray Pride, an LGBT committee established under Gray’s mayoral election campaign, would be among the candidates Gray would likely consider to head the LGBT Affairs Office.

Neither Richardson nor Fitzgerald could be reached for comment by press time.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

6 Comments
  • Your breakdown currently shows only 14 precincts, not 15 — and Fenty got just 11 of them, not 13. Which is correct, the article or the infographic?

  • Frankly, after reading Lou Chibbaro Jr.’s story, the headline above it was clearly inaccurate. A far more accurate headline would have been:

    LGBT VOTE SPLITS ALONG RACIAL LINES IN D.C. MAYORAL PRIMARY

    As Chibbaro makes clear in his story, the LGBT vote split, with white LGBTs voting overwhelmingly for incumbent mayor Adrian Femnty and black LGBTs voting solidly for the eventual primary winner, Vincent Gray.

    It certainly not necessary to be reminded that Washington, D.C. is a predominantly black city, where African-Americans make up more than 70 percent of its residents. But it bears reminding Blade readers that many, if not most, black LGBTs in the nation’s capital identify with the African-American community first and the LGBT community second. Fenty lost primarily because many in the African-American community felt that he had lost touch with them, especially over the direction of the city’s schools.

    This was an election in which the interests of the LGBT and African-American communities were not in synch with one another. And when that happens in the nation’s capital, the African-American community’s interests are always going to prevail in municipal elections. That’s a lesson white D.C. LGBTs should have learned a long time ago.

    • And Skeeter they don’t see that. The overall analysis of this vote was simply WHITES & GAYS voted for Fenty…BLACKS voted for Gray…THE END!

      • Sounds right to me Chris… sad but true. I will never understand why people vote against someone because they don’t their ego, or when they vote against their own self interest.

        This city is changing so these color statistics will not always be relavent.

  • Way to race-bait, Skeeter. Now, why don’t you go on down to the Shoot & Barrel Saloon and have a drink with your buddies Cooter and Jim-Bob.

  • LANIER SHOULD GO IF NOT COMMITTED TO RESTORING CENTRAL GLLU

    I found it easier to vote for Gray than I originally thought. What iced it for me was the utter failure of Chief Lanier’s plan to extend effective LGBT sensitivity to policing in MPD’s Fifth District (5D) in N.E. Washington (Michigan Park and Brookland S. through Trinidad and Langston/Carver).

    5D’s Citizens’ Advisory Council (5DCAC) Chairman Robert Brannum and 5D Commander Lamar Greene are presiding over an organization which practices de facto homophobic discrimination against 5D LGBT residents.

    In mid-August, after a high-ranking 5DCAC board member made homophobic remarks– remarks which Chief Lanier disavowed publicly on the MPD-SLU listserv– 5D’s Greene and Brannum both promised to have GLLU give a full presentation at this months 5DCAC monthly meeting.

    Brannum and Greene also promised cooperation and communication with 5D’s LGBT community listserv so as to provide plenty of advanced notice and promotion for the GLLU presentation– to demonstrate how hospitable and welcoming MPD-5D is to LGBT residents.

    However, Brannum and Greene broke their assurances– abruptly and without consultation, changing the GLLU presentation to a greatly abbreviated, watered-down SLU overview speech by Captain Delgado. Brannum and Greene also stiff-armed the LGBT community– failing to answer email inquiries of basic meeting time and place details– until reminder copies of those emails were also sent to Chief Lanier and Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas.

    What’s worse, Robert Brannum used short-notice, no-notice meeting manipulation tactics– even publishing meeting date MISINFORMATION to suppress likely attendance by a substantial LGBT concentration in the Brookland area. Roughly HALF of 5D’s listserv audience received meeting date misinformation or no notice at all (Ward5 listserv) by Robert Brannum. The Ward5 listserv also has an active LGBT membership.

    But during this same time, Robert Brannum found time to conduct a one-man, apparently unlawful demonstration (disorderly conduct)– his second one of the summer– against the Washington Post on 15th Street (Sep. 2nd). The You-Tube video shows two MPD patrol cars pulling away from Brannum’s car, while Brannum continues his loudspeaker tirade. Did Brannum get special treatment by MPD due to his close association with MPD– and as an advisor to Chief Lanier?

    In any event, MPD-5D has become a very unfriendly and unwelcoming police district for 5D’s LGBT residents during Chief Lanier’s and Commander Greene’s tenure.

    Our LGBT residents need a strong, fully-staffed central GLLU office they can trust.

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