November 3, 2010 at 8:22 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Catania, Graham breeze to victory; 7 gays win in Md. 

David Catania's re-election to D.C. Council was one of the few bright spots on an Election Day widely regarded as a disaster for gay rights. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Pro-gay D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray won his race for mayor with 73.9 percent of the vote and gay Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) easily won re-election Tuesday.

But an unauthorized write-in campaign for Mayor Adrian Fenty, who lost the Democratic mayoral nomination to Gray in the Sept. 14 primary, yielded high write-in vote counts in nearly all voter precincts with a high concentration of gay residents.

In Maryland, the number of out gay or lesbian members of the state legislature increased from four to seven in Tuesday’s election. Among the winners is Mary Washington, who captured a House of Delegates seat from Baltimore to become the first black lesbian to win a seat in the Maryland Legislature and the second to hold that distinction in the nation.

The “write-in” category in the D.C. mayor’s race won in at least two precincts with high concentrations of gays on Capitol Hill, highlighting the same racial divisions among voters that surfaced in the primary, where Gray won in majority black sections of the city and Fenty won in majority white areas.

Most of the gay precincts are in majority white sections, such as Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle and Capitol Hill. Activists familiar with the LGBT community have said black gays, like their straight counterparts, supported Gray in overwhelming numbers. But because they are dispersed throughout the city and not concentrated in gay enclaves, like those in the mostly white areas, there are no known “black gay” precincts.

“I don’t think those are anti-Gray votes as much as they are pro-Fenty votes,” Catania said on Wednesday. “I think the vast majority of them, after the inauguration, those very same people will be very receptive to Vince and his message, and we’re all going to come back together.”

In his victory speech late Tuesday night at Love nightclub in Northeast D.C., which once hosted the city’s black LGBT Pride festival, Gray reiterated his campaign theme of “one city,” saying his administration will work hard to build unity among D.C.’s diverse population groups.

Most of the city’s LGBT activist leaders joined the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, in backing Gray in the mayoral race.

Gray captured 73.9 percent of the citywide vote, with the “write-in” vote coming in second with 22.8 percent. However, in majority white Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6, the margin between the Gray and write-in vote was closer, with the write-in vote count rising to between 30 and 43 percent. In Precincts 89 and 90 on Capitol Hill, which are home to a sizable gay population, the write-in vote came to 50.3 percent and 50.5 percent respectively, with Gray receiving 46.3 percent and 45.5 percent.

In the majority black Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8, the write-in vote fell to single digits.

D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics executive director Pokey Suleman said the city’s election law bars the board from identifying the names of people receiving write-in votes unless they capture enough votes to win the race. Most election observers assume the vast majority of write-in votes in Tuesday’s mayoral election went to Fenty.

“I would presume that the majority is for Fenty but I would not presume all of them are,” Suleman said.

In the at-large Council race, Catania came in second behind Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) in a four-candidate contest where the highest two vote-getters win the seats. Mendelson, who has a strong record of support on gay issues, and Catania endorsed each other.

Mendelson received 58.3 percent, with Catania receiving 30.9 percent of the vote. Both came out far ahead of challenger David Schwartzman, the Statehood-Green Party candidate who supports LGBT equality; and anti-gay independent candidate Richard Urban, who called for repeal of the city’s same-sex marriage law. Schwartzman received 6.8 percent and Urban received 5.1 percent. Non-Democratic candidates who win at-large seats traditionally have received less votes than the Democratic candidate in a city where the overwhelming majority of voters register as Democrats.

In the Ward 1 Council race, Graham received 81.3 percent of the vote compared to his gay Republican challenger, Marc Morgan, who received 7.6 percent of the vote. Statehood-Green Party candidate Nancy Shia received 9.5 percent.

Ward 5 Council candidate Tim Day, who became the fourth out gay candidate running for a D.C. Council seat this year, lost to incumbent Council member Harry Thomas, a Democrat, by a lopsided margin of 84.0 percent to 5.9 percent.

Day received the endorsement of the Washington Post. He drew additional news media coverage by disclosing IRS and D.C. corporation office records showing that a charitable constituent group that Thomas had been operating for many years did not have a tax exemption from the IRS and lost its corporate status from the city. The Post criticized Thomas over his handling of the charitable group. But the flap over the group did not help Day, an accountant, garner much support from voters.

Thomas has been a supporter of LGBT rights and voted for the same-sex marriage law, triggering organized opposition to his candidacy from church groups and the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

LGBT activists called the effort by some local religious leaders to target all Council members up for election this year because of their support for the same-sex marriage bill a total failure.

“In the end, it wasn’t the contentious issue that the opponents predicted,” said Mendelson, who also was targeted for his support for the gay marriage bill.  “I can’t tell you how many candidate forums I went to where the issue of marriage equality did not come up,” he said.

“It’s striking that the opposition to marriage equality never got any traction in this election in spite of their intense rhetoric,” he said.

In the Maryland election, incumbent state Sen. Richard Madaleno of District 18 in Montgomery County won re-election with 74.5 percent of the vote.

House of Delegates incumbents Anne Kaiser (District 14), which includes Silver Spring, Olney, and Damascus; Heather Mizeur (District 20), which includes parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park; and Maggie McIntosh (District 43), which includes parts of Baltimore, each won re-election by comfortable margins.

Washington, who ran in District 43, which has three seats, came in third with 31.6 percent of the vote. The highest three vote-getters win House of Delegates seats in most districts, which have three seats per district.

The other out gay or lesbian challengers who won on Tuesday were Luke Clippinger (District 46), which includes parts of Baltimore; and Bonnie Cullison (District 19), which includes parts of Montgomery County.

Most gay ANC candidates win races

Twenty-four of the 29 D.C Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidates identified by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club as gay or lesbian or allies of the LGBT community won their races Tuesday. Fourteen of the winners are incumbents.

Three incumbents lost their seats in what observers called unexpected wins by their challengers. Among them were longtime ANC 6D07 Commissioner Robert “Bob” Siegel, who lost his Washington Nationals Stadium area seat to challenger David Garber. Garber had the endorsement of Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). In Ward 5, gay ANC 5C07 Commissioner Barrie Daneker lost to challenger James Fournier.

Gay incumbent Michael Patterson in ANC District 6B09 lost to challenger Brian Flahaven.

Following is a list of the ANC candidates, both incumbents and challengers, listed by the Stein Club as members or allies of the LGBT community. Candidates marked by an asterisk indicate they are either leading or trailing, and the final outcome won’t be determined until absentee and challenged ballots are counted.

Juan Lopez (1B07)—won

Bill O’Field (1C02)—lost

Mike Feldstein (2B01)—won

Jack Jacobson (2B04)–won

Victor Wexler (2B05)—won

Mike Silverstein (2B06)—won

Phil Carney (2B07)—won

Ramon Estrada (2B09)—leading by 39 votes*

Alexander “Alex” Padro (2C01)—won

Michael Benardo (2F06)—won

Lee Brian Reba (3C01)—won

Tom Smith (3D02)—won

Bob Summersgill (3F07)—won

Michael Yates (4C01)—won

Joseph Martin (4C09)—won

Thalia Wiggins (5B06)—won

Mary Lois Farmer-Allen (5C06)—won

Barrie Daneker (5C07)—lost

Adam Healy (6A01)—won

Neil Glick (6B08)—leading by 9 votes*

Michael Patterson (6B09)—lost

Larry Frankel (6B10)—lost

Brian Cox (6C05)—trailing by 13 votes*

Bill Crews (6C07)—won

Andy Litsky (6D04)—won

Roger Moffatt (6D05)—won

Robert “Bob” Siegel (6D07)—lost

Zina Williams (7B02)—won

Catherine Woods (7C03)—won

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

  • I’m going to toss out an idea to the gay community. If every gay person in the USA – 20 million or more – could spare $5 per month,, we could build a billion $$ warchest, and elect probably anther 200 gay people to important elective offices. Adn woudl that make a difference – you bet.

    I’m the guy who threw $53000 at the Maine Prop 1 and CA prop 8 deals. But I don’t have that kind fo money to do it again.

    The big question , and I invite Kevin to help – is How do we get the gay community out of its closet of assuming you cant win and just hiding, and coming up with that Billion $$. which BTw, could probably be matched 1 for `1 by good str8 people who are wealthy. Something I realized by attendign the HRC dinner last month and seeing the obvious older and obvious very wealthy str8 couples by the thousand or so who attended.

    My next project. I hope the community will support not me (your str8 friend) but yourself. think about it.

    • I like your idea and please keep me posted on this. We have to do something because the next 2 years anyway will be nothing but hate and meanness for anyone not with the Tea-Party. In my state, a Republican won Governorship for the frist time in 40 years and he is a Tea-Partier even though he will not admit it. His anger has already started. He’s not in office yet but has started his changes all ready. Taking away Civil Rights is on his hit list. Something has to be done and fast just like the Tea-partiers.


  • LOL – Graham could murder someone in broad daylight on the steps of the District Building and still get elected!

  • Or stand in front of a phalanx of TV cameras and wrongfully accuse someone else of doing it!

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