February 8, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay marriage opponent is consultant for Orange

Pro-LGBT council member Vincent Orange has hired marriage foe Robert King as a consultant. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

One of the leading advocates for overturning D.C.’s same-sex marriage law through a voter referendum has served as a paid campaign consultant for At-Large City Council member Vincent Orange’s re-election campaign, according to records filed with the Office of Campaign Finance.

Estell Mathis-Lloyd, chief of staff for Orange’s Council office, said the decision by the Orange campaign to retain Ward 5 ANC Commissioner Robert King as a consultant is “absolutely not” a signal that Orange may be backing away from his support for the marriage equality law, which the Council passed in 2009.

“He does continue to support marriage equality,” Mathis-Lloyd said of Orange.

OCF records show that the Orange campaign paid King $750 as a consulting fee on Dec. 11, 2011.

Orange, a former Ward 5 Council member, came out against same-sex marriage when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2006. He said he changed his position shortly before he ran for the at-large Council seat in a special election in 2011 and now strongly supports the city law that legalized same-sex marriage. He says he has been a longtime supporter of other LGBT issues.

Through his consulting firm King & Associates, King received more than $60,000 in 2010 from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to organize a campaign to overturn the city’s same-sex marriage law through a referendum. When the city’s board of elections and the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that such a referendum could not be held because it would violate the city’s Human Rights Law, King joined anti-gay minister Harry Jackson in appealing the court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision, ending efforts to kill the gay marriage law through a referendum.

Mathis-Lloyd said the Orange campaign retained King as a consultant because of his knowledge of Ward 5 issues.

Orange, a Democrat, is running in the April 3 D.C. Democratic primary for a full, four-year term for a Council seat he won last year in a special election. The seat became vacant after the 2010 election, in which Council member Kwame Brown, who held the seat, won election to the post of Council chair.

Orange is being challenged in the primary by Democrat Sekou Biddle, who ran against him in 2010; D.C. political newcomer Peter Shapiro, a former Prince George’s County Council member; and community activist E. Gail Anderson Holness.

According to the Jan. 31 filing with the Office of Campaign Finance, Orange was ahead in campaign funds raised, with $145,220. OCF records show Shapiro was in second place in money raised, with $90,291, followed by Biddle, who raised $45,686; and Holness, who raised $2,944 as of Jan. 31. OCF records show that $50,000 in the total amount raised by Shapiro came from loans.

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

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